Darwin, “Expelled”, and Religious Science

Expelled, the Movie

I just got a chance to watch “Expelled, No Intelligence Allowed” on Showtime and loved it. (It had been rushed through the theatres at break neck speed, so I missed it on the Big Screen). They have an official web site. This is a well done ‘slide show interview narrative’ movie by Ben Stein. (A person who’s work in finance and investing I greatly admire.)

It is the exploration of how any mention of Intelligent Design or Creation (one presumes, via a God) will get you canned from Universities, personally slandered, and several other negative outcomes.

What struck me most was how the litany of attack matched that on folks who question Global Warming. It was the same “play book”. Take over the organs of control (National Science Foundation – money; peer reviewed periodicals, University chairs) then use that power to attack and smear anyone who dares to utter the words Intelligent Design. Block publication of works. Get folks fired. Etc. Repeat the mantra that Darwin is settled science and a consensus exists.

I was left with the (possibly irrational) impression that the same folks were running both programs with the same play book. AGW and anti-God.

At any rate, I recommend buying the CD and giving it a viewing.

For those who don’t know, Ben Stein is a very kind soul with an easy wit. At home on stock market shows, doing eye drop commercials, or in movies (Bueller? Bueller? Bueller?). He is also Jewish.

The connection he makes from the foundations of eugenics back to Darwin’s theory then forward through the Nazi era are something we all ought to think about. They apply equally well to any person of religion or of any minority.

My Biases

Any discussion about religion means I ought to state my biases. While I had a broad religious upbringing, my basic beliefs are more or less agnostic with a slight atheist tendency (balanced by an overly large fascination with religion… I own a few dozen variations on the Bible and copies of the Dead Sea Scrolls and Nag Hamadi texts). I’m married to a religious person and we both accept each other as is.

Folks are welcome to politely discuss religion here, just don’t go all Preachy on things and don’t insult each other. I enjoy the topic, but not the insult wars. Respect each other. It works for me and my spouse.

Darwin

Somehow Darwin is held up as an icon of anti-religion. Yet Darwin was a religious man. I see nothing in evolution that is antithetical to religion. Who are we to say what God may or may not do or HOW God may choose to work the levers of creation?

This is not a new idea, and I’m not the first one to think of it. While I’ve not read this book, the title is interesting:

http://www.findingdarwinsgod.com/

In Darwin’s early editions of The Origin of Species, he included a comment affirming God and sometimes talks about “creation”.

Think about it…

Quoted from the wiki page:

Natural theology was not a unified doctrine, and while some such as Louis Agassiz were strongly opposed to the ideas in the book, others sought a reconciliation in which evolution was seen as purposeful. In the Church of England, some liberal clergymen interpreted natural selection as an instrument of God’s design, with the cleric Charles Kingsley seeing it as “just as noble a conception of Deity”. In the second edition of January 1860, Darwin quoted Kingsley as “a celebrated cleric”, and added the phrase “by the Creator” to the closing sentence, which from then on read “life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed by the Creator into a few forms or into one”. While some commentators have taken this as a concession to religion that Darwin later regretted, Darwin’s view at the time was of God creating life through the laws of nature, and even in the first edition there are several references to “creation”.

So when one holds up Darwin’s On The Origin of Species as proof that there was no creation and their is no God, one is distorting out of all proportion what Darwin actually wrote. Suddenly, light is dark and white becomes black.

Finally, one closing note

I had always been smug in the notion that with 4 billion years to “roll the dice” evolution had plenty of time to work on raw chemicals to ‘create’ life. But recent fossils show life present almost immediately after the planet was cool enough. Millions, not billions of years. (The exact number is rather hard to figure out).

This is a bit of a crisis for molecular evolution. They must find a way to make a vastly more complicated machine than they had thought it was (it is far more complex than originally believed inside the cell) and do it in far less time. The answer to “how” is still unknown.

My favorite candidate is that life had 15 billion years to evolve somewhere else and that bacterial spores can survive inside rocks to fall on new worlds as they form. Speculative, yes, but so are all the other “answers”.

And we won’t get into the intriguing aspect of alien visitors, other than to mention that there are Sumerian texts that describe a clear case of a visitation by a person from the stars, identified by name, who conducts procedures remarkably like our present genetic engineering, and advances the human condition. Archeologists interpret this as a “creation myth” rather than a “historical document”. I see no grounds for choosing one over the other.

Yet it would be forbidden to even ask the question: “Is this evidence for creation of life from extraterrestrial beings?” Since this is a form of “Intelligent Design”, and so the Forbidden Fruit…

Personally, I find it very offensive when someone tells me I cannot ask questions, and more so when they tell me my daydreams are forbidden to discuss…

As a closing comment, I would only point out that a great deal of “Science” was done, and is being done, each day by devout Jews, Christians, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, and dozens of other religions. I have a very hard time with the notion that one can not be both religious AND a scientist… There is a very strong existence proof to the contrary.

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About E.M.Smith

A technical managerial sort interested in things from Stonehenge to computer science. My present "hot buttons' are the mythology of Climate Change and ancient metrology; but things change...
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276 Responses to Darwin, “Expelled”, and Religious Science

  1. boballab says:

    First I’ll start with my own “religious” background. As a child I was exposed to both a Baptist and Presbyterian upbring. Personally I don’t put much “faith” in a structured church, however I do believe that there is something that started it all and I have two interconnected reasons for this and they come from Einstein (Yes the Einstein that believed there was a God).

    First point deals with the Big Bang Theory. They keep comming out with evidence to show us that there was a Big Bang that started the Universe. From this Athiests point to “see no God involved”, to which I always ask “Well since according to science matter is not really created or destroyed just chages state (E=MC^2), where did all that matter and energy come from for the Big Bang? Some try the whole “well there was a Universe before this one line”, however at some point there was a first time, so the question still stands un-answered…..Unless you believe the bible. The Big Bang theory actually fits the creation story in Genesis, because the Big Bang sure would create a lot of light.

    Now point two is from the reply “But the bible says that it has only been 6,000 years”. Which I answer yep but you overlooked a crucial part……POV. The bible is suppose to be God’s POV in the old testament, it’s his story told by him to man, not mans chronicle of God’s story. Now to God what is a year? This again goes back to Einstein and the theory of relativity. The closer to the speed of light the faster time moves relative to you. What would be a day for you, might be a year back on earth. So again what is a day to God, since any entity that could create an entire Universe I don’t think will be restricted to the low speeds that humanity has achieved. Be interesting to see if someone wants to work the relativity equations to see what speed gets 6,000 years for God and 4.5 billion for the planet earth.

    Now is “God” a mystical supernatural being or a very advanced ET, that is a separate question, but as Arthur C Clarke said about advanced technology and magic I think will apply to this as well.

  2. E.M.Smith says:

    There is a fascinating book that explores that connection of “God” time to human time. Allowing for relativistic time dilation you can get a very close match of “Bible Time” to the scientific record.

    http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Big-Bang-Discovery-Harmony/dp/0553354132

    Is a fascinating book that manages to bring the Genesis story and our understanding of the science of the beginning of time and space into agreement. (He looks at times arrow from the beginning of the big bang before time dilation. Calibrated to that scale, the 6 days of Genesis have things happening on the same scale as our scientific understanding…)

    Yes, time dilation and relativity. So maybe there is just a bit more ‘science’ in the notion of time being a relative thing and having less meaning viewed from the other end of times arrow…

  3. greg2213 says:

    Nice post. While I don’t like the ID concept it can be interesting to discuss. The vitriol that gets thrown back and forth is pretty bad, though. Here’s another area of similar contention: Plasma Cosmology and the Electric Universe.

    I kinda like this idea…

    God was walking the field of infinite possibility, some 14 billion (or however many) years ago. He saw a point that was “ready” and gave it a push.

    The universe as we know it then came into being, with all the physical laws that we sortof know and barely understand. Including the laws that govern how life develops.

    It’s God’s machine. Among other things it leaves open the possibility of an infinite universe and all kinds of other things. Not to mention that it lets science explain things and lets believers know the “truth.”

    I’m also agnostic, leaning aetheist, but without the religious upbringing (much to the likely disappointment of my Uncle.)

  4. Jeff Alberts says:

    I’m an atheist, plain and simple.

    I have nothing against discussions of Id, but the problem as I see it is that ID brings nothing scientific to the table. It merely attacks Evolution without positing a theory of it’s own. Simply stating “This is so complex it can’t be an accident” isn’t a theory.

  5. Jeff Alberts says:

    First point deals with the Big Bang Theory. They keep comming out with evidence to show us that there was a Big Bang that started the Universe. From this Athiests point to “see no God involved”, to which I always ask “Well since according to science matter is not really created or destroyed just chages state (E=MC^2), where did all that matter and energy come from for the Big Bang? Some try the whole “well there was a Universe before this one line”, however at some point there was a first time, so the question still stands un-answered…..Unless you believe the bible. The Big Bang theory actually fits the creation story in Genesis, because the Big Bang sure would create a lot of light.

    The problem is that some are afraid to say “We don’t know.” That’s the way it is with BB theory. We don’t know. It might have happened this way, but chances are we’ll never know. But for me, the Bible is not an answer to anything scientific.

  6. David44 says:

    The existence of god and the origins of life and the universe becomes a circular question that always comes down to: If there’s a god, who or what created god? Who created the creator? Who created that creator and the one before that? It’s never ending. It’s enough for me to just be in awe of the universe, it’s complexities, and it’s physical laws. What is the universe? The mind of god? Who knows? Not me.

    We (the human race or whatever we evolve into) will always question the why and the wherefore, and we will learn more and more in small increments or great leaps, but it seems unlikely that we will ever know the answer to the fundamental question of origins. Even if there is an answer, we may not be capable of comprehending it. We can only have faith … or not.

  7. E.M.Smith says:

    Ah, the electric universe… Something I’ve only just started looking at in any depth. Like what I’ve seen so far.

    Covers why comets don’t evaporate away, yet make a tail even outside our orbit.

    Explains why there is lots of ozone at the N. Pole (with two bright spots that look like a Birkeland Current landing) and an ozone hole at the south pole. Nice. And more.

    It will take a while to be worked out, though.

    BTW, my “way out” for “where did the big bang come from?” is a bit of relativistic slight of hand…

    At the end of time, everything is sucked into the last black holes. This is literally “the end of time and the end of space” because space-time itself is consumed by the black hole. But the gravity effect is the last thing to be consumed (we still feel a black hole gravity even after the ‘stuff’ is beyond the event horizon.)

    OK, the universe has gone into a “singularity” where time and space themselves cease to exist. But it has gone IN with a large chunk of momentum…

    And when / where ELSE is there a singularity? The “white hole” at the beginning of time…

    So I simply postulate that “the big bang” IS the “the big black” at the end of time, just seen from the other side of the singularity. Gravity does not arrive on the ‘young’ side until after the mass emerges. Light and ‘stuff’ comes exploding out with intense velocity (dropping IN to a black hole accelerates you toward the speed of light – until time stops existing so the very concept of ‘speed’ ends… but conservation of momentum means that when it comes flying OUT again, it does so “hot and fast” as time and space once again form).

    So we have stuff falling into a zillion black holes all over space as the universe ages, but at the end of time we have the end of space as well, and all those ‘separated’ black holes have fed into the single singularity of non-space-time. And stuff can fall in for billions of years of “our time”, yet all come out in a single instant ‘as time begins again’ with in between being no-time and so erasing the disparity of ‘arrival times’.

    And the “bang” is the result. As time, space, and stuff all come into existance ‘from nothing’ just as they went into nothing at the other end of time. The only persistent thing is momentum. (though who know what it is preserved as while space and time stop existing…)

    “The Word” is, IMHO, the equation that defines the white hole at the beginning of time. And the part of the physics that needs working out is the part we can’t yet handle as space-time approaches nil in a black hole turning into the white hole.

    What has this to do with God?

    Well, to your point, who gave all this stuff it’s first “nudge” of momentum?… So God saw this spot that was nearly ready and gave it “momentum” in the singularity “and time began”…

    Would a single particle, started out of a white hole singularity with a bit of momentum gain near infinite speed (and thus, mass) as time and space first form? Or would it be near zero since time and space are small (and thus continue flying apart until mass and gravity form enough to start slowing it down?) That’s the ‘hard bit’ of math of what happens at those non-standard math “divide by zero and infinity” steps with zero time, zero space, infinite mass, and an undefined velocity with “some” momentum, and what happens as space-time snaps into existence from an asymptote.

    I suspect it first forms as ‘near zero’ speed (so lower mass, so gravity is left on the other high velocity / high mass side of the singularity at the start of time). Heat and pressure start flinging ‘stuff’ out and as it cools, mass forms, and with it gravity. Energy condenses to matter and gravity forms, but with momentum by then. (And perhaps that is the key, energy passes through the no-space no-time singularity, but mass per se does not…)

    FWIW, I call this description “The Steady State Big Bang” since the inevitable conclusion is that the big bang always was, and always will be… and the ‘stuff’ is in a steady state cycle from the start of time to the end of time and back again.

    It also explains, IMHO, why we seem to be exactly on the knife edge between infinite expansion and contraction. Because the amount of “stuff” adjusts as we expand and as more falls into black holes. As we expand, the distances become greater and gravity weaker (so we ought to fly apart forever); but as ‘stuff’ falls into black holes, it accelerates toward the speed of light. Time “slows” and mass increases (and so ought to increase gravity) just offsetting the added space between things in the rest of the universe. (and so we ought to be pulled back toward the “Big Crunch”).

    But space itself is being consumed by the black holes, stretching the rest of the universe as it is sucked down the Rabbit Hole for recycling… so ‘distances’ between black holes reduce as the space between them is sucked in. And might the apparent ‘expansion’ of the universe just be the stretching as space is sucked into the black holes? Are we really moving, or is space itself just being stretched…

    I lack the needed math skills to turn this into the calculus used in cosmology, but I think that’s a pretty good description of what we see in the sky.

    In that view of Cosmology, God is in the Singularity…

    In the beginning, the universe was empty and without form, then came the word (singularity / bang); “let their be light”…

    FWIW, I first thought of this about 1970 (though without some of the finer points). Never really had a way to share it with anyone, other than selected 1 on 1, before.

  8. Optimizer says:

    I’d say the big picture is that science is a victim of its own success. Especially since the Age of Enlightenment, where science started to explain many of the mysteries of every day life (germs, lightning, gravity, stars and planets, etc.), science has assumed an unimpeachable authority. This created two main problems, however.

    The first main problem was that the unexplainable had already been explained by religion. What could not be explained as a natural phenomenon was explained as having mysterious supernatural causes. So science has not only occupied some of religion’s former “turf”, but it has also shown that religion (which claims divine authority) was simply wrong about certain things. Many religious people simply spin ever more desperate and convoluted explanations as to how there really was inconsistancy in the first place (the “God time” theories discussed here are probably a good example). Others don’t have the stomach for that, and simply choose to deny the science (e.g., most Creationists) to avoid the inconsistencies. People are religious for a tossed salad of psychological reasons; most are not about to simply say, “Hey – what you told be was a lot of bunk, and so your credibility is shot, Mr. Holyman.”

    The second main problem is that unimpeachable authority equals power. Obviously, this means that people with non-scientific motives, will try to “borrow” that authority for their ideology (be it religious OR political in nature).

    ID is an example of both problems in action, while AGW is only the latter. Even if one were to consider an extra-terrestrial as the “intelligent designer” (hey, I’m willing to be open minded!), that leaves the question of who designed the designer. ID is a transparent attempt to use the authority and sanction of science to undermine Separation of Church and State and force religious views on people.

    That being said, it is easy to picture a “witch-hunt” mentality toward Creationists and ID proponents that undoubtedly goes too far sometimes – maybe a lot of the time. The isolated scientist who harbors Creationist beliefs (or even is fool enough to entertain ID as science) is fairly harmless, and should be left alone (unless it starts to effect their work). But an organized effort to try to inject religion into both mainstream science and the classroom is a threat to both science and to one of our most basic freedoms. Certainly, the scientific community would be within its rights to reject such a person within its ranks (for malpractice), and the public would be justified in rejecting a politician of this type (for undermining the Constitution). This would be no different, for example, than firing Mann for having tainted his field with his fraud.

    As to evolution, it’s a theory like any other. Like Newton’s mechanics, it works well in the normal realm and timeframes we usually deal with. We should expect some Einstein-like refinement to come along some day.

    As to the religious views of a scientist who develops a theory, that is completely irrelevant. Science deals with the natural, and religion with the supernatural. There is no overlap; the problems arise when one or the other tries to overstep its bounds.

  9. E.M.Smith says:

    Jeff Alberts: I have nothing against discussions of Id, but the problem as I see it is that ID brings nothing scientific to the table. It merely attacks Evolution without positing a theory of it’s own. Simply stating “This is so complex it can’t be an accident” isn’t a theory.

    Yeah, that part kind of bothers me. But that statement CAN be a good foil against which to measure evolution and find where it “has issues”. (And that first start up complexity does have issues… big ones.) So it can advance the science by prodding the discussion around the table.

    That is, after all, part of the scientific method. To attack and challenge a belief, then see where the discussion and data leads… So maybe ID can’t win, but it can still contribute.

    And being forbidden to ask if space alien Peace Corp workers might have directed our development at some point is galling too. We have physical evidence describing it. Is there really any science in saying the only allowed interpretation is “myth”? It is really impossible for advanced aliens to have visited? (Not just highly unlikely, impossible…)

    The benefit in adding ID to the discussion is that it causes the “issues” with the present theory to stand out. Basically, I see it as a useful “straw man” to poke at the lethargy about some of the issues with molecular evolution…

    Kind of like some of the crazy theories in cosmology that float around. 10 dimensional phase space, string theory, etc. No way you can know which, if any of them, is valid. It’s all a thought experiment to stimulate further thought.

    So I see it as a useful ‘null case’ against which to measure other theories for goodness of fit and for pointing up ‘issues’ with them. (Like, no billions of years… are you SURE you can evolve this stuff that fast? What has to happen how fast? Where would there be evidence for that? )

    And frankly, as a teacher, you need to engage folks and sometimes it is useful to say things like: “How can you know God did or did not create life? What would we expect to see in an ID case? And in a molecular evolution case?” Having that tool put ‘off limits’ just galls me… Asking questions, sometimes even flaky ones, gets kids engaged.

    For example, it was discussion of ID and the “millions not billions” of years that woke me up to that early start of life. That lead me to conclude the odds of ‘panspermia’ or exogenisis were much greater than I’d thought before.

    That then leads to the need to examine a bunch of ‘space rocks’ for evidence of ancient life from their early formation or bacterial spores and even viruses. IF we find even a few virus particles on an asteroid or meteor, we have highly strengthened the case for evolution ‘in the beginning’, but ‘out there’. But if we never get to ask the ‘inconvenient question’ we never see the need to go looking ‘out there’…

    The other problem I see with exclusion of ID is exactly that. You exclude about 80% of the world population from accepting science as a place to be. You offend and drive away large swaths of folks who could easily be happy as scientists; but now label the field as ‘hostile’ to them. IMHO, better to invite them inside the tent for a lively discussion than leave them outside looking for pitchforks and matches…

    Last time I heard the statistic, over 90% of Americans professed some degree of belief in God. Do you really want that many folks feeling alienated and hostile toward the field? Is it really that hard to simply ask them in to defend their point of view? (And I learned from doing just that, that Darwin was fine with God and that the whole ‘evolution XOR God’ thing was a myth… and that a much more interesting question was really central. It’s not evolution or God, it is “evolutionary CREATION” vs. “Directed Creation”. And that takes a different set of data to figure out…)

    Both sides really only have a ‘creation myth’. We simply don’t now how creation works, in any scenario. There is a molecular evolution myth, but it is not supported by anywhere near enough data or proof. And it has major issues. There is a God myth.

    So yeah, accept Molecular Evolution as true if you want, but it is not well founded science. And if I’m going to accept that ‘creation mythology’ into the tent, ought I not then accept others, at least until we know how to sort out winners? I may LIKE M.E. better, but until we cook some soup long enough to get a mitochondria, I’m still a bit skeptical…

    But I’ve always been a ‘big tent’ person.

  10. Frank53 says:

    I just want to say that I really appreciate your balanced view of religion and faith and science. As someone who is “sold out” to his faith (Christian) I appreciate someone who is open to hear and/or consider or talk about these types of things. (btw, I think we all religiously believe the things that drive our lives and thoughts, so I don’t think of myself as anymore “religious” than you or any other agnostic or atheist.)

    In regards to ID or creationism or evolution, my biblically-based faith has always been encouraged by some of the questions that seem to be mostly unanswerable – like 1. How could life – which is so complex – ever come from non-life? or even 2. What is it that really makes up “life”? or 3. What is “consciousness”? or 4. Why is it that “purpose” is so important in my life – and every other life I know – if the universe is purposeless? or 5. Why does the universe have so many interdependent compatible mathematical equations that so perfectly explain physical laws? or 6. Why is the earth so perfectly suited for life? All of these questions and many others make sense to me in the context of a Creator-God.

    I have mentioned to my wife many times as well that the way I hear people refer to the science of AGW is so similar to the way I’ve heard people talk about evolution – already a settled consensus that the MSM, schools, politicians, scientists etc are “sold out” on. Again, I really appreciate someone who truly is tolerant, as opposed to those who preach tolerance but seem to fight any expression of “other” beliefs. (Although I also do cringe when I hear some of my fellow believers express their beliefs without the grace or humility that Christians claim to be about, so I can understand why they don’t want to hear it.)

  11. Optimizer says:

    The discussion about the Big Bang theory reminds me of some ideas I’ve entertained that might get me branded as a sort of “heretic”, even by the scientific community.

    For a start, I consider the Big Bang theory to be a “science-based creation myth” (before anybody gets too excited, recognize that a “myth” need not be false, dispite the popular notion about the word). The problem is, until someone invents the equivalent of Dr Who’s TARDIS, there will be no experiment that can be done to really prove the thing one way or the other. We have arguments and data that “prove” this and that, but my impression is that these show the same arrogance as the AGW argument that “it MUST be man’s fault, because we’ve ruled out every other possibilty”.

    We don’t even pretend to have an accepted “Theory of Everything” worked out, and some aspects (I’m told) of physics have holes (no pun intended!) or are downright contradictory! Who’s to say that progress in this regard wouldn’t greatly modify Big Bang? If its given the freedom to evolve, I wouldn’t be surprised if the whole theory was unrecognizable in 200 years.

    Further, I suspect that scientists get a sort of vicarious thrill out of romantic God-like proclaimations of the “beginning of time”, “the beginning of existence”, or “the end of time”. This is the same profession that got off on pronouncing itself the saviors of the Earth, remember? Maybe I’d think differently about it if I knew more about BB, but these notions raise questions which – by themselves – make it unlikely that they have any bearing on reality. We’ve already seen on this thread that it’s a very short hop from these concepts to talk about God – so we’ve already got one foot “off the reservation” when we go there. I smell romanticism, mysticism, and bad science.

    Just look at String Theory. Even it’s proponents admit that it does not satisfy Popper’s criteria of falsifyability, and therefore should not be considered “science” (but it is anyway). It sounds really “far out”, and helps a bunch of physicists pay the rent, but the really corrupt aspect of this is that when a physicist comes up with a competing idea, he can expect no support whatsoever (sound familiar?). Garret Lisi has come up with an intriguing alternative – but he chose to work OUTSIDE the mainstream scientific establishment because he wasn’t on board with Strings.

    We can (and should) come up with theories, but for some things we just can’t ever really know for sure – it’s just educated guesswork, and always will be.

  12. P.G. Sharrow says:

    When you reach understanding of the nature of the stuff that the universe is made of, you will see the nature or face of GOD. Although “that which is” a better discriptive term. Sorry god is not some ominipitant dude sitting on a cloud. As the universe evolves, god evolves. Which is the cause and which is the effect?
    After over 50 years of postulating the cause of Mass / Inertia and gravity, Same crap Einstien was working on when he came up with relativity and light speed theory, How it all fit and worked together became clear and the nature of “that which is” also became clear. Physics and psychics and “that which is” all arise from the same thing. Once you fully understand the nature of Dark matter / dark energy it all fits together. Unified fields, sub atomic particals, souls and god. No need for worm holes, energy strings or dozens of dimentsions. Just one partical with charge, moving in three dimentsions over time, chaos, dark matter /dark energy- Aether.

  13. Tom Vaughn says:

    Read Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design by Stephen C. Meyer for a scientific account of the arguments for intelligent design.

  14. Tom in Florida says:

    I was brought up Roman Catholic and it took me many years to fight through the guilt feelings of simply asking questions about the existence of God. As with all religions the youth must be indoctrinated, brainwashed if you will, into blind faith and I was no exception. The breakthrough came when I was finally strong enough to take the position that if one were really trying to find the truth no question should taboo to those who claimed they know the truth. I could no longer tolerate the position that “the religion is settled” (pun intended). I have lived a sceptic type of life ever since especially when I am told that something is settled and to simply believe.

  15. I appreciate your balance and fair-mindedness. There never was an essential conflict between science and religion, though some have tried to start and fan the flames of such a conflict for their own nefarious ends. The conflict idea arose in the nineteenth century, and is thoroughly discredited by historians of science and religion. Steven Shapin, Franklin L. Ford Professor of the History of Science at Harvard University, notes that

    “In the late Victorian period it was common to write about the “warfare between science and religion” and to presume that the two bodies of culture must always have been in conflict. However, it is a very long time since these attitudes have been held by historians of science.”

    If we are dealing with natural science and the natural world then you will find that in general theists use naturalism as a working assumption – that is, that there is cause and effect, laws of physics, and phenomena occur principally by second causes. Of course, theists are not philosophical or epistemic naturalists because they believe that there is something beyond the natural world, but there is no reason why this should clash with natural science, which by definition is limited to the study of the natural world.

    The problem arises when science becomes institutionalized: science in the service of atheism, Islam, Christianity, Marxism etc. This always tends to weaken and ultimately destroy science. This is what we have been seeing in climate science – science in the service of what has many of the trappings of a religion, as well as politics.

    Unfortunately, most of the damage being done in science today is by militant atheism which is seeking to impose its philosophical naturalism (a religious viewpoint) onto science – and this is bound to cause conflict. But as Alvin Plantinga has pointed out,

    “People like Dawkins hold that there is a conflict between science and religion…the truth of the matter, however, is that the conflict is between science and naturalism, not between science and belief in God…”

    I find that many atheists do not seem to realize that they are subverting science to the service of their religious worldview: an attempt to institutionalize it, which will cause serious damage to scientific endeavour.

  16. Bruce Cobb says:

    Quite by accident, the scientist Wilhelm Reich discovered the existence of an energy he called orgone. It is bio-energy, or life-energy, and is the same force referred to as prana, qui, etc. in Eastern religions. Static “electricity”, lightning, and the northern lights are just a few manifestations of it. Unlike electricity, the energy flow is from low to high potential. It is readily seen in the atmosphere, particularly on a clear day, which is when the energy flow is freest, against the blue sky by cupping one’s hands on the sides of the eyes focusing them straight, and blocking excess light, thus preventing squinting, and focusing the eyes at a distance of roughly 6 – 8 feet away, the energy appearing as dots and streaks of light, often moving in a pinwheel fashion.
    His bion experiments showed that it is possible for unicellular organisms to form spontaneously from the vesicular disintegration of matter.
    Orgone or life energy is ubiquitous, follows its own laws, and thus has what could be called an “intelligence”.
    The idea of “God” is actually a supernatural explanation for what is entirely natural, life energy.

  17. Leonard Weinstein says:

    I am not religious, and have observed that in many cases, strong religious belief has resulted in very bad actions (wars, terrorism, persecution, etc.). However, it also has done many good things (helping the poor, giving a moral code to some, etc). I have no problem with religions as long as they do not push their belief at me. However, even though there is a possibility to have religion coexist with scientific belief (they should do different things), it is the religious extremists that have persecuted science concepts such as evolution to the extent that science had to exclude ID from science education. If ID had not been pushed so hard as TRUTH that proved evolution wrong, I don’t think the education establishment would have pushed back so hard. ID is religion, and has no place in a science lab. If taught at all, it should be in a class on religion. It is true we do not have answers as to where we came from and why the universe started, but that is not the argument ID addresses.

  18. Tenuc says:

    I was raised by christian parents, and had two favourite uncles, one a jehovah’s witness, the other a muslim. By the age of twelve, I came to the conclusion that if four of the people I most respected all believed in and prayed to a different god, then they were probably all wrong. From there it was just a short step to the realisation that there was no way you could prove that god existed, so the ‘god premiss’ was unlikely to be true. I still feel this way after fifty years.

    It is interesting that many people believe in CAGW as if it were a religion. I find it surprising that despite the alarm they feel about the mythical problems of the coming global warming, they get really upset when hard factual evidence about how the real climate is observed to change, rather than feeling glad it isn’t happening after all.

    My own view of the cosmos is that the objects and events that we observe happen because there is a fundamental set of simple ‘rules’ which drive everything. I hope one day mankind will evolve sufficiently to discover them, but for the moment we just have to keep trying to make sense of it all and make do with the answer 42.

  19. kuhnkat says:

    A few nits to pick.

    First, I am a fundamentalist Christian.

    Darwin, while being a religious man for most of his life, apparently was falling, or had fallen away from his conventional belief toward the end of his life based on his own writings.

    “I cannot pretend to throw the least light on such abstruse problems. The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble to us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic. ”

    from:

    http://www.update.uu.se/~fbendz/library/cd_relig.htm

    an extract from the autobiography of Charles Darwin. One should note that to be a Religious Jew, Christian, Muslim… one must BELIEVE IN THEIR GOD!!!

    I accepted BB, evolution… most of my life because that is what I was taught by teachers and the “Experts”. As others, I came to the conclusion that God works any way he wills and if he decided to create us through BB and evolution that was fine.

    I am now 57 and have been trying to keep up on various areas of science my whole life. In the end, I simply can not believe in such poor science as they have turned out to be. Circular logic and Consensus science that becomes an impediment to advancement is simply pointless.

    EU/PU is very interesting. I have only been reading about it for a couple of years, mainly through papers contesting Red Shift and other abused areas of BB theory. I would point out that Black Holes, Dark Matter and Energy and their associated oddities are not required to hold an Electric Universe together. Sad for some Science Fiction, but, an albatross off the neck of science!!

    When I was in High School, 1968, I wrote a paper on fusion energy production. We expected it to be operational by now. It is not and we don’t fully understand why. Conventional science has serious problems. EU/PU is approaching understanding where particle/gravity physics is not.

    One of the ideas I run across repeatedly is how well current science predicts. Most NASA and other releases seem to include a form of the phrase “this was surprising.” Doesn’t give me much warm and fuzzy if most, if not all, new observations were NOT predicted!!

    Finally a touch on Ben Stein’s movie. I loved it and watced it in the Metreon in SF!! It is worth seeing just for the scene where Richard Dawkins admits he would be willing to believe in ID as long as the Intelligence was ALIENS who evolved!!!

    I think that statement sums up the REAL belief in the plausibility of the Evolutionary theory based on modern observations in Genetics and many other fields!! It was virtually impossible to have happened here so we have to postulate another planet, or series of planets, where it MAY have happened!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  20. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tom in Florida:

    Dad was Catholic (but never went to church and we never talked about it); as was a good friend of my youth. I attended some services, but could not take the intense guilt trip and power structure. Mostly my Mom took me to Baptist (because they were closest – we walked to church since she could not drive until I was about 8 years old) and sometimes Methodist or Lutheran (as we moved and they were closer, then after she got a drivers license). Eventually an Episcopalian church came to town and we went there; it being closer to Church of England which was ‘her church’. ( I said I had a broad religious upbringing …) this was in a town with a large Mormon population so I attended their church a few times with friends; and we had Christian Scientists and Seventh Day Adventists in the circle of friends too…) Just to add some seasoning, one of Dads parents was Amish, so I got a decent dose of Amish beliefs by proxy via ‘family values’… Still have a Jehova’s Witness and Mormon version of the Bible in my collection. Oh and some good friends (and some family) are Jewish, so I’ve been to Temple a couple of times too. The wedding ceremony is particularly fun. And a Japanese friend took me to a Buddhist temple a couple of times too.

    Of them all, with no idea why at the time, I liked the “pomp and circumstance” of the Catholic church the most but just could not take the authoritarian dictator approach. Guess I was too much of a Martin Luther type at heart. Had a similar reaction to the Mormon church. Nice folks, well intentioned, but just too controlling a structure. Just not well suited to rebel sorts with a compulsive need for consistency and logical cohesion. Felt most comfortable with Buddhist world view, though.

    So this Christmas, spouse and I went to mass at a Catholic church (a very large and very historic one). Wonderful uplifting and positive experience all around (though I liked it more back when it was in Latin… more ‘mystery’ to it…). Yet, when we came out, we both agreed that we could not take the ‘power trip’ part of catholicism so we would return, but always as visitors.

    Strangely, I only attended a Jehova’s Witness church for the first time about a year ago. (Had many sit in my living room, me being excessively polite and wishing to help them feel a bit more accepted by the world… yeah, and I take in homeless cats too… but never visited their church.) I went because the two folks “working on me” were just wonderfully genuine folks. (A black lady and her adult daughter. Wonderful folks and very tolerant of my ‘sloth’ at never managing to show up… guess maybe I just ran out of ‘dodges’ and trapped myself in one suggested ‘promise’ too far ;-) At any rate, it was a very pleasant surprise.

    For those who don’t know, the J.W. folks are the extreme opposite of the Catholics. There is no professional clergy class. It is sort of an “open source” version of Christianity. Everyone is supposed to be a Lay Clergy. The “service’ centers around reading a part of the Bible and, as a group, deciding what it means. I found it terribly refreshing. (Though you do have to be ready as an audience member to ‘participate’ if called upon… ) So here are these genuine folks just reading the Book and figuring out what it actually says, then doing exactly that. Unfortunately, exactly following a set of books like those of the old and new testaments leads to odd results, like the need to go door to door talking about the doom of Revelations.

    One word of warning: Folks have more variation in communion that just about anything else. Catholics can not take communion if they have not gone to confession (or otherwise assured they have purged ‘sin’ from their heart) and outsiders are ‘right out’. Baptists are happy to have anyone take communion as a sort of statement of moral support (but it’s Welch’s Grape juice – honest, he started the company to make communion juice as alcohol is ‘evil’…) And the J.W. communion almost tripped me up as it has it’s own odd twist:

    The cup starts circulating, but nobody is taking a sip. I’m puzzled… Ask the guy next to me “Can outsiders join you in communion?” (thinking about the Catholic thing…) Get a positive “Oh Yes” response. Still notice no ‘sipping’ going on. JUST before the cup got to me I figured out that the ‘tension’ in the group was based around them waiting for someone to have a conversion moment and “take communion” as a joining statement / ritual. Basically my interpretation is that the ‘taking communion’ is about the same as being ‘called’ in a Baptist church and marching to the front when they call for converts. So unless you intend to join their church, skip the juice… and it seems that once ‘in’ they don’t sip the juice during regular communion as they are already ‘joined’.

    OK, that said: I liked the folks and really liked the devotion to what is actually in evidence. No interpreter between you and your God. Just you and the Book. And you need to work it out (though with help from others who have read it before you, but with no more ‘authority’ than you have; even if there is a moral suasion from ‘consensus’ on key points.) My only real qualms came out of the implications of a strict adherence to what you conclude it says. It says everyone has a duty to preach: you go door to door. Revelations says destruction is at hand, you preach that. etc. Did make me confront the fact that I really could not have that degree of “walking the walk” and gave me a new found admiration for these folks who did have that courage.

    So at the end of all this, IMHO, the two extremes are the Catholics (central power and control, strongly rule based with all direction and decisions ‘top down’) and the J.W. (diffuse ‘bottom up’ decision making, and coordination only by social norms and structures built by common effort) and with exactly opposite views on how to use The Book. (The Catholic church at one point had you killed if you read the bible yourself and forbid translation into languages other than Latin (but they got over it). The J.W. have an active translation group making as many different languages as possible and will give you a copy if you even hint at it.) Catholics have the whole pomp and ceremony thing very well tuned. J.W. have an unadorned place were ‘just folks’ gather to read and discuss.

    And at the end of the day I find I can’t be Catholic for exactly the reasons you highlight (but I like the ‘show’) and I can’t be a J.W. because I can’t be a little automaton following what some book says, even if I’m the only interpreter (though I strongly admire their intellectual honesty with themselves and their devotion to principles – ‘walking the walk’.)

    Sidebar on Pascal’s Wager:

    I ended up in the “agnostic” bucket largely via a variation on Pascal’s Wager (and after a contemplation rather like that of Tenuc above – too many smart folks I liked who had directly conflicting beliefs). It goes a bit like this (but is best done as a box of 4 squares)

                I Proclaim God            |     I Deny God
    God Exists                            |
                                          |
                I'm passing judgement on  |     Well, now I’m screwed.
                God.  Arrogant of me and  |
                a vengeful God might like |
                to whack me for that bit  |
                of the sin of arrogance.  |
                Who am I to pass          |
                Judgement on the          |
                existence of God?         |
     -----------------------------------------------------------------
    No God                                |
                                          |
                I’m being a damn fool.    |     I’m stateting a simple
                                          |     truth of no value that
                                          |     at best pisses off the
                                          |     believers around me and
                                          |     if I’m wrong, well, see the
                                          |     box just above this one.
    
    
    

    None of these choices is very good for me. IMHO, the only rational way out of that box is “take no position”. Kind of a Buddhist “empty vessel” moment for me.

    So I am “an empty vessel” and take no position. It is the logical thing to do (and also rather peaceful…)

    But I’m still fascinated by the historical insights in The Book, by the general wisdom of the ages in it, by the social methods and systems different churches use and how they demonstrate aspects of human nature. And yes, by the ‘show’ at some churches.

    But don’t try to get me to pass judgement on God, “Smith’s Wager” says that the best choice is not to play the game… And, IMHO, a truly intelligent God would appreciate someone who says “There is not enough data to make this statement in the affirmative, I reserve judgement.” while a God that demands mindless adoration seems a bit suspect to me… I’d hate to find out I was adoring the ‘wrong side’ in a galactic power struggle ;-)

    So I am but an empty vessel on the issue of “Does God exist?”

  21. E.M.Smith says:

    kuhnkat
    A few nits to pick.
    […]
    Darwin, while being a religious man for most of his life, apparently was falling, or had fallen away from his conventional belief toward the end of his life based on his own writings.

    Yes, though his Origin of Species was written as a practicing Christian so is a ‘book written by a religious man’.

    One should note that to be a Religious Jew, Christian, Muslim… one must BELIEVE IN THEIR GOD!!!

    Doing a “nit for nit” ;-) technically those three have the same God, they just argue and kill each other over the details of the method of belief… One of the most fascinating aspects of human “social norms”. So you can believe in Jehova and be any of those three and even swap between them (though Islam has a ‘one way in, no way out’ clause… the Koran says if you try to convert away you are to be killed. Hey, don’t toss rocks at me, it’s their book, I just read it.) Even more fascinating is the tendency for Shia and Sunni to kill each other off. The Koran forbids muslims attacking each other, so they have to define each other as ‘not muslims’ due to false practices so they can get on with the killing…

    So despite good guidance at the core of Religion, folks still find a way to use it to justify evil acts. The human condition prevails. (NOT a fault of religion, a fault of people.)

    I would point out that Black Holes, Dark Matter and Energy and their associated oddities are not required to hold an Electric Universe together. Sad for some Science Fiction, but, an albatross off the neck of science!!

    Yeah, the whole ‘dark stuff’ fantasy rankles me. No data and no evidence, just a good imagination… (Speaking of God: Dark Matter – a mysterious thing we can not see but is essential for holding the universe together and making it operate… sounds more like a belief in God than a statement of physics.) For black holes, at least, there is some evidence that they exist (though I could easily see other explanations).


    Finally a touch on Ben Stein’s movie. I loved it and watced it in the Metreon in SF!! It is worth seeing just for the scene where Richard Dawkins admits he would be willing to believe in ID as long as the Intelligence was ALIENS who evolved!!!

    That moment was just precious. Now I happen to advocate allowing discussions of ID exactly for the reason that it is possible that Space Aliens came to visit and “helped” us along… but I know it’s a fringe interest based on liking whacky stories. (Well, that, and the fact that it is a match for what is written in texts from Sumarian tablets to Indian Vedas to parts of the Bible) And here is “Mr. Hard Core Science Fact Only” talking about Space Aliens! Almost fell out of my chair. The guy has to have been hazed to death by his “friends” about it since then. Just precious. Of course, nobody went near the question that this implies: How could a primitive people distinguish a vastly advanced alien race from “God and Angeles?” And how could we?

    It was virtually impossible to have happened here so we have to postulate another planet, or series of planets, where it MAY have happened!!

    And that is a nice concise statement of the current crisis in molecular evolution…

    Isn’t science fun?

    I think most folks don’t appreciate how big an impact those 3.5 ish Billion year old fossil bacteria have had. Life pops into existence almost as soon as the rocks cool a bit and water condenses. Fits Genesis better than it fits molecular evolution. So the answer to the questions this raises? “Plug ears, chant NA NA NA NA NA I can’t HEEAR you! NA NA NA”

    FWIW, my “best guess” is that various rocks act as catalysts to accelerate evolution in a ‘primordial soup’ and until we re-run the ‘stuff in a bottle with lightning’ experiments with a variety of rocks and metals in the bucket, we will not figure this out. (Zeolites are rocks commonly used to rearrange organic molecules, for example, in molecular sieves.)

    My Second Best guess is the “well if we had Another Planet,and it blew up, but stuff didn’t die, and it drifted through space and did a deorbit burn, but didn’t die, and landed in hot primordial soup, but didn’t die, then we can explain it!” dodge.

    My Third Best (but most entertaining) guess is that life evolved 10 or more Billion years ago on some other planet, and some ancient race takes pleasure from seeding life on new worlds as they become viable. Hey, we plant gardens; and just look how many ‘lower plants and animals’ we’ve put in strange places all over the planet! Who knows, maybe some Ancient geological survey was just taking a sample of ‘pristine primordial soup’ and didn’t bother to sterilize their boots before they landed…

    It would serve us right to learn that we evolved from a bit of crap on the bottom of a boot ;-)

  22. John Diffenthal says:

    Interesting post. I suppose that one of the reasons that Darwinism is seen as anti religious is at least partly due to Richard Dawkins who is a highly visible Darwinist who is vigorously opposed to organised religion.

    Someone above (Jeff Alberts? I can’t remember) said that religion had nothing to offer science. That’s a reasonable position but science has nothing much to offer on ethics or politics … why should we be surprised that religion isn’t a source of scientific insight. That said, religious belief isn’t a barrier to being a scientist – the Muslim caliphate in Spain brought a kind of scientific and engineering renaissance between the 9th and 14th centuries during their occupation as well as providing a significant source of linguistic and cultural elements.

  23. Harold Vance says:

    I really like the work that Spencer Wells has done and is doing with The Genographic Project. Anyone who is interested in learning from whence we came from should check it out. Better yet, participate.

  24. On your closing note: the recent discovery of (I believe) nearly all the 20-21 known amino acids (in abundant quantities) in comet and meteor material fetched from space would indicate that there would be significantly less “dice-tossing” than you might imagine. The amino acide could be (and no-doubt were) deposited on earth from space. And – since they’re unarguably in said space objects – they obviously were formed in abundance SOMEWHERE in that first billion years.

    Add to that the knowledge that the protoplasmic “sac” in which cells structures are embedded can form quite readily (and quickly) in a random primordial soup – and you have all – repeat, all – the pieces needed.

    Not a definitive argument by any means – but persuasive.

    And – yes – I am not a religious person at all. But live and let live, I always say.

  25. E.M.Smith says:

    Steamboat McGoo […]they obviously were formed in abundance SOMEWHERE in that first billion years.

    They were likely in abundance for 10+ Billion years before that as space is far older than Earth. Part of why I lean toward the “It Came From Space” group…

    Add to that the knowledge that the protoplasmic “sac” in which cells structures are embedded can form quite readily (and quickly) in a random primordial soup – and you have all – repeat, all – the pieces needed.

    The “sac” is a lipo-protein membrane. Amino acids get you proteins, but you still need lipds.

    Um, I think you are still needing a bunch of nucleic acids and a basket of lipids and some odd bits of complex molecules like vitamins, co-vitamins, hormones, etc. etc. We are a lot more than proteins and water… (though I do think a lot of them can come from mineral catalysis with lightning in the soup).

    Not a definitive argument by any means – but persuasive.

    The biggest thing in it’s favor is that every time we have a surprise it is in the direction of “geee, that happened all on it’s own fairly easily…”

    I’d love to see a re-run of the “air in a lightning bottle” but with a synthetic “black smoker” under “ocean” and some “artificial comet” debris infall. Oh and with some rich collection of minerals for catalysis.

  26. Tony Hansen says:

    Thanks for the post E.M.
    Rodney Brooks (MIT) was doing some intersting stuff on pre-biotic self organization and chemical self-organization. Gave much to ponder.

    Something I really liked was when scientists proclaimed the boudaries within which life could exist.
    Then new thermophiles were found which extended the range.
    Then hyper-thermophiles were found.
    What might be next?

    The possibility of panspermia also opens many doors for further thought.

    What scientific theories can we comfortably rest our caps on and say that in 20 or 30 years time these theories will remain virtually unchanged?

  27. bubbanewbie says:

    It is always enjoyable to read the religious “pontifications” of people when restraint is applied; I find something new almost every time. It is often thought provoking to hear new things. Thanks to all for sharing your thoughts.

    I have always been struck by how odd it is that any rational scientist would presume to state that it is impossible for the metaphysical to exist. Particularly when the impossibility is narrowed down to a certain concept he finds unacceptable or objectionable on some personal level. What could be more unscientific, I wonder?

    It’s what you learn after you know it all that really matters, I imagine.

    Further, why would any forward thinking person want to close another persons mind to what could be the greatest possibility of all? Such behavior doesn’t seem to be reasonable or kind hearted at all, but rather arrogant and abusive. I don’t mean to be harshly critical, it is very difficult to think outside of our own mindset. Wouldn’t it be nice if we could all have a more expanded conciseness?

  28. Neil Fisher says:

    One of my favourite bits of movie dialogue is from a movie about aliens visiting the earth and they look just like us (keeps the makeup costs down I guess ;-) ). It goes like this:

    1: You’re telling me these are aliens and they look just like us? How could that be?
    2: Do you believe in God?
    1: We go to church together – you know I do.
    2: Do you believe the Bible when it says we were made in God’s image?
    1: Again – yes, you know I do!
    2: How many images do you think He made?

    Like you, I see no conflict between what science says (especially re: evolution) and what the Bible says – to me science asks “How?” while religeon asks “Why?”. Different questions with different answers that in no way contradict each other – only certain peoples interpretation of those answers create such conflict. It’s also perhaps germane to remind you (if someone hasn’t aleady) that Einstien is famously quoted as saying “God does not play dice with the universe”, so that’s argueably the greatest mind of the 20th century espousing a belief in God.

    People are strange, eh? (yeah – me included!)

  29. pyromancer76 says:

    I have read this contribution a couple of times. I cannot comment — can’t think of what to say. Silly, but I am tickled, and so glad that not only can you think in this marvelous way, but that you are willing to let a larger audience share. And there seem to be quite a number of us who are appreciative.

  30. E.M.Smith says:

    Ran into an interesting link over on WUWT in a “warmers” rant against a Christian who was also a Scientist. Actually has some interesting descriptions in it of the scientific “issues” with evolutionary creation:

    http://theevolutioncrisis.org.uk/index.php

    In particular, the point that the amino acids produced in the lab experiment breakdown in excess water, like, oh, the ocean…

    Does raise an interesting question about the origin scenario. (I’d just presume that there was a dryer spot somewhere). Not one I’d thought about and a significant issue.

    Click on through to the second and third pages for more of the science issues.

  31. John Diffenthal says:

    @Neil Fisher,

    The quote from Einstein is famous, but I thought that it had more to do with the subtleties of quantum theory – not a commitment to an overarching belief in God at the macro level. More like Nils Bohr’s comment that if you thought you understood Quantum Mechanics then you were probably wrong.

  32. wolfwalker says:

    I like to think I’m uniquely, or at least unusually, qualified to comment on a post like this because I am both an AGW skeptic and a long-time vociferous defender of evolutionary theory against creationism of all kinds, including “intelligent design.”

    For all the similarities between the two phenomena — that is, how dissenters are treated by the AGW ‘establishment’ and the evolutionary-theory ‘establishment’ — there are two enormous differences.

    1) Evolution-defenders have always been willing to engage anti-evolutionists on a level playing field. This has happened multiple times in public venues such as debates, and twice in courts of law under formal rules of evidence. In both cases the evolutionist side kicked the creationists’ asses. See McLean v. Arkansas (1983) and Kitzmiller v. Dover School Board (2007). The Kitzmiller trial is directly on point here, since trial testimony demonstrated clearly how Intelligent Design is just religious creationism repackaged.

    2) Much more important, all the evidence for evolution is available to anyone who wants to look at it. Not in games of dueling quotes, not in complicated esoteric articles in expensive scientific journals, but in museums and collections the world over, and in lavishly illustrated books written by scientist-writers like Jack Horner and Stephen Jay Gould, and masterful science-explainers like Carl Zimmer and John Noble Wilford. Anyone can study the horse fossil series or the whale fossil series and see how it demonstrates evolutionary change. Anyone can go out in the field and look at living and fossil organisms, and see firsthand how they fit together.

    For my money, I see many more similarities between AGW advocates and creationists. Anyone who studies the creation-vs-evolution argument rapidly becomes wearily familiar with a long list of fallacious arguments and methods used by creationists. AGW makes extensive use of many of the same fallacies.

  33. Mike B. says:

    Chiefio wrote:

    “Doing a “nit for nit” ;-) technically those three have the same God, they just argue and kill each other over the details of the method of belief… One of the most fascinating aspects of human “social norms”. ”

    Why is it that my first post at every Blog is to disagree with the host? Maybe it’s just the nature of “the Internets”. :-) So, a few nits of my own:

    In any meaningful Theological sense, the Gods of Christianity, Judaism, and Islam are not the “same God”. Don’t believe me? Ask a Jewish scholar what he thinks of the Holy Trinity. Same with an Islamic scholar.

    One God, who has presented himself to Man in three ways is perhaps they key tenet of Christian (or at the very least Catholic) Theology. Christianity cannot exist without a human incarnation of God. Islam and Judaism can’t exist with it.

    And don’t even get me started about praying to Mary (which many non-Catholic Christians consider idolatry).

    Yes, Judaism, Christianity, and Islam have common historical roots, in way that Hinduism and Buddism do not. But that is very different from saying that they worship “the same God”.

  34. Harold Vance says:

    There is a discussion along this line at Eric Berger’s blog at the Houston Chronicle. He recently interviewed Rice chemist Jim Tour (a specialist in synthetic organic chemistry) about his beliefs and his views on evolution.

    This is not an endorsement of Berger, who gave A&M’s Gerry North a megaphone with which to trash McIntyre. I just thought that the interview was relevant to the discussion here.

  35. greg2213 says:

    This is far and away the best discussion I’ve seen on the religion/science subject. It’s a nice breath of fresh air compared to how these frequently, heh, evolve. :)

    Anyway, one early molecules => cells and such, I remembered from my Biology classes something about “coacervate droplets.”

    From: http://www.xs4all.nl/~sbpoley/abiog/virginiaorigin.htm
    “Once polymers were formed the next step in creating life on Earth would have been the formation of molecular aggregates and primitive “cells”. The term cells is used very loosely here. When polypeptides or polynucleotides are combined in solution they form one of two types of complex units: one that Oparin called coacervate droplets and the other that Stanley Fox called proteinoid microspheres.”

    Now, my early biology is probably horribly out of date, but the existence of these things seems to make a nice link.

    My personal belief is that there is a lot of life out there, on any planet that can support it, and it’s not likely than any intelligent life out there will be within thousands of years of us, in either direction. Unless it was “recently” planted there.

    How mind blowing it would be to see that some of that life was “human,” as well.

    As far as the AGW religion goes, well, I think a lot of that particular religion is driven by money and power and the “religion” was developed to fit that. Hopefully this winter stuff will cause a few to become apostates.

    And as far as science and religion, well, it seems to me that if God is creating the universe, on the fly, every moment and that the laws of the universe as subject to His will, at that moment, then scientific research might be tough. (This is a, not saying THE, Muslim philosophy.)

    If God is big enough to have created evolution then it seems that there’s room for both.

    E.M.Smith’s philosophy is kinda cool. I rather like your “empty vessel” idea. For myself, I can be happy with the idea that God is a matter of faith and science works to unlock God’s machine.

    But, by damn, I want to see some aliens!

  36. KuhnKat says:

    Greg2213,

    In my father’s house there are many dwelling places (commonly Mansions)

    After Jesus rose he stated that he was going to other flocks!!

    Some think this may refer to other planets!! Don’t give up yet!!

  37. KuhnKat says:

    E M Smith,

    genetics is an absolutely mind blowing science. It is used continuously support evolution, but, there are problems.

    One of these problems is chirality.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chirality_(chemistry)

    Scan down to the In Biology section.

    The biggest failing of the experiment of producing amino acids is that earth life is L and the synthesized amino acids are L AND D. No one has synthesized only L or only D. I often see references to where laboratories “create life.” In these experiments they use EXISTING L or D amino acids to “create” more. They DO NOT synthesize them from scratch!!!

    I am still waiting for this HUGE step.

    Here is an admittedly biased reference to some other amazing bits of genetic science. I am linking to page 8. You can browse to the other 11 pages.

    http://www.s8int.com/dna8.html

    None of this PROVES anything one way or the other, but, that is my point. Evolutionists like to claim the science is SETTLED when it is FAR from settled and, in my opinion, ID has the edge!!

  38. KuhnKat says:

    greg2213,

    just took a look at your link. It talks about the universe being 20 billion years old. The evolutionists would really like that, but, the BB types have only pushed it to about 13 billion I believe!!

  39. KuhnKat says:

    E M Smith and Mike B,

    the question isn’t whether the 3 believe in the same God, but, whether God believes in any of them!!

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  40. L Schmidt says:

    Question:How well is the Urban Heat Island Effect compensated for ?

    I went to the GISS website and downloaded the temperature record for two locations I know a little about.

    Here is the link

    http://data.giss.nasa.gov/gistemp/station_data/
    The two data sets I downloaded were
    Hensley Field [ a Naval air station which started in 1923 and is substantially unchanged]

    DFW airport was a cow pasture 1/2 way between Dallas and FW] prior to 1977 when a massive airport was built.

    Since they are about 15 miles apart they should have the same temperature differences.
    No raw data is available but the least “corrected” data had “USHCN corrections” applied.

    DFW airport pattern makes a big “U” witgh the upturn starting in …..You guessed it 1977.
    Who would think Jets and runways etc would have an effect on temperature ?

    The Hensley fields pattern was an “L”. there was no uptick after 1977.

    The “Fully Adjusted data for both don’t change the pattern at all.

    Conclusion THE ADJUSTMENTS DON’T REMOVE THE PHONY WARMING FROM THE DFW RECORD..

    Since this is the main station for the DFW area the whole area is mis-represented.

    This is in the USA with the most accurate surface station records in the world ?

    What must Asia be like ?

    This is a non peer reviewed study although I have given enough data it can easily be replicated in 20 minutes.

    I hate taking even the skeptics assertions at face value.

  41. Mike B. says:

    A couple of fairly quick hitters:

    KuhnKat:

    One thing that I find interesting is that so many people on the ID side seem to be concerned with the “scientific” aspects of ID, and it being “accepted” as a legitimate scientific endeavor. Yet I hear very little from ID proponents about the Theological aspects of ID. Same goes for strict Creationsists. Galileo thought he could see God through a telescope. His theology was worse than his science on that point.

    EM Smith:

    I’ve given your “quadrant chart” a some serious thought, and I think you’ve presented it as a false choice, biased toward non-belief. Now I don’t have a problem with non-belief, being an agnostic myself. But I think your bias is clearly revealed in your description of the upper left quandrant, where you fail to aknowledge any positives that might arise from believing in an existant God.

    The same is true, to a lesser extent, with the lower left quandrant, where it seems that intellectual vanity is the only consideration. Surely there is some benefit from the moral guidance that comes from belief in God, even if it turns out that “nothing” is there.

    But most of all, I think the premise that separates the right and left parts of the your chart is entirely wrong. It is based entirely on whether or not one “believes” in God, not on whether or not one lives their life consistent with his teachings.

    I’ve tried to believe in God since I was about 10. And I can’t. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t work for me. I have about as much chance of willing myself to a belief in God as I do of willing myself into being a Dallas Cowboys fan.

    But I do have a choice about how I live my life. I chose to marry a devout Catholic. When we met with the priest who was to marry us, he never asked me to convert, he only asked that I pledge to raise our children Catholic. Which I have happily done. We attend Mass together, as a family. We pray together. If that makes me a fool, so be it. A hypocrite? I can live with that, too.

    Because someday, I might wake up and believe. And there might be a God. And it will have all been worth it. And if I never do believe, and there is a God, I hope he will judge me for what I’ve done, and what I’ve tried to be. And if there is no God, all I’ve done is spend more time with my family, made my wife happy, made some wonderful friends, and done charitable work I might not have otherwise.

    Now, if there is a God, and he’s a Dallas Cowboys fan, I may be in some real trouble.

  42. E.M.Smith says:

    @Mike B:

    We are not as divergent as you might think.

    Per the quadrants: It started as a critique of Pascal’s Wager, where he handles the case of “God as a good thing” rather well and concludes that, since there is no “cost” to belief in God, one ought to do so regardless. I felt that was a bit too, er, narrow; and asked “What if there IS a cost?”. The result is “Smith’s Wager”… And frankly, given the capricious or vengeful nature of “God” as described in parts of the Bible, I’d not be at all surprised at the possibility of a “sin of arrogance” cost. OTOH, if God is as all wise and forgiving as some assert, I’d expect an appreciation of the subtle reasoning to a “mu” Buddhist like answer (“mu” – the question is ill formed) and the conclusion that the best decision is to reserve judgment and not answer the question.
    ;-)

    But don’t take it as some great cosmic driver in my life. It is just an alternate view on Pascal’s Wager (that I think has some merit).

    Per the “lower left”, yes, there is a benefit to belief in God and adherence to religion, even if false. But the “adherence” part can be disjoint from the “I believe in God” answer part. That is why I am married to a religious person and my kids were raised with religious teachings. It’s up to them what they believe, but the “moral guidance” is worth it anyway. Frankly, I think that is the key driver for a large percentage of folks who go to {church, temple, mosque, etc.}. They don’t have a clue if there is a God or not, but they like the structure and guidance about how to get through life and find that it “works” well. They, too, separate “belief” from “adherence”.

    So while I, too, have trouble committing to a “belief in God”, I have no trouble committing to a “religion involved life”. Basically, for all it’s faults and troubles (i.e. things like religious driven wars – Sunni / Shia for example) the actual guidance given in books like Psalms and the poetry of some of the other books seems “worth it” to me. (And frankly, some practical bits like what foods to avoid if you don’t want to pick up a variety of odd diseases… That is “bang on” from a public health point of view. That the only parts of the cow you are allowed to eat and stay Kosher are exactly the parts that let you avoid Mad Cow Disease is downright spooky!)

    So at the end of the day, I end up exactly where you are. My “box” describes what I believe (“God is unlikely, but taking a position on it is probably not what I ought to do”) while what I do is attend various church services with my spouse and live my life in (rough ;-) accordance with biblical guidance.

    BTW, I think the reason you hear little about the “theological aspects of ID” is that the most theological folks don’t care about it. They know there is a creator God and so “are done”. I could even see them being a bit put off by the whole “technology to prove God” tone of it. In some of the churches I’ve attended they went to great pains to stress that “belief” had to be unconditioned by reason, that it had to be purely based on “faith” and nothing more. Those folks don’t like a “reasoning your way to faith” message…

    So I’d expect a higher than “normal” percentage of folks interested in ID from the “fence sitter” crowd. Some, like me, on the “outside” and some on the “inside” but looking for justification or defense from outside attack. Or where they are personally somewhat “faith based” but mostly “reason based” so looking for a reason based solution to the “evolution proves no God need apply” argument frequently tossed at them.

  43. Stefan says:

    Through humanity’s long history, human cognition and culture has gone through an evolutionary development of “consciousness” or “how we see the world”.

    This development can be split into discreet stages, and different models draw the lines at different points. You could make a map with just three stages, or even ten stages.

    Let’s take a loose map of just three stages (each is described by two words to pair the level of cognition with the culture in which it lives) :

    1. magic-tribal (12,000 years ago)
    2. mythic-empire (5000 years ago)
    3. rational-modern (300 years ago)

    You could have ten stages, but three makes the point just as well. I’ve also added a very rough indication of when in history those stages first appeared.

    Now, religion is very old. Parts of it come from magical times, parts form mythic times, and, parts even come from modern times. Many atheists would agree with religion being about magical and mythic beliefs, which atheists would contend are completely irrelevant to a modern world. Even damaging.

    But wait, I didn’t stop the list at mythic, I added that religion can also be modern. How can religion be rational-modern, in any sense of the word? I thought religion was just myths and mumbo jumbo?

    Well, religion is just spirituality with a clubhouse. And spirituality is just people asking themselves the fundamental questions, like, who am I? why am I here? what is the meaning of life? how should I live?

    Yes Sir, those are spiritual questions. They can involve a God, but not necessarily. Zen Buddhists for example don’t have a God figure as such. Eco-warriors don’t have a God as such. But both act like what they are about is of supreme significance, for it is about the very ethical and spiritual dimension of life.

    That’s really the point, see, that every mental stage, be it magical, mythical, or rational, will have its own conception of spirituality.

    If you were living in a tribe 10,000 years ago, (or even in some parts of Africa today), and someone asked you about the purpose of life, you might say something about the spirit of the animals, and you might say something about the power of the shaman, and the blood of the ancestors running though your own veins.

    If you were living 4000 years ago, you might say something about the rigid, purposeful order of the King, almost a god-like figure (the ascendancy of the ego in a way not seen in earlier tribal society) and of the order of the universe (caste systems, slavery, punishments and rewards).

    And if you are living today, you might say something about the nature of reason and knowledge, the scientific understanding of nature, and our small place in the universe. You might even object that it is not a spiritual question, merely a rational inquiry into unknown unknowns. You might say there is no purpose, merely that you are your own author of your life, deciding its direction and dealing with random opportunities.

    These are all spiritual answers from different minds to spiritual questions; why are we here, what is our purpose?

    Of course, a modern rational mind might also wonder about the complexity of life, the unimaginable size of the kosmos, and have an intuition of awe. They might say that feeling of awe is the most open and silent feeling they ever have in their life.

    On the other hand, some modern minds might just focus intensely on the importance of rationality in a world so full of irrationality, and if you ask them, “how should people live?” their mantra/answer is, “kill religion!”

    But I can’t help wonder that is a similar anti-reaction to how greenies make “kill capitalism and corporations” their mantra for “how to live”—ie. it is more about leaving the previous stage behind in the dust, than about fully creating a new one. But I digress.

    Basically, the question, “where is God?” is entirely dependent on the mind which is conceptualising and asking that question. This is what rabid-atheists miss—it isn’t the religious system (that’s just the club house)—it is the minds of people who are tuned to particular levels.

    This means that you can find in the world:

    1. magic-level-religion
    2. mythic-level-religion
    3. rational-level-religion

    The world contains the whole spectrum of levels right now, simply because every infant is born at zero and has to wake up to each level in turn, which is why small kids believe in magic-level-Santa. The world also contains pre-modern areas which we call “3rd world”, authoritarian areas like China which we call “2nd world” and 1st world areas that are industrialised… but this makes sense if we just reverse the numbering:

    1. magic-level-tribal-Africa
    2. mythic-level-authoritarian-China
    3. rational-level-industrialised-USA

    Now this isn’t to say that the categories fit exactly. If you zoom into an area you’ll see some mixture of all three, simply because an individual person can be a mixture of all three to varying amounts, simply because each person started out as an infant at stage zero, and had to awaken to all three. First they believed in Santa. Then they believed in Rules and Punishments. Then they “believed” in thinking for one’s self and testing hypothesis. However, the fact is that some people stay stuck at earlier levels.

    But let’s step back to our broad view again. It is no coincidence that mythic-style-religion has been on the decline in the UK, much to the relief of some atheists, but it is meanwhile on the increase in Africa.

    See, Africa is still making large transitions from tribal to whatever comes next (you can’t just skip stages) and what comes next is… authoritarian mythical order, which in religious form is One True God and order and justice. Christianity and Islam in their One Order, mythic form are on the rise in Africa. They are at odds with modern level Christianity in the West. African Christianity wants to burn gays. Western Christianity wants to ordain them.

    But again, the point is that mythic-religion is not the only form of religion/spirituality. We actually all face that same question, “how should I live my life?” which calls into focus the very nature of existence, and there are many forms because there are many stages of cognition.

    So there is plenty of room for a rational-level-spiritual inquiry.

    There is also room for appreciating what mythic-order did for human civilisation over thousands of years, for we are today the product of that story. Remember, tribes were divided by blood. Those who awakened strong egos could only leave the tribe or become some sort of sun-king. It took something more powerful than any tribe, and more powerful than any sun-god, to unite disparate peoples. That was the myth of the One True God. And without the order that brought, the world’s empires could not have been built.

    Anyway, that’s a very long and awkward summary, just my take on stuff I’ve read and spiritual teachers and psychologists I’ve tried to listen to.

    The world’s leading voice on this is Ken Wilber.

    Any misrepresentations of this stuff are my own.

  44. vjones says:

    This is a facinating discussion that touches on points about which I have not thought seriously for a long time.

    I grew up in a quite a religious society although in a not particularly devout family. My father, in a small country school until age 14, was always bitter that his schooling had been so focussed on the bible, and he turned his back on the practice of religion – we were more likely to be off ‘in the great outdoors’ in the summer than in church and my mother was once told (to much relief) by the minister at her guilt of this, that “to be close to nature is to be close to God”.

    So I had a strong moral upbringing, in which church featured, but not highly. I discovered in my early teens that I could not “not believe”, and I went though a lot of turmoil because I could not define my belief, but I could not abandon it either. Do I believe in the existence of God? Er, a tentative yes, but don’t press me on a definition. Perhaps that is as it should be (the mystery….).

    My spouse, from a more atheistic background, went though a ‘conversion’ in his late teens and then became a Methodist lay preacher. His enthusiasm for his faith bemused me a little when we first met, but we have settled into a happy state of sloth as regards regular churchgoing, again with a good moral ground for our family.

    As a scientist, ID has a lot of appeal, but the beauty of molecular evolution always facinated me, particularly positive and negative feedbacks achieved by inhibition at the enzymatic level, and sensors switching on genes for production of the right proteins etc. I look at it as a way of nature achieving perfect balance.

  45. greg2213 says:

    KuhnKat

    I believe the Electric Universe people are saying that the Universe has always been here. Plenty of time there for anything to evolve, even though the coacervate droplets appear fairly quickly.

    My Bible lore is very poor and I’d never heard the reference to going on to other flocks. Interesting thought.

    As for chirality, I expect that living things have a certain preference for R or L. Once one reached a certain dominance in the earliest life perhaps the other was filtered out of the system (can’t use it, can’t eat it…)

    Maybe those flocks that Jesus is taking care of have the other form?

  46. DirkH says:

    Hi ChiefIO.
    When i read your description of problems for the scientists who have to explain why highly developed life came to exist a few million years after earth was cool enough i had to think of tardigrades. Tiny multiple-cell animals that withstand practically everything including the vacuum and radiation of space. Just a thought… Check them out, they’re unbelievable.

  47. E.M.Smith says:

    @DirkH: Wow! Like a cross between a caterpillar and a minature Vogon! And it takes dehydration for 10 years plus radiation. ( I suspect it ‘cuts off’ at 10 years due to the patience of the researcher ;-)

    Definitely a candidate for space travel (especially given that some were tested with direct exposure to space and lived…)

    Fascinating…

  48. Tony Hansen says:

    Hope you don’t mind E.M.,
    From Pathfinder Science-
    ‘When the environment dehydrates in dry weather tardigrades desiccate into a reversible state of metabolic suspension called cryptobiosis. They shrivel to about one-third their former size into a wrinkled “tun” (Figure 3). Individuals have been observed to come and go from the cryptobiotic state repeatedly and tardigrades have been reported to survive more than 100 years (Kinchin 1994).

    Cryptobiosis is of great interest in the study of cryogenics and tardigrades have been subjected to laboratory experiments which verified their ability to survive. Tardigrades have tolerated temperatures below freezing at 0.05K (-272.95 C) for 20 hours and -200 C for 20 months. They have survived 120 C, pressures of 1000 atmospheres, and high vacuums. In the cryptobiotic state, tardigrades have shown resistance to hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, ultraviolet light, and X-rays (Kinchin 1994).’

    As you said , WOW!!
    Thanks Dirk

    REPLY: [ Why would I object? This is just so “way cool” as to make me want to go make a “home” for a bunch of them, but I can’t decide if I want it “cook your dinner” hot or “freeze your ‘tiny bits’ cold” or just put them in the microwave oven (!) for a home… I mean My God Man, they guys deserve preservation! … then again, it looks like they don’t really need it! Sorry, but I’m just boggling over this tiny slice of nature / “God’s work” and find it astoundintg. -E.M.Smith ]

  49. Tony Hansen says:

    If tardigrades evolved on Earth, how and why did they develop the what it takes to survive in space?

    Why would these animals evolve to stand the extreme dehydration by space vacuum (at a pressure in the range of 0.00001 Pa compared to 100 000 Pa on Earth)?

    Why would they evolve to survive a dose of UV-A and UV-B of over 7000 kJ/sqm?
    And they (well some of them) can still produce offspring after all this!!!

    Data from ‘Tardigrades in Space – TARDIS’
    (I wonder what TV shows they watched as kids?)

  50. Gary Novak says:

    I call myself an evolution biologist, mushroom physiologist and moral philosopher. Science does not quite reach into the intelligent design area, which means atheists have no “theory” on the subject. ID is just an open subject in science.

    However, science is getting close enough to the subject to add some general opinions from an informed basis. For example, There are thousands of “bad” mutation for every “good” mutation. They all have to be on the same chromosomes. How do they get separated for forward mutation? Nothing but intelligent design could do it.

    Here’s another: The concept (mind frame) of evolution in science only considers one trait at a time. To get it all squeezed into it’s existing time frame, all traits have to evolve simultaneously. While forward mutations are being saved for one trait, bad mutations are being discarded for another. Yet they are on the same chromosomes and occurring simultaneously. Only ID can resolve that contraction.

    There are similar problems with geology. If the earth were not exactly 70% oceans, thin atmosphere, 20% oxygen, suitable diameter, suitable distance from the sun, etc. biology would not exist. Why look for life on another planet? It would have zero probability of having 350 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

    Gary Novak
    http://www.nov55.com

  51. KDK says:

    “I was brought up Roman Catholic and it took me many years to fight through the guilt feelings of simply asking questions about the existence of God. As with all religions the youth must be indoctrinated, brainwashed if you will, into blind faith and I was no exception”…

    I too spent ALL my Grade/High school in private catholic schools and even have a degree from a catholic university. All the while, however, my questions were not answered and I finally through much pain and suffering destroyed myself and all my beliefs in a quest to ‘find’ the truth. My reading the bible and praying led me away from religion. I do believe in something more because I have always had experiences that CANNOT be explained by religion or science. With that said, I also destroyed my belief in the gov and economics since, imo, they are all just elements of manipulation: my version of the trinity is a trinity of Control: Economics, Religion and Politics.

    I do not consider myself religious at all, but, spiritual in nature. NO other human has more contact and is better able to tell me what GOD is, or what GOD (or GODDESS, in fact) wants from me; only the ‘self’ can determine this and all those listening to a book (koran, bible, torah, etc.) are just reading the words of humans; not saying you cannot move forward, since the words I live by are SEEK, KNOCK and ASK in everything… as it should be. Once humans, even the ‘best’ humans, that would try to put the words of god into a written form have all but tainted those words instantly.

    I don’t believe in ANY religious god, and if there is a religious god, I don’t fear: Why? Because THAT god knows, already, why I believe what I believe. I also believe that an independent search for truth (even god) is far better and far more god-like than being a blind sheep just following and NOT growing or adding substance to god.

    I don’t believe in AGW, but I have found that the supposed occult (sounds scary and is designed to be that way) actually has more to offer than religions. I don’t worship the earth, but I do CARE for the earth and all its beings.

    As far as evolution… Nah… too many holes. Creationism, nah.. too many holes. Like some have said and like I have thought, perhaps some god created the big bang (best of both worlds, issue solved)… We may have been transplanted here from humanoids from space.. we are in the boonies and downtown universe is probably a happening place, to be honest. We really don’t know, but I am not one to subscribe to one or the other when many other possibilities exist–we just don’t know and are NEVER told the truth by religion or govs. and many, many artifacts and books have been stolen, lost or purposely destroyed to promote issues since humans discovered that ignorance is easier to control than intelligence.. well, ‘intelligence’.

  52. kuhnkat says:

    Greg123,

    AHHH, but most evolutionists are also conventional and believe BB!!! OOOPS!!

    EU/PU actually doesn’t say a lot about how old the universe is. In fact, it tends to point out how YOUNG many aspects of the solar system probably are!!! Yes, it could be extremely old due to the relative stability. Maybe we can convert all the evolutionists with that argument!!

    “As for chirality, I expect that living things have a certain preference for R or L. Once one reached a certain dominance in the earliest life perhaps the other was filtered out of the system (can’t use it, can’t eat it…)”

    My point on Chirality is that no one has figured out how an all L or all D amino acid came to be in the first place as we have not been able to synthesize one!! It is the real question of the beginning of our kind of life. Not whether some chemicals can form into proteins, but, whether they can form into the kind we know as LIFE!! The only source for all L or all D has been LIVING TISSUE!! It was the point left out of that old experiment that alledgedly created LIFE!! (And the fact that they had to use a trap to separate the product from the conditions that created the product so that it wouldn’t be immediately broken back down!!)

    Remember, any technology far enough advanced past our knowledge level is equivalent to MAGIC!! Life is STILL MAGIC!! We can only copy it by using it!!

    You have to have the organism preceding the idea of intelligence and/or consciousness/self knowledge for evolution. Unless we want to postulate spirit/energy consciousness before physical locality?? That would look more like Biblical Creation again!!!

  53. kuhnkat says:

    Tony Hansen,

    you are mistaking evolution for having some kind of consciousness able to direct itself. Evolution is blind and dumb.

    Negative mutations are so much more likely than positive that it would never get started. Anything that somehow started would die. The possible combinations of things that do not work always exceed by magnitudes the combinations that will be useful. You need to determine conditions that can occur “naturally” that have a high possibility of creating that first useful organisation that can survive. So far no one has figured that out.

    Survival of the fittest boils down to survival of the best procreator. It only has to live long enough to create more offspring. The more offspring that survives to procreate the better chance of continued procreation. It goes nowhere fast.

    Evolution really is a poorly thought out “science.”

  54. kuhnkat says:

    E.M.Smith,

    ” And frankly, given the capricious or vengeful nature of “God” as described in parts of the Bible,…”

    I do not disagree with the vengeful part.

    I do disagree with the capricious. There are reasons for everything that was done. Do we agree with those reasons?? That is up to each one of us to decide. I personally am not certain I understand all of it so, I come up a little short on this one.

    If you want capricious, or what appears to be capricious, I would direct you to the Quran where they state their belief that no man can understand the ways of Allah. We are to accept whatever happens. Of course, how are we to know whether it is Allah or some blood sucking politician screwing us??

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  55. kuhnkat says:

    A throw-a-way for all the interesting people here.

    There have been meteorites that have had residue that may have been life on/in them. Can anyone explain to me how we are so sure these originated somewhere else?? That they weren’t knocked off the earth in the collision that created the moon or killed the dinosaurs or…

    HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

  56. vjones says:

    @Gary Novak
    “Why look for life on another planet? It would have zero probability of having 350 ppm carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.”

    We’ve had wide variations in CO2 concentrations on Earth over the course of the development of life; why suppose life on other planets would have the same requirements as life here? What about the commnunities that have evolved around deep sea black smoker vents?

    “It’s life, Jim, but not as we know it” also applies ;-)

    @KDK
    “NO other human [….] is better able to tell me what GOD is, or […] wants from me; only the ’self’ can determine this..”

    This sums up my philosophy perfectly also – thank you. Although I have remained true to ‘belief in God’ and am reasonably loyal to one church ‘sect’ as far as occasional attendance goes, I probably would describe myself as more moral/spiritual than religious. I have found all flavours of Christanity a bit constraining. After all most ‘bibles’ are interpretations and were written a long time ago to speak to the populace of the time (more ‘mythic-empire’ than modern, as Stefan described above). Interesting thought: how would The Bible be written now? Would it – could it? I think not.

    Evolution – yeah it is is a mutation thing but genetics can do much more than just change one ‘letter’ in one DNA strand at a time; there is good evidence for leaps and periods of ‘accelerated evolution’ or rapid change. Genetic elements like transposons and endogenous retroviruses may play a role, the latter being active during mamalian pregnancy. Greg Bear’s novels “Darwin’s Radio” and “Darwin’s Children” explored this theme (and are considered fiction that is at least ‘technically feasible’): a viral epidemic causing activation of human endogenous retroviruses leading to speciation – a race of ‘improved humans’ (and proposed as having caused the analogous leap from neanderthal to human). And yes he does deal well with the societal and governmental response – even if you haven’t read the novels, you can just imagine what that might be!

  57. MrPete says:

    Interesting conversation here. I have a few bits to add…

    1) I was surprised to find that some scientists have developed real — falsifiable — scientific hypotheses for supernatural origins. And have written a book highly respectful of “real” science, with extensive reference to the respected journals. Has a good summary of both sides of the issue, then an extensive “let the chips fall where they may” review of the evidence (as of when the book was written.) I think you’ll enjoy it: Origins of Life.

    2) I don’t see how the space-sourced abiogenesis theory solves anything. You get the same timeframe issues, and the same startup challenges (chirality, cell walls, etc etc etc). Bottom line: earth is just about a perfect context for life, yet there are huge problems with abiogenesis. What’s going to be better somewhere else?

    3) I’m astounded by the lack of skepticism of some folks. William Reich and “bions”/”orgone”?!! It was shown that his experiments were contaminated by ordinary air-borne bacteria. What a huge waste of time. :(

    4) ChiefIO, I too would suggest that your “Smith’s Wager” is illogical. Apparently, a decision about god is not a game that one can refuse to play. Logically, if god is omni*, then there’s no hiding. So, to refuse is to choose against god.

    Personally, I appreciate the summary presented by Vishal Mangalwadi (the “de Tocqueville of India”) in “The Quest for Freedom”. In chapter 7 (see this link) he provides one of the nicest concise summaries of comparative religion I’ve ever seen.
    His take (in sum): it all comes down to your source of Truth. More or less: some believe there’s no Truth, others that everything is Truth, or a particular guy had Truth, etc etc. Then along came Judeo-Christian perspective, that god “out there” has the truth and we have access to him. The mistake of the Enlightenment was basically “God is Truth, we know God so we have Truth, therefore who needs God anymore?”… :-D

    Some interesting things to ponder…

  58. Bruce Cobb says:

    MrPete, with respect to #3 and your claim that it was “proven” that Wilhelm Reich’s experiments were contaminated by ordinary air-borne bacteria, I am skeptical. It is easy for those not familiar with his work to dismiss it out of hand, and simply say “waste of time”. That, however is not skepticism, but rather someone with an agenda.

  59. MrPete says:

    Bruce, have you researched it? A variety of scientists studied his samples, his work, methods, etc. at the time. He wouldn’t listen, decided he knew better.

    When a current experiment is shown to be faulty, and can’t be replicated by others, one gets cautious. This looks to be no different from claims about perpetual motion, etc.

    Sorry, I for one don’t have time to waste on this.

  60. vjones says:

    MrPete, re Reich – one reason why we need a revolution such as Open Science. I have participated in both sides of peer review and find it very, very flawed (even when not “Climategated”), as well as far too slow now. It would also take out a lot of the big egos… But I’ll stop as this is OT.

  61. Jeff Alberts says:

    3) I’m astounded by the lack of skepticism of some folks. William Reich and “bions”/”orgone”?!! It was shown that his experiments were contaminated by ordinary air-borne bacteria. What a huge waste of time. :(

    As is Chi/ki/whatever-else-you-want-to-call-it.

    When you see a “chi master” in a dojo, tossing students around without touching them, then see that same “chi master” get his ass kicked by an average MMA fighter… yeah, it’s crap. Either the students are deluded by the master into thinking something is happening, or they’re just humoring the old man. I’d go with the latter in most cases.

  62. Bruce Cobb says:

    MrPete, Have I researched it? Of course! What an odd question! I first became interested in Reich around ’73, and over time acquired and read most of his works. I am well aware of the “attempts” by some scientists at the time to duplicate his experiments.
    Your statement “This looks to be no different from claims about perpetual motion, etc.” is ridiculous, as you have no clue about Reich’s work, and indeed, see it as a “waste of time”. Since you are an admitted ignoramus about his work, it is useless, and indeed a waste of my time for me to argue any further with you about it.
    Others who do find it interesting may wish to pursue it, though. The WR museum, in Rangely Maine is a good place to start.
    http://www.wilhelmreichmuseum.org/

  63. Jeff Alberts says:

    So Bruce, do you have an Orgone Accumulator, and have you undergone Orgone Therapy? Or do you just use the blankets and Orgone shooter?

  64. Tony Hansen says:

    kuhnkat,
    ‘…you are mistaking evolution for having some kind of consciousness able to direct itself..’
    What part of what I wrote suggested to you that I did this?

    ‘…Evolution is blind and dumb’.
    I thought it was just an outcome, and sometimes the outcome is surprising. Sometimes virtually unfathomable.

    ‘…Survival of the fittest boils down to survival of the best procreator. It only has to live long enough to create more offspring. The more offspring that survives to procreate the better chance of continued procreation’.
    Depends on time-frame and your definition of ‘fittest’
    In a run of good seasons ‘large’ sires may indeed dominate the breeding. But ‘small’ sires with a lower maintenance requirement, or more efficient rumen etc, may dominate in a run of poor seasons. Which is fittest?

    ‘It goes nowhere fast’.
    Surely bottle-necks can have a large impact in a relatively short time. The remaining-herd genetic profile can differ significantly from the original.

    ‘Evolution really is a poorly thought out “science.”
    I would posit that in 30-50 years most of our current science will be seen in that light. (Things like multi-generational methylation of genes does not make understanding any easier). Our understanding evolves slowly:)

  65. Tony Hansen says:

    Mr Pete,
    ‘….Apparently, a decision about god is not a game that one can refuse to play. Logically, if god is omni*, then there’s no hiding. So, to refuse is to choose against god’.

    Unless of course one were to believe that maybe god had a reason and put them here to do that very thing….. :))

  66. greg2213 says:

    Jedd Alberts
    “When you see a “chi master” in a dojo, tossing students around without touching them, then see that same “chi master” get his ass kicked by an average MMA fighter…”

    I’ve been to a seminar with one of those chi masters. While I’m not convinced of the reality I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to the MMA guys. They study totally different areas of Martial Arts.

    If I want to learn how to kick someone’s *** I’ll go to the MMA guy, if I want to learn how to live a long and healthy life I’ll go to the Chi guys.

    Gary Novak,

    “If the earth were not exactly 70% oceans, thin atmosphere, 20% oxygen…”

    Life doesn’t need today’s numbers, not even close. For example…
    – ocean levels have varied by well over 400 feet
    – CO2 levels have varied from roughly 200 ppm to 7,000 ppm. We were in an ice age at one of those higher CO2 levels. We are CO2 impoverished now.
    – Oxygen has varied from 0% to well over today’s amount.
    – The initial atmosphere had no oxygen, yet life developed. In fact, Oxygen would have been highly toxic to that life.
    – Our Ice ages are a recent phenomenon over the last many millions of years. There is a “snowball earth” hypothesis for about 700 million years ago and there have been other ice ages.
    – Temeratures vary from about 10C warmer to 10C cooler and for most of the Earth’s history we were on the warmer side.
    – Various other ideas differ from the above, such as what the EU guys say about the origins of this planet.

    ID?

    ID does nothing for me. That evolutionary theory might have holes in it does not, in any way, say anything about ID. It just says that Evolutionary theory has holes. AGW is the same thing. That the IPCC CO2 hypothesis has major holes in it does not say that the Sunspot climate hypotheses are correct or incorrect.

    If the creator in ID is an alien then that just pushes the question back to the aliens, “How did THEY evolve?” If it’s not aliens then It’s God and that brings us back to creationism.

    So while I’m happy enough with “God created the Big Bang (or equivalent)” and I’d love to see aliens the ID concept just doesn’t do it for me. Heck, maybe aliens DID seed the Earth, but then, what created them? Where did it all start?

  67. Jeff Alberts says:

    I’ve been to a seminar with one of those chi masters. While I’m not convinced of the reality I don’t think it’s fair to compare them to the MMA guys. They study totally different areas of Martial Arts.

    If I want to learn how to kick someone’s *** I’ll go to the MMA guy, if I want to learn how to live a long and healthy life I’ll go to the Chi guys.

    I think you missed my point. The Chi master accepted the challenge, so apparently he thought his martial art would help him fight. All the MMA guy did was come in punching. There really wasn’t anything special about it (i.e. Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Muy Thai, etc). The Chi master lasted all of 3 seconds.

  68. greg2213 says:

    Yeah, I’d missed that there was an actual challenge and fight. Still, I don’t think I’ll change my remark. I’m not surprised the MMA guy won. As I said, he’s the kind of Martial Artist I’d talk to if I wanted to learn to fight.

    I think the MMA guys could take on high ranking types in most any kind of Martial Arts and win. Their training is pretty hard core and a lot different than what you’ll find in most Dojos.

    Bet the Chi guy was pretty surprised, though.

    REPLY: [ I once studied Aikido for a while. Noticed something similar. The more a student “believed” in Chi, the more the instructor could throw them across the room ;-) Almost like they expected to go that way and went with it. That said: Aikido has some moves to it that are incredibly effective and with subtile psychological aspects. I also got very very good at rolls. I can now take a fall at any time in almost any direction and end up back on my feet. OK, with this comment I’d also like to suggest directing things a bit more back to ID and religion and a bit less into how to better kick someone senseless ;-) The two thread going at once disturbs my inner energy balance 8-) -E.M.Smith ]

  69. MrPete says:

    Bruce, I’ve read enough to make me more skeptical, not less. Read some of Reich’s stuff, and some from those who investigated him. Read his own words of not listening to them nor addressing what they found, but rather dismissing them in a way similar to how you dismissed me “no clue so no need to listen.”

    I have plenty of reason and experience with exploring, and even accepting, unusual effects not easily accepted by the “consensus.” One must be very careful when going down that path however.

    It is VERY easy to be fooled.

  70. Mr Lynn says:

    Just browsing on a Sunday morning, before others get up. Too much to read here, but a couple of random notes:

    While the intolerance of AGW supporters for ‘skeptics’ may seem superficially similar to that of evolutionists toward IDers, the situation is reversed: AGW approaches a ‘religion’, i.e. a fixed belief. ID really is religion, as it does not create falsifiable hypotheses; it is just a deux ex machina. While the social ostracism of ID is perhaps reprehensible, it is not science and does not belong in science classes.

    The intolerance of ‘climate science’ to contrarian views is more accurately mirrored in the disdain of the astronomical/cosmological community to evidence which challenges the now-hallowed Big Bang theory. Best case in point: Halton Arp, whose study of distant galaxies and other objects demonstrates that their red shift is not due to recession (the ‘expanding universe’) but is intrinsic to the objects themselves. Viz. Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology, and Academic Science.

    BTW, it is curious that the patron saint of AGW, Arrhenius, is also the (first?) author of the ‘panspermia’ hypothesis, that life arrived on Earth from outer space.

    /Mr Lynn

  71. Mr Lynn says:

    Re tardigrades: I sent my daughter, a biologist, the Wikipedia article on them,

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

    asking how they might have evolved their special abilities on Earth.

    She responds,

    These guys are extremeophiles, living in all sorts of weird and nasty places on earth, and have a very generic dormant state that makes them basically able to withstand anything. The wiki article discusses some of their abilities and as you can see many of those abilities are either perfectly relevant on earth (for example, being able to withstand dessication and extreme temperatures), or are probably emergent abilities that are the result of other aspects of their dormant state (for example, the article mentions that resistance to radiation exposure could just be the result of having almost no water in their tissues during dormancy). These emergent abilities don’t necessarily have to be selected for directly by exposure to the special conditions of deep space.

    I think they are extremely cool, but I think it is extremely unlikely that this group has an origin anyplace but earth.

    /Mr Lynn

  72. Harry Eagar says:

    Generally, what Jeff Alberts said.

    Smith, you should read Ernst Mayr, “The Growth of Biological Thought: Diversity, Evolution and Inheritance”

    It’s a fat book but it can be summed up in Laplace’s remark that he “had no need of that hypothesis.”

  73. Jeff Alberts says:

    I think the MMA guys could take on high ranking types in most any kind of Martial Arts and win. Their training is pretty hard core and a lot different than what you’ll find in most Dojos.

    Bet the Chi guy was pretty surprised, though.

    He gave it the old college try, allowing his head to absorb all the damage lest some other body part get damaged.

    I would have given anything to have been a fly on the wall at his dojo when he got back.

  74. Peter Ward says:

    Very interesting discussions. Thanks, Chiefio, for kicking it off and allowing it to continue in a friendly and mutually respectful way.

    I studied genetics at university 20+ years ago. I’m a Christian (christadelphian, if you’re asking). I’m an AGW skeptic. I see convincing evidence for micro-evolution all around me but I’ve never managed to understand how this proves the macro-evolution of all life. And of course Darwin never tried to explain the origin of life itself. So yes, I believe in creation and look forward one day to understanding more of how it was achieved! I don’t think it was via evolution, because AIUI God could have used a different word from “create” in Genesis if he’d meant “evolved” but didn’t. But of course we don’t know how many “kinds” of creatures he created, and I don’t have a problem with speciation given that “a finch is a finch is a finch” :).

    We have no idea how many other worlds are habitable and on how many God has placed other forms of life. As a Christian, though, I recognise that God’s only begotten son was born on earth and therefore there is something unique about God’s relationship with us that he doesn’t have with those on other worlds.

    One book I’ve found very illuminating is “God’s Undertaker: Has Science Buried God?” by John Lennox. Definitely worth a read.

    REPLY: [ You are most welcome. Sometimes I think I’m like that line from “My Fair Lady” where they say “The French don’t care what you do as long as you pronounce it properly”; but for me it is more of: I don’t care what you believe as long as you discuss it politely and honestly. That was how I finally found out why so many Muslims and Muslim countries are so bent on stopping the distrubution of Bibles when they profess to believe that Jesus was one of God’s messengers. I would never have come to that understanding had things been discussed in an intolerant way.

    For the curious: Islam does not believe in Jesus as “son of God” but only as “one of God’s messengers”. The notion of a “trilogy” of Father, Son, Holy Ghost is to claim there are three gods, and thus a violation of the “One God” mandate. Further, they hold that while Mohammed taught with a Bible, “we no longer have the Bible he used, it has been lost”. The current Bible, they hold, has been corrupted, leaving only the Koran as the true word. And I can see some of their point, what with the Catholics and Protestants having slightly different selections of books kept; and with the differences in the Latin Vulgate vs the Greek Septaugtent keeping hordes of Bible scholars busy for generations ;-) but at the same time the bulk of all the discrepancies I’ve found have been trivial (such as Greek having a “dual” number and three genders so getting agreement can be structurally problematic. “They ate” is not the same as “The two men ate” or “The two people ate”; yet hardly has great theological value…) Oh, and for folks like the Catholics who have a statue of Mary at the front of the church, that looks like idolatry. The folks I was discussing it with were surprised that Catholics and Protestants had fought over that very point for a few hundred years (just like subtilties of Shia vs Sunni are generally lost on western Christians…) So at the end of it all I realized that Mohammed might well have had a Coptic or other early Bible and given the Roman church under the emperors went out of it’s way to stamp them out, that might have left a footprint through time…

    At any rate, I’m starting to ramble… working through morning coffee and all…

    So in summary: I don’t really know how life came to be; but I do know that we ought to be allowed to discuss ALL the options. And evolution works well to explain the differences between the Greyhound and the Great Dane, but not so well for explaining how mud and ocean become a wolf… and be it God or one heck of a lot of dice rolling, the process is a miracle in either case.

  75. Jeff Alberts says:

    And evolution works well to explain the differences between the Greyhound and the Great Dane,

    Actually hybridization by humans explains that.

    REPLY: [ So you are saying there IS Intelligent Design? … ;-)

    But yeah, I ought to have said “evolutionary mechanics” or chosen wolfs and cayotes. -E.M.Smith ]

  76. David says:

    EM Smith “Personally, I find it very offensive when someone tells me I cannot ask questions, and more so when they tell me my daydreams are forbidden to discuss”…

    Count me in that camp, so for a moment, musings from David (-:

    My first “religious” experience was as a boy of about 7, sleeping on a deck in the Seirras, north of yosemtie, waking up in the middle of the night and seeing what appeared to be an infinite number of stars. The feeling in my heart (it is interesting how before we manifest a thought into our minds it is already known, instant, the thought just manifests the understanding) morphed into the thought of how?, from what, from where.

    What I was cognizing manifested over time into the question of cause and effect, the essence of most all scientific principals which all have a dualistic base..Fundamental natural activities all betray this. “Electricity for example is a phenomena of repulsion and attraction and protons are electrical opposites. The atom, like the earth it self, is a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity. No law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is found free of the inherent opposite or contrasted principles.” The scientist Marconi referred to this when he stated this, “The inability of science to solve the mystery of life is absolute” this is an affirmation that the reasoning ability of science is bound to the creation by its very nature, and must admit the self-contradictory nature of reason so bound, and so “Science thus remains in a perpetual flux, unable to reach finality; fit indeed to discover the laws of an already existing and functioning cosmos, but powerless to detect the Law Framer and Sole Operator. Science sees no evidence for God (other then the mystery of a creation) because it sees no absolutes, instead of one power it see trillions of various powers, instead of one intelligence, it perceives various levels of intelligence, instead of one life, it perceives billions of lives. Ask yourself “What existed before creation? Only pure absolute spirit, God the Father is sthe only answer the religious can have. There was no space, there was no time, there was no vibration, just pure omnipresent still spirit. At the moment of creation there is relativity. There is space, there is separation, there is time, there is vibration. There is duality. The very nature of creation causes a human to perceive of himself as a separate power, a separate intelligence, a separte life.

    I have yet to see a logical (scientific) solution to this problem of cause and effect, which is in and of itself, self contradictory, as the human mind cannot conceive of something from nothing, but if something always was, then that something had no cause. Stated another way something cannot come from nothing (“nothing” here refers to what a scientist, limited to human reasoning and the scientific method perceives). yet it did, or else one must admit that it always was, which in and of itself defeats the fundamentals of science. The question, what came before that (the big bang, or whatver version of anything is postulated) is always valid, and infinitely regressable, this presents a problem I have never seen resolved.

    The fact that anything at all is, is “magic.”(To the atheistic scientist it is magic, as he cannot explain it via the scientific method, the religious scientist calls this magic God, the absolute and does not expect to answer this via science) Those that practice religion are not therefore irrational; they are simply trying to understand the mystery of life. (IE find God) Science and religion are in this sense two different fields, science deals with phenomena, and religion with noumena. This fundamental difference is what should be taught in schools.

    REPLY: [ Hope this is what you had in mind. Learned a new word “noumena”. Nice! -E.M.Smith ]

  77. KuhnKat says:

    vjones,

    “Evolution – yeah it is is a mutation thing but genetics can do much more than just change one ‘letter’ in one DNA strand at a time; there is good evidence for leaps and periods of ‘accelerated evolution’ or rapid change. Genetic elements like transposons and endogenous retroviruses may play a role, the latter being active during mamalian pregnancy.”

    You just explained what has put evolution into the fantasy field for the earth. Exactly how LONG do you think the trial and error of evolution took to make DNA in the first place much less to the level of complexity it now is??

    Trying to say it can make huge jumps is saying that something directs it. It simply isn’t chance to hit royal flushes 10 times a night for your whole life!!!!

    But then, where is the evidence of anything actually evolving? Certainly not in the fossil record. It shows all species popping out of nowhere!!

  78. Mr Lynn says:

    Writes EM:

    . . . So in summary: I don’t really know how life came to be; but I do know that we ought to be allowed to discuss ALL the options. And evolution works well to explain the differences between the Greyhound and the Great Dane, but not so well for explaining how mud and ocean become a wolf… and be it God or one heck of a lot of dice rolling, the process is a miracle in either case.

    This is the Creationists’ tired old canard, that evolution sparked by mutation is ‘random’, ‘chance’, ‘rolling the dice’. Dawkins in The Blind Watchmaker brilliantly destroys this misconception: mutation is random, by and large, but the effect of mutation is anything but. Dawkins demonstrates with a simple program (ran on an early Mac) how a few mutations can have profound effects at even a very low level of organization, so that in only a few generations of proto-life you will see increasingly complex ‘organisms’ develop.

    Evolution proceeds by natural selection creating pressures and opportunities for increasing complexity to respond to or exploit. While it is certainly true that we don’t know how the self-reproducing molecules of life originated, it is anti-science to leap to the conclusion that some supernatural Being created them.

    Anything is possible, but the proper attitude of science is, “We don’t know why a volcano erupts. Let’s try to find out,” not “God must be angry.” The latter stops all inquiry in its tracks. And that is why Creationism/Intelligent Design should be kept out of the classroom. Theology, even philosophy, yes; but it ain’t science.

    /Mr Lynn

    REPLY: [ Do I really need to say it? “Computer models are not proof. At best, they can inform our ingnorance. -E.M.Smith”.

    And evolution DOES take a whole lot of dice rolling or we would not have species lasting very long… You must have a fairly large number of individuals born, with a fairly large number of mutations, before you get something ‘better’ to work on. Otherwise we’d be surrounded by rabbits with an I.Q. of 120 and / or the surface of the earth would consist of bacterial slime. They get more generations / year than we do, so can always out evolve us and dominate in theory… unless it takes a lot of dice rolling and the “time since last diaster” has been relatively short for adaptive radiation.

    Also, please note, my statement about “miracle” was specifically limited to “how life came to be”. It is that initial creation of life moment I was talking about as having a particularly large number of “dice rolls” being needed: and it does. The hurdle to get over is the first ‘functioning watch’. After that, moving the numbers around on the face is relatively easy. THAT is what I was talking about as “a miracle in any case”. And it is. If God did NOT do it, and it was just mud and sea making a living cell, it is still a miracle. Perhaps a miracle of statistics, or of unique chemical environment, or of… but truly astounding, regardless of cause or mechanism. And it is that “miracle of creation” that is the major problem facing molecular evolution today. (I’m confident they will work it out, and I expect the answer will be catalysis on various mineral surfaces with added temperatures [ i.e. WE might be the ‘extremophiles’ living in very cold low pressere compared to first life at a ‘black smoker’ way hot and deep in the ocean…] and with thermal cycling for DNA replication in the “soup”).

    And to the final point “kept out of the classroom”. Down that path lies ruin. We already have folks keeping way too much “out of the classroom”. The whole idea is to present ideas so that students learn to THINK about them. How can you ever develop critical thought if you don’t let conflicting sides be seen?

    I’ve seen teachers told that jewlery with a cross on it was to be removed from their person, yet the same school district has a “pretend you are a muslim” day for “cultural awareness and tolerance”; and we’ve had parents complain bitterly that the district was ‘teaching witchcraft’ due to having a halloween ‘dress up day’, so that pumpkin is right out… We had a “winter holiday” stage presentsentation where no Christmas carrols could be sung (good luck getting those Dickens lesson plans approved…) We have a school book commission that keeps “Big Hair” out of text books (women, it seems, can not have existed in the 1950’s with beehive hairdoos…). And don’t even think of dressing in either blue or red or wearing any kind of hat to school (no matter how much rain or sun). [ For those who might not know this particular lunacy: Blue and Red are considered ‘gang colors’ and gangs wear hats. So all are forbidden in the classroom. Thus giving the gangs a monopoly on them… ] I keep waiting for an enterprising student to point out gangs use pens and pencils… ;-) I have no idea how the 10% of kids who are color blind cope with such nuttyness. I do know my red head daughter had to spend lots of hours in California sun increasing her skin cancer risk for “political correctness”… but at least she did’t have to shave her head. ;-)

    We need to de-politicise the classroom and realize that a little contrasting controversy is what develops those thinking skills and gets interest going; and that we live in a world shaped by religious ideas and it’s OK to recognize that fact. (Both for inclusion of the ones holding them, and for an understanding of how we came to be where we are now culturally). There is not any big risk of folks having a religeous epiphany out of saying “We don’t know how the creation step happened. It could be molecular evolution, or it could be a God, or it could be ‘something else’; you have 10 minutes, write your essay.” You will get a LOT more thinking about evolution and a LOT more attention to molecular evolution and chemistry than from the typical “It happened via evolution drone mumble buszx”… ( as Jimmy starts thinking about baseball and Sally starts thinking about that new movie)… “write your essay!”

    Frankly, it was a discussion of creation in Bible school that lead me to evolution as superior to the version they presented (the 6000 year plan… and I went and asked about million year old fossils 8-0 of a kind hearted dirt farmer “doing God’s work” that I now wish I’d been more understanding towards… ). I’d expect most such discussions to end up in conversions TO evolution, not away. So the “fear of religion” really does seem a bit whacky to me. Even if the molecular evolution crisis and ID theory have bolstered the religeous case a small amount. -E.M.Smith ]

  79. Mr Lynn says:

    Erratum: The italics should have stopped after ‘Watchmaker’. Where’re the Preview and Edit buttons?

    /Mr L

    REPLY:[ Talk to WordPress, it’s their product. -E.M.Smith ]

  80. Jeff Alberts says:

    Very well said, MrLynn. Sums up my feelings exactly.

  81. Harry Eagar says:

    Besides the Mayr book, I’d recommend you read Robert Pennock: Intelligent Design Creationism and Its Critics: Philosophical, Theological, and Scientific Perspectives.

    There’s a history to this that you are not aware of.

    REPLY: [ No doubt I’m un-aware of a lot about the history of the ID stuff. I find it an interesting topic, but have had other things taking most of my time (and likely to continue to do so… have to make a living …) -E.M.Smith ]

  82. vjones says:

    Kunkat,
    my comment was on the rate of change of extant genomes. I certainly don’t have an answer as to how DNA developed in the first place, and the discussion here has been most interesting.

    “Trying to say it can make huge jumps is saying that something directs it.”

    No it isn’t! Mutation on its own does not necessarily lead anywhere.

    “It simply isn’t chance to hit royal flushes 10 times a night for your whole life!!!!”

    If I may be forgiven for continuing your poker analogy in a thread that discusses aspects of religion, then the speedist theory (varying rattes of changes as discussed by Dawkins again IIRC) holds that sometimes there will be a few games happening in back rooms and therefore a few Royal Flushes (and many folded hands); at other times there may be a “world tournament” in a particular location – with many Royal Flushes (and even more folded hands and other hands of greater or lesser ‘merit’). This analogy implies winners and losers, but perhaps here should be “folded hands” leading to disease or death and “winning hands” being viable mutatations that may be more or less ‘able’ to survive. Add a major change to the living environment and in a population with many genetic variations it is more likely there will be several “winning hands” that have the ability to thrive. Having a high rate of change and a need for adapation can result in more rapid change.

    What could cause this variation in the “numbers of poker games” over time or by location? Well oxidative stress has recently been shown as an underlying cause of mutation; radiation, including cosmic rays, is also cited.

    Scientists look for evidence to explain what we do not know; explaining and proving are two different things. Looking at rates of change of DNA in laboratory studies is the current ‘tool’ of the age, but just as “weather is not climate” it is hard to extrapolate from years of genetic change to rates of speciation. Here are two recent studies that try: http://www.physorg.com/news181467990.html
    http://www.usnews.com/science/articles/2009/11/17/accelerated-evolution-for-penguin-dna.html

    If you are challenging me to produce an example of my “..good evidence for leaps and periods of ‘accelerated evolution’ or rapid change.” you have certainly caught me out ;-) as it is very much a matter of opinion. “Accelerated evolution” and “punctuated equilibrium” are theories to explain what is seen in the fossil record and I accept that your view of this is as evidence of creation of new species. We differ in our belief of what the fossil evidence means.

  83. Tony Hansen says:

    E.M.,…..’The whole idea is to present ideas so that students learn to THINK about them. How can you ever develop critical thought if you don’t let conflicting sides be seen?’

    Being taught ‘what to think’ instead of ‘how to think’ is mostly what happens.
    Wishing it were not so.
    Thank God for the good teachers :)

  84. E.M.Smith says:

    @Tony Hansen:

    Oh. Now I see. Guess I missed that memo… Here I am stuck in the ancient past wanting to teach “how”… and figuring that if you know how you will figure out “what”…

    @vjones:

    As I understand it, the “fast game” times are thought to be due to external events “changing the stakes”. As a specific example: The dinosaurs kept the mamalia down for millions of years. The “survival selection” was for small things hiding in holes in the ground (so that’s what mamalia were stable as for a long time).

    Big rock hits. Anything BIG is Toast. They, being all dinosaurs, opens the door to the mamalia. Now some of the selective pressure on mamalia is for “bigger is better” and (instead of being dino-diner) the mutations for larger mamalia leads (fairly rapidly, it now being ‘open turf’) to Mamoths, Camels, Rhinos, etc. etc…

    This ties in with the “attractors” and “islands of stability” of chaos theory. Basically a large number of species get stuck on islands of stability until various outside forces shake the place up; then there is another Oklahoma Land Rush that leads to rapid evolutionary “spurts”.

    Another more recent (and in some ways more interesting) example is that of the Cichlids of Africa. It looks like just a few species got caught in some (newly forming?) lakes of East Africa. They then rapidly speciate into a zillion varieties in all sorts of niches “normally” filled by other fish families. Why? Because no species was already in those niches… The “rift valley lakes” of East Africa are supposed to be a stellar example of a new / changed habitat leading to an explosion of species.

    FWIW: My favorite idea for how the zillions of hands could be played rapidly for the first evolution of DNA / Life is what I would call “Black Smoker PCR”. The PCR (Polymerase Chain Reactor) that we use to zip / unzip DNA and replicate it depends on temperature cycling. Where would we get similar temperature cycling? Next to “black smokers” on the ocean floor. So a primordial lake or ocean with some nucleic acids in it could form a PCR where as “soup” is sucked toward the smoker, it heats, then as the flow rises, cools, and settles again, it cools; only to be sucked back in again at the bottom. You can get extracellular replication and repeated copy / mutate / copy steps happening on the order of minutes as a slow vortex cycles. Suddenly even a single century can become billions of cycles…

    Unfortunately, that doesn’t lead me to how we end up with all that other cellular machinery… Best I can think of there is that the “original life” was the whole lake, and the idea of breaking up into small cells with membranes only came along later. In that way each single step of the cellular metabolism can seperately arrise, get a few million copies made, but only later get “packaged” as a cell (and then all those cell membrane mechanism …) Basically, this MIGHT get you past the “evelove the whole thing in one go” billion straight flushes at once problem. You can get one straight flush at a time. All it takes is a creation of that part of the cell faster than the natural destruction of it.

    This would work best in a modest / low water puddle. Then add a slight amount of water and shake to get the spontaneous membrane forming.

    The “fly in this soup” (so to speak ;-) is that it takes a reducing atmosphere, low water (but not NO water), and probably a high hydrocarbon concentration (to get the fatty acids et. al.) and that is not quite the “priomordial salt water ocean” with CO2 atmosphere we are usually encouraged to think about… And I have no idea what the first conditions most likely were.

    But it is fun to think about…

  85. vjones says:

    “Then add a slight amount of water and shake to get the spontaneous membrane forming.”

    Yes, making liposomes in the lab is fun ;-)

  86. Mr Lynn says:

    REPLY: [ Do I really need to say it? “Computer models are not proof. At best, they can inform our ingnorance. -E.M.Smith”.

    Richard Dawkins’s little model in the Watchmaker was not an attempt to replicate and predict empirical data, as the climate modelers have tried, or at least pretended, to do. It was simply a thought experiment, a teaching tool. To my mind it succeeds brilliantly at demonstrating how in principle shuffling of mutated genes can produce remarkable complexity in a very short period of (geneological) time.

    That is really the clue to evolution, and probably to the origin of life itself: put energy into a chaotic mix of stuff (but not so much it boils off), and you’ll get increasing complexity: anti-entropy, which might be considered the precursor of life.

    CORRECTION: When I said, “And that is why Creationism/Intelligent Design should be kept out of the classroom,” I meant to say, “Out of the science classroom.”

    By this I meant, not that they should not be mentioned, but it should be made clear that according to the standards of the scientific method, they simply do not measure up—instead they effectively ‘short-circuit’ the process, and put up a roadblock to continued investigation. That is ANTI-science, fine for the Religion or Philosophy classrooms (where it may be argued that there are other ways of knowing that are independent of empirical science), but not for the Science one.

    /Mr Lynn

    REPLY: [ I suspect, with that expansion, we are not that far appart. At this point the only difference I see is that I’d like to have “Hypothesis: evolution Anti-thesis: ID – Discuss!” And the idea that folks get fired for doing that is just wrong. How can you have a debate or even a decent scientific example if you can’t have an anti-thesis stated. Thesis: Each 2 points define exactly one straight line. Anti-thesis: er, um, we don’t have one… please read about triangles… Then you never get to learn about non-standard mathematics, curved multidimentional space, and a bunch of other fun stuff… -E.M.Smith ]

  87. Mr Lynn says:

    I suspect, with that expansion, we are not that far appart. At this point the only difference I see is that I’d like to have “Hypothesis: evolution Anti-thesis: ID – Discuss!” And the idea that folks get fired for doing that is just wrong. How can you have a debate or even a decent scientific example if you can’t have an anti-thesis stated. . .

    Science is not Hegalian dialectic. But certainly all hypotheses should be discussed (there can be many more than two), and I agree, nobody should be fired for bringing up even outlandish hypotheses. Mind-numbing orthodoxy, even within science, should be eschewed; the more ideas, the merrier.

    However, considered as hypothesis, ID is easily dismissed, as it is not falsifiable; it therefore becomes mere speculation, or if more seriously propounded, ideo/theology, i.e. religion. I’ve nothing against religious scientists, but I think professing religious dogma (qua dogma) in a science classroom is out of bounds. Not a firing offense, perhaps, but not altogether kosher (as it were), either.

    /Mr Lynn

  88. David says:

    Mr Lynn you said, “By this I meant, not that they should not be mentioned, but it should be made clear that according to the standards of the scientific method, they simply do not measure up—instead they effectively ’short-circuit’ the process, and put up a roadblock to continued investigation.”

    What roadblock to continued investigation, how would this manifiest?

  89. Mr Lynn says:

    Asks David, “What roadblock to continued investigation, how would this manifest?”

    Once you introduce the deus ex machina of unfathomable, supernatural explanation, you have effectively said, “There’s nothing left to discover.”

    How can we account for the incredible complexity of existing organisms? If you give in to the Creationists and credit it all to ‘the Designer’, then you have stopped inquiry in its tracks. Sure, you can busy yourself with the details, but you have ‘solved’ the essential mystery.

    For me, science is all about the mystery, about pushing the frontier of ignorance farther and farther back. Theology may have its own mysteries, but they are not amenable to empirical investigation and the scientific method.

    /Mr Lynn

  90. Hi ChiefIO, I wanted to thank you for your excellent job in pointing out that 806 weather stations were dropped by GHCN in one year – a shocking statistic I’ve incorporated in my work over on http://www.climategate.com

    I’ve raised this matter in correspondence I’m currently having with the UK Climate Minister, Joan Ruddock and I’m pressing her to come clean about the ‘missing 806’
    So far, with the help of readers on our site we’ve painstakingly gone through part of that long list checking into the details of the dropped stations – particularly their location – whether rural or urban and thus likely to be contaminated by the urban heat island (UHI) effect.

    You may well have guessed that what we’re finding so far from the few stations we’ve analysed is a trend that its mostly rural stations that have been dropped e.g. the dropped Australian and New Zealand stations are mostly rural (e.g. Port Nelson, Ruttan Lake, Joutel). Our readers successfully determined that the station count for the U.S. (in the GHCN v2_mean file) dropped from 1177 to 136 in April 2006. We were able to confirm this by importing the data and by doing a simple count of all station ID’s beginning with “425″ for the year 2006. Replication is straightforward apparently ( I’m no stats man -my contribution is volunteer writer and legal commentator). This is a trivial task for any application developer to write the code to import this data and then analyze it. The most significant observation we have noted is that most of the stations left in the U.S. are airports (for the years 2006 and going forward- that’s a clear UHI type contamination in itself).

    What we desperately need is more help from other volunteers to complete our task. I am therefore here to ask for any support you and your readers can give. I want to be able to press the case confidently against the UK Climate Minister as soon as practicable to shame and blame the guilty and to lobby hard for a re-think of the culture of closed-door science and research.

    If there is anything your good self or your readers can offer I would be extremely grateful. To read a copy of my letter to the Minister and to contact me please see:
    http://www.climategate.com/allow-me-to-correct-you-uk-climate-minister-joan-ruddock

    All the best and keep up the great work!

  91. E.M.Smith says:

    @John Sullivan:

    Your request is a bit Off Topic on a posting taking about religion in science (then again, given that AGW has been ruled as a religious belief in UK court, maybe not ;-)

    Could I perhaps trouble you to repeat it under the GIStemp Tab on the top of the blog? That is a persistent GIStemp / GHCN oriented “start here” page and probably a better place for it.

    Thanks,
    E.M.Smith

  92. Tony Hansen says:

    E.M.
    ..’Oh. Now I see. Guess I missed that memo… Here I am stuck in the ancient past wanting to teach “how”… and figuring that if you know how you will figure out “what”…

    Not so much the ancient past. More the greatly under-valued minority.
    In my experience the best teachers help to open our eyes and take our minds to new places to improve our overall thinking ability. (Much as you do here).
    Unfortunately many teachers seem to lack the confidence (or skills) to do that. There seems to be a pre-disposition to only teach what will appear in the next test. Perhaps it is just the system. :(
    Not enough time spent musing/questioning on various subjects like this one. Where one can perhaps spend more time questioning oneself rather than others.

  93. David says:

    Asks David, concerning Mr. Lynn’ concern that ID would blunt science, “What roadblock to continued investigation, how would this manifest?”

    Mr. Lynn
    “Once you introduce the deus ex machina of unfathomable, supernatural explanation, you have effectively said, “There’s nothing left to discover.”
    How can we account for the incredible complexity of existing organisms? If you give in to the Creationists and credit it all to ‘the Designer’, then you have stopped inquiry in its tracks. Sure, you can busy yourself with the details, but you have ’solved’ the essential mystery.
    For me, science is all about the mystery, about pushing the frontier of ignorance farther and farther back. Theology may have its own mysteries, but they are not amenable to empirical investigation and the scientific method.”

    I must disagree with this as science can not answer the questions about how nature came to exist. The very question is in and of itself, beyond science. Science can only observe and understand one facet after another of natures “varied infinitude”. Not now, not ever, can science answer how “the first stuff” came to be

    Science need to be humble and admit it is locked into the laws of creation which are time constrained, and duality confined, In the following quote read “Maya” to mean anything and everything in all universes, discovered or not…

    ” Physical science then cannot formulate laws outside of the Maya, the very structure and fabric of creation. Nature herself is maya, natural science must perforce deal with her ineluctable quiddity. In her own domain she is eternal and inexhaustible; future scientist can do no more then probe one aspect after another of her varied infinitude. Science thus remains in a perpetual flux, unable to reach finality; fit indeed to discover the laws of an already existing and functioning cosmos, but powerless to detect the Law Framer…. The great scientist Marconi stated this admission of scientific inadequacy before the absolute: “The inability of science to solve life’s mystery is absolute.

    Why is science bound by this dilemma of duality? Because science is time constrained. In this case time is defined as cause / effect. The arrow of time runs in one direction. Science demands that everything has a cause. Cause and effect demand that for every effect, there is a prior cause. Cause and effect insist that something cannot come from nothing. Therefore science demands that something, (let us call it “stuff” (-: ) cannot come from nothing. This means that stuff always was, there is no first cause. And so the circular trap is sprung. If stuff always was, then stuff itself has no cause, and must, constrained by it own laws. do as Marconi did, admit defeat. It is ok to be humble.

    Now a thought experiment. A scientist seeing this delimmea says out loud, “hey, I cannot directly, through science. observe the maybe non-stuff that stuff came from, I cannot either admit that stuff always was and had no cause, or the only other alternative, stuff came from nothing, poof, like magic, but perhaps by looking at the stuff through some of the tools of science, I can find evidence that whatever “beyond stuff” started stuff in the first place, had a design in mind. Otherwise I am out of options. I do not want to be the scientist who when asked How did the first stuff get here? shrugs his shoulders and says “Stuff Happens”, this is not only bad science it is bad deductive reason. Likewise I do not wish to respond with a similar shrug and say “Stuff was always here, it had no cause” So maybe there is some kind of “beyond stuff”, not bound by any natural law.

    So using science to examine stuff, I will apply to my observations, deductive reason, understanding of mathematics and statistics and of how stuff works, and use these tools of science to explore if there is a chance stuff was started by an intelligent non stuff, or a random accident of non stuff, I accept I may not find proof, but perhaps in stuff, I can find the footprints of beyond stuff.

    Now further suppose, just suppose, our scientist found that a random appearance of the first stuff could have had an infinite any possible number of forms, and that the initial primary forces, if random, would all have resulted in the first stuff staying essentially like it was forever, all but one time out of every billion trillion. Although admitting this is not proof, he could still claim that hey, the beyond stuff that sent stuff here appeared to have an idea of wanting lots of stuff to happen, (this is different then another kind of “s-happens) because the random chance of stuff happening with the ability to evolve into lots of other stuff is very low. Now maybe this could be shown or maybe not. But for now assume it was shown.

    Just as the scientist is required by nature and his own laws to be humble and to admit that stuff cannot have been for ever, and neither can stuff come from nothing, so all I can do is look at how stuff interacts with other stuff, I cannot explain stuff itself, so the ID theory scientist must admit that he can do no more then find evidence of intelligent beyond-stuff, by looking at stuff, but he cannot find proof. That is still left to the practioners of religion to attempt within their faith.

    The “stuff only” scientist has no right to say to the “beyond stuff” scientist, hey, you cannot use my methods of deductive reason, observation, deductive reason, and mathematics to look at the stuff I look at. to see if my stuff looks like it was not random.

    And the “beyond stuff scientist can say to the “stuff scientist, I do not want all your tools, I know I cannot, through your methods, put the “Beyond stuff” in a test tube, I just want to see if your stuff is a proxy evidence for intelligent “beyond stuff”.

    Now Mr. Lynn, why would you then as a “stuff” guy say, “damm, if you do that I am throwing all my tools out, and I will no longer look at how “stuff” works. Sir, be humble, let the priest have his place, let the agnostic or faithful scientist have an in-between place and borrow some of your tools, after all you can use your tools to counter his evidence, and do not throw your tools away, as long as we live in “stuff” we need you, and are both fascinated and grateful for the things you discover about stuff. And let us compromise. In class we tell the students of your dilemma, and say we are going to use some of your tools to see if we find evidence of intelligent non-stuff, in stuff. What is the problem?

    Either this or explain to me scientifically how stuff always was, or how stuff came from nothing. I will do my best to listen.

    Thank you for listening.

  94. David says:

    Feel free to call my last post “stuff and non-stuff”, but please do not call it sense, and non-sense”, (-:

  95. David says:

    I forgot, there is a rule to my last question, “Explain to me how the first stuff came from somthing you would call whatever, but that whatever is not stuff in a different form, and has no energy, because energy is stuff, so better put…

    Option one scientificaly explain to me how stuff was always here, or Option two scientificaly explain to me how stuff came from somthing that was not anything, but was still something, and if it was something explain how that something is not stuff
    Your eplanation can be any theory, just try to create a theory without desribing it as something.

    Logically I think, you are in check mate of sorts, we all are, but do not want to admit it, we cannot explain stuff, we can explain how some stuff becomes other stuff, we cannot explain stuff itself, at least through science

  96. Jeff Alberts says:

    Not so much the ancient past. More the greatly under-valued minority.
    In my experience the best teachers help to open our eyes and take our minds to new places to improve our overall thinking ability. (Much as you do here).
    Unfortunately many teachers seem to lack the confidence (or skills) to do that. There seems to be a pre-disposition to only teach what will appear in the next test. Perhaps it is just the system. :(
    Not enough time spent musing/questioning on various subjects like this one. Where one can perhaps spend more time questioning oneself rather than others.

    This stuff usually starts when a parent or parents becomes “offended” at what is being taught. The creative teachers too off cross that invisible line.

  97. Jeff Alberts says:

    I must disagree with this as science can not answer the questions about how nature came to exist. The very question is in and of itself, beyond science. Science can only observe and understand one facet after another of natures “varied infinitude”. Not now, not ever, can science answer how “the first stuff” came to be

    Neither can any man-made religion (which is all of them).

  98. Mr Lynn says:

    Writes David,

    . . .science can not answer the questions about how nature came to exist. The very question is in and of itself, beyond science. Science can only observe and understand one facet after another of natures “varied infinitude”. Not now, not ever, can science answer how “the first stuff” came to be. . .

    . . .explain to me scientifically how stuff always was, or how stuff came from nothing. I will do my best to listen.

    With all due respect, David, I think you miss the point. The scientist is first, content to say, “We don’t know,” and second, “Let’s come up with some hypotheses and test them and see what we can find out.” The theologian claims to know, and that stops the inquiry right there.

    The point is, we don’t know about the origins of ‘stuff’, nor whether it had an origin, nor whether the question even makes sense. What attracts the scientist is the mystery, the challenge of confronting the unknown and trying to learn more about it. The ultimate nature of reality may indeed be beyond our ken and our methods, but if we aren’t stopped by ideologues, we will in fact learn more and more every day. There may be no end to it, but that prospect itself is exciting.

    There are however some folks who are just uncomfortable with the mystery, who can’t stand the awful (which comes from ‘awe-full’) emptiness of not knowing. So they take refuge in ideas, theories, conceptions, myths, or fairy-tales that purport to explain the mystery, but are in fact just constructs, unverifiable and unable to open any new doors.

    Maybe the Good Lord made all the stuff. Maybe not. Maybe all of the ‘stuff’ we imagine was planted in our minds by a demon who lives on Arcturus. I am content not to know—but I do want to find out, and it really annoys me that I might not. But if we stop looking, no one will, ever.

    /Mr Lynn

  99. P.G. Sharrow says:

    Modern science accepts the lame theory that creation started at a “Big Bang” from a singularity????????????????? how is this more or less credible then ID the “Word of God”

    The book of genisis says in the beginning there was chaos, and then creation started. As good an explaination as any.
    Did god cause creation or did creation cause god? does it matter?
    One of my best teachers taught science and chemistry in high school, when confronted with a question he could not answer, would say “I don’t know, god made it that way.” A lot better answer then making up an answer off the top of his head as most would do.
    It is not nessessary to be a member of a religion to believe in god, dogmas are a pile of crap and get in the way of useful thought.
    In the days I was a real farmer, a number of hours were spent doing the morning coffee shop thing. One morning a baptist minister, a good friend of mine quipt ” P G I hate you” I said ” John we’re friends how can you say that”
    John says “you know god as a matter of fact and I only know god as a matter of faith and I hate that.”
    I be no religion member and follow no dogma but being a farmer and follower of science for near 60 years I can say I’ve seen the face of god as it were. Whether you accept god made it that way, or figure it out why it works that way. The end result is the same. I like to know why and how it all fits together.

    IN the beginning there was chaos, the Aether, and then creation started, organization, light from dark, matter, land from water, life, etc. Damn! that sounds like bible BS.
    I wonder how they figured this out 5 to 6000 years ago?
    So much to learn and so little time and I still need to solve the riddle of mass/inertia.

  100. David says:

    Mr Lynn

    Thank you, and perhaps we miss earth others point. Ancient India is an interesting study for may reasons. Its past prosperity, its science, its language of sanskrit, considered by many linguist to me the most perfect language, its view from time unknown that the earth is about 4.5 billion years old.

    The point is we should not discard out of hand ancient wisdom because it is old hat. One of the things quoted from the vedas is “That God is unknowable” However it is interpreted in a non-literal fashion. The idea conveyed is that the human intellect cannot conceive of answers to ultimate enigmas. However the vedas have a saying, “he who knows, he knows, none else knows. They explain in great detail four methods of attaining this knowing, but explain that none of them are through the intellect of man bound by matter and the logic matter dictates.

    There is such a thing in the game of chess as check mate. If one plays by the rules then when one is in it, and the opponent says checkmate, and is correct, then by the rules of chess, that game cannot be won. The rule of science is deductive reason applied to observation of “stuff”, and the principal of cause and effect. The rules of science were not made by science. They were made by nature. Mathematics is a indispensible tool of science, without it we are crippled. But it is only another means of observation, a often superior form of deductive reason, and what science is has been dictated by certain fundamental aspects of nature…

    “The atom, like the earth it self, is a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity. No law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is found free of the inherent opposite or contrasted principles.” Marconi saw this dilemma.

    I am trying to convey to you a possibilities worthy of thought, the scientific method has limits, it should, through logic itself, admit that it has never explained anything outside the law of conservation. The bible version of this is from Solomon, “there is nothing new under the sun” The Hindu version of this is “that which is, is always, that which is not, will never be”

    Come up with any hypothesis you wish, use the one our charming host posted on his musing about black holes, everything going into a “singularity” etc. It does not have to be wrong or right, it is defeated before it leaves the ground by its

    own rules. Indeed the question is always there. Is the singularity something, does it have energy? was it there before the bang or whatever, if it was how did it get there, is it not stuff, and …………………..valoom, we are now contradicted again, something always was. but if this is true, cause and effect is defeated… “natural science must perforce deal with her ineluctable quiddity In her own domain she is eternal and inexhaustible; future scientist can do no more then probe one aspect after another of her varied infinitude. ”

    The scientific method cannot conceive of nothing, neither can the human mind, and it cannot conceive of something having always been with no cause. It is a trap as certain as checkmate. If you want out you have to break the rules, and because “stuff is”, deductive reason says something must have broken the rules, as hard as this is for the “dogmatic” scientist to accept. (-:

    The theologian does not say we know it all, inquiry is over. He explores avenues to transcend the human experience, to see if their is a valid epistomology, independent of the senses, and continues to be fascinated by nature. There is great curiosity in many scientist who were men of faith. He explores the question, and yes he does this by breaking some of the rules of science because reason tells him that to pursue the absolute, he must. “To the ancient rishis to rise above duality of creation and to perceive the single cause is mankind’s highest goal…” Also he of course does not say you, or anyone else, should stop applying science to stuff. The ID approach is likewise limited, but a legitimate use of some scientific methods to gain a proxy report of that something which reason says is beyond cause and effect.

    It is all good brother, No fear. Wat I would push for is that this logic be taught in schools. That our kids understand this, and think about it themselves. It should never be taught as an alternative to evolution. Evolution is stuff, and a aspect of how some stuff changes to other stuff. ID is a search of stuff, to find out if the logically theorized non-stuff, could have been intelligent when stuff, came out of non-stuff. It is two different fields. Truth is not afraid of questions.

  101. David says:

    Truth is not afraid of questions indeed Mr Lynn, you said

    “What attracts the scientist is the mystery, the challenge of confronting the unknown and trying to learn more about it. The ultimate nature of reality may indeed be beyond our ken and our methods, but if we aren’t stopped by ideologues, we will in fact learn more and more every day.

    Some, indeed many, did and have used “religion” to do this, just as some have used science to destroy other men. The problem was not in the tool, it was in the men who used it.

    We will both look for answers about “stuff” in the same way, I chooe a different way to look for answers about non-stuff, because reason demands that I must. I am open to anyone answering how this trap is avoidable, although I am personnaly finding some sucess in my alternative approach, but what non stuff tastes like, well, it does litte good to desribe an orange to one who has never seen fruit. (like all metaphores, this is somewhat lacking)

    Aum, peace, shanti, shalom, and E=MC2
    Cheers, David

  102. David says:

    How in the “stuff” does one get spell check in this comment section? Sorry for the typos

    REPLY: [ You copy and paste the text into your word processer and hit “spell check”… Sorry, WordPress has no spell checker that I’ve found. Some individual browsers do. FireFox on the Mac but not on the PC, for example. -E.M.Smith ]

  103. David says:

    Hi Ladies, sorry for all the “men” stuff when talking about stuff. We are all stuff together, I am just old stuff, non pc stuff. Well as my dad used to say when angry, cut that stuff out, so I will for tonight, Good by all, and God Bless,
    (-:

  104. Harry Eagar says:

    Just stopped by to note that the card-playing examples are teleological and therefore irrelevant to the idea of natural selection.

  105. M. Simon says:

    http://www.aconservativelesbian.com/

    The site is by Cynthia Yockey. Her father did a lot of work on evolution and came to the conclusion that back beyond a certain point we know nothing.

    I have my own biases on the subject but her answer to me was rather interesting when I inquired about her father’s view.

    Here is my interaction with her:

    http://www.aconservativelesbian.com/2009/09/13/robert-stacy-mccain-is-a-lousy-racist-and-a-terrible-bigot-not/

    Search the page for Simon and you can find her response to me.

  106. M. Simon says:

    Netscape 9.0 (the last version) has a good spell checker for PCs. However, it is not maintained and in another year or two will be useless as the inet is still evolving.

  107. M. Simon says:

    I have no need of faith either. God talks to me all the time. I get pretty good advice too.

    Of course it could just be my mild schizophrenia.

  108. M. Simon says:

    Ah. Plasma cosmology. I had little interest in plasma (despite growing up with vacuum tubes) until I started studying the Bussard Fusion Reactor (otherwise known as Polywell).

    The Polywell is a very simple configuration of magnetic fields and electrostatic fields. And yet very interesting things seem to happen that really annoy physicists conversant with “normal” (Maxwellian) plasmas. You get things like virtual electrodes, potential wells, oscillating particle beams and probably a lot of other things since the research is not quite open. (The US Navy has embargoed it for the time being).

    Any way to go quite OT. The Polywell Fusion Reactor looks to me to be the best chance for workable fusion in the near term.

    Here is an excellent resource (so I’m told) which I maintain:

    We Will Know In Two Years

    Follow the link and have a look around. The Talk Polywell link on the sidebar is a board I maintain for Joe Strout. Very good place to talk to others to get up to speed. If you have trouble logging in contact me using the above link. My addy is on the sidebar.

    Oh. Yeah. The electric field/magnetic field duality rather boggles the mind because it is purely a frame of reference thing. You can really get twisted in knots thinking about it.

    BTW the newest moderator at Watts Up With That was a regular at the board until he got busy with his new “job”. With no new data to work with on Polywell we do a lot of discussion of climate.

    REPLY: [ One of my first postings was about that. See:

    https://chiefio.wordpress.com/2009/03/09/mr-fusion/

    -E.M.Smith ]

  109. M. Simon says:

    And the real reason the Mayan calendar runs out in 2012:

    http://twistedphysics.typepad.com/.a/6a00d8341c9c1053ef0128757911cd970c-pi

    Not too far off from your reason.

  110. blueice2hotsea says:

    Thanks, Chiefio. Great post.

    I recall reading a Scientific American article in 1973 (Sept?) by Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould. He flatly stated that gradual change over geologic time was a fiction that had to be abandoned.

    It was a big deal because it rejected one of Darwin’s most significant notions. Plus, Mendelian genetics had already superceded Darwin’s idea that what an organism learned, was passed on to its descendents. For example, if someone learned to whittle, offspring born after the aquisition of this skill, would naturally be better whittlers than those born before!

    Darwin needed his odd explanation of inherited characteristics to explain how a species could transform into a new one. He savagely attacked Gregor Mendel’s -Catholic monk- ideas without ever reading the manuscript that Mendel had sent to him (seal still intact). Darwin ‘knew’ the study of genetics had to be wrong because the mere mixing of fixed traits seemingly precluded evolution.

    His core salient point was natural selection, which reduces to the tautology: whatever survives, is what survives. Given that survival in non-equilibrium conditions (i.e. catastrophe) occurs in a remarkably short period of time, the search is now on for embryonic evolution.

    Remember, Darwin was trained to be a country parson. At best, Darwinian evolution was quasi-science, at worst, more akin to cult religion.

  111. Mr Lynn says:

    blueice2hotsea: “. . . His core salient point was natural selection, which reduces to the tautology: whatever survives, is what survives.”

    Nonsense. Natural selection through adaptation is an explanatory principle of great power. Darwin didn’t know about genes, or DNA, so he was unable to understand the mechanism. But the principle is on a par with Newtons laws in its ability to enable us to account for evolutionary processes.

    /Mr Lynn

  112. Jeff Alberts says:

    The site is by Cynthia Yockey. Her father did a lot of work on evolution and came to the conclusion that back beyond a certain point we know nothing.

    Saying “we know nothing” is probably a stretch, but I’ll grant that. However, saying that because we know nothing means an unknowable being created everything is simply being credulous.

  113. blueice2hotsea says:

    Mr Lynn “Nonsense”.

    OK. Natural selection is fundamentally important. I trivialized it because it is trivially true.

    The fact that Darwin’s timescale and mechanism of inheritance were not correct is interesting in the context of fanatical and unrelenting resistance to correction.

    Karl Marx, a fan, asked Darwin to write the foreword to Das Kapital (Darwin declined). Some eight decades later, geneticists were being put to death in Stalinist USSR. This was an extreme politicized example of the artificial selection going on in academia. But, the poor understanding of genetics played a large role in Nazi eugenics.

    At least some part of the overdue understanding of genetics has to be laid at the feet of Darwinian zealots.

  114. M. Simon says:

    The most important thing about Darwin was not that he was totally correct or even partially correct.

    He got people thinking along helpful lines.

    BTW Newton was into alchemy (at least for a while) does that invalidate the calculus?

  115. David says:

    My recent posts may have been a little long winded, the phrase, “Brevity is the soul of wit” could, sadly perhaps, not be applied to those posts. I will try to be more succinct,

    1. Through deductive reason, logic dictates that the ability of science as an attempt to discover absolute finale solutions to the mystery of life, is in an insolvable conundrum, a form of checkmate.

    2. Science can learn to understand something about anything that can be defined as something. (Anything or something is defined as something quantifiable by adjectives that are not absolute, but relative, a part of either time or space or both)

    3. Anything is also herein described as something that can be caused by something else, and effected by something else, with any relative properties any adjectives may describe.

    4. Therefore science can only address things that are, which have qualities both relative, and are subject to the principle of cause and effect.

    5. Therefore science is eternally dealing with how things behave, how things turn into other things etc. It can never deal with how things (inclusive, everything) came to be.

    6. Science has to assume that things (described by any adjective as long as the adjective is relative, and subject to cause and effect. ) always have been, they cannot have come from nothing. Infinite things, not subject to effect,, space, or time are unknowable by the method of science. As far as science is concerned, “everything inclusive” has no cause.

    7. This is (by scientific thought) an unsolvable conundrum, contradicting the law of cause and effect.

    8. If things (inclusive, everything) always were, then things themselves (everything inclusive again) have no cause.

    9. This appears impossible. Let us use deductive reason and see if we have a way out of this checkmate.

    10. Things (inclusive everything) must have a Cause, they cannot have existed for eternity, as this contradicts the law of cause and effect.

    11. That Cause must have certain attributes.

    12. One of those attributes have to be that “The Cause” is not subject to the law of cause and effect. It can cause, but it cannot be an effect.

    13. Nothing is a non answer. True, it can not be an effect, but neither can it be a cause.

    14. Also that Something has to be eternal, immortal in the absolute sense.

    15. That Something has to be beyond both time and space.

    16. Science, being bound to things subject to both cause and effect, and things relative, can never investigate that “Cause” which is beyond cause and effect.

    17. The investigation of such absolute causes, is subject for a field other then science.

    18. Science must be humble, and say as Marconi did, “The inability of science to solve “Life’s mystery” is absolute.”

    19. This does not mean “Life’s mystery” is beyond knowing, it is just beyond the tools and logic of science.

    20. The epistemology of religion and philosophy is a deep subject.

    21. Evolution is a science. Like many subjects in science it is a study of how some things become other things. (Any criticisms of evolution can be handled with classic scientific means)

    22. Intelligent Design does not conflict with this. (some people on both sides think it does)

    23. Intelligent design is an attempt to determine if the theorized “beyond effect ” Cause of everything” had certain attributes which may be reflected in “things” it caused. (Like looking for proxy evidence of temperatures in tree rings)

    24. In order to do this ID must use some of the tools of science.

    25. So we have three basic inquisitions. (bad word)

    26. Science seeks to understand things that are, and how they effect and become other things.

    27. Religion seeks to directly intuit things absolute. They use different methods. Devotion, wisdom, Intuition through meditation, love, surrender, selfless work, etc.

    28. ID seeks to see if the logically deduced “Cause” of “things” left hints of its nature (intelligence, planning, purpose) in what it produced. He uses some of the tools of science to do this, because he is exploring “cause and effect things” for a proxy report of an “Absolute cause only thing“. He does not expect to isolate an absolute cause in a test tube.

    29. Evolution, being a classical scientific study of how “things” became other “things” does not contradict ID. ID does not contradict evolution.

    Humm?… just like e-harmony, 29 points of compatibility. (-;

  116. Peter Wilders says:

    Evolution depends upon oodles of time. Take it away and all the posts on this blog lose their rationale. Although one can’t claim to remove time itself, it can be shown by laboratory experiment and field analyses that geological time has been calculated on out of date principles. Of course, it’s not a subject that the largely evolutionist/atheispwilders@t society wants to talk about, so it doesn’t hit the headlines as it would otherwise do.

    The problem for evolution theory is that if a geological formation is shown to be much younger than reported in the geological time-scale, the fossil record comes under the hammer and the book of biological evolution redundant . However, scientific truth can’t be kept under wraps for ever, and peer-reviewed articles have been published by the Russian Academy of Sciences giving details (see http://www.sedimentology.fr).

    Peter

  117. Mr Lynn says:

    blueice2hotsea:

    “OK. Natural selection is fundamentally important. I trivialized it because it is trivially true.”

    It was anything but “trivially true” in Darwin’s time. Indeed, it is a mark of the theory’s power that it seems obvious to us today. It was the equivalent in biology of the Copernican revolution.

    “At least some part of the overdue understanding of genetics has to be laid at the feet of Darwinian zealots.”

    No doubt, but why blame poor old Darwin for that?

    /Mr Lynn

  118. Mr Lynn says:

    David: “10. Things (inclusive everything) must have a Cause, they cannot have existed for eternity, as this contradicts the law of cause and effect. . .”

    I am not sure I follow your arguments (a failing of mine, no doubt), but while science looks for causes, and presumes them, it does not, I think, insist on them. Primary case in point: the Big Bang theory, which posits the origin of the Universe in the explosion of a singularity, something from nothing, i.e. no First Cause.

    The contrary proposal back in the ’50s, the Steady State Universe offered by Fred Hoyle and others, suggests that the universe (that is, all of existence) has neither beginning nor end. Causation presumably operates all the time, indefinitely (a proposition which makes more sense to me.)

    What is essential about science is not underlying propositions, or assumptions, aside from the principle that there is a Reality beyond our perceptions or imaginings that can be described, is the method of uncovering the nature of that Reality. Science consists of propositions that to a greater or lesser degree can be tested, and falsified. This is not true of other claimed forms or sources of ‘knowledge’, e.g. that said to inform religious belief, for example ‘revelation’, or the words of sacred texts.

    /Mr Lynn

  119. David says:

    Mr Lynn

    Please place some adjectives to describe the proposed “singularity”. Any best estimates will do.

  120. David says:

    Both steady state, and big bang have the same problem. One says “things” everything inclusive” came from nothing, as you stated. The other says things, “everything inclusive ” always are and have no cause. Neither sounds like science to me.

    Steady state is primarily 6 and 8 and 10 in my 29 points.

    Big Bang is primaily 4, 6, and 13.

  121. David says:

    The steady state man cannot place his faith in his understanding of “things relative” all being subject to the law of cuase and effect, and simply say “things inclusive” always were and had no cause and claim that this explains anything. In fact it makes “everthing” a mystery. Marconi understood this very well.

    The big bang man cannot say “singularity” and by that mean somthing vauge, of infinite power beyond time and space, and say it is substainilly different then God. I suppose he could say the ageless, unknown infinitely energetic, beyond relativity, unquantifiable something is random and has no intelligence. But he would have to investigate ID to make such a claim. As soon as you give the “singlarity” any relative definition, then it is valid to ask, what caused it. This could be called the delimma of duality. 10 – 16 actualy all refer to the big bang theory.

  122. David says:

    The delimma of duality

    ” No law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is found free of the inherent opposite or contrasted principles.”

    The scientist Marconi referred to this when he stated this, “The inability of science to solve the mystery of life is absolute” this is an affirmation that the reasoning ability of science is bound to the creation by its very nature, and must admit the self-contradictory nature of reason so bound.

  123. M. Simon says:

    David,

    There is initial cause and proximate cause. Science can only deal with proximate causes.

    But you want answers? Stick around a thousand years. We will know a LOT more. It is early days yet.

    What we know is that a lot that is ascribed to the Will of Allah has more mundane explanations. And the longer we are at it the less Allah has to do. Will we come to a time when Allah has to do only one thing or nothing? Maybe.

    BTW I am not a believer. I don’t have to be. I have experience. Daily. Of course it could just be my mild schizophrenia.

  124. David says:

    Steady state is atheist, but not scientific, big bang has “faith” in very powerful things beyond “relative” definitions. “Singularity” is not far from “I am the Alpha and the Omega”

  125. Glen says:

    Thanks for this site in allowing a free and open discussion on the science/religion issues. Does your “ChiefIO” refer to Chief Information Officer?
    I am a Christian who accepts a literal interpretation of Genesis so that is my bias. That means that I accept a recent creation and the flood of Noah that covered the whole earth. Where evolution teaches that life braches out like a tree I believe that life is like a funnel where all life existed at the beginning and has been dying off since then. I also believe in science where it in fact is a matter of observation, testing and falsification. The evolutionary concept that major changes in a life form can come about through multiple random changes i.e. a whale can evolve from a land mammal has never been observed is incapable of being tested and therefore is not falsifiable and is not science.
    If evolution were possible then science should be able to accomplish the following within the next 10 years (The intelligent selective process ought to be able to reduce the time random processes by at least 9 orders of magnitude):
    1. Through the selected breeding of a bacteria or other single cell organism generate multiple cell organisms.
    2. Through the selected breeding of an organism that reproduces through mitosis generate an organism that reproduces through sexual reproduction.
    3. Through the selected breeding of any non-vertebrae organism generate a vertebra organism.
    The above must be fully documented and must be reproducible by other scientist then and only then can it be said that evolution is possible.
    The above three items are some of the hurdles that evolution slides over almost without comment. Another example would be for scientist to generate eyes for an organism that has no eyes. From everything I have read I believe that the further we get into examining and understanding living organisms the greater we will find the complexity. Evolution is a religion as it is taught in schools and in evolutionary magazines. Woe, be to the scientist that dares question its dogma.

    REPLY: [ I don’t know of anything that can get 9 orders of magnetude, but who knows. BTW, the same receptor chemical is in our eyes as in primitive eye spots on very simple organisms. Eyes have had a long time to be worked out… CHIEFIO is kind of a multi pronged things. Information, Investment, Investigation … all the things that Interest me ;-) -E.M.Smith ]

  126. M. Simon says:

    That means that I accept a recent creation and the flood of Noah that covered the whole earth.

    What happened to the water. And what about the variation in Pb/U ratios in different rocks?

    Did the Maker make things so that we could be fooled by nature?

    And why is worm DNA so like human DNA?

    And why do you need such a shoddy maker who keeps adjusting things to make them come out right?

    My Maker is an infinitely superior being. He made the Universe billions of years ago and it is running according to plan. Much more powerful than some Maker who couldn’t get things right the first time.

    I have never understood why people accept incompetent Gods.

  127. Mr Lynn says:

    M. Simon: “I have never understood why people accept incompetent Gods.”

    Like the one who left us with an appendix? And the one who let the typhoid and cholera germs on the Ark? (Not to mention the common housefly, as Mark Twain points out in Letters from the Earth.)

    Me neither.

    /Mr Lynn

  128. Mr Lynn says:

    Glen: “. . . The evolutionary concept that major changes in a life form can come about through multiple random changes i.e. a whale can evolve from a land mammal has never been observed is incapable of being tested and therefore is not falsifiable and is not science.”

    Ever hear of the fossil record?

    /Mr Lynn

  129. M. Simon says:

    Glen: “. . . The evolutionary concept that major changes in a life form can come about through multiple random changes i.e. a whale can evolve from a land mammal has never been observed is incapable of being tested and therefore is not falsifiable and is not science.”

    Ever hear of the DNA record?

  130. Glen says:

    M. Simon

    What happened to all the water – it flowed into the newly created ocean basins that were a result of the opening of the great deep and the mountains rose up due to plate tectonics. See http://www.creationscience.com for one possible explanation. I don’t agree with everything Dr. Brown proposes, however, he is definitely thinking outside of the box.
    The radiometric differences are indicative of many problems for example coal sites that are dated as much as 300 million years old still have discernable radiocarbon in them as do diamonds that are dated at more than 1 Billion years old. When you talk about pb/u ratios my question is how much helium was found in the rocks that were dated using these methods? Helium is a decay product of alpha decay and should act as a control on the generated date, i.e. how much lead has leached out due to the presences of water? See icr.com for some information on their book “Thousands not Billions”.
    How similar are human and worm DNA? Has the worm DNA been completely analyzed? How many chromosomes does this worm of yours have? Was this comparison of DNA only of specific DNA sequences that were common to both man and worm? How long were the sequences?

    My God created everything perfect with extensive capacity to adapt to its environment. Man sinned and everything began to die. My God is a God of life the God of the theistic evolutionist is a god of death. Your statement that you cannot understand those who believe in a God who couldn’t get things right the first time appears to be in conflict with your God who created billions of years ago. What is your proof that the Earth is billions of years old?

    Thanks for referring me to this site from whattsupwiththat.com

  131. Mr Lynn says:

    Peter Wilders

    “Evolution depends upon oodles of time. Take it away and all the posts on this blog lose their rationale. Although one can’t claim to remove time itself, it can be shown by laboratory experiment and field analyses that geological time has been calculated on out of date principles. Of course, it’s not a subject that the largely evolutionist/atheispwilders@t society wants to talk about, so it doesn’t hit the headlines as it would otherwise do.

    “The problem for evolution theory is that if a geological formation is shown to be much younger than reported in the geological time-scale, the fossil record comes under the hammer and the book of biological evolution redundant . However, scientific truth can’t be kept under wraps for ever, and peer-reviewed articles have been published by the Russian Academy of Sciences giving details (see http://www.sedimentology.fr).”

    Now we’re getting somewhere. Creationism and so-called Intelligent Design are not scientific theories but statements of religious belief. But the question of geological time scales is very much an empirical one, and can have profound ramifications for our understanding Earth’s history and life’s evolution. Peter Wilders is correct that the overwhelming view (since the 18th century) has been Uniformitarian, slow and gradual, only revised more recently, first by hypotheses of ‘punctuated equilibria’ and similar notions, but still encompassing vast stretches of geological time, and second by evidence of horrific catastrophes, like the asteroid impact(s) that apparently caused the extinction of the dinosaurs.

    I would tend to agree that a re-evaluation of the evidence for current schemes of geological time is due. Over half a century ago Immanuel Velikovsky (considered a complete crackpot by various establishments, but many of his ideas have subsequently borne fruit) produced evidence (in a popular work, Earth in Upheaval) that the sedimentation assumed to take millenia could (as Mr. Wilders’s link shows) take place much more quickly.

    For myself, I have often wondered about the validity of the assumptions underlying radiologic dating of ancient sediments and rocks, but am not competent to assess them.

    But even if it turns out that the Earth is not as old as we thought it was, or that life evolves far more episodically than initially thought, that does not mean that we should turn away from science toward religious mythology. When one says, as Glen does above, “I believe. . . X, Y, whatever” you know he has strayed from scientific inquiry into a different (and to me far less compelling) realm.

    Science is not a matter of ‘belief’. It is about facts, as best we can adduce them, and as best we can describe and account for them. It is never (or should never) be static, rather always changing, dare I say, evolving. I agree entirely with M. Simon, above:

    “But you want answers? Stick around a thousand years. We will know a LOT more. It is early days yet.”

    Assuming, that is, that religionists of one stripe or another don’t plunge us into another Dark Age, as the Islamists want to do, and probably a few Christians, too.

    /Mr Lynn

  132. Jeff Alberts says:

    The ID folks seem to think that Evolution (and science in general) must have all of the answers right now.

  133. Glen says:

    Mr. Lynn
    Yes I have heard of the fossil record and it is the record of the great flood. The record can be interpreted to be a record of evolution of life on Earth, just like algebra can be used to prove 1+1 does not always = 2. There are many books that challenge the fossils prove evolution theories See the book “Evolution: The fossils still say no!” by Dr. Duane T. Gish. For a treatment of human fossils see the book “Bones of Contention” by Marvin L. Lubenow. Also I know of a number of so called index fossils which supposedly died out years millions of years ago so that they were used by scientist to date the geological column, however, their living descendants have been found! Scientist assume that individual strata are laid down over various time frames. But why are they all solidifying into rock. When Mount Saint Helen’s erupted may fine layers were laid down but they didn’t become rock (at least they had not when I visited there in 2004) because one factor was missing a cementing agent. This cementing agent could be heat, or calcium or a lesser cementing agent, however, would have to be thoroughly mixed in the water when the sediments were laid down to allow it to solidify into rock.

  134. Glen says:

    Mr. Lynn

    What I am stating is my bias so that it will be clear what background I am approaching the data from. That does not mean that I ignore the data only that I tend to be very skeptical of interpretations of data that is based on assumptions that are frequently not stated and not observable nor testable and definitely not falsifiable. In fact what helped me to begin to question the whole evolutionary theory was when a leading scientist stated when told of a fossil find of human and dinosaur prints in the same layer stated, “That cannot be.” He then refused to examine the evidence. It doesn’t matter to me if the evidence was true or not he violated the whole concept of science as a seeker after truth. Since then I have spoken with many evolutionist at college and most support their theory with religious fervor and not with scientific integrity.

  135. Glen says:

    Mr. Lynn

    When you talk about plunging us into a dark age, that effect is far more likely to be caused by our environmental friends who hide behind science like climate change. Most of modern science was started by Christians who did not fear the truth. They believed in a God who was rational therefore his creation should also be rational and therefore understandable by man, and so do I.

  136. Glen says:

    E. M. Smith
    In your reply you stated an assumption i.e. that light sensitive areas can over time evolve into eyes. What I was suggesting in my comments is that scientist should confirm this assumption.
    Assumptions are not science they are a place where science can frequently start i.e. given the following assumptions then x, y, z should occur. If the predictions based on the assumptions is verified then some validity can be assigned to the basic assumptions, they are, however, not proven.

  137. E.M.Smith says:

    @ Everyone:

    While I appreciate a sprited “debate”, please keep in mind that I would like this discussion to be welcoming to both “sides”, so please watch the ‘tone’. It’s starting to sound a bit like “does so, does not, oh yeah?, yeah.”

    @Glen:

    I agree with your statement about science and assumptions. With that said, the notion is often put forward that “eyes” had to spring fully formed into being. Yet we have a very primitive precursor in “eye spots” that includes, IIRC, rodopsin (or similar). So “eyes” have had a very long time to evolve from light sensitive patches, to areas with a ‘clear lens’, to focusing , etc. Yes, they could also have been created that way. (But seeing both sides is why I’m an agnostic ;-)

    And for all the points about the earth being created 6,000 years ago or “whatever”, I really MUST strongly recommend the book referenced above that manages to, via applying a time dialation corretion to the big bang, find a match of biblical time to scientific time. IMHO, the arguing over the time line is missiing the potential of a bigger picture. That both Genisis AND Science are correct. We just needed to calibrate them to God Time. The book is very very well thought out and well written and I can not do it justice in a comment.

    If you accept that calibration of the Bible Clock, then “the word” is the big bang and “creation of life” is evolution. And Science is just admiring the mechanism by which God works. Then the whole tossing rocks at each other thing just evaporates…

  138. M. Simon says:

    BTW ID is just a particular faith’s (or set of faiths) understanding/belief of how we came to be.

    The Catholic Church accepts evolution.

    Me? I think it is time to get back to the Old Time Religion. If it was good enough for Jesus it is good enough for me. I’m Jewish. ;-)

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

    Which for wiki is not bad.

  139. M. Simon says:

    And then we are left with the question of the distance to the stars.

    I’d sure love to know why it seems our galaxy measures 250,000 light years across and yet is only 6,000 years old.

    Did the Maker change light speed during creation? Well the big bang doesn’t work without inflation so who knows?

    Is it an illusion to think that there are stars more than 6,000 light years away from us?

    Now I admit our understanding is imperfect. But there is a certain consistency.

    And ice cores older than 6,000 years? Would that be the work of the Great Deceiver? My understanding of theology (common in the west) is that the Maker is not a deceiver. In fact that belief (and it is a belief) is a foundation of science as we know it.

    Is Hubbel wrong about distance vs red shift?

    ====

    BTW the latest finding in genetics is that we have remnants of viruses in our DNA. And what ever yo can say about the differences between worms and man – they both use the same code.

  140. M. Simon says:

    The foundation of science is that nature is consistent.

  141. Peter Wilders says:

    If the geologic time-scale is wrong evolution theory takes a tumble. Peer-reviewed experiments show it is irreparably off course. ( http://www.sedimentology.fr ). For instance, rock formations near St. Petersburg are shown to be only 0.27% of the age given by the time-scale. In consequence the age of fossils in the rocks is out by the same order: alas, giving them no time to evolve.

    Cosmology, based more on speculation than theory can hardly be said to save the day.

    Peter

  142. Jenli says:

    There is God, or there is no God; there’s no proof for both of these beliefes.

    Hence respect each other and let everybody believe what she or he or it needs to believe for to have a lucky life.

  143. Mr Lynn says:

    M. Simon: “Is Hubbel wrong about distance vs red shift?”

    Possibly yes—and no. The relation between red shift and distance probably exists, but many objects (like quasars) thought to be very distant because of their redshift may instead display ‘intrinsic’ redshift. The evidence: observationally they are associated with bodies of smaller redshift.

    This simple fact, if confirmed, throws a monkey wrench into the ‘Big Bang’ view of the universe.

    For the evidence, argument, and possible explanation, see the book I referenced in this thread back on 10Jan: Halton Arp, Seeing Red: Redshifts, Cosmology, and Academic Science.

    /Mr Lynn

  144. M. Simon says:

    OK. Let us leave quasars out of it. And I don’t have the funds to buy a book.

    So I’ll ask you.

    If the red shit vs distance is valid for some objects how did the light get to us in 6,000 years?

  145. Mr Lynn says:

    Peter Wilders
    If the geologic time-scale is wrong evolution theory takes a tumble. Peer-reviewed experiments show it is irreparably off course. ( http://www.sedimentology.fr ). For instance, rock formations near St. Petersburg are shown to be only 0.27% of the age given by the time-scale. In consequence the age of fossils in the rocks is out by the same order: alas, giving them no time to evolve.

    Not necessarily. Life on Earth is currently thought to have originated some 4 billion years ago. 27% of that is still a very long time by my lights (I am fervently hoping for a pill that will at least double the Biblical life span of “three score and ten”). Since there is some evidence now that evolution can proceed in geologically ‘rapid’ spurts, a billion years is still plenty of time for prokaryotes to evolve into homo sapiens (with a saurian detour along the way).

    /Mr Lynn

  146. Mr Lynn says:

    M. Simon

    OK. Let us leave quasars out of it. And I don’t have the funds to buy a book.

    So I’ll ask you.

    If the red shit vs distance is valid for some objects how did the light get to us in 6,000 years?

    You must have me confused with Glen. He’s the only one here who seems to accept the chronology of Bishop Ussher.

    Prof. Arp’s book is only $25: http://www.amazon.com/Seeing-Red-Redshifts-Cosmology-Academic/dp/0968368905

    Or find a good library.

    /Mr Lynn

  147. Mr Lynn says:

    E.M.Smith

    @ Everyone:

    While I appreciate a sprited “debate”, please keep in mind that I would like this discussion to be welcoming to both “sides”, so please watch the ‘tone’. It’s starting to sound a bit like “does so, does not, oh yeah?, yeah.”

    Apologies if my responses have become a bit ‘sharp’. I am probably more receptive to ideas that establishment science considers on the ‘fringe’ than most, but I have little tolerance for creationist poppycock, e.g. the oft-raised shibboleth of human and dinosaur footprints co-existing in the same strata—never authenticated and usually found to be hoaxes (tons of dino bones have been excavated all over the world, and never have any hominid bones been found associated with them). And, BTW, this is the problem with admitting ‘creation science’ (an oxymoron) into basic school curricula: after that, where do you draw the line? With ‘the face’ on Mars? With ‘fake’ moon landings?

    /Mr Lynn

  148. Glen says:

    Mr. Lynn and others:
    Since I am the only one who supports the creation story as given in Genesis I would request that you answer my questions so that I might see the “light” rather than stating my position is poppycock. As for cosmetology I would rather not get into that too deeply other that to say a possible answer from a young-creationist point of view might be Dr. Humphreys, “Starlight and Time”. Dr. Humphreys theory is that God used a white hole to create the universe. One thing we do know is that as we have ventured out into space and tested our theories about nearby planets is that there has been significant revision of theories when we have actually been able to observe the moons and planets.
    There is evidence for a young earth that has not been falsified to my knowledge for example the fact that coal that is supposedly 300 MY old has radiocarbon dates < 50000 years. Diamonds still retain carbon-14. Also dates of zircons generated by helium analyses in rocks evolutionary dated at 1.5 Billion years old give dates in the 6000 year range. Graphs indicating the amounts of helium expected for the two theories were published years before the study was completed and the amount of helium found supported a young-earth interpretation. This RATE study was based on a study done by Dr. Gentry in 1982 which indicated that studied zircons still retained up to 58% of their helium. Is it possible that these two studies can be falsified? Yes, it is possible but that has not been done. I would request of you any peer-reviewed study published in any evolutionary magazine that falsifies the above studies.
    Evolution has many assumptions that it is based upon and these cannot be observed which is why I suggested possible test that evolutionary science could undertake that would support their assumptions. Until the basic assumptions of evolution are supported scientifically with observable repeatable results evolution will remain a belief system.

    Someone asked about the dates given by the ice cores. Again these are based upon assumptions i.e. that the layers within the ice are from winter, summer, therefore the number of years may be calculated. I would argue, however, that these layers are not winter, summer, but warming, cooling, and different snow events. We know that the glacier that was on Mount St. Helens is less than 30 years old why doesn’t someone bore a core in that glacier and see how many layers you have. Some Aircraft from WWII were stranded in Greenland and were recovered about 50 years later buried under approximately 250 feet of snow which hand many hundred layers observable to those who recovered the craft. Again this is an easy assumption to prove by drilling in glaciers where we have a known starting date i.e. Mount St. Helens. So why has it not been done? Perhaps it has been done is anyone aware of any papers analyzing the glacier core data from Mount St. Helens?
    One earlier commenter stated he didn’t have the money to buy a specific book mentioned. I would recommend Dr. Brown’s book that is available online for free at creationscience.com.
    @E.W.
    You state, “Yet we have a very primitive precursor in “eye spots” that includes, IIRC, rodopsin (or similar).” Are these eye spots on organisms with no eyes or on organisms with eyes? If the latter then I would suggest that they are a result of a DNA copy error where a portion of existing eye DNA was erroneously copied. As to books that correlate the biblical time frame with science I am well familiar with several different ones, however, they do severe violence to the straight forward reading of the account. As to life by evolution – then you have death proceeding sin therefore man is not responsible for the death and decay of the earth and does not need salvation.

    REPLY: [ In addition to planaria worms that have “eyes” with very primitive structure there are ‘eye spots’ on, for example, jelly fish that have no eye structure, yet have a ‘spot’ that detects light (they rise and fall in the water column with day / night using this signal) but no eye structure at all. It uses the same light detecting chemistry, but with no eye structure. IIRC, there was some work finding similar ‘eye spots’ on some bacteria as described here:

    http://www.d.umn.edu/~olse0176/Evolution/bacteria.html

    So there has been a very long evolution of the ‘eye’ with lots of intermediate stages demonstrated.

    Frankly, I really do think the “answer” lies in letting go of the “young earth” thesis with all the ‘overturning of science’ that has to happen; and instead take a look at the ‘calbration to God time’ in the book referenced in the first couple of comments. It really is startling in how well it brings Genesis and the Scientific time line into agreement. Frankly, it gave me more of a “feeling the presense of God” than I’d felt since baptism at 12 years old… -E.M.Smith ]

  149. Glen says:

    Mr. Lynn
    I like the way you apologize and then proceed on to name calling i.e. poppycock and creation science is an oxymoron.
    If you will read my comments in context I never said I accepted or believed the reports about men and dinosaur prints to be true, however, there is evidence that man has seen dinosaurs in the flesh. For example there are cave drawings that have been interpreted as dinosaurs and there are stones that are hundreds of years old from South America that depict dinosaurs and man together. Also there were ceramic dinosaurs found in the 1950s that were dated to about 1200 AD plus the dinosaur statues had their tails sticking out behind them as a balance not like the pictures in the books when I was a kid in the 1950s. To imply that the “soft” science that is evolutionary theory is to be placed on a pedestal as a gold standard ignores the many hoaxes that have been perpetrated in the name of evolution such as the Piltdown Man, Nebraska Man, and Haeekel’s theory of recapitulation which has appeared in textbooks more than 100 years after it was falsified. The point is science needs to examine all the evidence not just the evidence that supports their theory.
    You state that human bones have never been found with dinosaur bones, how do you know? Perhaps there have been and have been thrown out as being an anomalism. Because we “know” that humans and dinosaurs didn’t live at the same time. Perhaps the same skepticism that you display toward creationism should be displayed toward the sacrosanct evolutionary scientist.
    The books “Forbidden Archeology” and “Bones of Contention” deal issues of man’s bones and artifacts. “Forbidden Archeology is not a creationist book but written with another religious bias which is admitted to in the introduction.

  150. E.M.Smiths says:

    FWIW, as a fascinating example of how evolution can work by VERY fast jumps, read:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/01/green-sea-slug/

    which describes an animal that does photosynthesis. The ability to make chlorophyll was picked up by absorbing the genes of some of the plants / protists it eats… The “chloroplasts” are still something it has to absorb from it’s food, but the ‘making chlorophyll’ part is now built into it’s DNA. One more “absorb a chunk of DNA and integrate it” and it will be making it’s own chloroplasts too…

    While this article quotes the guy as saying it’s the only example he knows of, of genes crossing between large critters in different familes, in fact there is a bit of a crisis in categorizing animals and plants into a ‘family tree’ based on genes because they have found large common segments in widely separated branches that just can’t be; unless somebody absorbed chunks of somebody else along the way ;-)

    So, just like Mom used to say: You are what you eat! And in some cases far more literally than we might want to think ! ;-)

    This example, while “way cool”, unfortunately does nothing to resolve “the creation issue” since it both supports the “young earth” by letting such things as the fossil record be compressed in time yet the species still change apace; and at the same time gives more leeway to the original evolution of life (basically, it shows a way that you don’t need “billions of years” to evolve a very complex trait in a particular lineage. It didn’t take these slugs a billion years to evolve photosynthesis, they just checked it out of the bug library… I would expect such processes to be even more common in a global soup of proto-life where speciation and membrane barriers would be even lower than now. So it lets all the bits of the machine accidentally happen separately, then get glued together in one convulsion…

    But what it really shows is that we just don’t know nearly as much as we think we do.

    At any rate, getting back to my favorite unsupportable speculation: This opens the doorway to “little green men” in a very litteral way.

    Heck, it would sure make it easier to provision a space ship. Jut put in a sun lamp(!).

    I’d like to get a ‘green upgrade’ if I knew I’d not gain too much pudge from the constant food supply ;-)

    This gene jumping behaviour, BTW, is also part of why I’m worried about the GMO foods industry. Those genes will NOT be staying put… I wonder what they do when absorbed by mamalian gut linings… (and yes, there is evidence for viral DNA integrating into mammal gut lining and the GMO genes are inserted using viral packages…)

  151. Glen says:

    E. M. Smith
    I read your link about the bacteria and again my question is did the “eye spot” develop in bacteria that had no “eye spot” previously or is this just a new bacteria that has been discovered with an “eye spot”? This is not evident in the page perhaps it will be addressed in the published paper.

    You state that I should be “letting go of the “young earth” thesis with all the ‘overturning of science’ that has to happen; “. Why, if the dates are correct then current science is totally on the wrong track and needs to be turned over. I have noticed that in this forum and others that nobody addresses many of the questions I bring, they just pop in another link or question of their own and proceed on. So please address why the helium dates are incorrect or why the assumptions of the ice layers have not been checked when there are many ways to do so. You have obviously accepted the evolutionary time frame so support your assumptions that I questioned earlier with scientific rigor.

    It is my opinion that if we are to have true scientific discussion and evaluation of evolution we need to evaluate skeptic sites for we know from experience that even researching something that might challenge the evolutionary paradigm for your PhD can will not be tolerated. For example Dr. Gentry’s experiences when he wanted to do his PhD on radio-halos, and the basis of this thread about the movie “Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed”.

  152. M. Simon says:

    There is evidence for a young earth that has not been falsified to my knowledge for example the fact that coal that is supposedly 300 MY old has radiocarbon dates < 50000 years.

    Well right off the bat the evidence that you give (arguing against interest) says that your 6,000 year number is off by a factor of 10 or so.

    Pretty big hole in your theory.

    BTW radiocarbon is not good for geologic time scales (as posited by old earth geology)

    Carbon14 has a half life of about 6,000 years. That says that in 60,000 years the amount will be 1/1,000th of the original and in 120,000 years 1 millionth and in 180,000 years one billionth. So even with extraordinary instruments (not yet developed) the limits of C14 dating are at most 250,000 years or so.

    The current limit is on the order of 60,000 years. So all you can say is that the coal is at least 60,000 years old and may be much, much, much older.

    And if the coal is not laid down by biologic processes? Big trouble with your whole dating scheme.

  153. M. Simon says:

    This gene jumping behaviour, BTW, is also part of why I’m worried about the GMO foods industry. Those genes will NOT be staying put… I wonder what they do when absorbed by mamalian gut linings… (and yes, there is evidence for viral DNA integrating into mammal gut lining and the GMO genes are inserted using viral packages…)

    The experiment has been going on for some time now. If the change has benefit the organism will reproduce. If not it dies out.

    i.e. Darwin will save us.

    Evidence of fast evolution:

    http://lagriffedulion.f2s.com/ashkenaz.htm

    Which says human evolution can operate over 500 to 1,000 year periods and produce noticeable changes in response to environmental stress.

    i.e. once you have a starter kit it may not take billions of years. Tens to hundreds of millions may be enough to go from single cells to humans. Still a bit longer than 6,000 years.

  154. M. Simon says:

    Glenn,

    I’ll address the helium question if you will give me a starter link.

  155. M. Simon says:

    And Glenn,

    Any evidence of a white hole? Give me a link.

  156. M. Simon says:

    Vostok ice core data shows the earth to be at least 140,000 years old.

    That is an error of a factor of 23 from your presumed number of 6,000. i.e. not even close.

    ===

    http://rationalwiki.com/wiki/White_hole_cosmology

    White hole cosmology is a creationist cosmology invented by creationist Russell Humphreys and put forward in his 1994 book Starlight and Time.[1] The theory is not based on any observable evidence, but rather on the creationist desire to solve the challenge to the 6000 year-old earth that the starlight problem poses. White hole cosmology is currently regarded as pseudoscience by the general scientific community, but is claimed to be the truth by creationist organizations such as Answers in Genesis and the Institute for Creation Research.

    The main idea of white hole cosmology is that the world was created inside a black hole and that earth was subjected to intense time dilation so billions of years could have passed outside the field while only a few days would pass inside it.

    The theory of white hole cosmology is fatally flawed. The mathematics used by Humphreys are riddled with problems,[2] and special relativity is repeatedly misinterpreted.[3] In several places the theory is even self-contradictory, most notably about the cosmological constant “lambda”.[4]

    Compression and intensification of light

    The idea requires that the universe outside the solar system is as old as contemporary scientists hold it to be[5] – 13,700,000,000 years[6]. They then say that while all this time passed outside the vicinity of the earth, only six days (creation week) passed on earth. The stars outside the dilation field would still be emitting light towards earth at the same rate which would have to be compressed into six days of time, which would cause celestial objects outside the dilation field to appear roughly 833,416,666,666 times brighter inside the field, raising the surface temperature of the earth to hundreds of thousands of Kelvins.
    [edit] Size of the original black hole

    White hole cosmology states that the black hole from which the universe came from was an even 2 light years across, a nice even number that seems to fit his theory perfectly. The width of Humphrey’s black hole would not be such a small pleasant number though.

    The black hole according to this theory encompassed all the matter in the observable universe, a number estimated at 3*10^55g.[7] If you have the mass of a black hole you can determine the distance from the singularity to the event horizon using the Schwarzschild equation.

    rs = Gm/r^2

    where

    G is the gravitational constant.
    M is the mass of the black hole.
    C is the speed of light.

    And note: the Catholic Church sides with Darwin and old earth geology. So the whole young earth idea is not universal to Christianity (nor Judaism) but is particular to some sects of those religions.

    ===

    Now the idea that the Earth is young and the universe is old does have possibilities. In fact it is accepted science: roughly – Universe 15 billion, Earth 5 billion.

    But reducing the age of the Earth by six orders of magnitude and getting all the data from various disciplines to come into rough agreement is going to take a LOT of work.

    My guess is it will get more difficult as time goes on due to having reliable data from the Moon, Mars, and the moons of the gas giants.

    Good luck with that.

    ==

    It is much easier to say the Bible is allegory (at least in some parts) than to change all of science.

  157. David says:

    On January 16, 2010 at 6:42 pm M. Simon responded to my 29 points post…
    David, There is initial cause and proximate cause. Science can only deal with proximate causes.

    But you want answers? Stick around a thousand years. We will know a LOT more. It is early days yet”

    Yes science can only deal with proximate causes. One thousand years will not change this. Three to five thousand years ago ancient India stated ” A Lord of Creation cannot be deduced.”

    Perhaps I can further condense a large portion of my 29 points posted earlier. (not e-harmony) (-: Those 29 points were a condensation of earlier posts. And so a mathematical formula for the dilemma of duality.

    0 / 1 through any number… / infinity.

    We will label these fields one, two, and three.

    Field one is neither a cause, or an effect.

    Field two is science, and can be both an effect and a cause. Two plus two equals four. Four is the effect, two and two are the cause.

    Field three is “cause only”, and not a theory, the existence of field two demands it. Nothing on its own or combined inclusive ever done in field two can equal field three. Classical mechanical theory and quantum physics still require relativity, and to be quantified. A photon is something, and quantifiable. The Higgs field, if found will be quantifiable.

    Field one can explain neither field two or three, Field one is the ultimate atheist.

    Field two can never explain how it always was, or how it came from nothing. Field two is relative, and a rational agnostic, stating “I do not know”.

    Field three is the “first cause:, beyond the laws of “cause and effect” saying to field two, I exist, you cannot deny me, and you cannot measure me, I can cause you, you can never cause me. I can live without you, you cannot live without me, I am transcendent. You can only know me by transcending field two.

    ID is, as explained many times, an attempt to see if field three left any hints of its nature in field two. Field three has nothing to be afraid of, and should enthusiastically embrace it, neither pro or con as true scientist. ID is the only way field two can approach field three. There may me transcendent ways to know field three, but that is religion.

    These limitations should be explained. ID should be allowed, but taught as a separate field, a merger of two and three. If it makes scientific claims about field two subject evolution, these claims can be contradicted within field two.

    The past abuse of religion and technology has nothing to do with this.

    Thanks

  158. M. Simon says:

    BTW I’m not familiar with your version of white hole cosmology.

    Is there any evidence for it in the Bible?

    And then there is the problem of why now?

    Black holes were postulated as long ago as 1800 (a little before) and the math was laid out in 1930.

    Why did it take until 1994 for some one to come up with the white hole theory. And why wasn’t it done by some one not in Creation Science (thus giving it more weight due to argument against interest).

  159. M. Simon says:

    And just to go on a different tack (unexplained science).

    Unbound neutrons have a lifetime (halflife?) of 15 minutes.

    Neutrons don’t bind to each other. How does a neutron star exist?

  160. M. Simon says:

    Field two can never explain how it always was, or how it came from nothing.

    Maybe.

    In any case once there is something a LOT explanations are possible.

    And your argument is from philosophy not data.

    And who knows what data we might get tomorrow? Or in 10,000 years.

    Here is a good one on how to argue like a lawyer:

    http://nucleargreen.blogspot.com/2008/12/schopenhauer-and-opposition-to-nuclear.html

    The only way to cut this Gordian knot is evidence. All else is speculation and sophistry. Or light shows in a dark room (some times referred to as movies).

  161. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    If you have the mass of a black hole you can determine the distance from the singularity to the event horizon using the Schwarzschild equation.

    rs = Gm/r^2

    where

    G is the gravitational constant.
    M is the mass of the black hole.
    C is the speed of light.
    <<

    That equation should be:
    rs = 2*G*M/C^2

    It can be derived from the escape velocity equation:

    Ve = (2*G*M/r)^0.5

    by setting Ve = C or where the escape velocity equals the speed of light.

    Jim

  162. Mr Lynn says:

    E.M.Smiths

    FWIW, as a fascinating example of how evolution can work by VERY fast jumps, read:

    http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2010/01/green-sea-slug/

    which describes an animal that does photosynthesis. . .

    Thanks for that link—quite fascinating. A little convergent evolution there, too, as the slug has clearly developed green leaf-like ‘wings’ to better exploit the ability to use sunlight.

    It might not have happened all that fast, though. A lot of organisms have internal symbiotic relationships with others, as we do with our intestinal flora, so conceivably that was a precursor to some slugs actually incorporating the essential mechanism for photosynthesis into its own genome, and who knows how many generations that took?

    This story might have turned up in Science News, but I would have missed it because I cancelled my subscription as a protest of their mindless devotion to AGW.

    /Mr Lynn

  163. Mr Lynn says:

    Asks Glen,

    “You state that human bones have never been found with dinosaur bones, how do you know? Perhaps there have been and have been thrown out as being an anomalism. . .”

    Perhaps (the word is ‘anomaly’, BTW). Most paleontologists these days, like archaeologists, are I expect pretty meticulous at cataloguing and recording their digs, so even if human (or even hominid, or for that matter any other large Pleistocene mammal) bones were found in situ with sauropod bones, and dismissed as intrusive, there would be a record. I have not heard of any, but I am not in the field. Who knows?

    Anything is possible, but from what we know about the fossil record, that prospect is darned unlikely. The fossil record is mighty convincing proof that evolution occurred, from simple to complex, just as circumnavigating the globe was proof that the Earth is round, not flat like a pancake. Sure, lots of details remain mysteries, and lots of apparent anomalies need better explanation; the edifice that is evolutionary theory is constantly changing; if it were not changing, and growing, then that would be cause for worry.

    What the fossil record does not support, except by ideologues cherry-picking at outlying and suspect (or fraudulent) data, is the antiquated idea that the Old Testament in any serious way describes the history of life on Earth. Sure, the vague pronouncements of Genesis could be interpreted as analogous to the cosmology of the Big Bang theorists (as our host imagines), but that’s just poetic license, not science.

    In any event, M. Simon is doing a good job of demolishing some of your arguments, so I’ll leave them in his competent hands. As far as I’m concerned, Creationism is still poppycock, and, to return to the original topic of this thread, doesn’t belong in science classes, except as an example of religious ideology masquerading as science.

    /Mr Lynn

  164. M. Simon says:

    Jim Masterson

    Perhaps a correction to the wiki is in order.

  165. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    M. Simon

    Perhaps a correction to the wiki is in order.
    <<

    Perhaps. But the link you provided has the correct equation.

    Jim

  166. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    David

    My recent posts may have been a little long winded, the phrase, “Brevity is the soul of wit” could, sadly perhaps, not be applied to those posts. I will try to be more succinct . . . .
    <<

    I glad you were being succinct. I’d hate to see one of your long-winded posts.

    I read your “succinct” post, but it doesn’t seem to make any logical sense. How about:

    1. I agree/disagree with X.
    2. My mind is made up and don’t confuse me with the facts.
    3. My ignorance in a subject trumps anyone with real knowledge.

    Two examples of X are evolution and AGW. Most creationists have very limited knowledge of the sciences, and it appears that most climatologists suffer the same problem.

    Jim

  167. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    REPLY: [ I don’t know of anything that can get 9 orders of magnetude, but who knows. BTW, the same receptor chemical is in our eyes as in primitive eye spots on very simple organisms. Eyes have had a long time to be worked out… CHIEFIO is kind of a multi pronged things. Information, Investment, Investigation … all the things that Interest me ;-) -]
    E.M.Smith
    <<

    Human eyes have several bad design flaws. These include: blind spot, loosely attached retina, backwards oriented light sensing cells, and a lens system that becomes harder to focus as it ages. The human eye is basically the standard mammal eye, which is the standard reptile eye, which is the standard bird eye, and which is the standard fish eye. It looks like these animals inherited their eyes from a common ancestor.

    Now if God gives the best designs to His favorite creatures, then cephalopods must be His favorite. They have the best eye design. The nerves and blood vessels are routed behind the eye and plunge through at various points to make connections. This effectively pins the retina to the inside of the eye. This also negates the need for a blind spot and doesn’t use the brain processing required to make the blind spot disappear. In our eyes, the nerves are co-located with the retina light sensing cells and are translucent. Translucent nerves are slower responding than the faster opaque nerves. The light sensing cells in cephalopods point towards the pupil and the light source instead of pointing toward the back of eye as in our design. The cephalopod lens is rigid and moves backward and forward to focus (as in a real camera), instead of being squished by muscles as in our eyes. That squishy lens of ours gets stiffer over time and focusing becomes hard if not impossible. Cephalopods don’t have that problem. (I’m not sure about the Nautilus. They don’t have lenses. Instead they use pinholes to focus the light. Some creationist wrote: “What good is an eye without a lens?” Apparently he didn’t know about the Nautilus. They’ve been around for about 500 million years (relic species) and get along fine without lenses.)

    Jim

    REPLY: [ Fascinating. Rather like photography started with the pinhole camera and evolved forward from there. A pinhole has the virtue of tremendous depth of field and no focus lag time, but at the loss of some brightness of image. So you would need a “fast film”. But, IIRC, the human eye can sense a single photon, to it would seem that “fast film” is not hard for biological systems to make. I’d also heard that octopod eyes were superior (though still using the common light sensing biochemical) but had not heard the details. But again, my bias is toward the notion that “God can create as He sees fit, and that can be via the vehicle of evolution”.

    As amusing as it is to watch you folks slide back into the typical arguments of why it must be proof of one vs the other: there really is no conflict between evolution and a God. It just changes the “story” from a devine instantaneous creation of the species to a devine creation of the rules of nature… (You may resume the “does so, does not” now…) Oh, and God’s favorite design must be beetles, for He has such an extraordinary fondness of them as to make them the dominate land form by number of species… -E.M.Smith ]

  168. Mr Lynn says:

    E. M. Smith: As amusing as it is to watch you folks slide back into the typical arguments of why it must be proof of one vs the other: there really is no conflict between evolution and a God. It just changes the “story” from a devine instantaneous creation of the species to a devine creation of the rules of nature…

    The problem, EM, is that the Creationists are not content with the Deistic notion of a God who just winds up the clock and sets it running. So you have Glen, a couple of days ago, saying,

    “I am a Christian who accepts a literal interpretation of Genesis so that is my bias. That means that I accept a recent creation and the flood of Noah that covered the whole earth. Where evolution teaches that life braches out like a tree I believe that life is like a funnel where all life existed at the beginning and has been dying off since then. . .

    Thereby squishing the history of the Earth down to a few thousand years, and turning the fossil record on its head. Is that an argument for devolution? Or just a God who created a whole pile of critters and then thought better of most of them? Or maybe Noah just couldn’t fit them all on the Arc, so left out the primitive horse, and the dinosaurs (except the birds), etc., but somehow managed to bring along the common housefly, along with the germs for typhoid, cholera, and the multitude of other nasties that afflict humanity?

    Of course not all Creationists (or IDers) are this silly, but at some point you have got to say, “These are entertaining speculations, but they are not even remotely consistent with current observation and theory in science.”

    /Mr Lynn

  169. David says:

    “Field two can never explain how it always was, or how it came from nothing.” from David

    Mr Simon stated…

    Maybe…

    In any case once there is something a LOT of explanations are possible.

    And your argument is from philosophy not data.

    And who knows what data we might get tomorrow? Or in 10,000 years.

    The only way to cut this Gordian knot is evidence. All else is speculation and sophistry. Or light shows in a dark room (some times referred to as movies).””

    Sir, I am attempting to tell you that according to the sceintific method, where every effect has a preceeding cause, you are limited to field two. That is not philosophy. One thousand, or one hundred thousand years will not suffice. (any number of years within field two will not suffice.)

    How to break the “Gordian” knot, without science or by going through experience, beyond the law of cause and effect, is both religion and philosophy. (-:

    How to break the Gordian” knot” within science is difficult as direct evidence is not possible, but ID is just that, a search within science for evidence of the nature of the undeniable field three. So in some respects your post is an argument for ID.

    Now it is certainly not an agrument for a literal 6,000 year old earth. And personaly I find that argument more difficult to make then overturning 50 years of science and 100s of research paper with one poorly done hockeystick.

    The best thing to do is for both the “believer” and the skeptic to accept the limitation of ID, which can only provide evidence. If some post scientificaly untrue statements you must answer with patient logic, from a scientific perspective.

    PS, I cut the Lawyer part of your quote out. No offense but I do not like layers in general (personal experience) Also I try to keep my arguments very direct.

  170. David says:

    on January 18, 2010 at 12:49 am Jim Masterson
    >>
    David

    My recent posts may have been a little long winded, the phrase, “Brevity is the soul of wit” could, sadly perhaps, not be applied to those posts. I will try to be more succinct . . . .
    <<

    I glad you were being succinct. I’d hate to see one of your long-winded posts.

    I read your “succinct” post, but it doesn’t seem to make any logical sense. How about:

    1. I agree/disagree with X.
    2. My mind is made up and don’t confuse me with the facts.
    3. My ignorance in a subject trumps anyone with real knowledge.

    Hum?, unfortunately your "not understanding" is vauge. My post was a consolodation of these…
    on January 11, 2010 at 10:08 pm David
    on January 13, 2010 at 11:01 pm David
    on January 16, 2010 at 6:40 pm David
    on January 17, 2010 at 7:56 pm David

    I am certain you will find something there to say 1. I agree/disagree with X.

  171. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    David

    I am certain you will find something there to say 1. I agree/disagree with X.
    <<

    I pass. Your posts are too hard to read.

    Jim

  172. M. Simon says:

    How to break the Gordian” knot” within science is difficult as direct evidence is not possible, but ID is just that, a search within science for evidence of the nature of the undeniable field three. So in some respects your post is an argument for ID.

    Uh. No.

    Saying that we have no evidence now is not the same as saying we may not have evidence in the future.

    Because science is always open to new evidence.

    Just because we are unaware of Little Green Men today is not proof they will not land on the front lawn of the White House fifty years hence. Or that in 500 years we will find out that they use a binary coded beam of neutinos to communicate and we will be able to talk back to them

    One should always be open to evidence that would completely upset one’s view of the universe. Like maybe God DOES play dice with the universe and there is spooky action at a distance.

    At this point the best I can say is that there is no evidence of ID, nor any evidence of leprechuans except in folk tales and fanciful literature. But if I get some trustworthy evidence I’m going to change my mind.

  173. M. Simon says:

    “When the facts change, I change my mind — what
    do you do, sir?”

  174. David says:

    Humm, I guess that leaves you in neityher 1 two or three in your responses. I am however stubborn, and wish to help.

    What I was cognizing manifested over time into the question of cause and effect, the essence of most all scientific principals which all have a dualistic base..Fundamental natural activities all betray this. “Electricity for example is a phenomena of repulsion and attraction and electrons protons are electrical opposites. The atom, like the earth it self, is a magnet with positive and negative poles. The entire phenomenal world is under the inexorable sway of polarity. No law of physics, chemistry, or any other science is found free of the inherent opposite or contrasted principles.” The scientist Marconi referred to this when he stated this, “The inability of science to solve the mystery of life is absolute” this is an affirmation that the reasoning ability of science is bound to the creation by its very nature, and must admit the self-contradictory nature of reason so bound.

    Do you understand what Marconi meant in the quote provided?

  175. David says:

    ID is the search for such evidence, so saying I will not look is not science.

    Science is bound to both cause and effect.

    So little green men still need a cause, as does the spagetti monster.

    Field two, (one through any number) is eveidence of field three, which is beyond the reach of science.

  176. David says:

    field one which is zero is neither cause or effect.

    Field two which is one through any number is science, which is both cause and effect.

    Field three is infinity, which is cause only, and demanded by field one.

  177. David says:

    Field two demands that field three exists, but can never explain it.

  178. David says:

    Field three is infinity, which is cause only, and demanded by field one. correction, demanded by field three, not one.

  179. David says:

    Cause and effect, two plus two equalls four, but two plus two, can never equal field three.

  180. David says:

    Field three is infinity, which is cause only, and demanded by field two, not one ugh!!

  181. David says:

    When contemplating infinity and the absolute the brain often feels like it shorts out. This is a wall different then other walls in science. The principals of science are limited to field two. Yet the very existence of field two implies a “First Cause”, beyond science which is stuck in field two.

    Any supposition of field two to explain itself, little green men, the giant spagetti monster, the singularity, the bigbang, etc are themself all subjet to field two laws, and so require a prior cause, this demands field three, something which logicaly is “cause” only”

    Part of what I am saying is your answer must be “cause” only.

  182. David says:

    I am also admiting science cannot propose “cause only” anything.

  183. Mr Lynn says:

    I can’t understand any of what David is writing. It’s over my head, I guess. Or under? No, just off in some direction I find unintelligible.

    /Mr Lynn

  184. David says:

    very sorry for getting my fields mixed up, but I think I got it together in the end (-:

  185. Jim Masterson says:

    David

    I guess I should have said, “I pass. I don’t want to read your posts.”

    Jim

  186. David says:

    I am not saying field three is unknowable, that is a very deep subject. I am just stating that it exists. I am stating that whatever “cause only ” anything we postulate is, the only possible attributes it will have are required to be absolutes, and will not be satisfactory to field two thinking.

  187. David says:

    I am also saying that the search for evidence of ID is valid, but will only bring evidence, never proof. Indeed, the evidence of intelligence in field two is possibly an evidence of intelligence in field three, the cause that is “cause” only.

  188. David says:

    By the way I believe in evolution, and in ID. They are two different fields, and not self contradictory at all. Evolution itself may be a sign of intelligence.

  189. David says:

    Evaluating the chances of a “cause only” event creating a chain of evolving “cause and effect” field two things, in a purely random event, is something certain aspects of science can evaluate the probabilities of. So why not do this?

    You can call this field unintelligent design if you wish.

    (-;

  190. David says:

    Sorry gentlemen. A simple question. State anything. it does not have to be a correct anything, that is cause only.

  191. David says:

    The “anything” you state, must logicaly have no prior cause.

    REPLY: [ Could you please keep your stuff together in a combined posting. Having a dozen postings of one sentence each does not work well. -E.M.Smith ]

  192. David says:

    Field one (nothing) is neither cause of effect, and does not exist.

    Field two (one through any number) is both cause and effect

    Field two demands a field three. (Infinity, absolutes, beyond both time and space)

    (cause and effect) cannot be an eternal chain, otherwise one is stating that it always was, “steady state” and field one, nothing caused field two.

    Field three is demanded as a “cause only” beyond effect.

    Any describtion of this demande “cause only” anything have to contain absolutes.

    And so five thousand years ago in India they stated “A Lord of creation cannot be deduced”

  193. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    M. Simon

    And just to go on a different tack (unexplained science).

    Unbound neutrons have a lifetime (halflife?) of 15 minutes.

    Neutrons don’t bind to each other. How does a neutron star exist?
    <<

    Interesting. Neutrons have a mean lifetime of 885.7+-0.8 seconds. The half life can be computed from the following formula:
    Half life = ln(2)*(mean lifetime)

    I usually used 13 minutes for half life, but that’s really old data, it seems.

    Normal matter (electrons, protons, and neutrons) can exist in a compress body (like a white dwarf) up to about 1.4 solar masses. Above that value, the electron degeneracy pressure can’t hold against the gravitational force. This is what happens in a large mass star that explodes in a type II supernova. The core collapses into a neutron star, rebounds, and the shockwave blows the star apart. The core remains as a neutron star or pulsar.

    Neutrons undergo the weak force decay: neutron = proton + W- = proton + electron + anti-electron neutrino.

    The negative W boson is short-lived and quickly decays into an electron and an anti-neutrino (both baryon number and lepton number are conserved in this reaction)

    Some neutrons may decay in a neutron star, but since the gravity exceeds the electron degeneracy pressure, it’s unlikely that many protons and electrons will exist as individuals.

    Jim

  194. vigilantfish says:

    Hi Chiefio,

    Have not read the comments, but appreciate more than ever your blog and your open-mindedness. I’ve taught courses in the history of Darwinism, and agree with you that the current suppression of ID (historically probably the most commonly held position amongst believers in evolution including early American followers such as Asa Gray) mirrors the AGW suppression of dissenters. Political correctness cannot allow debate or discussion of anything: for a philosophy supposedly grounded in rational tolerance it has from its first emergence proved to be purely a political tool to eliminate the same. Ironically even Darwin’s Bulldog, Thomas Henry Huxley, the hero of modern materialists and anti-religionists like Richard Dawkins, would most likely be repulsed by the tactics used by modern Darwinists.

  195. Mr Lynn says:

    vigilantfish: “I’ve taught courses in the history of Darwinism, and agree with you that the current suppression of ID (historically probably the most commonly held position amongst believers in evolution including early American followers such as Asa Gray) mirrors the AGW suppression of dissenters. . .”

    I disagree with the analogy. (Cf. my post at January 10, 2010 at 6:22 am, and subsequent back-and-forth with others, including our esteemed host.) Suppression within science of alternative or competing theories is unfortunately too common (e.g. the ostracism of Halton Arp within the astronomical community I mentioned above), but ID is not a competing theory. It is just a religious gloss that has the potential, not for stimulating inquiry, but for short-circuiting it.

    /Mr Lynn

    REPLY: [ You know, if you had a “in my opinion” on that, I’d be fine with it. But it is that tendency to state as an absolute truth, if you will pardon the metphor, a nearly God Given Truth, that ID can never be a serious theory and is completely unworthy of discussion even for stimulating discussion; that is what causes folks like me the most tendency to want it all the more… So we have folks like this:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/10/nyregion/10alone.html

    who spin an interesting yarn around the evidence, but yet there IS evidence. And it is never to be spoken of? Or only if branded indellibly with “Myth” and “Fantasy”? Never are we to think for even a moment that perhaps when the ancients wrote something down they really mean what they say? Just toss it in the dust bin of history unexamined?

    What an impovrished world. And how dull life would be for students.

    Frankly, I can think of nothing more effective at teaching evolution than to hold up Darwin and his beliefs (NOT what they are fashioned to be today, but what he actually said, God and all); with modern evolutionary theory; and with the ‘story’ of the Anunnaki and others:

    http://www.crystalinks.com/ancientastronauts.html

    And then ask folks to divide into 4 groups (Darwin -God creator with evolution, Modern Evolution, Space Aliens, God did it sans evolution) and prepare for a debate.

    Yes, there would be ‘crossover learning’ as folks who believe “God did it” had to learn the details of evolution to debate it (and as hard core Modern Evolutionists had to learn some of the ‘soft points’ of their science as the other sides tossed rocks at it). And in some ways most importantly, there would be energy and awareness in the classroom. IMHO, far more effective than a droning voice saying “Evolution is done, it’s a dead area for thought, we’ve worked it all out, remember to check box B on the final exam”… And along the way even the kids who only want to play Dungeons and Dragons might find a bit of interesting history to learn in the myths of ancient Babylon (and hopefully pick up the basics of evolution along the way).

    BTW, this is not entirely a hypothetical. When I had biology in high school, California law required at least an honorable mention of Creation. We had a bit of a small discussion / debate. In many ways it was the most interesting part of that quarter and one of the few things I remember about it (including the evolution theory that I thought came out the winner; weaknesses in molecular evolution having not been found yet.)

    But God as a topic is a terminal offense, so discussion of actual Darwinism (with God the creator) is banned. As is discussion of the “God did it” option. And any inspection of our actual recorded history is to be forbidden in a science class? No wonder the life has been crushed out of science. I would not teach in that world, and ever more, students look like they don’t learn in it either. -E.M.Smith ]

  196. P.G. Sharrow says:

    While I prefer a 15 billion year old universe there is a point that should be considered. The “biblical” 6,000 years is not a fact in the bible. That was postulated by a bishsop based on his count of life spans of biblical personages plus 7- 24hour days of creation. The origins of the book of genisis do not call for 7 – 24hour days of creation. That concept was added much later. The bible is a book of history for 6,000 years of a point of view of the world.
    I’m not sure that it has any more value then that. After all, “the people of the book” are only a part of the world’s historic record. And all peoples of the earth have some kind of deity and creation belief.

    REPLY: [ I keep trying to get folks to look at the book that matches the Genesis account with evolotionary time lines, but it seems folks mostly want to toss rocks at each other rather than see the common ground…. Oh, and interestingly enough, the Genesis account is in rough accord with the creation story of the Babylonians (some folks thinks it might have been picked up from them, it is so close). There are also striking parallels with some of the Hindu Vedas, and some of the other creation stories around the world. Oddly, the Hindu Brahman story includes a calculation of a Brahma year (about 3 trillion years, IIRC) and has cycles of creation and destruction that read like a big bang / big crush cyclical universe. Sometimes it is nearly painful to watch “modern western” science rediscover one tiny brick at a time that which is already written down in some of our most ancient books… But I learned a long time ago that folks can only learn something if they are open to it, and a closed mind will never even see the opportunity. That’s why I prefer to be open to ideas first, then analytical and critical of them second. I learn more truths that way. And the only “cost” or “risk” is that I learn a bit more about the art and fantasy that the human mind can create. Not exactly a damaging thing… FWIW, even the Maya had stories of Gods (potentially aliens from space ) creating man: http://www.crystalinks.com/popolvuh.html ( I found that site via a google search, I’m not endorsing, it just seemed to have a decent write up) so to your point: Yes, all around the world the old mythologies often have a creation story. Many of these with similar structure (and often including a flood… perhaps the end of the Ice Age?) -E.M.Smith ]

  197. M. Simon says:

    Do you understand what Marconi meant in the quote provided?

    Yes. He had insufficient data.

  198. M. Simon says:

    And let me add (sorry Chief) I am at the preset time a confirmed evolutionist.

    REPLY: [ Why the sorry? I’m a confirmed evolutionist as well. I just like the notion of God as creator of the rules of evolution and think debating ‘controversial’ topics keeps kids awake, interested, and learning. Oh, and think that there is a ‘way cool’ book that it looks like both sides don’t want to think about.

    http://www.amazon.com/Genesis-Big-Bang-Discovery-Harmony/dp/0553354132

    Probably because is says you both can be right if you consider Genisis with a relativity clock… (i.e. one “day” of time during the early stages of expansion of the universe from the big bang ends up being a few billion years of our time due to the need to adjust for time dialation in a very condensed early universe) It actually does reconcile Genesis with Science in one easy application of physics that we know is valid. Oh well. Why stop a good religious war with a simple solution that works when both sides want to “go at it”… -E.M.Smith ]

  199. Jeff Alberts says:

    If you accept that calibration of the Bible Clock, then “the word” is the big bang and “creation of life” is evolution. And Science is just admiring the mechanism by which God works. Then the whole tossing rocks at each other thing just evaporates…

    I can’t accept it, because there is no legend in the Bible which says “1 god year = 1000 human years”. One can only come up with such a thing out of thin air.

    REPLY: [ Or out of a simple calibration with application of known science. I can’t do justice to the book in a comment, but the author does a very good job of matching the timelines with minimal assumptions and no handwaving that I could spot. IIRC he makes one assumption: The big bang and early universe has a relativistic aspect per our scientific understanding of cosmology. Turn “a day” into a unit based on looking at time from the other end, from the beginning of time. Then it all fits. Startlingly so. This isn’t just some “count the birthdays and get 6000”. If any of the biblical dates where different, it would not fit the timeline from science as we know it. FWIW, it is helpful to have a basic understanding of relativity and decent math skills to read the book. And if you have not read it, you have no grounds to denigrate it. As I’ve said, I can’t do it justice in a comment, so all you can reject is my poor description of the shadow of the book. Don’t make me go dig my copy out of the archive boxes and post endless quotations from it ;-) ]

  200. Jeff Alberts says:

    As for cosmetology I would rather not get into that too deeply

    Well, that’s a relief, since we’re not talking about applying makeup.

  201. Jeff Alberts says:

    other that to say a possible answer from a young-creationist point of view might be Dr. Humphreys, “Starlight and Time”. Dr. Humphreys theory is that God used a white hole to create the universe.

    Does the Bible say god used a white whole? No? Then there’s no point in discussing it except as science fiction.

  202. M. Simon says:

    [ Why the sorry?]

    Two short posts in a row. ;-)

  203. Michael Larkin says:

    Oh, joy. What a great thread. Evolution *and* spirituality!

    First, I feel the need to share with you guys an incredible Web resource:

    http://www.closertotruth.com/

    This is jam-packed with video interviews of some of the smartest people on the planet, and many tread in that realm between science and spirituality. Some are scientists, some theologians, and some a bit of both.

    If you click on “participants” on the top menu, you’ll go to a page displaying their pictures. THE person to start with, I’d say, is Raman, Varadaraja V; he’s a quantum physicist who’s extremely knowledgeable about Hinduism, and no slouch when it comes to the Abrahamic religions. Click on his name and see links to fifteen videos. Start at the top and work down.

    Other names to investigate for sure include: Chalmers, David; Davies, Paul; Harper, Jr., Charles; Laughlin, Robert; and Swinburne, Richard. But there are many more.

    Has evolution occurred? IMHO, yes, and over very long timescales. Does Darwinism explain it? I don’t believe so. It may explain low-level variation (species or genus), but beyond that, I doubt it. I see Neodarwinists as religionists of a similar stripe to CAGWers – and, should anyone think everything is necessarily polarised – to many Creationists.

    IMHO, Neodarwinists only *think* they are promulgating science. What they are really promulgating is faith. Both Neodarwinism and Creationism could well belong in a classroom for comparative religion. I’m not disparaging that; much could be learned in it.

    See, I can’t wrap my head round saltation; the fossil record, though undeniably of ancient lineage and showing (overall) increase in complexity over time, doesn’t show much evidence of gradualism. Every now and then, something seems to happen that results in the relatively rapid radiation of new high-level taxonomic groups. It seems linked in with mass extinctions, which creates a lot of vacant niches that survivors are poised to take advantage of (to use the anthropomorphic language Neodarwinists often use but claim is only “a manner of speaking” rather than a Freudian slip).

    Hence, so the story goes, when the dinosaurs got wiped out, the hitherto-insignificant mammals had a field day and radiated quickly to produce all the major groups we see today – ungulates, bears, dogs, cats, monkeys, whales, you name it. Sure, the fossil record shows the radiation happened, but I’ve read no convincing scientific arguments about how or why.

    Unfortunately, we weren’t flies on the wall, so we didn’t observe it. But if it was standard Darwinism, well, I’d be very surprised. My bet is that the way forward in evolutionary theory is through more investigation of epigenetics, with a possible role for viral transmission of genetic material. But as long as the Neodarwinists hang on to their just-so stories, I don’t believe we’ll go far very fast.

    Many on both sides in the debate seem wedded to essentially metaphysical propositions. In the case of Neodarwinism, I see the main driver being that so far, no one has been able to come up with a better idea that retains the metaphysical conceit of an entirely materialist universe. Materialism and orthodox theism both require an act of faith, but there’s not a shred of evidence in the everyday phenomenal world for either view.

    So I don’t believe in God, right? Wrong. I have a very strong belief in God. Or, if you prefer, Truth with a capital “T”. God didn’t, IMHO, wind up the universe, then let it run, and isn’t currently sitting back eating popcorn and enjoying the show. I’m a panentheist: God is in creation, and creation is in God. I recommend anyone interested read “What to tell children about God” by Alan Watts – just Google it and enjoy a fantastic 5-minute read. Go on, be a child again.

    As Raman says in one of the videos, there’s the Hindu view that God or Brahman, bored by His existence, created the universe as a place in which He can play. And even a great Christian poet, Gerard Manley Hopkins, enunciates a similar idea in the concluding sextet of his exquisite sonnet, “As kingfishers catch fire”:

    I say more: the just man justices;
    keeps grace: that keeps all his goings graces;
    acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
    Christ—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
    lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
    to the Father through the features of men’s faces.

    In an allegorical sense, maybe organic evolution is one manifestation of the playfulness of God. However, He always seems to play in the phenomenal realm in the guise of mechanism, which – beautifully – conscious and self-ware beings like us can explore and come to know. In doing so, I believe we are coming to know Him (hence ourselves) better and better.

    Did I mention I’m a Christian? Afraid so: a panentheistic Christian who believes in reincarnation. We’re a rare species!

    I believe the Old testament is full of wonderful but *allegorical* stories, some of which, including those in genesis, encode profound truths which a literal interpretation renders inaccessible. Because, what literalism and slavish adherence to dogma, be it Neodarwinism, CAGW, or much of Creationism, do, is impede the evolution of the human mind: stop it learning new things; stifle its age-old impulse to go boldly forth and explore new worlds, be they inner or outer.

    If I seem to have been disparaging about Neodarwinists, CAGWers and Creationists, let me say that I believe every one of us is, in our own way, yearning for Truth, or put another way, for God. We should never be so disparaging that we are willing to see those we disagree with as untermenschen. In essence, each one of us is a divine spark, noble and immensely worthwhile, and equally beloved by Truth/God, which, IMHO, we will all sooner or later find.

    I believe science is one approach (from out to in); spirituality is another (from in to out); and a fortunate few are ambidextrous.

  204. M. Simon says:

    Michael,

    I don’t see any particular need for gradualism in evolution. Or maybe the gradualism is in organs not bones. You get a new bit of DNA and it propagates. Keep the group it started with in isolation long enough and reproduction is not possible with the precursor organism.

    Not it is my opinion (maybe some one knows) that a sperm may join an egg but if the DNA is scrambled enough the result dies in the womb.

    But it may take a while. Dogs and wolves for instance. Or horses and donkeys producing mostly infertile mules.

    We have hints. And then most of the gradualism is probably in organs and those don’t show up in the fossil record.

    To make blanket pronouncements at our level of ignorance is unwise.

    It would be like Galileo saying he knew all the planets in our system because he pointed his telescope to the skies. And saw the moons of Jupiter.

  205. M. Simon says:

    Now it is my opinion…

  206. Michael Larkin says:

    Have I made a blanket pronouncement about anything? I tried to be careful that what I was expressing was my belief/opinion.

    It is true that soft organs don’t usually get fossilised, and we nearly always go off external features. But it would hardly be credible for most evolution to proceed internally, and then towards the end of the saltation, the external things to happen. Internal and external features are very often subtly interlinked and, I believe, most probably evolve in tandem. Both sometimes realtively quickly.

  207. Michael Larkin says:

    Sorry, rather than “internal” and “external”, I should perhaps have said “soft” and “hard”, because of course in vertebrates, the skeleton is internal though not soft! :-)

  208. M. Simon says:

    OK. So gradualism is not a requirement for evolution theory.

    And note: we have evidence of Jewish (European) evolution over 500 to 1,000 years of a 1 standard deviation improvement in IQ (well I really mean “g” but we have to get some terms in common). And we do know that IQ correlates well with cranial volume. But the change is quite small WRT total volume. So if you didn’t know what to look for you might miss it (considering it random rather than significant variation).

    And then consider the bones that get preserved may represent 1E-4 or less of the number of animals in existence and we have at most found 1E-4 of those. So the fact that we are missing some of the transitions due to the numbers problem and not knowing what to look for and it is amazing we know anything.

  209. M. Simon says:

    There is always the temptation of:

    Because we know a lot we know enough to decide. And that goes for any side of all but the simplest question.

    And F=ma was within the grasp of the Greeks or Romans. Possibly even the Egyptians. And Galileo got most of it. But Newton got it all.

  210. Michael Larkin says:

    MSimon:

    I agree: gradualism isn’t a requirement, and moreover, is very poorly supported by the fossil record. The argument about missing transitional forms may indeed be valid. It would be especially so if the transition occurred relatively quickly.

    But supposing one day we luck out and find a transitional form or two in a rapid radiation episode, one wonders how much that would tell us about the actual mechanism of evolution. Whether it is purely Darwinian or not, one would expect it to be staged over that relatively short period.

    As regards IQs, you may not be a fan of Rupert Sheldrake’s theory of morphogenetic fields, but he has an interesting way of explaining why they improve that doesn’t rely on genetics. He’s interviewed on the site I mentioned.

    According to him, and it’s an interesting hypothesis, evolution is, at least in part, an interplay between morphogenetic fields and some kind of creative principle. At least, that’s how I understand it.

  211. M. Simon says:

    If you are familiar with Quantum ElectroDynamics what fields really are is an interchange of particles. Field is the old name before QED. The field idea is convenient for solving some problems. But it is not the best way to look at the (so far as we know it) underlying “reality”.

    So: has any one found the particle that “creates” a morphogenetic “field”? Is any one looking?

    I looked into it a very, very, long time ago. DNA/natural selection is IMO a better answer.

    If some one finds the morphogenetic field particle I guess I will have to change my mind. It is not predicted by our current QED or QCD theories.

  212. David says:

    Mr. E.M. Smith stated…

    …”And then ask folks to divide into 4 groups (Darwin -God creator with evolution, Modern Evolution, Space Aliens, God did it sans evolution) and prepare for a debate.
    Yes, there would be ‘crossover learning’ as folks who believe “God did it” had to learn the details of evolution to debate it (and as hard core Modern Evolutionists had to learn some of the ‘soft points’ of their science as the other sides tossed rocks at it). And in some ways most importantly, there would be energy and awareness in the classroom.””

    I agree in essence with all of this. It is very difficult when anyone says “religion”, and “God” to avoid semantics. It can be of extreme benefit for divergent groups to give definitions to what they are saying. Also of benefit is to find what is agreed on, and from there to proceed. Some of what I posted earlier was an attempt to broad base the discussion into the essence of both science, and religion. My writing skills are perhaps inadequate. I will make one last post along these lines, and from there humbly back out. I do not wish to clog the board, but I think some vital thoughts are missing.

    To me the essential basis of science is rooted in cause and effect. They go hand in hand. Every effect is proceeded by a prior cause. There can be no effect without a prior cause. All causes are themselves an effect. Cause and effect is a chain and it, with the arrow of time, moves in one direction. In this sense science to me is the study of how all things in the cosmos interact, and the laws that govern those interactions. Science is constrained to time and space and relativity. Science cannot contain absolutes. I maintain that science is, in its essence, “cause and effect”

    Mathematically I stated that “cause and effect” is “everything inclusive” from one to any number. Infinity and absolutes are not in this field. Infinity is of course not a number. The largest number ever stated, times itself, is in somes sense no closer to infinity then two plus two. The sum of both answers is equally far from infinity. Zero or “Nothing” is also of course not a number. Any number plus or minus zero is unaffected by it. In this sense zero is neither cause of affect. Zero can only be a relative effect, as in 10 apples minus 10 apples is zero apples. We do not find any absolute zeros in nature. 10 apples minus 10 apples is 0 apples, but of course the essence of those apples is still there, they simply changed shape into something we no longer relatively call apples. This could of course be a phase change, a chemical change etc.

    Infinity on the other hand can never be an effect. It can only be a cause. No set of numbers, no formula can ever add up to infinity. Everything (one through any number) can be contained within it, but it cannot be contained. From the Vedas, “Colossal container of all things made, I, I everywhere.” Or a more western source, “Before Abraham was, I am”…and…” I am that I am, beside me there is no other.”

    Now I say that field two, the intrinsically linked “cause and effect” field, has a problem. Namely this. Something had to start that chain. If the steady state theory was correct then it is tantamount to shrugging one’s shoulders and saying “S….. happens” It is de-facto stating that nothing caused everything. My brain finds this untenable. So logic dictates my presumption that there was a first cause which cannot have any previous cause. Field one, “nothing”‘ being neither a cause or an effect fails completely.

    Field two now inherits the problem of first cause. “Everything inclusive” in field two is relative. Suppose we say space aliens brought life. Well space aliens themselves must have a cause. Suppose we say the “singularity” Well now that is interesting. Hypothetically what is the singularity? Can it be quantified by anything other then absolute terms. If the singularity has any numbers attached to it, if it is anything, then it to, just as the flying green spaghetti monster, space aliens and anything else needs a cause. If the singularity is a hole in time and space where the energy from another universe or dimension enters, then the chain of each effect follows that hole, requiring a prior cause; and we already established that cause and effect cannot continue into the infinite past, otherwise we are de-facto stating that nothing caused everything as “everything inclusive” has therefore always been and has no cause.

    So field three comes into play. There must be a first cause which always has been. The fact that field two exists demands a first cause, as I cannot accept that things “just are” for no reason. For me logic demands that anything which qualifies as a potential first cause, must be beyond the intrinsically linked “cause and effect” relativity of time and space. Now this hypothetically infinite field three can not have anything less then absolute adjectives applied to it. Mathematically, anything less then infinity can be both an effect, and a cause. Therefore from a “field two” relative perspective of finite numbers one can never give a definitive statement describing an infinite first cause source. Any adjective used which can be quantified by a number can in turn be an effect, or resulting sum from a proceeding cause.

    From the Vedas we read this… “A Lord of creation cannot be deduced” Some may criticize this quote from the Vedas, and say that the ancients did not mean what I stated in the above paragraph. However the ancient word for maya is literally translated from the sanskrit as “the measurer”. Sat” God the father is said to be infinite, all powerful, lightless light, darkless dark, beyond all vibratory phenomena, which through the power of vibration created the appearance of division and a “false” veil throughout nature which creates the appearance of many, when in essence they are one.

    Anchient India had far more mathematical and scientific knowledge then was previously presumed. Ancient India spoke of cycles within cycles. Like all fields of research their is controversy and interpretation. However it is now generally accepted that the longest cycle defined as a “day of Brahma” is, if I recall, trillions of years, and is that period where Brahma vibrates all of the cosmos into being, and a night of Brahma is the dissipation of all nature. This speaking of cycles as days and nights was carried into other cycles having nothing to do with 24 hour days. There is linguistic evidence that the early Jewish people may have migrated out of ancient India. And so their speaking of different days of creation, could well refer to cycles, and not to a 24 hour terrestrial day.

    “4 groups (Darwin -God creator with evolution, Modern Evolution, Space Aliens, God did it sans evolution) and prepare for a debate.” In order let us call this 1, 2, 3, and 4.

    All aspects of evolution are debatable within science, via established scientific methods. Evolution, space aliens etc, these are field two problems and can ultimately be solved with science, but they do nothing to address the “first cause, cause effect” problem.

    Darwin -God creator with evolution. This is field two and three. Essentially says evolution, like all natural processes, is part of the plan. This group needs to accept that science can only give indirect evidence of ID. Other then that, go for it. Use science to the best of your ability.

    Modern Evolution There is no “plan” Refuses to consider field three, and says, with some degree of blind faith I may add, that the problem of “things” just being will some day be solved, but cannot give one hypothetical “first cause” no matter how wrong, which is not relative and in turn demands another prior cause. If this group was told that science has found that a random manifestation of the first forces could have had billions of possibilities, and that everyone of them, but the one which happened, would have resulted in rapid dissolution and entropy, short circuiting all forms of life and most elements, would they then consider this evidence of ID? If the answer is yes, then why not investigate this? If the answer is no, then why is it no?

    Space Aliens. Same problem as modern evolution, it ignores the “first Cause” problem, and it further ignores “evolution”, passing that to another planet. Hypothetically it could explain some things about life on earth, but does not address the “cause effect” dilemma.

    God did it sans evolution. Hum, field three, and appears to ignore a vast body of field two research. Yet may be capable of punching some holes in evolution theory, but only with field two methods, yet I see the probable effect as eventually making evolution stronger, (assuming evolution theorist do not run from the field, saying we will not talk to you) without one iota weakening the cause and effect demand for a first cause.

    As our host says, all are welcome, and all should be discussed. If science is so audacious as to claim the banner of truth, then do it in the open, allow all debate. But I add this. Explain the first cause dilemma to students. Then explain that the search for evidence of ID does not necessarily refute evolution. Some, within the field of ID attempt to do this, but this can be handled in the classic scientific method. The argument by evolution only, that time can answer these questions may be valid, but admit the questions are valid and accept one other possibility. That is, the first cause problem may demand absolutes, like eternity and infinity, and may be beyond science, and belong to the domain of religion.

  213. M. Simon says:

    Feynman on QED and some QCD.

    Not to difficult (the math is algebra and understanding of vectors).

    The best six hours you will ever spend on physics. Worth every picosecond.

    http://vega.org.uk/video/subseries/8

  214. M. Simon says:

    No infinities?

    Ever work with poles and zeros in electronic design? Handy that.

  215. M. Simon says:

    My brain finds this untenable.

    Einstein didn’t like “spooky action at a distance” or the probabilistic nature of some experiments. Tough.

    The fact that your brain does or does not like something is no criteria.

    Or as they say to when teaching students who have trouble grasping QED: “Shut up and calculate”.

  216. M. Simon says:

    Modern Evolution There is no “plan” Refuses to consider field three, and says, with some degree of blind faith I may add, that the problem of “things” just being will some day be solved, but cannot give one hypothetical “first cause” no matter how wrong, which is not relative and in turn demands another prior cause. If this group was told that science has found that a random manifestation of the first forces could have had billions of possibilities, and that everyone of them, but the one which happened, would have resulted in rapid dissolution and entropy, short circuiting all forms of life and most elements, would they then consider this evidence of ID? If the answer is yes, then why not investigate this? If the answer is no, then why is it no?

    Science takes a short cut here. We start with the second cause and work from there. i.e. we accept an event horizon or black hole.

    This seems to disturb a lot of people. But it is not required to understand how all this “stuff” is created to build a radio wave receiver.

    Did James Watt need to understand thermodynamics (Carnot especially) to improve the steam engine? Nope. Carnot came later. Much later.

    The biggest hang up I see with the scientifically semi-literate is that they are bothered a LOT by mental chaos and not knowing. I LOVE my ignorance and confusion. It keeps me from jumping to premature conclusions. Something you learn early in engineering or you don’t engineer for long.

    Look up “What is the dielectric constant of peanut butter?” for a good story on the subject of knowledge.

    ===

    As to evolution and plans. There is a plan: make random changes. See if it optimizes reproductive fitness. (well not literally – that is too anthropomorphic – but I don’t haven’t the space or time for a dissertation). So evolution is “directed” (by “premature” death or conversely reproductive success) to optimize an organism for the local environment. It is based on a series of small random changes. This bothers some people. Lots of different things bother lots of different people.

    I don’t need a god to kill my enemies or help my friends. Hamilton’s kin selection equation works well enough.

    And game theory tells me that tit for tat with a random no retaliation policy (i.e. mostly tit for tat) is optimum. “I know you have been a summabitch. But every now and then I’m going to be nice to see if you have changed your mind.”

    ===

    Some people need answers. I’m content to have questions.

  217. Michael Larkin says:

    MSimon:

    Do all fields rely on particles – what about gravity? AFAIK, the graviton is, so far, hypothetical. If Sheldrake’s theory pans out, then who knows, some day a particle may be found.

    In any case, Sheldrake, having much experience in biochemistry and botany, doesn’t deny genetics, indeed probably knows more about it than anyone here. It’s just that some phenomena may not be dependent on it.

    DNA plays a part in the development of organisms, to be sure. And natural selection is an undoubted fact, albeit that I believe it doesn’t account for all of evolution.

    By analogy with CAGW, CO2 has an undoubted influence on global temperatures. However, it is only part of a highly complex system. Likewise, DNA may be but one part of a highly complex system.

  218. M. Simon says:

    Michael,

    Every “field” that interacts with electrons has a particle. And that particle is the photon.

    Photons in the “normal” range go from about “0” to 20 eV. Above that they strip electrons from atoms. Way above that (KeV to MeV to GeV) they interact with nucleons.

    ==

    What we know from biology (so far) is that chemicals detected “locally” act as switches to turn on and off gene expression.

    If there is anything to the “field” theory you mention it may just be “smells”. And not just lilacs. It could be things like the smell of fear. Nothing so definite as lilacs but we know it when we smell it. There may be other smells that we do not even know we know.

    ==

    So the idea may be a good one. Just not expressed in a modern form.

  219. Michael Larkin says:

    MSimon:

    Thanks for the info about electrons and photons, but not quite sure how it relates.

    You really oughta take a look at Sheldrake’s ideas. He isn’t really talking about the kind of thing I suspect you are thinking of. I’m not pushing his ideas, and I don’t want to go into them in depth because it’d be OT.

  220. M. Simon says:

    Electrons and Photons are important because those mediate all chemical reactions. An as far as we know the body is strictly a chemical machine. If you are adding gray matter it is chemical.

    I’ll give Sheldrake a look it has probably been around 40 years since I last looked. So let me see if he has something new or I have.

  221. M. Simon says:

    OK. I’ve looked at Sheldrake. Quackery.

    The Science of Gene expression has already explained by chemistry what he is explaining with fields.

    When we didn’t understand gene expression the field theory might have been of some use. At this point it is a detriment not a help.

    Spend your time with gene expression – you will go farther.

    It reminds me of reading some of Tesla’s old work. Very advanced for the era he lived in. A first year college course in electricity for electronic engineers would now be far in advance of where he was.

  222. Jeff Alberts says:

    Just to throw something else into the mix…

    Are humans still evolving? I mean, we control our environment (we turn on the AC when it’s hot, turn up the heat when it’s cold, put on or remove clothing as needed), we nurture “defective” genetics instead of letting them die out (note: I do NOT condone any kind of ideals about euthanasia or the like), etc.

  223. Mike B. says:

    @ Jeff Alberts:

    Are humans still evolving?

    Have you ever seen Wall-E? :-)

    Depends to some extent what you mean by “evolving”. I would say yes, but I might mean something completely different than you.

  224. Mr Lynn says:

    EM Smith says of my last post (January 18, 2010 at 12:51 pm),

    “You know, if you had a “in my opinion” on that, I’d be fine with it. But it is that tendency to state as an absolute truth, if you will pardon the metaphor, a nearly God Given Truth, that ID can never be a serious theory and is completely unworthy of discussion even for stimulating discussion; that is what causes folks like me the most tendency to want it all the more…”

    OK, OK—In my opinion!

    Of course it’s my opinion; that’s what we’re doing here, right—opining?

    In My Opinion, ID is fine for an evening sophomore bull session, but it doesn’t proffer statements that can be tested by the empirical methods; what annoys me is that it pretends to be science. It’s just the old Argument From Design (it’s so complicated, it must have had a Designer), or worse, the Argument From Ignorance (we don’t know how anything so complicated could have evolved ‘by chance’ [thus misstating the mechanism of natural selection], so God must have done it). These (In My Opinion) are not just fringe science, they are anti-science.

    Those two arguments are very old, but they are not science. However, there is nothing wrong with discussing them, and for that matter there is nothing wrong with discussing all manner of ideas, whacky or not (speaking of extraterrestrials, anyone remember von Däniken, Chariots of the Gods?

    Some outlying theories say a lot more about the world of evidence than Creationism/ID, e.g. Velikovsky, who started with an interesting Egyptian papyrus that seemingly describes the Biblical plagues, wrote three or four scholarly works rearranging Egyptian history (there were, said V, about six ‘shadow’ centuries that the Egyptologists had created by mistake), and went from there to collecting myths and symbols from around the world to argue that the Earth had been involved in planetary collisions in historical times.

    In my view the remarkable similarities in world-wide mythology and imagery that Velikovsky found are probably better accounted for by cultural diffusion than evidence that the ancients had witnessed the same astronomical calamities, but nonetheless, V makes a powerful case, and is worth reading even today.

    These examples are statements about the real world, not a retreat from making statements about the world, as (In My Opinion) Creationism and ID are. I’d rather see evolutionists advocating the anti-Uniformitarian theories of Velikovsky than “throw up your hands and appeal to Divinity” Creationism. In the context of legal disputes over what is taught in El-High science curricula, I come down on the side of science.

    But I do not support legislating anything out of the classroom, nor do I support legislating anything in. And i will agree with you, EM, that it’s way more fun to take an ‘anything goes’ approach than to spout mindless, sanitized, conventional wisdom from a textbook.

    /Mr Lynn

  225. David says:

    Mr. Simon, thank you for your responses…

    “No infinities?
    Ever work with poles and zeros in electronic design? Handy that.”

    Sir , are you funnin me? I did not say there are no infinities, or that the sign for infinity or “nothing” has no mathematical uses. I certainly hope you know I was referring to absolutes, and not the use of these terms within relative fields often representing exponentially growing signals and negative exponents representing exponentially decreasing signals. I was not referring to time constants (decaying or growing)

    I certainly hope you cognize that I was referring to the basis of science being rooted in cause and effect. They go hand in hand. Every effect is proceeded by a prior cause. There can be no effect without a prior cause. All causes are themselves an effect. Cause and effect is a chain and it, with the arrow of time, moves in one direction. In this sense science to me is the study of how all things in the cosmos interact, and the laws that govern those interactions. Science is constrained to time and space and relativity. Science cannot contain absolutes. I maintain that science is, in its essence, “cause and effect” .

    Your below comment on “My brain finds this untenable” was in a similar vain taken out of context. It is the paradox of this duality of “cause and effect” that imposes a limit on the ability of science to arrive at finale answers to the mystery of mysteries.

    Simply put, cause and effect cannot be an eternal chain, otherwise one is stating that “everything inclusive” has no cause, it always was, which in and of itself defeats the laws of science and deductive reason applied to observation.

    The other side of this paradox is that (accepting the above problem as valid) if there was then a first cause, what ever that cause was had to have no cause.

    So science can go no further then the singularity. If this is ever described with any numbers such as at one trillionth of a second it had these attributes, no matter how simple, those attributes then require a cause, and cannot come from nothing.

    The attempts science makes to describe anything before the “singularity”, (IE the first caused anything) all sound vaguely, or definitively godlike. “Infinite heat, constrained by no laws, space or time, and other such absolutes, which are in and of themselves an admittance of the limitations of science.

    You Sir claim you like to consider possibilities. Well I suggest that you consider the possibilities that “science is fit indeed to discover the laws of an already existing cosmos, but powerless to detect the law framer…” So if science can consider that all laws of science, including it most basic law of cause and effect break down, then perhaps it can consider that there may be a beyond science, Causeless Cause, of infinite attributes.

    Admitting something is “maybe” beyond science, can then allow for the “possibility” of a form of “knowing” that is likewise intuitive and beyond science. If you like admitting that you do not know, then admit that you do not know if this is possible or not.

    From there, after one admits that this could be possible, it is logical that effort must be made to see if any “knowing” the absolute is possible. If the absolute is beyond cause and effect and scientific principals then it may be logical that the consciousness has to likewise transcend time and space. I will not go into details here, I will simply say there is a history of brilliant men from many disciplines, and that the mystics who have described this “knowing” have remarkably similar tales to share regardless of the different discipline they come from, and many others have had glimpses of experiences that profoundly change them in remarkably similar ways.

    I critiqued the atheist scientist as refusing to consider field three, (The absolute, causeless cause) and says, with some degree of blind faith I may add, that the problem of “things” just being will some day be solved, but cannot give one hypothetical “first effect” no matter how wrong, which is not relative and in turn demands another prior cause. and likewise cannot give one “first cause” which is not Godlike, with “infinite” attributes and beyond the laws of science.

    In response to this you provide a confession here, “Science takes a short cut here. We start with the second cause and work from there. i.e. we accept an event horizon or black hole. This seems to disturb a lot of people”.

    Admitting one does not know, is never a problem, and does not disturb me in the least. Yet you said nothing of the logic used to explain the “cause effect” paradox, or consider the possibilitie that “science” cannot explain because it is rooted into time, space and relativity via its essence, cause and effect.

    You then go on with a straw man argument, “But it is not required to understand how all this “stuff” is created to build a radio wave receiver. Did James Watt need to understand thermodynamics (Carnot especially) to improve the steam engine? Nope. Carnot came later. Much later.

    This was a straw man as I already stated that to discover the laws of an already existing cosmos, science is the perfect tool. I am only encouraging you to accept your ignorance that you LOVE and to admit that the paradox of “cause and effect” MAY demand an eternal and infinite beyond space causeless cause.

    Now I think a lot of atheist scientist are so upset with past travesties of our own species, done in the name of religion, that they rebel at the word “God”, because of past abuse to control people. I however have made a very vague definition of God as a “eternal and infinite beyond time and space causeless cause. Science deals with phenomena, it takes a different tool for noumena.

    Science however can look for evidence of intelligence in that which is manifest, as described in the hypothetical which you did not answer.
    From David…”If this group was told that science has found that a random manifestation of the first forces could have had billions of possibilities, and that everyone of them, BUT THE ONE WHICH HAPPENED, would have resulted in rapid dissolution and entropy, short circuiting all forms of life and most elements, would they then consider this evidence of ID? If the answer is yes, then why not investigate this? If the answer is no, then why is it no?

    Sincerely, David

    PS In response to this…

    “The biggest hang up I see with the scientifically semi-literate is that they are bothered a LOT by mental chaos and not knowing. I LOVE my ignorance and confusion. It keeps me from jumping to premature conclusions. Something you learn early in engineering or you don’t engineer for long.
    I say…
    “Truth no doubt retires humbly before such arrogance” I am not however jumping to any conclusions, In fact I am exploring various means of exploring the mystery of mysteries, having come to a logically framed consideration of the POSSIBLE inadequacy of science to do so, while encouraging science to practice “ID’ , or if you like “DD” (dumb design) (-:

  226. M. Simon says:

    David,

    It is hard to tell what some one else knows or what they mean without personal interaction.

    I’m getting a better sense of where you are coming from. Thank you.

    And my comment about an event horizon clears up the difficulty you indicate.

    IMO ID is a crutch for those uncomfortable with an event horizon.

    ID is a “here there be magic” step. Not science.

    And it stems not from any atheism or agnosticism on my part. I’m a believer. Although not in any recognizable religion. It stems from my understanding of science (more properly the method of science). And a belief in ID leaves you in the same place as “the will of Allah”; it stops (or discourages) people from looking for causes.

    And I wouldn’t mind a discussion of ID in science if only to indicate that it discourages inquiry if it becomes dogma.

    So far I see no evidence of ID in evolution. I think it is a crutch to fill holes in our knowledge. As we learn more the Maker theory explains less and less.

    Remember your history. “The Maker theory” used to explain the formation of the Earth. And then we learned more. And now the Maker has less to do. We are not yet at the end of that progression.

  227. M. Simon says:

    IMO when “the Will of Allah” dogma became supreme in Islam science was retarded. I’d hate to see that happen to the West.

    Evidently the Catholic Church is of a similar opinion although the Saint system is a relic of a similar past.

  228. Lance says:

    E.M. Smith, I worked in Eureka (Garden Spot) back in 1979-80, can provide info for you if you like. I also have a crest from that weather station with big bold letters Garden Spot of the Arctic… tried to find e-mail address for you but could not find one. reply to my e-mail address and make contact please. Can send photo of crest and other info.
    thanks
    lance

    REPLY: [ Email is under the About tab in a way that spambots can’t read. it is “Pub 4 All” with an @ sign and aol DOT com… ]

  229. Harry says:

    Sorry for being behind with the times but only stumbled on the blog using the link from WUWT on todays posting.

    A facinating read, mostly educated discussion and some nice theories – I like the black hole/white hole idea and its prompted me to research and see if it is plausible.

    However I totally disagree with one of the main points, for me AGW believers display the same deluded fanaticism as the religious fundamentalists. Evolution is based on many scientific facts, whereas religion is based on stories from goat herding shepherds who thought the world was flat. For me messrs Booker and North are similar to Dawkins and Harris.

    Don’t be too hard on Dawkins either. The Selfish Gene, is genius as is the Extended Phenotype. And he’s always said he is agnostic (isn’t every sane person?). I’ll come back to Dawkins in a bit.

    One of my hero’s is (was – died quite recently) Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA’s structure and subsequent discovery of its coding for amino acids and the fundamentals of life. In his book Life Itself, he discusses the theory that life was brought to earth from space, he was derided at the time, and I think he might have retracted due to the adverse reaction, but his original assertion was that amino acids came from a outer space. A great idea in my opinion, and one that obviously many have since entertained.

    Crick was deemed as anti-religion due to him quitting Cambridge over a new chapel, but his famous quote on religion was something like “between 2 consenting adults its fine, but just not in front of children”. Which in my mind is Dawkins main point, that it should not be taught in schools.

    One final point, I do believe that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same God and tehcnically one and the same. All 3 religions really started at Abraham, but splinter off with different children.

  230. Zack says:

    REPLY: [ Zack, I found this in the spam queue. I don’t have much in the way of spam rules set, so wordpress seems to think you tickled some rule. What I will say is that you have not paid attention to my request to “be polite”. If you continue the rudeness, I’ll not bother fishing stuff from the spam queue… For now, I’m going to edit out the insults, even though they contained no ‘bad words’. -E.M.Smith ]

    Harry:
    Your religious upbringing seems to be (to me anyway) […] inadequate and most certainly scripturally illiterate. But I won’t go into that w/you. It’s your problem and you and the Lord can sort [it out].

    I WILL tell you that your premise that “Evolution is based on many scientific facts” is on the face of it absurd. Darwin’s “theory” has been elevated to the theory status with absolutely NO scientific evidence whatsoever. Only a bunch of faux science frauds such as the Piltdown Man have emerged much like the AGW BS. Darwin had a “HYPOTHESIS” which has NEVER been validated by empirical scientific evidence in over 150 years. Where’s the beef? As the Godfather of Central Louisiana said, I hear a lot of choppin’ but I don’t see no chips!”

    Part of scientific research is first-hand eye-witness reports. Doesn’t make a damned bit of difference if it’s from a PhD or a shepherd. OBTW: Luke was a physician, Paul was a religious scholar and lawyer (whatever you may think of them) and Matthew a tax collector (CPA?), John was a commercial fisherman as was James, his brother, so not hardly your sarcastic and rather naive elitist definition of “goat herding shepherds”! When in doubt sneeringly make sarcastic remarks, cast aspersions, and then start calling people names. Saul Alinsky’s playbook, Rules for Radicals.

    As far as your ludicrous “final point” – “I do believe that Islam, Christianity and Judaism have the same God and tehcnically (sp) one and the same”. Good Lord! I assume you are fairly intelligent ([~snip]) – if you would bother to read and study the Bible, the Torah, and the koran with an objective and open mind (requirements for a GOOD scientists) you would find that statement to be not only erroneous but [~snip]! You shouldn’t [~snip]

    However, I am reminded of Proverbs 26 verses 4 and 5!

    Have a nice day!

    Semper fi
    Zack

    REPLY: [ And, at the risk of igniting yet more religious bickering: Mohammed taught from the Bible (most likely a Coptic version) and held that the God of Judaism was Allah. Christianity explicitly cites Jehovah / Yahweh as the same as the God of Israel.
    http://www.biblebell.org/mbag/mailbagba.html
    Yes, there are endless bickerings over the exact nature of God, but all three religions point back to the same root and the same God. Catholics may run to the “Holy Trinity” as a key aspect. Jews may hold that the name not even be spoken. Muslims may (as do Protestants, btw) hold that no statuary be in the front of the House of the Lord depicting Jesus (who, BTW, does stand strongly in the Koran: though as ‘prophet’ not as trinity.) So yes, all three have ‘the same God’ though each see the nature of that God differently. And, I might point out, several Protestant sects ‘have issues’ with the Holy Trinity doctrine of the Catholics as well. I do not want this thread to turn into a reprise of The Reformation; but I do encourage you to go read up on it. One of the things I find most fascinating is that the Muslim reaction to statuary in the Catholic Church is very similar to what the Protestant ‘iconoclasts’ felt a few hundred years ago… yet now many Protestants don’t think a thing about the root that formed them… and many (most?) Muslims have no idea that the Protestant Christians they vilify for “idolatry” started from the same point of view and so have no “idols” at the front of their churches… How so many people, starting from the same place, can end up wanting to fight each other (often to the death) over things they agree about is one of the most interesting side shows of religion… IMHO.

    So please, folks, keep it polite and civil or I’ll need to snip more… -E.M.Smith ]

  231. M. Simon says:

    Zack,

    Your argument is: no one saw a crime committed and therefor there was no crime and therefor no guilt.

    But we have forensic evidence – fingerprints, DNA, a bit of cloth, and items missing from the inventory.

    So was there a crime and do we know who did it? Probably.

    The evidence for evolution is similar. We have bones. We have DNA. We have the stages an embryo goes through. We have butterflies that change from colored to black and back to colored depending on the amount of soot in the forest.

    We have the change in Ashkenazic intelligence over 500 or 1,000 years. We have animal breeding (some 5,000 years of it at least).

    With bacteria that do a generation every few hours we can see evolution in a petri dish and estimate the rate: change per generation.

    Now is any of this proof? Depends. It is definitely a pattern. And the pattern is coherent with evolution.

    Now do we know how it all got started? Well at our current state of knowledge there is an event horizon. But the event horizon keeps getting pushed back as we learn more.

  232. E.M.Smith says:

    @M.Simon:

    One of the most striking examples of contemporary evolution is resistance to antibiotics and resistance to pesticides. There are thousands of examples of bacteria and insects clearly evolving in response to environmental stresses in real time.

    IMHO, there is no doubt what so ever that evolution is real AND there is ample evidence of it ‘happening now’ that I’ve observed personally over my lifetime. Unfortunately, that does not deal with the question of ID vs “Evolutionary creation”. It does not get us ‘over the hump’ of first life.

    For a spectacular example “in progress” of an extreme “jump” kind of evolution, we have “photosynthetic sea slugs”. They are incorporating algae genes (only about 1/2 the set needed so far – they still have to absorb chloroplasts from the algae. As soon as they have incorporated those genes, they will have fully evolved into a photosynthetic animal… )

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn16124-solarpowered-sea-slug-harnesses-stolen-plant-genes-.html

    Google “sea slug photosynthesis” for a whole lot more.

    (And yes, I’d love to have those genes in me … as long as I was assured I’d not get fat from laying in the sun ;-)

  233. M. Simon says:

    Big green men. I know a couple of SF authors. I’ll run it by them.

  234. Jim Masterson says:

    I have a hefty textbook on “Genetic Programming.” (It outdoes my Electrical Engineering textbook on “Electromagnetic Waves and Radiating Systems”–taller, wider, and fifty more pages.) The author claims that the usual concept of the importance of mutations in genetic adaptation is wrong. Mutations play a relatively minor role. What’s important is crossover (sexual reproduction). Mutations really only recover lost information and actually detune the genetic algorithm.

    Although I’m an evolutionist, there are at least two major problems with evolution. One–where did sex come from? Natural Selection is a hill-climbing algorithm. Sex is a search algorithm. Even so-called asexual organisms share DNA (otherwise recombinant DNA techniques wouldn’t work.). The advantages of sex (crossover) are obvious, but how do you get there? What’s the carrot? Two–how does a population increase their chromosome number? The explanations I’ve seen are mostly hand waving. Any non-disjunction of chromosomes usually leads to handicapped individuals that rarely can survive long enough to pass on their new-improved genes to other members. Trying to change the entire population a few at a time seems like quite a feat.

    Of course, both features did evolve, so it’s just a matter of discovering the correct path.

    REPLY [ When you accept a lower species barrier a lot of things become ‘easier’. We have existence proofs of increasing chromosome numbers. Barley. (Some varieties are polyploid) Triticale (wheat /rye hybrid). Most of the cruciferous vegetables. Basically, when two nearby species cross, sometimes you get polyploidy and it is typically a boost to the offspring. Then you can have differential evolution of the chromosomes… There is also viral insertion of material. Oh, and occasional failures of cell division (so XYY individuals happen, as can happen with other chromosomes). It’s actually quite common. Oh, and there are things like that sea slug who soak up some genes from the environment.

    Per the evolution of sex: Bacteria have ‘bacterial conjugation’ where they swap genetic material. Usually a ‘plasmid’ but not always. So there is a simple path from hermaphroditic “sharing” inside the gene pool to ‘directional sharing’ with distinct sexual dimorphism.

    All you need to do is accept that the ‘species barrier’ is not nearly as strong as folks like to think (and may have been much weaker earlier on – it’s quite low between bacteria) and the whole path of evolution to complexity opens up. Oh, and remember that you can have a million bacteria die from a bad change for every one that gives advantage and the advantaged ones can still accumulate… Basically, evolution can work on the survival of the GENES even if it kills off a lot of the individuals…

    BTW, it’s not just plants. It’s recently been figured out that some of the canids that were thought were distinct species were actually crosses of two other species. So some coyotes and foxes and wolves are just sharing a few genes around… A large number of interspecies crosses are not sterile.
    -E.M.Smith ]

  235. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    M. Simon

    Jim,

    Have a look at this up thread:
    <<

    I’m not sure what you want me to look at.

    Jim

    REPLY: [ I think he wants you to look at the links in that particular comment ‘up thread’ so if you click on that link it will take up “up there” where you can then follow those links … -E.M.Smith ]

  236. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    REPLY: [ I think he wants you to look at the links in that particular comment ‘up thread’ so if you click on that link it will take up “up there” where you can then follow those links … -E.M.Smith ]
    <<

    I guess I should have said, "I followed your links. I'm still not sure what you want me to look at."

    Jim

  237. M. Simon says:

    Jim,

    Follow these instructions and read my interaction with Cynthia. It explains the information horizon:

    http://www.aconservativelesbian.com/

    The site is by Cynthia Yockey. Her father did a lot of work on evolution and came to the conclusion that back beyond a certain point we know nothing.

    I have my own biases on the subject but her answer to me was rather interesting when I inquired about her father’s view.

    Here is my interaction with her:

    http://www.aconservativelesbian.com/2009/09/13/robert-stacy-mccain-is-a-lousy-racist-and-a-terrible-bigot-not/

    Search the page for Simon and you can find her response to me.

  238. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    M. Simon

    Jim,

    Follow these instructions and read my interaction with Cynthia.
    <<

    I guess I’m not communicating very well. I did follow the links, searched for Simon, read the posts, and I still don’t know what point you’re trying to make. When Cynthia’s father calculated zero probability for “self-organization scenarios,” I lost interest. Calculations of occurrences that have already happened are exercises in futility.

    Jim

  239. M. Simon says:

    OK.

    I think the point is that at our current state of knowledge there is an event horizon.

    That has always been true. The more we know the farther back in time we can go.

    BTW I like self-organizing myself. But we do not have enough info to show that the probability is high enough to male it likely. Some times you just have to say: “we don’t know.”

  240. e.m.smith says:

    FWIW, one of the thoughts this thread has caused me to ponder, again, is the issue of the nature of ‘first life’. The “event horizon” issue brought it out…

    We have the bias that ‘first life’ was cellular, just like everything today. But I can’t help wondering if maybe ‘first life’ was just a big lake of living soup…

    Mitochondria have some aspects of primitive free living things. What if the “origins” were not ‘single cells’, but no cells. A big pot of DNA, RNA, ribosomes, mitochondria (and their precursors), etc etc. No membrane, no membrane pumps, no nuclear structure. And only LATER did we have the liposome / membrane part form and the lake of life got divided up into cells.

    Then once you have cells replicating and sucking up the best bits for themselves, the lake of life gradually turns from ‘proto-protoplasm’ into just a lake…

    Now you don’t need to evolve all the machinery of life in ‘one go’. Each part can come along at it’s own time. A few ribosomes floating in the soup, or a mitochondria or two, might be very busy for a long time before finally being put ‘inside’ a cell. In this context, the first “life” might simply have been viruses that sporadically used the ‘communal machinery’ of the lake of life to replicate…

    (Though I really hate the idea that we all might be just highly evolved viruses ;-)

    E.M.Smith

  241. M. Simon says:

    Chief,

    That makes more sense than anything I have ever read on the subject. And it fits in with what we have observed.

    Evolutionary leaps by accretion plus mixing and matching.

    You ought to do a literature search and then write it up.

  242. RuhRoh says:

    This reminds me of my childhood chemistry experiments and my ongoing failure to create any novel form of explosive using only my wits and the available stuff…

    It is just far to difficult to do it by random mixing of stuff.

    I also am very dubious that, on the outside chance you had a a concentrated source of one or another kind of key ingredient, say lipostuff, that all of the other bits would be found in the same ‘reactor’.

    I think that the original story of that ~1950’s lab experiment of a beaker full of stuff which was subjected to lightning and whatever else,
    was wildly extrapolated by an over-eager press.

    I remember reading recently that the subsequent deflation of the claims did not elicit a corresponding retraction in the popular press. I think that the stuff they ‘created’ was far from complex carbon chemistry.

    As another example, I could give my pretty smart kids a bunch of resistors, capacitors, transistors, batteries and lightbulbs, and guarantee you that they would not produce an active circuit. This of course begs the question of the great miracle of how the active-circuit-enabling transistors came to exist.

    Ribosomes and DNA just created by random reactions?
    Go mix some mud and water and just watch what happens…
    Try to sell it to passing drivers as chocolate milk…

    RR

  243. RuhRoh says:

    Simple question;

    Could someone please show me an example of a new species that has been created or ‘spontaneously’ emerged during recorded history?

    Certainly enough people have tried to do it on drosophila.
    Certainly they can run enough generations.

    Apparently I missed the ‘proof’ that novel species are happening.

    Also, E.M, check pub for all plz. Call daytime.
    RR aka AC

  244. Jeff Alberts says:

    Ribosomes and DNA just created by random reactions?
    Go mix some mud and water and just watch what happens…
    Try to sell it to passing drivers as chocolate milk…

    So that means god did it, of course.

  245. James Jorgensen says:

    @everyone:

    Let me start by thanking all of those who question what is “known”.

    I am humbled by those who have helped to expose the corruption of science that we are all witnessing right before our very eyes.

    I stumbled across this discussion via a link from WUWT. You people amaze me…and no matter what happens some day your actions will be seen for what they were.

    It is always good to be on the right side of history.

    :-)

    Now regarding the topic at hand…

    Any movement that seeks exclusive access to teach the unknown should be feared.

    Can everyone agree on this?

    Logic should always be considered…when science has no clear answers.

    As of today neither side can come close to proving their point.

    One could make the case that we have two religious points of view that are seeking domination…eh?

    IMHO someone wrote the “rules” as this seems logical.

    If “nature” wrote the rules…isn’t that really some form of Pantheism?

  246. Jim Masterson says:

    >>
    RuhRoh

    Simple question;
    Could someone please show me an example of a new species that has been created or ’spontaneously’ emerged during recorded history?
    <<

    Dr. E. O. Wilson of Harvard claims that from 17,000 to 100,000 species vanish each year. He has a computer model that proves his numbers are accurate, and we all know that we can trust computer models.

    I believe that to create all the species that have existed on the Earth, then one new species has to appear about every 50 years. It may be a little difficult to see a couple of new species among millions of dead species. It’s similar to a government jobs creation program.

    Jim ;-)

  247. Mr Lynn says:


    e.m.smith, January 30, 2010 at 8:48 am:

    FWIW, one of the thoughts this thread has caused me to ponder, again, is the issue of the nature of ‘first life’. The “event horizon” issue brought it out…

    We have the bias that ‘first life’ was cellular, just like everything today. But I can’t help wondering if maybe ‘first life’ was just a big lake of living soup…

    I also have wondered at the seemingly arbitrary limitation of ‘life’ to cellular life. There are of course viruses, though these seem to be mostly (entirely?) dependent on cells for their ability to reproduce. But conceivably proto-viri could have survived and reproduced in a complex pre-cellular ‘soup’ like you propose.

    Years ago I remember some discussion as to whether viruses were really ‘alive’ at all, and the same thing could be said about such strange phenomena as prions.

    The question of definition, of identification, of “what islife,” is one that science has yet to answer. We are a lot closer today than when people speculated about a “life force,” yet I still wonder whether there might be an as-yet undiscovered ‘force’ or ‘property’ that determines the difference between living and non-living. Probably this stems from my youthful fascination with William Hope Hodgson’s compelling story, “The Derelict.” It begins:

    “IT’S the material,” said the old ship’s doctor — “the material plus the conditions — and, maybe,” he added slowly, “a third factor — yes, a third factor; but there, there ——” He broke off his half-meditative sentence and began to charge his pipe.

    “Go on, doctor,” we said encouragingly, and with more than a little expectancy. We were in the smoke-room of the Sand-a-lea, running across the North Atlantic; and the doctor was a character. He concluded the charging of his pipe, and lit it; then settled himself, and began to express himself more fully.

    “The material,” he said with conviction, “is inevitably the medium of expression of the life-force — the fulcrum, as it were; lacking which it is unable to exert itself, or, indeed, to express itself in any form or fashion that would be intelligible or evident to us. So potent is the share of the material in the production of that thing which we name life, and so eager the life-force to express itself, that I am convinced it would, if given the right conditions, make itself manifest even through so hopeless seeming a medium as a simple block of sawn wood; for I tell you, gentlemen, the life-force is both as fiercely urgent and as indiscriminate as fire — the destructor; yet which some are now growing to consider the very essence of life rampant. There is a quaint seeming paradox there,” he concluded, nodding his old grey head.

    “Yes, doctor,” I said. “In brief, your argument is that life is a thing, state, fact, or element, call it what you like, which requires the material through which to manifest itself, and that given the material, plus the conditions, the result is life. In other words, that life is an evolved product, manifested through matter and bred of conditions — eh?”

    “As we understand the word,” said the old doctor. “Though, mind you, there may be a third factor. But, in my heart, I believe that it is a matter of chemistry — conditions and a suitable medium; but given the conditions, the brute is so almighty that it will seize upon anything through which to manifest itself. It is a force generated by conditions; but, nevertheless, this does not bring us one iota nearer to its explanation, any more than to the explanation of electricity or fire. They are, all three, of the outer forces — monsters of the void. Nothing we can do will create any one of them, our power is merely to be able, by providing the conditions, to make each one of them manifest to our physical senses. Am I clear?”

    “Yes, doctor, in a way, you are,” I said. “But I don’t agree with you, though I think I understand you. Electricity and fire are both what I might call natural things, but life is an abstract something — a kind of all-permeating wakefulness. Oh, I can’t explain it! Who could? But it s spiritual, not just a thing bred out of a condition, like fire, as you say, or electricity. It’s a horrible thought of yours. Life’s a kind of spiritual mystery ——”

    “Easy, my boy!” said the old doctor, laughing gently to himself. “Or else I may be asking you to demonstrate the spiritual mystery of life of the limpet, or the crab, shall we say.” He grinned at me with ineffable perverseness. “Anyway,” he continued, “as I suppose you’ve all guessed, I’ve a yarn to tell you in support of my impression that life is no more a mystery or a miracle than fire or electricity. But, please to remember, gentlemen, that because we’ve succeeded in naming and making good use of these two forces, they’re just as much mysteries, fundamentally as ever. And, anyway, the thing I’m going to tell you won’t explain the mystery of life, but only give you one of my pegs on which I hang my feeling that life is as I have said, a force made manifest through conditions — that is to say, natural chemistry — and that it can take for its purpose and need, the most incredible and unlikely matter; for without matter it cannot come into existence — it cannot become manifest ——”

    Read the complete yarn the doctor tells; you will never think about ‘life’ quite the same way again:

    http://gaslight.mtroyal.ca/derelict.htm

    /Mr Lynn

  248. Francisco says:

    Those of you who are amused by endless neodarwinist braggadocio regarding our ability to explain and understand what we can barely begin to describe (so reminiscent indeed of AGW fanatics) and those of you who are put off by the rabid contempt in which devout atheists hold any kind of religious tendency, I recommend the latest book by David Berlinski, titled ¨The Devil´s Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions. (2008). I copy a couple of passages from its preface:

    […] But here is an inconvenient fact: I am a secular Jew. My religious education did not take. I can barely remember a word of Hebrew. I cannot pray. I have spent more years than I care to remember in studying mathematics and writing about the sciences. Yet the book that follows is in some sense a defense of religious thought and sentiment.[…] A defense is needed because none has been forthcoming. The discussion has been ceded to men who regard religious belief with frivolous contempt. Their books have in recent years poured from every press, and although differing widely in their style, they are identical in their message: Because scientific theories are true, religious beliefs must be false. Harris has conveyed the point by entitling an essay ¨Science Must Destroy Religion.¨ His call to jihad cannot be long delayed.
    […] Occupied by their own concerns, a great many men and women have a dull, hurt, angry sense of being oppressed by the sciences. They are frustrated by endless scientific boasting. They suspect that as an institution, the scientific community holds them in contempt. They feel no little distaste for those speaking in its name.
    They are right to feel this way. I have written this book for them.

    David Berlinski — The Devil´s Delusion

    http://tinyurl.com/yjg7zha

  249. M. Simon says:

    Francisco,

    You should go to an Orthodox Shul. You can hear the desert in the chants. Berlinski ought to try it too.

    As to Darwinism. We have an event horizon based on our current understanding. As we learn more that event horizon gets pushed back. That is an inescapable trend. Just because we don’t know some things today does not mean we will not know them tomorrow.

    The official policy of the Catholic Church is Darwinist. Maybe they know something?

  250. Francisco says:

    Interview with Marcel-Paul Schützenberger (originally published in the scientific monthly La Recherche in 1996)

    Introduction
    Until his death, the mathematician and doctor of medicine Marcel-Paul Schützenberger (1920-1996) was Professor of the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Paris and a member of the Academy of Sciences. In 1966, Schützenberger participated in the Wistar Symposium on mathematical objections to neo-Darwinism. His arguments were subtle and often misunderstood by biologists. Darwin’s theory, he observed, and the interpretation of biological systems as formal objects, were at odds insofar as randomness is known to degrade meaning in formal contexts. But Schützenberger also argued that Darwin’s theory logically required some active principle of coordination between the typographic space of the informational macromolecules (DNA and RNA) and the organic space of living creatures themselves — which Darwin’s theory does not provide. In this January 1996 interview with the
    French science monthly La Recherche, here published in English for the first time, he pursued these themes anew, finding inspiration for his ideas both in the mathematical ideas that he had pioneered and in the speculative tradition of French biological thought that stretched from Georges Cuvier to Lucien Cuenot. M.P. Schützenberger was a man of universal curiosity and great wit; throughout his life, he was both joyful and unafraid. The culture that he so brilliantly represented disappears with him, of course. It was his finest invention and it now belongs to the inventory of remembered things.
    ———————–

    Q: What is your definition of Darwinism?

    S: The most current, of course, a position generically embodied, for example, by Richard Dawkins. The essential idea is well-known. Evolution, Darwinists argue, is explained by the double action of chance mutations and natural selection. The general doctrine embodies two mutually contradictory schools — gradualists, on the one hand, saltationists, on the other. Gradualists insist that evolution proceeds by means of small successive changes; saltationists that it proceeds by jumps. Richard Dawkins has come to champion radical gradualism; Stephen Jay Gould, a no less radical version of saltationism.

    Q: You are known as a mathematician rather than a specialist in evolutionary biology…

    S: Biology is, of course, not my specialty. The participation of mathemeticians in the overall assessment of evolutionary thought has been encouraged by the biologists themselves, if only because they presented such an irresistible target. Richard Dawkins, for example, has been fatally attracted to arguments that would appear to hinge on concepts drawn from mathematics and from the computer sciences, the technical stuff imposed on innocent readers with all of his comic authority. Mathematicians are, in any case, epistemological zealots. It is normal for them to bring their critical scruples to the foundations of other disciplines. And finally, it is worth observing that the great turbid wave of cybernetics has carried mathematicians from their normal mid-ocean haunts to the far shores of evolutionary biology. There up ahead, Rene Thom and Ilya Prigogine may be observed paddling sedately toward dry land, members of the Santa Fe Institute thrashing in their wake. Stuart Kauffman is among them. An interesting case, a physician half in love with mathematical logic, burdened now and forever by having received a Papal Kiss from Murray Gell-Mann. This ecumenical movement has endeavored to apply the concepts of mathematics to the fundamental problems of evolution — the interpretation of functional complexity, for example.

    Q: What do you mean by functional complexity?

    S: It is impossible to grasp the phenomenon of life without that concept, the two words each expressing a crucial and essential idea. The laboratory biologists’ normal and unforced vernacular is almost always couched in functional terms: the function of an eye, the function of an enzyme, or a ribosome, or the fruit fly’s antennae — their function; the concept by which such language is animated is one perfectly adapted to reality. Physiologists see this better than anyone else. Within their world, everything is a matter of function, the various systems that they study — circulatory, digestive, excretory, and the like — all characterized in simple, ineliminable functional terms. At the level of molecular biology, functionality may seem to pose certain conceptual problems, perhaps because the very notion of an organ has disappeared when biological relationships are specified in biochemical terms; but appearances are misleading, certain functions remaining even in the absence of an organ or organ systems. Complexity is also a crucial concept. Even among unicellular organisms, the mechanisms involved in the separation and fusion of chromosomes during mitosis and meiosis are processes of unbelieveable complexity and subtlety. Organisms present themselves to us as a complex ensemble of functional interrelationships. If one is going to explain their evolution, one must at the same time explain their functionality and their complexity.

    Q: What is it that makes functional complexity so difficult to comprehend?

    S: The evolution of living creatures appears to require an essential ingredient, a specific form of organization. Whatever it is, it lies beyond anything that our present knowledge of physics or chemistry might suggest; it is a property upon which formal logic sheds absolutely no light. Whether gradualists or saltationists, Darwinians have too simple a conception of biology, rather like a locksmith improbably convinced that his handful of keys will open any lock. Darwinians, for example, tend to think of the gene rather as if it were the expression of a simple command: do this, get that done, drop that side chain. Walter Gehring’s work on the regulatory genes controlling the development of the insect eye reflects this conception. The relevant genes may well function this way, but the story on this level is surely incomplete, and Darwinian theory is not apt to fill in the pieces.

    Q: You claim that biologists think of a gene as a command. Could you be more specific?

    S: Schematically, a gene is like a unit of information. It has simple binary properties. When active, it is an elementary information-theoretic unit, the cascade of gene instructions resembling the cascade involved in specifying a recipe. Now let us return to the example of the eye. Darwinists imagine that it requires what? A thousand or two thousand genes to assemble an eye, the specification of the organ thus requiring one or two thousand units of information? This is absurd! Suppose that a European firm proposes to manufacture an entirely new household appliance in a Southeast Asian factory. And suppose that for commercial reasons, the firm does not wish to communicate to the factory any details of the appliance’s function — how it works, what purposes it will serve. With only a few thousand bits of information, the factory is not going to proceed very far or very fast. A few thousand bits of information, after all, yields only a single paragraph of text. The appliance in question is bound to be vastly simpler than the eye; charged with its manufacture, the factory will yet need to know the significance of the operations to which they have committed themselves in engaging their machinery. This can be achieved only if they already have some sense of the object’s nature before they undertake to manufacture it. A considerable body of knowledge, held in common between the European firm and its Asian factory, is necessary before manufacturing instructions may be executed.

    Q: Would you argue that the genome does not contain the requisite information for explaining organisms?

    S:Not according to the understanding of the genome we now possess. The biological properties invoked by biologists are in this respect quite insufficient; while biologists may understand that a gene triggers the production of a particular protein, that knowledge — that kind of knowledge — does not allow them to comprehend how one or two thousand genes suffice to direct the course of embryonic development.

    Q: You are going to be accused of preformationism…

    S: And of many other crimes. My position is nevertheless strictly a rational one. I’ve formulated a problem that appears significant to me: how is it that with so few elementary instructions, the materials of life can fabricate objects that are so marvelously complicated and efficient? This property with which they are endowed — just what is its nature? Nothing within our actual knowledge of physics and chemistry allows us intellectually to grasp it. If one starts from an evolutionary point of view, it must be acknowledged that in one manner or another, the earliest fish contained the capacity, and the appropriate neural wiring, to bring into existence organs which they did not possess or even need, but which would be the common property of their successors when they left the water for the firm ground, or for the air.

    Q: You assert that, in fact, Darwinism doesn’t explain much.

    S: It seems to me that the union of chance mutation and selection has a certain descriptive value; in no case does the description count as an explanation. Darwinism relates ecological data to the relative abundance of species and environments. In any case, the descriptive value of Darwinian models is pretty limited. Besides, as saltationists have indicated, the gradualist thesis seems completely demented in light of the growth of paleontological knowledge. The miracles of saltationism, on the other hand, cannot discharge the mystery I have described.

    Q: Let’s return to natural selection. Isn’t it the case that despite everything the idea has a certain explanatory value?

    S: No one could possibly deny the general thesis that stability is a necessary condition for existence — the real content of the doctrine of natural selection. The outstanding application of this general principle is Berthollet’s laws in elementary chemistry. In a desert, the species that die rapidly are those that require water the most; yet that does not explain the appearance among the survivors of those structures whose particular features permits them to resist aridity. The thesis of natural selection is not very powerful. Except for certain artificial cases, we are yet unable to predict whether this or that species or this or that variety will be favored or not as the result of changes in the environment. What we can do is establish after the fact the effects of natural selection — to show, for, example that certain birds are disposed to eat this species of snails less often than other species, perhaps because their shell is not as visible. That’s ecology: very interesting. To put it another way, natural selection is a weak instrument of proof because the phenomena subsumed by natural selection are obvious and yet they establish nothing from the point of view of the theory.

    Q: Isn’t the significant explanatory feature of Darwinian theory the connection established between chance mutations and natural selection?

    S:With the discovery of coding, we have come to understand that a gene is like a word composed in the DNA alphabet; such words form the genomic text. It is that word that tells the cell to make this or that protein. Either a given protein is structural, or a protein itself works in combination with other signals given by the genome to fabricate yet another protein. All the experimental results we know fall within this scheme. The following scenario then becomes standard. A gene undergoes a mutation, one that may facilitate the reproduction of those individuals carrying it; over time, and with respect to a specific environment, mutants come to be statistically favored, replacing individuals lacking the requisite mutation. Evolution could not be an accumulation of such typographical errors. Population geneticists can study the speed with which a favorable mutation propagates itself under these circumstances. They do this with a lot of skill, but these are academic exercises if only because none of the parameters that they use can be empirically determined. In addition, there are the obstacles I have already mentioned. We know the number of genes in an organism. There are about one hundred thousand for a higher vertebrate. This we know fairly well. But this seems grossly insufficient to explain the incredible quantity of information needed to accomplish evolution within a given line of species.

    Q: A concrete example?

    S: Darwinists say that horses, which were once mammals as large as rabbits, increased their size to escape more quickly from predators. Within the gradualist model, one might isolate a specific trait — increase in body size — and consider it to be the result of a series of typographic changes. The explanatory effect achieved is rhetorical, imposed entirely by trick of insisting that what counts for a herbivore is the speed of its flight when faced by a predator. Now this may even be partially true, but there are no biological grounds that permit us to determine that this is in fact the decisive consideration. After all, increase in body size may well have a negative effect. Darwinists seem to me to have preserved a mechanic vision of evolution, one that prompts them to observe merely a linear succession of causes and effects. The idea that causes may interact with one another is now standard in mathematical physics; it is a point that has had difficulty in penetrating the carapace of biological thought. In fact, within the quasi-totality of observable phenomena, local changes interact in a dramatic fashion; after all, there is hardly an issue of La Recherche that does not contain an allusion to the Butterfly Effect. Information theory is precisely the domain that sharpens our intuitions about these phenomena. A typographical change in a computer program does not change it just a little. It wipes the program out, purely and simply. It is the same with a telephone number. If I intend to call a correspondent by telephone, it doesn’t much matter if I am fooled by one, two, three or eight figures in his number.

    Q: You accept the idea that biological mutations genuinely have the character of typographical errors?

    S: Yes, in the sense that one base is a template for another, one codon for another, but at the level of biochemical activity, one is no longer able properly to speak of typography. There is an entire grammar for the formation of proteins in three dimensions, one that we understand poorly. We do not have at our disposal physical or chemical rules permitting us to construct a mapping from typographical mutations or modifications to biologically effective structures. To return to the example of the eye: a few thousand genes are needed for its fabrication, but each in isolation signifies nothing. What is significant is the combination of their interactions. These cascading interactions, with their feedback loops, express an organization whose complexity we do not know how to analyze (See Figure 1). It is possible we may be able to do so in the future, but there is no doubt that we are unable to do so now. Gehring has recently discovered a segment of DNA which is both involved in the development of the vertebrate eye and which can induce the development of an eye in the wing of a butterfly. His work comprises a demonstration of something utterly astonishing, but not an explanation.

    Q:But Dawkins, for example, believes in the possibility of a cumulative process.

    S: Dawkins believes in an effect that he calls “the cumulative selection of beneficial mutations.” To support his thesis, he resorts to a metaphor introduced by the mathematician Emile Borel — that of a monkey typing by chance and in the end producing a work of literature. It is a metaphor, I regret to say, embraced by Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of the double helix. Dawkins has his computer write a series of thirty letters, these corresponding to the number of letters in a verse by Shakespeare. He then proceeds to simulate the Darwinian mechanism of chance mutations and selection. His imaginary monkey types and retypes the same letters, the computer successively choosing the phrase that most resembles the target verse. By means of cumulative selection, the monkey reaches its target in forty or sixty generations.

    Q: But you don’t believe that a monkey typing on a typewriter, even aided by a computer…

    S:This demonstration is a trompe-l’oeil, and what is more, Dawkins doesn’t describe precisely how it proceeds. At the beginning of the exercise, randomly generated phrases appear rapidly to approach the target; the closer the approach, the more the process begins to slow. It is the action of mutations in the wrong direction that pulls things backward. In fact, a simple argument shows that unless the numerical parameters are chosen deliberately, the progression begins to bog down completely.

    Q:You would say that the model of cumulative selection, imagined by Dawkins, is out of touch with palpable biological realities?

    S: Exactly. Dawkins’s model lays entirely to the side the triple problems of complexity, functionality, and their interaction.

    Q: You are a mathematician. Suppose that you try, despite your reservations, to formalize the concept of functional complexity…

    S: I would appeal to a notion banned by the scientific community, but one understood perfectly by everyone else — that of a goal. As a computer scientist, I could express this in the following way. One constructs a space within which one of the coordinates serves in effect as the thread of Ariane, guiding the trajectory toward the goal. Once the space is constructed, the system evolves in a mechanical way toward its goal. But look, the construction of the relevant space cannot proceed until a preliminary analysis has been carried out, one in which the set of all possible trajectories is assessed, this together with an estimation of their average distance from the specified goal. The preliminary analysis is beyond the reach of empirical study. It presupposes — the same word that seems to recur in theoretical biology — that the biologist (or computer scientist) know the totality of the situation, the properties of the ensemble of trajectories. In terms of mathematical logic, the nature of this space is entirely enigmatic. Nonetheless, it is important to remember that the conceptual problems we face, life has entirely solved; the systems embodied in living creatures are entirely successful in reaching their goals. The trick involved in Dawkin’s somewhat sheepish example proceeds via the surreptitious introduction of a relevant space. His computer program calculates from a random phrase to a target, a calculation corresponding to nothing in biological reality. The function that he employs flatters the imagination, however, because it has that property of apparent simplicity that elicits naïve approval. In biological reality, the space of even the simplest function has a complexity that defies understanding, and indeed, defies any and all calculations.

    Q: Even when they dissent from Darwin, the saltationists are more moderate: they don’t pretend to hold the key that would permit them to explain evolution…

    S: Before we discuss the saltationists, however, I must say a word about the Japanese biologist Mooto Kimura. He has shown that the majority of mutations are neutral, without any selective effect. For Darwinians upholding the central Darwinian thesis, this is embarrassing… The saltationist view, revived by Stephen Jay Gould, in the end represents an idea due to Richard Goldschmidt. In 1940 or so, he postulated the existence of very intense mutations, no doubt involving hundreds of genes, and taking place rapidly, in less than one thousand generations, thus below the threshold of resolution of paleontology. Curiously enough, Gould does not seem concerned to preserve the union of chance mutations and selection. The saltationists run afoul of two types of criticism. On the one hand, the functionality of their supposed macromutations is inexplicable within the framework of molecular biology. On the other hand, Gould ignores in silence the great trends in biology, such as the increasing complexity of the nervous system. He imagines that the success of new, more sophisticated species, such as the mammals, is a contingent phenomenon. He is not in a position to offer an account of the essential movement of evolution, or at the least, an account of its main trajectories. The saltationists are thus reduced to invoking two types of miracles: macromutations, and the great trajectories of evolution.

    Q: In what sense are you employing the word ‘miracle’?

    S:A miracle is an event that should appear impossible to a Darwinian in view of its ultra-cosmological improbability within the framework of his own theory. Now speaking of macromutations, let me observe that to generate a proper elephant, it will not suffice suddenly to endow it with a full-grown trunk. As the trunk is being organized, a different but complementary system — the cerebellum — must be modified in order to establish a place for the ensemble of wiring that the elephant will require to use his trunk. These macromutations must be coordinated by a system of genes in embryogenesis. If one considers the history of evolution, we must postulate thousands of miracles; miracles, in fact, without end. No more than the gradualists, the saltationists are unable to provide an account of those miracles. The second category of miracles are directional, offering instruction to the great evolutionary progressions and trends — the elaboration of the nervous system, of course, but the internalization of the reproductive process as well, and the appearance of bone, the emergence of ears, the enrichment of various functional relationships, and so on. Each is a series of miracles, whose accumulation has the effect of increasing the complexity and efficiency of various organisms. From this point of view, the notion of bricolage [tinkering], introduced by Francois Jacob, involves a fine turn of phrase, but one concealing an utter absence of explanation.

    Q: The appearance of human beings — is that a miracle, in the sense you mean?

    S: Naturally. And here it does seem that there are voices among contemporary biologists — I mean voices other than mine — who might cast doubt on the Darwinian paradigm that has dominated discussion for
    the past twenty years. Gradualists and saltationists alike are
    completely incapable of giving a convincing explanation of the quasi-simultaneous emergence of a number of biological systems that distinguish human beings from the higher primates: bipedalism, with the concomitant modification of the pelvis, and, without a doubt, the cerebellum, a much more dexterous hand, with fingerprints conferring an especially fine tactile sense; the modifications of the pharynx which permits phonation; the modification of the central nervous system, notably at the level of the temporal lobes, permitting the specific recognition of speech. From the point of view of embryogenesis, these anatomical systems are completely different from one another. Each modification constitutes a gift, a bequest from a primate family to its descendants. It is astonishing that these gifts should have developed simultaneously. Some biologists speak of a predisposition of the genome. Can anyone actually recover the predisposition, supposing that it actually existed? Was it present in the first of the fish? The reality is that we are confronted with total conceptual bankruptcy.
    Q:You mentioned the Santa Fe school earlier in our discussion. Do appeals to such notions as chaos…

    S:I should have alluded to a succession of highly competent people who have discovered a number of poetic but essentially hollow forms of expression. I am referring here to the noisy crowd collected under the rubric of cybernetics; and beyond, there lie the dissipative structures of Prigogine, or the systems of Varela, or, moving to the present, Stuart Kauffman’s edge of chaos — an organized form of inanity that is certain soon to make its way to France. The Santa Fe school takes complexity to apply to absolutely everything. They draw their representative examples from certain chemical reactions, the pattern of the sea coast, atmosphere turbulence, or the structure of a chain of mountains. The complexity of these structures is certainly considerable, but in comparison with the living world, they exhibit in every case an impoverished form of organization, one that is strictly non-functional. No algorithm allows us to understand the complexity of living creatures, this despite these examples, which owe their initial plausibility to the assumption that the physico-chemical world exhibits functional properties that in reality it does not possess.

    Q: Should one take your position as a statement of resignation, an appeal to have greater modesty, or something else altogether?

    S: Speaking ironically, I might say that all we can hear at the present time is the great anthropic hymnal, with even a number of mathematically sophisticated scholars keeping time as the great hymn is intoned by tapping their feet. The rest of us should, of course, practice a certain suspension of judgment.

    Copyright (c) 1996 Marcel-Paul Schützenberger. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.

  251. M. Simon says:

    Francisco,

    You mathematician is not so smart.

    1. Organizing in a thermodynamic system requires an energy flow.

    2. The associations are not random. They are ordered by the preferential nature of the chemical bond.

    It is not a tornado in a junkyard. It is a tornado in a magnet factory.

    I might add the mathematician is not very economical with words – low information content.

  252. Jeff Alberts says:

    The general doctrine embodies two mutually contradictory schools — gradualists, on the one hand, saltationists, on the other. Gradualists insist that evolution proceeds by means of small successive changes; saltationists that it proceeds by jumps. Richard Dawkins has come to champion radical gradualism; Stephen Jay Gould, a no less radical version of saltationism.

    Are they really contradictory? I see no reason why both can’t occur. Gradualism is always occurring, and certain events cause Saltation (such as a massive dieout due to a virus or some such).

  253. Mr Lynn says:

    Professor Schützenberger is certainly long-winded, but in a thoroughly enjoyable, very French mode of discourse. And insofar as I follow the interview (from a very quick skim) he points to an essential gap in evolutionary thought, that between the rather simplistic ‘information theory’ model of genetics, and the enormous ‘functional complexity’ of evolved organisms: how do you get from one to the other, without some kind of teleological goal or as-yet-undeciphered underlying pattern?

    Can the gap be accounted for by Dawkinsian ‘cumulative selection’? Maybe: Prof. Schützenberger may underestimate the compounding power of cumulative mutation, in particular mutation which is neither seriously deleterious nor beneficial at a given moment, but ‘hangs around’, creating evolutionary potential when environmental/ecological circumstances change.

    M. Simon in his admirably terse fashion points us to the input of energy, and to the inherent structures created by organic chemistry. Can it be that there is a ‘natural’ tendency toward complexity (and not entropy) in the energetic universe? Might that have something to do with ‘the life force’ that the ship’s doctor envisioned in “The Derelict”?

    Still, the point that, however much more we may know today than in Darwin’s time, we are still vastly ignorant when it comes to the nature and origins of life, should be well-taken. What we should not do, as the Creationists would have us, is to shut down the inquiry by throwing up our hands and proclaiming, “God did it!” The beauty and the joy of science lies in prospect of pushing back the frontiers of ignorance, not in enshrining them.

    /Mr Lynn

  254. Francisco says:
    Interesting quotes follow. “We have repeatedly emphasized the fundamental problems posed for the biologist by the fact of life’s complex organization. We have seen that organization requires work for its maintenance and that the universal quest for food is in part to provide the energy needed for this work. But the simple expenditure of energy is not sufficient to develop and maintain order. A bull in a china shop performs work, but he neither creates nor maintains organization. The work needed is particular work; it must follow specifications; it requires information on how to proceed.” (Simpson, George Gaylord [Professor of Vertebrate Paleontology, Museum of Comparative Zoology, Harvard University] & Beck, William S. [Harvard University] , “Life: An Introduction To Biology,” [1957], Routledge & Kegan Paul: London, Second Edition, 1965, p.466) =========================== The canonical “principle of indifference” (or “insufficient reason” states that where there is no positive reason for assigning different probabilities to competing statistical or predictive assertions (e.g. different possible mutations weighted by relative frequency) equal probabilities must be assigned to all. Since this is essentially how neo-Darwinism calculates its random distributions of mutations and other events, it is just a biological variant of the principle of indifference. […] many people, some may say a large majority, find it to some degree incredible that what amounts to a principle of indifference can be seriously offered as a *causal* explanation for the amazing complexity of the biological world, or for that matter, any other part of the world. The fact that a principle of indifference is essentially devoid of information implies that neo-Darwinism yields not a causal explanation of biological complexity, but merely an open-ended simulation in which every bit of complexity delivered as output must have been present as input, appearances to the contrary notwithstanding. This implies that neo-Darwinism per se, as distinguished from the core sciences from which it routinely borrows, adds precisely nothing to our knowledge of biological complexity or its source. In order to deal with this seemingly inescapable problem, the proponents of neo-Darwinism have eagerly adopted the two hottest slogans in the theory of complex systems: “self-organization” and “emergence.” […] But the fact that these terms have been superficially defined does not imply that they have been adequately explained. Actually, they remain as much of a mystery in complexity theory as they are in biology, and can do nothing for neo-Darwinism but spin the pointer toward another hapless and equally helpless field of inquiry.” –Christopher Langan: Cheating the Millennium – The Mounting Explanatory Debts of Scientific Naturalism ==================== The neo-Darwinist population-genetics tradition is reminiscent of phrenology, I think, and is a kind of science that can expect exactly the same fate. It will look ridiculous in retrospect, because it is ridiculous. I’ve always felt that way, even as a more-than-adequate student of population genetics with a superb teacher — James F. Crow, at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. At the very end of the semester, the last week was spent on discussing the actual observational and experimental studies related to the models, but none of the outcomes of the experiments matched the theory. Although I greatly admire Darwin’s contributions and agree with most of his theoretical analysis and I am a Darwinist, I am not a neo-Darwinist. One of Darwin’s major insights is the recognition that all organisms are related by common ancestry. Today direct evidence for common ancestry — genetic, chemical, and otherwise — is overwhelming. Populations of organisms grow and reproduce at rates that are not sustainable in the real world, and therefore many more die or fail to reproduce than actually complete their life histories. The fact that all the organisms that are born or hatched or budded off do not and cannot possibly survive is natural selection. Observable inherited variation appears in all organisms that are hatched, born, budded off, or produced by division, and some variants do outgrow and outreproduce others. These are the tenets of Darwinian evolution and natural selection. All thinking scientists are in complete agreement with these basic ideas, since they’re supported by vast amounts of evidence. Neo-Darwinism is an attempt to reconcile Mendelian genetics, which says that organisms do not change with time, with Darwinism, which claims they do. It’s a rationalization that fuses two somewhat flawed traditions in a mathematical way, and that is the beginning of the end. […] The practicing neo-Darwinists lack relevant knowledge in, for example, microbiology, cell biology, biochemistry, molecular biology, and cytoplasmic genetics. They avoid biochemical cytology and microbial ecology. This is comparable to attempting a critical analysis of Shakespeare’s Elizabethan phraseology and idiomatic expression in Chinese, while ignoring the relevance of the English language! The neo-Darwinists say that variation originates from random mutation, defining mutation as any genetic change. By randomness they mean that characters appear randomly in offspring with respect to selection: if an animal needs a tail, it doesn’t develop this tail because it needs it; rather, the animal randomly develops all sorts of changes and those with tails survive to produce more offspring. H.J. Muller, in the 1920s, discovered that not only do X rays increase the fruit-fly mutation rate, but even if fruit flies are isolated completely from X rays, solar radiation, and other environmental perturbation, a spontaneous mutation rate can be measured. Inherited variants do appear spontaneously; they have nothing to do with whether or not they’re good for the organism in which they appear. Mutation was then touted as the source of variation- -that upon which natural selection acted — and the neo-Darwinian theory was declared complete. The science remaining required filling in the gaps in a “theory” with very few holes. From many experiments, it is known that if mutagens like X rays or certain chemicals are presented to fruit flies, sick and dead flies result. No new species of fly appears — that is the real rub. Everyone agrees that such mutagens produce inherited variation. Everyone agrees that natural selection acts on this variation. The question is, From where comes the useful variation upon which selection acts? This problem has not yet been solved. –LYNN MARGULIS ============================ “The neo-Darwinist model is now reaching the point of dignity in the history of science that the Ptolemaic system in astronomy, the epicycle system, reached long ago. We know that it does not work. And that is interesting.” (Quoted from Conference Paper dated October 1975, The Beginning of Life, by Professor Jerome Lejeune, Chair of Fundamental Genetics, University of Paris, France) ============================= “There is no chance (< 10^-1000) to see this mechanism [mutation-selection] appear spontaneously and, if it did, even less for it to remain…Thus, to conclude, we believe there is a considerable gap in the neo-Darwinian theory of evolution, and we believe this gap to be of such a nature that it cannot be bridged within the current conception of biology." (Schutzenberger, M. [mathematician], "Algorithms and the Neo-Darwinian Theory of Evolution" in Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, ed., P.S. Moorehead and M. M. Kaplan, Wistar Institute Press, Philadelphia (1967), pg. 75) ====================== "…if evolution is in some sense channeled, then this reopens the controversial prospect of a teleology; that is, the process is underpinned by a purpose. It is no coincidence that interest in the Anthropic Principle, which broadly seeks evidence for the boundary conditions of the Big Bang and the ensuing physics and chemistry uniquely favoring the emergence of life…is being extended to the fields of biochemistry and molecular biology (See also Denton, 1998, below) (Simon Conway Morris, "Evolution: Bringing Molecules into the Fold," Cell 100 (2000):1-11) ===================== But it could be that natural selection is only a very peripheral part of the development of organisms. So there's a channel of physical possibilities that physical laws make available, and withn that channel of physical possibilities only certain things can happen, and within the range of those things that can happen you are going to get effects due to natural selection. But the structure of the channel is totally unknown. I mean, nobody knows what kinds of laws apply to complex organisms; there are just the bare beginnings these days of the studies of self-organizing systems — how systems develop structure and complexity just by virtue of their nature. These things are just barely beginning to be understood — and we are talking about things much simpler than human beings. –Noam Chomsky – Understanding Power p. 219 ===================== "…both fields have been labeled as failures for not having lived up to grandiose promises. At the heart of this disappointment lies the fact that neither AI nor Alife has produced artifacts that could be confused with a living organism for more than an instant. AI just does not seem as present or aware as even a simple animal and Alife cannot match the complexities of the simplest forms of life." " We have become very good at modelling fluids, materials, planetary dynamics, nuclear explosions and all manner of physical systems. Put some parameters into a program, let it crank, and out come accurate predictions of the physical character of the modelled system. But we are not good at modelling living systems, at small or large scales. Something is wrong." "we might be missing something fundamental and currently unimagined in our models of biology … We would then need to find new ways of thinking about living systems to make any progress, and this will be much more disruptive to all biology. … So what might be the nature of this unimagined feature of life? One possibility is that some aspect of living systems is invisible to us right now. The current scientific view of living things is that they are machines whose components are biomolecules. It is not completely impossible that we might discover some new properties of biomolecules or some new ingredient. One might imagine something on a par with the discovery of X-rays a century ago, which eventually led to our still-evolving understanding of quantum mechanics. Relativity was the other such discovery of the twentieth century, and had a similarly disruptive impact on the basic understanding of physics. Some similar discovery might rock our understanding of the basis of living systems." (Rodney Brooks, "The relationship between matter and life," Nature 409 (2001): 409-411) ================ "The neo-Darwinian synthesis is effectively dead, despite its continue presence as textbook orthodoxy" (Stephen Jay Gould, Is a New and General Theory of Evolution Emerging, Paleobiology, 119, 119-120 (1980) ========================= "The concept of organic evolution is very highly prized by biologists, for many of whom it is an object of genuinely religious devotion, because they regard it as a supreme integrative principle. This is probably the reason why severe methodological criticism employed in other departments of biology has not yet been brought to bear on evolutionary speculation." (Conklin, Edwin G. [Professor of Biology , Princeton University, USA], "Man Real and Ideal", Scribner, 1943, p.147, in Macbeth N., "Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason", Gambit: Boston MA, 1971, pp.126-127) ====================== Disagreeing with Darwin resembles creationism to the uninformed; therefore the stigma that any taint of creationism can bring to a scientific reputation, coupled with the intimidating genius of Darwin, have kept all but the boldest iconoclasts from doubting Darwinian theory in public. What excites Margulis is the remarkable incompleteness of general Darwinian theory. Darwinism is wrong by what it omits and by what it incorrectly emphasizes. A number of microbiologists, geneticists, theoretical biologists, mathematicians, and computer scientists are saying there is more to life than Darwinism. They do not reject Darwin's contribution; they simply want to move beyond it. I call them the `postdarwinians.'" (Kelly, Kevin [Executive Editor of Wired], "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines," [1994], Fourth Estate: London, 1995, reprint, pp470-471. Emphasis in original) ==================== "In considering the Origin of Species, it is quite conceivable that a naturalist, reflecting on the mutual affinities of organic beings, on their embryological relations, their geographical distribution, geological succession, and other such facts, might come to the conclusion that species had not been independently created, but had descended, like varieties, from other species. Nevertheless, such a conclusion, even if well founded, would be unsatisfactory, until it could be shown how the innumerable species inhabiting this world have been modified, so as to acquire that perfection of structure and coadaptation which justly excites our admiration." (Darwin, Charles R. [English naturalist and founder of the modern theory of evolution], "The Origin of Species," [1872], Everyman's Library, J.M. Dent & Sons: London, 6th edition, 1928, reprint, p.18) "During the period of nearly universal rejection, direct evidence for continental drift-that is, the data gathered from rocks exposed on our continents-was every bit as good as it is today. …. In the absence of a plausible mechanism, the idea of continental drift was rejected as absurd. The data that seemed to support it could always be explained away. … The old data from continental rocks, once soundly rejected, have been exhumed and exalted as conclusive proof of drift. In short, we now accept continental drift because it is the expectation of a new orthodoxy. I regard this tale as typical of scientific progress. New facts, collected in old ways under the guidance of old theories, rarely lead to any substantial revision of thought. Facts do not `speak for themselves', they are read in the light of theory." (Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University], "The Validation of Continental Drift," in "Ever Since Darwin: Reflections in Natural History," [1978], Penguin: London, 1991, reprint, p161) ===================== "most observers see the current situation in evolutionary theory–where the object is to explain how, not if, life evolves–as bordering on total chaos." (Niles Eldredge, An Ode to Adaptive Transformation, Nature, vol 296:508 (1982)) ================= "There is absolutely no disagreement among professional biologist on the fact that evolution has occurred …. But the theory of how evolution occurs is quite another matter, and is the subject of intense dispute." (Douglas Futuyma, Evolution as Fact and Theory, 56 Bios 3, 8 1985) ================ "Since we hardly know anything about the major types of organization, suggestions, and suggestions only, can be made. How can one confidently assert that one mechanism rather than another was at the origin of the creation of the plans of organization, if one relies entirely upon imagination to find a solution? Our ignorance is so great that we dare not even assign with any accuracy an ancestral stock to the phyla Protozoa, Arthropoda, Mollusca, and Vertebrata. The lack of concrete evidence relative to the "heyday" of evolution seriously impairs any transformist theory. In any case, a shadow is cast over the genesis of the fundamental structural plans and we are unable to eliminate it." "The united efforts of paleontology and molecular biology, the latter stripped of its dogmas, should lead to the discovery of the exact mechanism of evolution, possibly without revealing to us the causes of the orientations of lineages, of the finalities of structures, of living functions, and of cycles. Perhaps in this area biology can go no farther: the rest is metaphysics." (Grasse, Pierre-P. [editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie," former Chair of Evolution, Sorbonne University and ex- president of the French Academie des Sciences], "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," Aca ====================== "I mean the stories, the narratives about change over time. How the dinosaures became extinct, how the mammals evolved, where man came from. These seem to me to be little more than story-telling. And this is the result about cladistics because as it turns out, as it seems to me, all one can learn abou tthe history of life is learned from systematics, from groupings one finds in nature. The rest of it is story-telling of one sort or another. We have access to the tips of a tree, the tree itself is a theory and people who pretened to know about the tree and to describe what went on with it, how the branches came off and the twigs came off are, I think, telling stories." (Dr. Colin Patterson (Senior Palaeontologist, British Museum of Natural Hisotyr, London) in an interview on British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) television 4 March 1982.) ======================== Mutations and Natural Selection: "Microevolution provides no satisfactory explanation for the extraordinary burst of novelty during the late Neoproterozoic-Cambrian radiation (Valentine et al. 1999; Knoll and Carroll 1999), nor the rapid production of novel plant architectures associated with the origin of land plants during the Devonian (Kendrick and Crane 1997), followed by the origination of most major insect groups (Labandeira and Sepkoski 1993). " "These discontinuities impart a hierarchical structure to evolution, a structure which impedes, obstructs, and even neutralizes the effects of microevolution…" (Douglas Erwin, "Macroevolution is more than repeated rounds of microevolution," Evolution & Development 2 (2000):78-84) ========================== "…starting in the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its [neo-Darwinism's] adequacy in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution, but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution looks at adaptations that concern the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest. As Goodwin (1995) points out, "the origin of species — Darwin's problem — remains unsolved" (Scott F. Gilbert, John M. Opitz, and Rudolf A. Raff, "Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology," Developmental Biology 173 (1996): 357-372) =============== "The popular theory of evolution is the modern synthesis (neo-Darwinism), based on changes in populations underpinned by the mathematics of allelic variation and driven by natural selection. It accounts more for adaptive changes in the colouration of moths, than in explaining why there are moths at all. This theory does not predict why there were only 50 or so modal body plans, nor does it provide a basis for rapid, large scale innovations. It lacks significant connection with embryogenesis and hence there is no nexus to the evolution of form. It fails to address the question of why the anatomical gaps between phyla are no wider today than there were at their Cambrian appearance. It has no predictions about macromolecules and cellular evolution in the Archaean, about evolution via symbiogenesis, nor the manner in which cells and organisms alter and revise their genomic rules as they evolve." "Allelic changes in natural populations are almost totally oblique to understanding the events that gave rise to the major metazoan body plans. Studies of speciation are targeting the evolutionary peripheries, and missing the significant metazoan issue — the origin of complex forms." "The modern synthesis moved evolution theory into a mathematical siding from which there has been no return. Here is a theory which, as I have shown in this essay, does not touch upon any level of detail or mechanism that impinges on large scale evolutionary complexity or novelty. Whenever data have undermined its foundations, it is the data that have been considered inadequate. Thus the traditional gradualistic view is largely at variance with the fossil record, which is largely one of episodic change followed by stasis." "Finally, it is necessary to acknowledge that after over a century of the dominant paradigm, the evolution of major complexities in the history of life has had very little to do with the origin of species. The seamless moving footway of neo-Darwinism that was to have smoothly transported us from allelic variation in natural populations to understanding body plans in different phyla has led to a cul-de-sac. The origin of phyla is not via speciation 'writ large'. To understand what fuelled origins of phyla, the complexities that emerged long ago from macromolecular and supracellular complexes and from symbiogenic events will need to be understood via molecular embryology, where the quintessence of evolutionary truth is to be found." (George L. Gabor Miklos, "Emergence of organizational complexities during metazoan evolution: perspectives from molecular biology, palaeontology and neo-Darwinism," Mem. Ass. Australas. Palaeontols. 15 (1993): 7-41) ======================== "While the origins of major morphological novelties remains unsolved, one can also view the stubborn persistence of macroevolutionary questioning, and particularly its revival in recent years, as a challenge to orthodoxy: resistance to the view that the synthetic theory tells us everything we need to know about evolutionary processes." "no one has satisfactorily demonstrated a mechanism at the population genetic level by which innumerable very small phenotypic changes could accumulate rapidly to produce large changes: a process for the origin of the magnificently improbable from the ineffably trivial" (Keith Stewart Thomson, "Macroevolution: The Morphological Problem," American Zoologist 32 (1992): 106-112) ==================== "Domain shuffling aside, it remains a mystery how the undirected process of mutation, combined with natural selection, has resulted in the creation of thousands of new proteins with extraordinarily diverse and well optimized functions." (Thornton & DeSalle, Genomics meets phylogenetics. Annual Rev. of Genomics and Human Genetics, 2000, pg. 64) ==================== "Micromutations do occur, but the theory that these alone can account for evolutionary change is either falsified, or else it is an unfalsifiable, hence metaphysical theory. I suppose that nobody will deny that it is a great misfortune if an entire branch of science becomes addicted to a false theory. But this is what has happened in biology: … I believe that one day the Darwinian myth will be ranked the greatest deceit in the history of science. When this happens many people will pose the question: How did this ever happen?" (S Lovtrup, Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth (London:Croom Helm, p.422) ======================== "…It is true that nobody thus far has produced a new species or genus, etc., by macromutations. It is equally true that nobody has produced even a species by the selection of micromutations….Neither has anyone witnessed the production of a new specimen of a higher taxonomic category by selection of micromutants." (Goldschmidt, Richard B., Amer. Scientist, 40, 1952, p.97.) ================ "Generation after generation, through countless cell divisions, the genetic heritage of living things is scrupulously preserved in DNA … All of life depends on the accurate transmission of information. As genetic messages are passed through generations of dividing cells, even small mistakes can be life-threatening … if mistakes were as rare as one in a million, 3000 mistakes would be made during each duplication of the human genome. Since the genome replicates about a million billion times in the course of building a human being from a single fertilised egg, it is unlikely that the human organism could tolerate such a high rate of error. In fact, the actual rate of mistakes is more like one in 10 billion." (Miroslav Radman and Robert Wagner, The High Fidelity of DNA Duplication…Scientific America. Vol. 299, No 2 (August 1988, pp 40-44. Quote is from page 24) ================== It is fashionable in modern evolutionary genetics to state: "The raw materials of evolution arise by mutation and recombination" and then to proceed to discuss how alleles may change frequences under directional or nondirectional forces." (Proof of an Adaptive Linkage Association, Science, November 17, 1961, pg. 1617, by Max Levitan) ================== "When speaking here of Darwinism, I shall speak always of today's theory that is Darwin's own theory of natural selection supported by the Mendelian theory of heredity, by the theory of the mutation and recombination of genes in a gene pool, and by the decoded genetic code. This is an immensely impressive and powerful theory. The claim that it completely explains evolution is of course a bold claim, and very far from being established." (Popper, Karl R., [Emeritus Professor of Philosophy, University of London], "Natural Selection and the Emergence of Mind," Dialectica, Vol. 32, Nos. 3-4, pp.339-355, 1978, pp.343-344) =============== "The primary problem with the [modern evolutionary] synthesis is that its makers established natural selection as the director of adaptive evolution by eliminating competing explanations, not by providing evidence that natural selection among 'random' mutations could, or did, account for observed adaptation (Box 2). Mayr remarked, 'As these non-Darwinian explanations were refuted during the synthesis … natural selection automatically became the universal explanation of evolutionary change (together with chance factors).' Depriving the synthesis of plausible alternatives, which seemed such a triumph, in fact sowed the seeds of its faults." "The 'modern evolutionary synthesis' convinced most biologists that natural selection was the only directive influence on adaptive evolution. Today, however, dissatisfaction with the synthesis is widespread, and creationists and antidarwinians are multiplying. The central problem with the synthesis is its failure to show (or to provide distinct signs) that natural selection of random mutations could account for observed levels of adaptation." (Leigh, Egbert G., Jr. [Biologist, Smithsonian Institution, USA], "The modern synthesis, Ronald Fisher and creationism," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, Vol. 14, No. 12, pp.495-498, December 1999, p.495) ===================== "If I were convinced that I required such additions to the theory of natural selection, I would reject it as rubbish…. I would give nothing for the theory of natural selection, if it requires miraculous additions at any one stage of descent." (Darwin F., ed., "The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin", John Murray: London, 1888, ii:210) ================== "The [peppered-moth] experiments show the effects of predation on the survival of the dark and of the normal forms of the Peppered Moth in a clean environment and in one polluted by smoke. The experiments beautifully demonstrate natural selection–or survival of the fittest–in action, but they do not show evolution in progress, for however the population may alter in their content of light, intermediate or dark forms, all the moths remain from beginning to end Biston Betularia." (L. Harrison Matthews, FRS, in the introduction to the 1971 edition of Darwin's Origin of Species, J.M. Detn & Sons Ltd, London, pg. xi) ======================= "We can here consider an oxymoron commonly used by evolutionists — "selection for this or that trait". Aside from the fact that selection pressure is modeled negatively in mathematical models (see (7), above), we can now see, in this quite reasonable soft selection model, that no phenotypic trait could be isolated as showing a character state that is favored by natural selection (any more than any other one evolving simultaneously). Selection for something can only be modeled in cases like artificial selection, where human agency repeatedly applies truncation selection on a given trait. Using the monkey at keyboards analogy again (see (7), above), we could model selection for something by having the inspection of the random letters be informed by a pregiven text. There is one other possibility where selection for could be used, but neoDarwinians are not likely to embrace it. It would be possible to have a single-gene Darwinism in which traits are viewed as evolving one at a time, sequentially, with the information from each new allele being assimilated into a developmental system which oversees the construction of the phenotype. The problem with this for Darwinians is that this privileges the ontogenetic system as the site of all the action, with selection just providing tokens or memory bench marks cuing that system into modulating some developmental processes. This view would also go against the current enthusiasm for genetic reductionism shown in phrases like "this trait is coded for by by gene X", and would make nonsense of the popular Dawkins / Dennett genic reductionism" (Stanley N. Salthe, Ph.D. Zoology, 1963, Columbia University, former Professor Emeritus, Brooklyn College of the City University of New York & Visiting Scientist in Biological Sciences, Binghamton University in "Analysis and critique of the concept of Natural Selection (and of the Darwinian theory of evolution) in respect to its suitability as part of Modernism's origination myth, as well as of its ability to explain organic evolution ") ============== "In other words, natural selection over the long run does not seem to improve a species' chance of survival but simply enables it to "track," or keep up with, the constantly changing environment" (Richard C. Lewontin (Prof of Zoology, University of Chicago, and co-editor of the American Naturalist), "Adaptation". Scientific American, vol 239(3), Septemeber 1978, pg. 159) ============================= "The conventional explanation, that random changes accumulate one locus at a time, is unconvincing on both functional and probabilistic grounds…" (James Shapiro of The University of Chicago, Molecular Strategies in Biological Evolution, A New York Academy of Sciences Conference, June 27-29, 1998, The Rockefeller University, New York City) ========================== "The point of my letter (Science's Compass, 30 July, p. 663), which perhaps was not well articulated, is that there is one hypothesis, central to evolution, that remains barely tested-that evolution proceeds through the process of survival and reproduction of the fittest." (Hogg, David W. [cosmologist, Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, USA], Science, Vol. 286, 26 November 1999, p.167) ======================== "Although the importance of speciation is clear and convincing, the processes involved are, for the most part, unknown." (14 Bush, Guy L., "What Do We Really Know About Speciation?" in Perspectives on Evolution, R. Milkman, Ed. (Sinauer, Sunderland, Mass., 1976), p. 119.) ================= "In all the thousands of fly-breeding experiments carried out all over the world for more than fifty years, a distinct new species has never been seen to emerge … or even a new enzyme." (Gordon Taylor, The Great Evolution Mystery (New York: Harper and Row, 1983, pp 34, 38) ===================== "The best clincher is extinction. For every species now in existence, roughly ninety-nine have become extinct. The question of why they have become extinct is of enormous importance to evolutionists. It has been studied by many men, but a convincing answer has not been found. It remains unclear why any given species has disappeared. The discusion of suvival of the fittest showed that the phrase led to circular reasoning; you survive because you are fit, and you are fit because you survive. Discussion of extinction is beset by a similar danger. It is all too easy to say that a species becomes extinct because it fails to adapt, while establishing its failure to adapt only by its becoming extinct: in other words, you die because you are unfit and you are unfit because you die." (David Raup, 1979, Conflicts Between Darwin and Paleontology) ============================ "After this step-wise elimination, only one possibility remains: the Darwinian theory of natural selection, whether or not coupled with Mendelism, is false. I have already shown that the arguments advanced by the early champions were not very compelling, and that there are now considerable numbers of empirical facts which do not fit with the theory. Hence, to all intents and purposes, the theory has been falsified, so why has it not been abandoned? …I think the answer to this question is that current evolutionist follow Darwin's example – they refuse to accept falsifying evidence." (Soren Lovtrup, prof zoo-physiology at the University of Umea in Sweden in Darwinism: The Refutation of a Myth) ======================== "In light of what we know about evolution, it seems most likely that our extraordinary cognitive capacity was somehow acquired as a unit, rather than in a gradual process of modular accretion, for it is plainly wrong to regard natural selection as a long-term fine-tuning of specific characteristics, however much we like the resulting stories. And it's important to remember that even today we are still testing the limits of this generalized capacity that makes so much possible…" (Letters, Page 12, Scientific American April 2002. Ian Tattersall, Reply to letter by Dudley Miles, concerning Tattersall's article "How We Came to Be Human" in Scientific American, Dec 2001, pages 56-63) ========================= "There is no doubt that natural selection is a mechanism, that it works. It has been repeatedly demonstrated by experiment. There is no doubt at all that it works. But the question of whether it produces new species is quite another matter. No one has ever produced a species by mechanisms of natural selection. No one has ever gotten near it and most of the current argument in neo-Darwnism is about this question: how a species originates and it is there that natural selection seems to be fading out and chance machanisms of one sort or another are being invoked." (Colin Patterson; on the subject of 'Cladistics' in an interview with Peter Franz on the British Broadcasting Corproation, March 4, 1982) ======================== "One of the most important questions in evolution is: How can new adaptations originate? This is a difficult question, because most evolutionary novelties, such as the eye or the wing, involve the orchestrated expression of many different loci, a number of which act in the expression of multiple phenotypes. Conventional explanations that randomly generated advantageous changes in complex characters accumulate one locus at a time are unconvincing on both functional and probabilistic grounds, because there is too much interconnectivity and too many degrees of mutational freedom. (Shapiro JA. Genome system architecture and natural genetic engineering in evolution. Ann N Y Acad Sci 1999 May 18;870:23-35) ======================== "To suppose that the evolution of the wonderfully adapted biological mechanisms has depended only on a selection out of a haphazard set of variations, each produced by blind chance, is like suggesting that if we went on throwing bricks together into heaps, we should eventually be able to choose ourselves the most desirable house." (Waddington, Conrad H. [Professor of Animal Genetics, University of Edinburgh], "The Listener," London, 13 November 1952, in Koestler A., "The Ghost in the Machine," [1967], Arkana: London, 1989, reprint, p127) ================ "But what kind of mutations could bring about the major changes I have described? Could cause a tube to roll up into a helix? Could cause other tubes to form semi-circular canals accurately set at right angles to each other. Could grade sensory hairs according to length? Could cause the convenient deposit of a crystal in the one place it will register gravity?…It just doesn't make sense." (Taylor, Gordon Rattray [former Chief Science Adviser, BBC Television], "The Great Evolution Mystery," Abacus: London, 1983, p106) ======================== "I am convinced it is this almost trivial simplicity that explains why the Darwinian theory is so widely accepted, why it has penetrated through the educational system so completely." (Hoyle, Fred [former Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University], "Mathematics of Evolution," [1987], Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, pp.8-9) ================== "Some contemporary biologists, as soon as they observe a mutation, talk about evolution. They are implicitly supporting the following syllogism: mutations are the only evolutionary variations, all living beings undergo mutations, therefore all living beings evolve. This logical scheme is, however, unacceptable: first, because its major premise is neither obvious nor general; second, because its conclusion does not agree with the facts. No matter how numerous they may be, mutations do not produce any kind of evolution." "Panchronic species, which like other species are subject to the assaults of mutations remain unchanged. Their variants are eliminated except possibly for neutral mutants. In any event, their stability is an observed fact and not a theoretical concept. … What is the use of their unceasing mutations, if they do not change? In sum, the mutations of bacteria and viruses are merely hereditary fluctuations around a median position; a swing to the right, a swing to the left, but no final evolutionary effect. … It is important to note that relict species mutate as much as others do, but do not evolve, not even when they live in conditions favorable to change (diversity of environments, cosmopolitianism, large populations)." "Bacteria, the study of which has formed a great part of the foundation of genetics and molecular biology, are the organisms which, because of their huge numbers, produce the most mutants. This is why they gave rise to an infinite variety of species, called strains, which can be revealed by breeding or tests. Like Erophila verna, bacteria, despite their great production of intraspecific varieties, exhibit a great fidelity to their species. The bacillus Escherichia coli, whose mutants have been studied very carefully, is the best example. The reader will agree that it is surprising, to say the least, to want to prove evolution and to discover its mechanisms and then to choose as a material for this study a being which practically stabilized a billion years ago!" (Grasse, Pierre-P. [former editor of the 28-volume "Traite de Zoologie," holder for 30 years of the Chair of Evolution, Sorbonne University, and ex-president of the French Academie des Sciences], "Evolution of Living Organisms: Evidence for a New Theory of Transformation," Academic Press: New York NY, 1977, p.88, 87) ====================== "It is thus hardly surprising that the vast majority of biologists have accepted it [the theory of natural selection] as the theory of evolution. Yet there have always been those who are dissatisfied with the theory. The issue is not whether natural selection does occur; the question is whether the basic framework of neo-Darwinism-the natural selection of random mutations-is sufficient to account for most, if not all evolutionary change; for such is the claim of the modern "synthetic" theory.." (Ho M.W. & Saunders P.T., "Beyond neo-Darwinism – An Epigenetic Approach to Evolution", Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 78, pp.573-591, 1979, p.574. Emphasis in original.) ==================== "It is our contention that if 'random' [chance] is gieven a serious and crucial interpretation from a probabilistic point of view, the randomness postulate is highly implausible and that an adequate scientific theory of evolution must awaite the discovery and elucidation of new natural laws, physical, chemical and biological." (Murray Eden [at the time prof. of electrical engingeering at MIT] in his paper, "Inadequacies of Neo-Darwinian Evolution as a Scientific Theory" in "Mathematical Challenges to the Neo-Darwinian Interpretation", pg. 109) ======================= "Morgan, Goldschmidt, Muller, and other geneticists have subjected generations of fruit flies to extreme conditions of heat, cold, light, dark, and treatment by chemicals and radiation. All sorts of mutations, practically all trivial or positively deleterious, have been produced. Man-made evolution? Not really: Few of the geneticists' monsters could have survived outside the bottles they were bred in. In practice mutants die, are sterile, or tend to revert to the wild type." (Michael Pitman, Adam and Evolution, London: River Publishing, 1984, p. 70. ) ======================= "In the midst of his outpouring of anger at and dismissal of Goldschmidt, Dobzhansky neglected to consider the fact that while Goldschmidt's systemic mutations may not have been observed, neither had the mechanisms of speciation that he, or anyone else, for the matter, had proposed. Rather, Dobzhansky, as others did and would do, took for granted that, with enough time, the kinds of small mutations and changes that were observed in laboratory experiments on fruit-fly population genetics were also capable of producing the degrees of differences that seem to characterize species in the wild. To be sure, there was a certain logic in the belief that it was unnecessary to postulate another mechanism for evolutionary change when one already appeared to exist. This logic also seemed to benefit from the assertion that not only had no other mechanism been observed but that no other mechanism had yet produced species. Nevertheless, it was and still is the case that, with the exception of Dobzhansky's claim about a new species of fruit fly, the formation of a new species, by any mechanism, has never been observed." (Schwartz J.H., "Sudden Origins: Fossils, Genes, and the Emergence of Species," John, Wiley & Sons: New York NY, 1999, pp.299-300) ====================== "Mutation does not introduce new levels of complexity, and it cannot be shown that it is a step in the right direction. […] there is no experimental evidence to show that a new animal organism or even a novel structural features has ever been produced from the raw material produced by mutation." (Davis, P., and Kenyon, D., Of Pandas and People, Haughton Publishing Company, Dallas, TX (1993) ===================== "The essence of Darwinism lies in a single phrase: natural selection is the creative force of evolutionary change. No one denies that natural selection will play a negative role in eliminating the unfit. Darwinian theories require that it create the fit as well." (Stephen Jay Gould (Professor of Geology and Paleontology, Harvard University), "The return of hopeful monsters". Natural History, vol. LXXXVI(6), June-Jule 1977, p. 28.) ====================== "The Darwinian theory is wrong because random variations tend to worsen performance, as indeed common sense suggests they must do." (Sir Fred Hoyle, well-known British mathematician, astronomer and cosmologist in The Intelligent Universe) ======================== "The facts of microevolution do not suffice for an understanding of macroevolution." (Goldschmidt, Richard B. (1940), The Material Basis of Evolution, New Haven Connecticut: Yale University Press, p. 8) ========================= "We conclude-unexpectedly-that there is little evidence for the neo- Darwinian view: its theoretical foundations and the experimental evidence supporting it are weak, and there is no doubt that mutations of large effect are sometimes important in adaptation." (Orr, H. Allen [Center for Population Biology, University of California, Davis], & Coyne, Jerry A. [Department of Ecology and Evolution, University of Chicago], "The Genetics of Adaptation: A Reassessment," The American Naturalist, Vol. 140, No. 5, November 1992, p.726) ======================= "And as Darwinists and neo-Darwinists have become ever more adept at finding possible selective advantages for any trait one cares to mention, explanation in terms of the all-powerful force of natural selection has come more and more to resemble explanation in terms of the conscious design of the omnipotent Creator." (Ho, Mae-Wan [Biologist, The Open University, UK] & Saunders, Peter T. [Mathematician, University of London], eds., "Beyond Neo- Darwinism: An Introduction to the New Evolutionary Paradigm," Academic Press: London, 1984, pp.ix-x) ==================== "Most important of all, the discoveries of molecular biologists, far from strengthening Darwin's claims, are throwing more and more doubt on traditional Darwinism. At a fundamental level of molecular structure, each member of a class seems equally representative of that class, and no species appear to be in any real sense "intermediate" between 2 classes." (Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis) ====================== "It is true that both genuine homologous resemblance, that is, where phenomenon has a clear genetic and embryological basis (which as we have seen above is far less common than is often presumed), and the hierarchic patterns of class relationships are suggestive of some kind of theory of descent. But neither tell us anything about how the descent or evolution might have occurred, as to whether the process was gradual or sudden, or as to whether the causal mechanism was Darwinian, Lamarckian, vitalistic or even creationist. Such a theory of descent is therefore devoid of any significant meaning and equally compatible with almost any philosophy of nature." (Denton M.J. [Senior Research Fellow in Human Molecular Genetics, University of Otago, New Zealand], "Evolution: A Theory in Crisis," Burnett Books: London, 1985, pp154-155) ===================== "There is a theory which states that many living animals can be observed over the course of time to undergo changes so that new species are formed. This can be called the "Special Theory of Evolution " and can be demonstrated in certain cases by experiments. On the other hand there is the theory that all the living forms in the world have arisen from a single source which itself came from an inorganic form. This theory can be called the "General Theory of Evolution" and the evidence that supports it is not sufficiently strong to allow us to consider it as anything more than a working hypothesis. It is not clear whether the changes that bring about speciation are of the same nature as those that brought about the development of new phyla. The answer will be found by future experimental work and not by dogmatic assertions that the General Theory of Evolution must be correct because there is nothing else that will satisfactorily take its place." (Kerkut, G.A. [Department of Physiology and Biochemistry, University of Southampton, UK], "Implications of Evolution," in Kerkut G.A., ed. "International Series of Monographs on Pure and Applied Biology, Division: Zoology," Volume 4, Pergamon Press: New York NY, 1960, p.157) ========================= "The known fossil record fails to document a single example of phyletic evolution…" (Steven Stanley, Macroevolution: Pattern and Process, 1979, page 39.) ========================== "When we view Darwinian gradualism on a geological timescale, we may expect to find in the fossil record a long series of intermediate forms connecting phenotypes of ancestral and descendant populations. This predicted pattern is called phyletic gradualism. Darwin recognized that phyletic gradualism is not often revealed by the fossil record. Studies conducted since Darwin's time likewise have failed to produce the continuous series of fossils predicted by phyletic gradualism. Is the theory of gradualism therefore refuted? Darwin and others claim that it is not, because the fossil record is too imperfect to preserve transitional series…Others have argued, however, that the abrupt origins and extinctions of species in the fossil record force us to conclude that phyletic gradualism is rare. " "A number of contemporary biologists, however, favor various hypotheses of the punctuated equilibrium theory…They base their hypotheses on fossil records which have large "chains" of missing organisms. Although missing-link fossils are occasionally discovered, the record does little to support Darwin's concept of gradual, long-term change…Others opposed to hypotheses of evolution through sudden change argue that because such a tiny percentage of organisms becomes fossilized…drawing definite conclusions from fossil evidence about evolution through either gradual or sudden change is not warranted." (Hickman, C.P. [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Washington and Lee University in Lexington], L.S. Roberts [Professor Emeritus of Biology at Texas Tech University], and A. Larson. 2000. Animal Diversity. McGraw Hill, NY. 429pp.; (p. 23) ====================== "Palaeobiologists flocked to these scientific visions of a world in a constant state of flux and admixture. But instead of finding the slow, smooth and progressive changes Lyell and Darwin had expected, they saw in the fossil records rapid bursts of change, new species appearing seemingly out of nowhere and then remaining unchanged for millions of years-patterns hauntingly reminiscent of creation." (Pagel M. [Research fellow, Department of Zoology and Hertford College, Oxford University], "Happy accidents?" Nature, Vol 397, 25 February 1999, p.665) ====================== "Despite a close watch, we have witnessed no new species emerge in the wild in recorded history. Also, most remarkably, we have seen no new animal species emerge in domestic breeding. That includes no new species of fruitflies in hundreds of millions of generations in fruitfly studies, where both soft and harsh pressures have been deliberately applied to the fly populations to induce speciation. And in computer life, where the term "species" does not yet have meaning, we see no cascading emergence of entirely new kinds of variety beyond an initial burst. In the wild, in breeding, and in artificial life, we see the emergence of variation. But by the absence of greater change, we also clearly see that the limits of variation appear to be narrowly bounded, and often bounded within species." (Kelly, Kevin [Executive Editor of Wired Magazine], "Out of Control: The New Biology of Machines," [1994], Fourth Estate: London, 1995, reprint, p.475). =========================== "Then the mathematical properties of the complex model will be investigated …. Thereafter … we shall be in a position to discuss the extent to which the neo-Darwinian theory can be considered to work and the extent to which it cannot. To anticipate the eventual outcome it will be found that, subject to the choice of a highly sophisticated reproductive model, the theory works at the level of varieties and species, just as it was found empirically to do by biologists from the mid-nineteenth century onward. But the theory does not work at broader taxonomic levels; it cannot explain the major steps in evolution. For them, something not considered in the Darwinian theory is essential." (Hoyle, Fred [Professor of Astronomy, Cambridge University], "Mathematics of Evolution," [1987], Acorn Enterprises: Memphis TN, 1999, p.10) ======================= "Evolution at the level of populations and species might, in some cases, appear as nearly continuous change accompanied by divergence to occupy much of the available morphospace. However, this is certainly not true for long-term, large-scale evolution, such as that of the metazoan phyla, which include most of the taxa that formed the basis for the evolutionary synthesis. The most striking features of large-scale evolution are the extremely rapid divergence of lineages near the time of their origin, followed by long periods in which basic body plans and ways of life are retained. What is missing are the many intermediate forms hypothesized by Darwin, and the continual divergence of major lineages into the morphospace between distinct adaptive types." (Carroll, Robert L. (2000). Towards a new evolutionary synthesis. Trends in Ecology & Evolution 15:27-32) ========================== "In a generous admission Francisco Ayala, a major figure in propounding the Modern Synthesis in the United States, said "We would not have predicted stasis from population genetics, but I am now convinced from what the paleontologists say that small changes do not accumulate." "The central question of the Chicago conference was whether the mechanisms underlying microevolution can be extrapolated to explain the phenomena of macroevolution. At the risk of doing violence to the positions of some of the people at the meeting, the answer can be given as a clear, No." (Lewin, R., "Evolutionary Theory Under Fire," Science, 210:883, 1980. ======================= "[L]arge evolutionary innovations are not well understood. None has ever been observed, and we have no idea whether any may be in progress. There is no good fossil record of any." (Wesson, R., 1991, Beyond Natural Selection, MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, p. 206) ===================== "…we have proffered a collective tacit acceptance of the story of gradual adaptive change, a story that strengthened and became even more entrenched as the synthesis took hold. We paleontologists have said that the history of life supports that interpretation, all the while really knowing that it does not." (Eldredge, Niles, [Chairman and Curator of Invertebrates, American Museum of Natural History], "Time Frames: The Rethinking of Darwinian Evolution and the Theory of Punctuated Equilibria," Simon & Schuster: New York NY, 1985, p144) ========================= "The absence of fossil evidence for intermediary stages between major transitions in organic design, indeed our inability, even in our imagination, to construct functional intermediates in many cases, has been a persistent and nagging problem for gradualistic accounts of evolution." (Gould, 1982a, p 140) ========================= "The Modern Synthesis is a remarkable achievement. However, starting in the 1970s, many biologists began questioning its adequacy in explaining evolution. Genetics might be adequate for explaining microevolution, but microevolutionary changes in gene frequency were not seen as able to turn a reptile into a mammal or to convert a fish into an amphibian. Microevolution looks at adaptations that concern only the survival of the fittest, not the arrival of the fittest. As Goodwin (1995) points out, "the origin of species — Darwin's problem — remains unsolved." (Scott Gilbert, John Opitz, and Rudolf Raff (1996) "Resynthesizing Evolutionary and Developmental Biology," Developmental Biology 173, Article No. 0032, 1996, p. 361) ======================== "New concepts and information from molecular developmental biology, systematics, geology and the fossil record of all groups of organisms, need to be integrated into an expanded evolutionary synthesis. These fields of study show that large-scale evolutionary phenomena cannot be understood solely on the basis of extrapolation from processes observed at the level of modern populations and species." (Carroll R.L., "Towards a new evolutionary synthesis," Trends in Ecology and Evolution, 2000, Vol. 15, pp.27-32) =========================== "A large number of well-trained scientists outside of evolutionary biology and paleontology have unfortunately gotten the idea that the fossil record is far more Darwinian than it is. This probably comes from the oversimplification inevitable in secondary sources: low-level textbooks, semipopular articles, and so on. Also, there is probably some wishful thinking involved. In the years after Darwin, his advocates hoped to find predictable progressions. In general these have not been found yet the optimism has died hard, and some pure fantasy has crept into textbooks." (Raup, David M. [Professor of Geology, University of Chicago], "Evolution and the Fossil Record," Science, Vol. 213, No. 4505, 17 July 1981, p.289) ======================= "Neo-Darwinism has failed as an evolutionary theory that can explain the origin of species, understood as organisms of distinctive form and behaviour. In other words, it is not an adequate theory of evolution. What it does provide is a partial theory of adaptation, or microevolution (small- scale adaptive changes in organisms)." (Goodwin, Brian [Professor of Biology, Open University, UK], "Neo-Darwinism has failed as an evolutionary theory," The Times Higher Education Supplement, May 19, 1995) ======================== "there are limits to the development possible [via selective breeding], and these limits follow a law." (Luther Burbank, famous breeder, in Norman Macbeth, Darwin Retried: An Appeal to Reason, p. 36. ) ===================== "I well remember how the synthetic theory beguiled me with its unifying power when I was a graduate student in the mid-1960's. Since then I have been watching it slowly unravel as a universal description of evolution. The molecular assault came first, followed quickly by renewed attention to unorthodox theories of speciation and by challenges at the level of macroevolution itself. I have been reluctant to admit it-since beguiling is often forever-but if Mayr's characterization of the synthetic theory is accurate, then that theory, as a general proposition, is effectively dead, despite its persistence as textbook orthodoxy." (Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA], "Is a new and general theory of evolution emerging?," Paleobiology, Vol. 6, No. 1, January 1980, p.120) ======================= "The principal problem is morphological stasis. A theory is only as good as its predictions, and conventional neo-Darwinism, which claims to be a comprehensive explanation of evolutionary process, has failed to predict the widespread long-term morphological stasis now recognized as one of the most striking aspects of the fossil record." (Williamson, Peter G. [Assistant Professor of Geology, Harvard University], "Morphological stasis and developmental constraint: real problems for neo-Darwinism", Nature, Vol. 294, 19 November 1981, p.214) ========================= "At the higher level of evolutionary transition between basic morphological designs, gradualism has always been in trouble, though it remains the "official" position of most Western evolutionists. Smooth intermediates between Bauplane are almost impossible to construct, even in thought experiments; there is certainly no evidence for them in the fossil record (curious mosaics like Archaeopteryx do not count). Even so convinced a gradualist as G. G. Simpson (1944) invoked quantum evolution and inadaptive phases to explain these transitions." (Gould, Stephen Jay [Professor of Zoology and Geology, Harvard University, USA] & Eldredge, Niles [Chairman and Curator of Invertebrates, American Museum of Natural History], "Punctuated equilibria: the tempo and mode of evolution reconsidered," Paleobiology, Vol. 3, 1977, pp.115-147, p.147) ======================== "Such a threshold model is in accord with Mayr's notion of the `genetic revolution' occurring in small, isolated, and inbreeding populations; merely the terms are different. But all such schemes suffer from the fundamental weakness of evolutionary biology: they are extremely difficult to test and therefore remain metaphors. We do not yet know enough about the developmental biology of organisms to know whether such ideas are consistent with the way in which development actually works." (Thomson, Keith Stewart [Professor of Biology and Dean of the Graduate School, Yale University, USA], "The Meanings of Evolution," American Scientist, Vol. 70, pp.529-531, September- October 1982, p.531) ===================== "More recent scientific insights indicate that neo-Darwinism is at best a partial explanation of how biological evolution occurs. The demise of Darwinian theory as a *full* explanation in no way alters the firm consensus of science that the universe has evolved. There is at the moment not one competing theory which can account for the observed facts." "To say that there is a complete consensus among scientists that evolution has occurred does not mean there is complete understanding of the underlying mechanisms, or ways, in which evolution has occurred. Far from it. While evolution is a fact, how it occurs will always be the subject of debate. This is the fascination of science. To put it another way, there is no dispute about the fact that evolution has occurred but there is dispute among scientists about how it has occurred." (Price, Barry [former Director, School Physics Project, Australian Academy of Science], "The Creation Science Controversy," Millennium Books: Sydney, 1990, p8. Italics in original. note: So, Evolutionists claim it is a `fact' that evolution has occurred even though they don't know how it occurred) ========================== "Paleontologists had long been aware of a seeming contradiction between Darwin's postulate of gradualism … and the actual findings of paleontology. Following phyletic lines through time seemed to reveal only minimal gradual changes but no clear evidence for any change of a species into a different genus or for the gradual origin of an evolutionary novelty. Anything truly novel always seemed to appear quite abruptly in the fossil record." (Mayr, E., 1991, One Long Argument: Charles Darwin and the Genesis of Modern Evolutionary Thought, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, p. 138) ==================== "Gradual evolutionary change by natural selection operates so slowly within established species that it cannot account for the major features of evolution." (Steven M. Stanley (Dept. of Earth and PLanetary Sciences, the Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA), "A theory of evolution above the species level." ========================= "The known fossil record is not, and has never has been, in accord with gradualism. What is remarkable is that, through a variety of historical circumstances, even the history of opposition has been obscured. … 'The majority of paleontologists felt their evidence simply contradicted Darwin's stress on minute, slow, and cumulative changes leading to species transformation.' … their story has been suppressed." "[F]or more than a century biologists have portrayed the evolution of life as a gradual unfolding … Today the fossil record … is forcing us to revise this conventional view." (Stanley, S. M., 198
  255. Mr Lynn says:

    Well, that is a nice collection of interesting quotes, but it’s my bedtime, so I’ll demur. I would suggest that in a blog thread like this, it is perhaps more appropriate to offer a judicious quote or two in support of one’s position, with links for the adventurous, rather than an encyclopedia of cut-and-paste.

    Then, our host and others here might have a different view.

    /Mr Lynn

  256. M. Simon says:

    Fracisco,

    Care to cut that down to a paragraph I’m willing to read? Since I didn’t read it I find your arguments unpersuasive.

    Been to shul yet?

    BTW if you don”t know your subject well enough to make your own arguments my estimation is that you are ignorant re: the subject at hand.

  257. Francisco says:

    I don’t have any concrete position on these matters except one of vast agnosticism (you may call it proud ignorance) regarding how the universe began, whether it did, how life began and how it evolved. Regarding the first two, I think nobody has a clue how it all started. Regarding evolution, I think it is obvious it has taken place, and is taking place, but again I don’t think we understand the mechanism that has driven it in any acceptable sense of the word understanding. But I do like to read the discussions on the topic, and the heat they provoke. Devoted neo-darwinians are unified by a belief that we DO have a pretty adequate understanding. They are also unified by a misunderstanding of the intentions of skeptics. They think a dangerous religious fundamentalist lurks behind every skeptic, just like the enthusiasts of catastrophic AGW see a potential hater of the Earth in every question by a skeptic or denier. The neo-darwinians have forced themselves on the edge of a very thin razor. On the one hand, the process they envision must needs be utterly blind — everything else smacks of some kind of theism to them. God forbid that matter may be following any kind of pre-set path. They thus invoke a process that consists in what they call “random” mutations exquisitly (but patiently) selected by a wise dame they call “natural selection.” This dame also must be blind. And as it turns out, totally passive as well. It proceeds by allowing the survivors to survive, and allowing the extinct to go extinct, none of which seems to require much effort. And by this method, elementary particles are by and by allowed to configure themselves into all kinds of fantastically complex structures, able to write symphonies, demonstrate the irrationality of the square root of two, an do myriads of other unnecessary things. There is also a fundamental contradiction in the assumed relations between complexity and fitness. It is assumed that complexity is acquired as a result of (or in order to) increasing fitness. And yet it is obvious that simpler structures are much more durable, hence much “fitter” than complex ones. It seems indisputable that the simplest organisms have been around, and will be around, much longer than the most complex ones, so it is difficult to see in what sense the latter are “fitter,” and even more difficult to see in what sense their complexity is a result of an endless quest for more fitness. If anything, it looks rather the opposite. More complexity equals less fitness. It follows that the basic notions of this tale — random mutations, selection, fitness — are not to be taken very seriously because they dissolve rather quickly under cursory examination, just like the various aspects of the AGW house of cards dissolve by the same methods.

    When pressed for explanations, the mechanically minded neo-darwinians are apt to attempt to illuminate you by saying that the “random” mutations are not really random, and that selection and fitness are not really that simple. That’s how you get phrases like “the preferences of the chemical bond” to appear as more plausible explanations for what drives the show. Aside from the fact that the word “preference” seems to contain a scandalous amount of volition, these kinds of “explanations” inevitably end up endangering the sacred “blindness” that is required of the process, because sooner or later somebody will make snide comments to the effect that the “preferences of the chemical bond” seem to have a remarkably sophisticated taste and capacity to undertake and carry out long-term grandiose projects, like for example, pollination, visual systems, the brains of mathematicians…to name just a few. All engendered by the “preferences of the chemical bond.”

    In the end, one is reminded of that passage in a play by Molière, where a student of medicine is going through his oral examination. The tribunal of doctors asks him this question: “Why does opium make people sleepy?” And the student replies: “Because it has a dormitive virtue, the nature of which is to drowse the senses.” And the doctors exclaim in unison: “Excellent answer” [In the goofy Latin of the play, it goes something like this:

    Quare opium facit dormire?
    Quia est in eo virtus dormitiva, cujus est natura sensus assoupire.

    And that’s pretty much where we are at with the “preferences of the chemical bond” as a driver for evolution.

    The list of quotes are merely given to illustrate the entertaining cacophony, the din, the mess, the state of the art, as it were.

  258. M. Simon says:

    Accretion seems to adequately explain a LOT.

    Genetic exchanges some more.

    Sexual exchange more.

    As I said way up thread. In 1,000 years things will be some clearer.

  259. M. Simon says:

    And by this method, elementary particles are by and by allowed to configure themselves into all kinds of fantastically complex structures, able to write symphonies, demonstrate the irrationality of the square root of two, an do myriads of other unnecessary things.

    All those things took a while. Even for humans.

    Well any way. Amino acids seem fundamental. We find them in space.

  260. Francisco says:

    Simon,
    We should hope that in 1000 years things will be less murky. But we should not hold our breath. In a sense, the more we learn, the more complicated the whole thing is, and the less we understand it. Things seemed simpler and easier in the times, only some three or four decades ago, when the gene was thought of in what today seem incredibly innocent terms. Same thing for the cell.

    As for the notion that “it took a while” for all this stuff to develop – yes and no. It all depends how blind you want the process to be. If you stick to the classic notion of “random” mutations, geological time seems vastly insufficient to many people. And other things seem to have developped with extraordinay celerity by *that* method. Humans and their brains, for example.

    On the other hand, if you lean toward the notion that the process is not “random” and blind, but rather somehow inbuilt in the properties of matter, then you have to admit that those supposedly thick IE advocates may actually have a point. All they are saying after all is that that process must be “front loaded” somehow, else it would not spontaneously and blindly give rise to what it has. At any rate, our current knowledge does not include any possibility of reducing biology to physics. It remains by and large a descriptive science, as far as I can see. We can describe with increasing detail the astonishingly complex world inside a cell, for example, but we really have no idea about the physical-chemical laws that guide such well synchronized choreography. In other words, we have a decent idea of what many of the different parts of it do, and we are learning more all the time. But the more we learn about what they do, the less we can understand what drives them to do it, and do it so well. The whole thing is so inscrutably complex that I don’t see much reason for optimism in figuring it out. Again, let’s keep in mind a crucial distinction: it is one thing to describe a process, and it is quite a different thing to explain it. We have not even scratched the surface of explanation yet.

    Here is a very cool video by Harvard.
    The inner life of the cell (3 minutes)

    http://tinyurl.com/l3uqkv

    Longer video of same, with narration (8 min):
    http://tinyurl.com/ygkzmed

    One innocent question we may ask is this: how do each of these innumerable differeent “actors” know when it’s their turn to come on the stage and deliver their “lines” with such precision, then exit the stage, then come again for the next part. How do they keep time, universal cell time, to keep things so well synchronized?

    And here is a review of EvelynFox Keller’s book “The Century of the Gene.” Some excerpts copied below.
    http://tinyurl.com/y9xz4ds
    […]
    But, Keller explains, DNA can’t copy itself on its own. It requires cooperating enzymes. Some enable transcription, others check the accuracy of transcription and some repair miscopied DNA. Worse, scientists discovered that the stretches of DNA that are transcribed into proteins are interrupted by vast areas of apparent “junk” DNA — as much as 97 percent of the human genome — which the enzyme machinery must edit out. Scientists then learned that in editing, the enzyme apparatus “chooses” what to cut, so one chunk of DNA can lead to various proteins and, perhaps, Keller writes, as many as hundreds per “gene.” Also, some proteins can arise from several different, redundant genes. What sequence now counts as the gene?

    Then there’s the obvious problem that within an organism every cell contains the same genes, yet cells differentiate into very different tissues. Some further mechanism in each cell must tell each gene whether to turn on or off and when. Here Keller, whose previous books include “Reflections on Gender and Science,” offers one of the gems that make one grateful for feminist historians of science: Assuming that the cytoplasm of a cell is purely passive, scientists drew the absurdly Aristotelian conclusion that sperm, pure nucleus, provides the activating force to the passive, cytoplasm-heavy egg cell.

    Keller uses an analysis of the cloning of Dolly the sheep to explain the flaws in this theory. If the genome (residing within the nucleus) holds the developmental program, why shouldn’t it be possible to clone a new organism from the nucleus of an adult cell, rather than by transferring the nucleus of an adult cell into an enucleated egg cell, as was done in Dolly’s case? Ian Wilmut’s success in cloning Dolly depended on a not-yet-understood relationship between the nucleus and the cytoplasm of the cell. Keller argues that the genetic program that tells a cell what proteins to make exists only in the complex regulatory dynamics of the cell as a whole, and the genetic program that makes each person “consists of, and lives in, the interactive complex made up of genomic structures and the vast network of cellular machinery in which those structures are embedded. It may even be that this program is irreducible — in the sense, that is, that nothing less complex than the organism itself is able to do the job.”

  261. M. Simon says:

    To believe life is inherent in the nature of the universe is one thing. To believe that man is its preferred shape is another.

    Mammals were a minor niche until an asteroid wiped out the dinosaurs.

    I believe life adapts to its circumstance and that there are path dependencies.

    It is not the same kind of belief (and at this point it is belief) as ID. (What is IE? InElegant Design? – that seems to fit)

  262. M. Simon says:

    Yeah and the complex nature of your interaction with your PC is not at all inherent in the design. And yet it evolved by accretion, addition, subtraction, and sharing from here and there. There are still remnants of DOS at the heart.

    I am not ready to ascribe to some Intelligent Designer that which I do not understand. Ask me again in 1,000 years. I may have a different answer.

  263. M. Simon says:

    Let me just add that 200 years ago the designer had more to do than he does today. I expect that trend to continue.

  264. James Jorgensen says:

    @M. Simon

    How does “God did it” differ from “nature did it”?

    Each one requires “faith” at some point…correct?

  265. M. Simon says:

    With Nature there is a chain of cause and effect. There is definite measurable evidence. Either the evidence supports a theory or it does not. Or the evidence is ambiguous and more is required.

    Now it is likely that with Nature you can get to a point where you run out of evidence. With the Maker did it: no evidence is required at any point.

  266. Jeff Alberts says:

    Now it is likely that with Nature you can get to a point where you run out of evidence. With the Maker did it: no evidence is required at any point.

    Not even evidence for a maker.

  267. James Jorgensen says:

    @M. Simon

    How do you explain Galileo and many others?

    Your theory defies history…does it not?

  268. Frank53 says:

    It seems to me that the scientific evidence that is used to say ‘Nature did it’ is the very same evidence that is used to say ‘God did it’ is the same evidence that is used to say ‘we don’t know who did it/how it was done.’ That evidence doesn’t seem to prove beyond question who did it or how it was done, although it often seems to be used by each camp to show clues that confirm their own BELIEF. And where there seems to be no evidence or no answers, each camp uses their particular presuppositions to religiously follow their own FAITH or to look for the evidence that matches that faith/belief.

    I contend that everyone religiously follows their own belief system/faith at least until their belief system is shaken, which usually will only happen outside of the realm of these types of discussions. It seems to happen more often in terms of broken relationships, death, or violence, or something similar that is often way more dramatic and personal and only when another belief system can bring the type of comfort or intellectual satisfaction or peace or hope that their current belief couldn’t or wouldn’t or at least hasn’t to that point.

    I’m surprised (and a little offended, although I’ll get over it ) when people say that those who believe in God “don’t need evidence,” or that “the evidence doesn’t matter to them,” or something similar. If you think about it, it’s the same as saying “we really don’t know how it all started, or how it actually all evolved, but we BELIEVE that ‘Nature did it.’” In some ways none of us are that different than each other – we all seem to need something to believe in.

  269. M. Simon says:

    Frank53,

    The question is: which camp can make better predictions?

    Or to put it more scientifically: what can you infer from “God did it”? What will you expect to see on some brand new bit of DNA?

    http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/090214-weird-life.html

    http://technology.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/tech_and_web/article6799723.ece

    This one is really good:
    http://nanotechnologytoday.blogspot.com/2008/05/scientists-make-chemical-cousin-of-dna.html

  270. M. Simon says:

    Science is about making better predictions and getting better accuracy.

    Theories are judged not only by how they integrate knowns but also how well they predict unknowns.

    What amazes me is that Quantum Electrodynamics is so good that it can predict to 1 part in ten to the eighteenth.

  271. vigilantfish says:

    Chiefio:

    Just happened on this thread today and could not resist responding to one of your comments. The Catholic Church never killed its followers for reading the Bible. This was a hateful Protestant myth that was created early in the Reformation, which was a time of terrible religious persecution and killings.

    What are the origins of this myth?

    First of all, Protestants gained their authority from the Book, and rejected the traditions of the Catholic Church, many of the teachings of which are derived from the early Church fathers, rather than the scriptures alone. Therefore the way they could vilify the Catholic Church was by convincing their followers that the Roman Catholic Church forbade people from reading the Bible.

    Now there are a few factors in the history of technology and publishing books that come into play here. The first is that for most of the pre-Reformation history of Christianity, books were exceedingly expensive and rare. The Bible would take over a year to copy (Less time if several scribes were involved), but before the arrival of paper-making in Europe (effectively in the late 11th century) even the steep cost of transcription was exceeded by the cost of the materials required for writing: parchment (made from the hides of calves) was so expensive that in the Medieval period old books were frequently scraped to remove existing texts and the scraped pages were then written over (such books are called palimpsests). Therefore, prior to the coming of paper, the Bible was a rare book – few people owned one and it was probably even quite a feat for a parish Church to acquire one. The chance that the laity would be able to read the Bible, even if they had the literacy skills, was exceedingly low – especially since all Bibles were in Latin, while most people communicated in vernacular tongues.

    Even after paper making technology arrived in Europe from Islam, the price of hiring scribes to transcribe texts was exceedingly high – especially after many clerics were wiped out by the Black Death in the years around 1350. The Bible remained a rare book – although obviously much more common than any other book in Christendom.

    What changed the whole equation was the arrival of the Printing Press in 1447, which made the mass production of books possible for the first time in history. It is interesting that, according to Elizabeth Eisenstein, the historian of the printing press, argues that the big money-maker for printers in the early print era was the publication of horoscopes. However, the printing press finally made the Bible widely available – and I have not heard of any reports of the Catholic Church killing those who dared to read this book during the Renaissance (the idea is absurd). Now it became possible to set up the book itself as an authority as opposed to the Church, and the printing press set the stage for the Reformation, a rebellion against a highly corrupt Catholic Church, which ushered in an era of change, the shattering of Christendom, but also much-needed reform in the Church. How better to vilify the Catholic Church than to argue that it even forbade its non-clerical followers to read the Bible? The motto of many of the protestant denominations was “Sola Scriptura” – only the Bible has authority.

    Hope this is of interest to you.

  272. E.M.Smith says:

    @vigilantfish:

    At the risk of re-igniting a religious war and / or causing the thread to reawaken for another 20000 comments ;-0

    There was a prohibition with penalty at a time when folks were killed for trivial things. I didn’t look long enough to find any specific reference to “killing for Bible possession” but that the prohibition was real is not just an accident of expensive parchment / velum:

    Begin Quotes:

    The Synod of Toulouse, 1229, presided over by the papal legate, celebrated the close of the Albigensian crusades and perfected the code of the Inquisition. It has an unenviable distinction among the great synods on account of its decree forbidding laymen to have the Bible in their possession.–David S. Schaff, History of the Christian Church, Vol. 5, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Company

    After the death of Innocent III, the Synod of Toulouse directed in 1229 its fourteenth canon against the misuse of Sacred Scripture on the part of the Cathari: “prohibemus, ne libros Veteris et Novi Testamenti laicis permittatur habere” (Hefele, “Concilgesch”, Freiburg, 1863, V, 875). In 1233 the Synod of Tarragona issued a similar prohibition in its second canon, but both these laws are intended only for the countries subject to the jurisdiction of the respective synods (Hefele, ibid., 918).—A. J. Maas, Scripture Catholic Encyclopedia, Vol. XIII, © 1912 by Robert Appleton Company; Online Edition © 2003/2004 by K. Knight; has Nihil Obstat & Imprimatur.

    English translation of the full text of the canon:

    Canon 14. We prohibit also that the laity should be permitted to have the books of the Old or New Testament; unless anyone from motive of devotion should wish to have the Psalter or the Breviary for divine offices or the hours of the blessed Virgin; but we most strictly forbid their having any translation of these books.–S. R. Maitland, Facts and Documents, Rivington, 1832, pp. 192-194.; cited in Heresy and Authority in Medieval Europe, Edward Peters, Ed. © 1980 by Edward Peters, pp. 194-195

    A number of Catholic theological books support the allegation that reading vernacular translations of the Bible indeed was severely restricted throughout the Catholic Church for nearly two centuries; and absolutely prohibited in Spain until 1782.

    The reading of the Bible in the vernacular was never unconditionally forbidden, though the reading of unauthorized versions was prohibited, and from 1564 to 1757 the reading of vernacular versions without permission of parish priest or confessor. This regulation, though technically withdrawn only in the latter year, had fallen into general deseutide for almost a century previously, and had been limited by many local exemptions. Only in Spain did a decree of the Spanish Inquisition totally forbid Bible-reading in the vernacular; this decree was withdrawn in 1782–John Gilmary Shea, Ed., The Catholic Educator: A Library of Catholic Instruction and Devotion, “Vernacular Bibles,” (C) 1902 by Thomas Kelly, p. 544 has Imprimitur

    A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, by Landon, informs us on the Synod of Toulouse: “Canon 14: Forbids the laity to have in their possession any copy of the books of the Old and New Testament (except the Psalter, and such portions of them as are contained in the Breviary, or the Hours of the Blessed Virgin), most strictly forbids these works in the vulgar tongue.” (A Manual of Councils of the Holy Catholic Church, (Rev. Edward Landon. M.A., 1909, Edinburgh, v2, pp. 171-2)

    End Quotes.

    Don’t know that it particularly merits much angst. (One parent of mine is Catholic, the other Church of England; and I’m basically neutral between them). The Inquisition was a nutty time and folks were killed for the stupidest of reasons. My major point was only that folks “get over things” and both the Catholic Church moved on AND the Protestants tossing rocks at them moved on as well.

    So do I think thousands were killed wholesale by the Catholic Church for Bible Possession? Nope. Do I expect that a long search would turn up a couple of folks killed for possessing the wrong kind of Bible during the Inquisition? Yup. Hey, folks were killed just because some Bishop didn’t like them or they sank instead of floated in some trial by ordeal or other… I’m sure somewhere someone had a chip on their shoulder…

    BUT – we all ‘got over it’. And today most Protestants and Catholics would be hard pressed to explain what all the “iconoclasts” and reformation were about…

    Heck, there was a time (which I remember) when “marrying outside your religion” caused much angst about who would convert to what. Now I’ve got “Catholic / Jewish” and Protestant / Jewish” and “Catholic / Protestant” and “Mormon / Catholic” and “Atheist / Protestant” and … couples all as family friends. And nobody even knows and certainly doesn’t care in substantially all the cases.

    There is even, now, a version of the Bible approved by their respective churches for all of Protestant, Catholic, and Eastern Orthodox followers. (Though Jehovah’s Witnesses still want the name Jehovah used, so have their own version with that in it; and the Southern Baptists still have some trivial point they are hung up on – that I can’t even remember despite going to Southern Baptist church for about 20 years of my life as a kid / young adult). It’s got a few notes in it saying, in essence, “Catholics read these books, Protestants those” and “Catholics interpret this as FOO while Protestants interpret it as BAR” (for things like “images of Mary” not being an Idol…)

    And the Inquisition is nowhere in sight. Thank God…

    Now if we could just get the Muslims to accept a little divergent belief among others and that maybe we don’t have the EXACT Bible Mohammed preached from: but the Coptic (which is what it could easily have been) and the Peshitta (which is what it most likely was) versions do not differ in significant ways from the Catholic or Protestant versions. (Yes, I’ve read them… not quite cover to cover, but large sections). Maybe we’d be on our way to a more peaceful world.

    THAT Mohammed preached from the Bible is not in doubt. WHY it’s “off with your head” for distributing Bibles only became clear in the context of that “The One True Bible is lost” edict. So the Koran is supposed to completely replace that lost pristine Bible… yet tells folks to follow the guidance in The Book… Oh Well. Logical consistency has never been a strong point of Muslim moral codes of conduct and the edicts of Mullahs.

    So my point was only that if the Catholics who had a similar attitude about controlling exactly what Bible was OK and for whom can “get over it” then maybe we all could…

    And even checking back to The Dead Sea Scrolls and the Nag Hammadi library show remarkable stability to the Biblical narrative. It just doesn’t change much through the centuries. (I deliberated re-read all the Apocrypha a couple of years ago with a specific goal of figuring out what was of importance between Catholics and Protestants about those books – in both the King James and a non-KJV translation. My conclusion was that the ones “left out” were not very important, be they in or out. Maccabees, for example, is basically a rather dull history of one bit of the Jewish Royal line. It doesn’t teach much (so I can see leaving it out) but it doesn’t hurt anything either (other than deadening spirits re-reading it for the third time in yet another translation and still finding ‘not much’…)

    So I see parallels between the Protestant / Catholic mutual slaughter, of several centuries running, and the present Muslim / Christian conflicts and basically ask “If the Catholics could get over their nuttiness about Bible possession, and the Protestants can get over their nuttiness about ‘idols’ and ‘heretical Books of the Apocrypha’; could not there be hope for the Muslims to get over their nuttiness about The Bible”

    Especially given that we can probably with a bit of care figure out almost exactly what Bible he was preaching from? ( I just don’t know if he originated in an Aramaic / Peshitta area like Syria or more down toward Egypt (Coptic area)… but wherever it was, that’s the Bible. Just figure it out and move on… My guess would be that it was the Coptic as that’s very close to old Arabic and was common on the Arabian Peninsula, but if he “converted” up near Syria, then Aramaic / Peshitta has the nod. And in either case, they are substantially the same.

    I guess I’m arguing for sort of a “Mormon” solution. You tack on your books as the “update” but accept that the Torah has not changed in 2000 years and that the New Testament is pretty much as written in the Septuagint and Vulgate. And make some footnotes about where you think “the other guys” got some of the interpretation a bit off…

    Well, I’m starting to wander… (“Starting”? I can here you gasp ;-)

    So while I’m pretty sure some folks were killed and certainly were threatened with death over Bible Possession thanks to the Inquisition; I’m not really worked up over saying “maybe not many” and mostly just care about “and we got over it” whatever EXACTLY “it” was…

  273. M. Simon says:

    Jews have been required to read Hebrew for thousands of years specifically in order to read the Torah. It is what Bar Mitzvah and in the modern age Bat Mitzvah is all about.

    REPLY: [ If it were up to me, I’d simply “delegate” all old testament translation and interpretation to Jewish authorities and let them tell both the Christians and the Muslims what it means. It’s there set of books and their language… who better to know what it says. For the New Testament having a process like that which has lead to an “acceptable to Catholics and Protestants” Bible looks like a good place to put the ‘authority for veracity” of the New Testament. Then Mormons and Muslims could each add on “their books” with their interpretation of how they think their bits change things…. Unfortunately, it’s not up to me and nobody seems willing to delegate the earlier portions to a different “source of authority”… Sad, really, as the potential for reconciliation is present ( even if very dilute…) So human power lust and hunger for dominance wins out over searching for truth… -E. M. Smith ]

  274. vigilantfish says:

    E.M. Smith,

    Thanks for your lengthy response. I in the meantime asked my husband, who has a Master’s in Theological Studies and studied the Reformation as a history student, about this issue, as I was going from my own history of technology and vague history background. He tells me that the prohibition against reading the Bible was not a widespread practice until the Reformation, and then it was in response to the various break-away Churches which were all freely interpreting the Bible according to the individual preferences of various protestant religious leaders. The response of the Church was to crack down on reading the Bible, so that the interpretation remained in the hands of trained theologians and priests. While unfortunately numerous people died from religious repression during the Reformation, I do not believe that the Catholic Church actually put its own followers to death in response to Bible reading. It was already in an increasingly precarious position. Much of the bloodshed occurred at the instigation of secular authorities who were in the process of building their power bases free from religious oversight – leading to the era of absolute monarchy.
    I looked up the Synod of Toulouse and see that it is directed specifically at translations of the Bible, and particularly at the Albigensian heresy. Translations are a tricky business, and I suppose that the Church was worried about heterodox interpretations being smuggled into the Bible through loose translations. The Albigensians were a strange lot, some of whom practiced homosexuality and forbade marriage because they believed the body was evil and it was wrong to bring children into the world – they were believers in gnosticism – the body-spirit duality that saw the material world as evil. The Church was enormously worried about this heresy, and responded vehemently, and bloodily. It is very difficult to find reliable sources on Church history online, as there is much material that parades as being scholarly which is actually hate-material. I’m not denying the horrors of the Spanish Inquisition, but often the history of the Catholic Church as conveyed by modern secular sources is tainted by the interpretations of earlier protestant historians who viewed the church as the Great Whore of Babylon.

    What is curious is that the Catholic Church is treated by modern secular society as if its Medieval actions were extraordinary in their blood-thirsty nastiness – but if you look at the secular and larger society around them – including the actions of the invading Mongols, Muslims etc. the Church was actually quite restrained, although hardly always behaving like a messenger of Christ. Certainly the actions of the Church leadership in the Renaissance merited the protestant response and led to the necessity of the Reformation – too much power did lead to corruption.

    As a professor I teach Muslim students – and see the more fanatical of them as something as a worry. You express the hope they will get over their nuttiness. What I experience is that they have a complete disregard for history as a rational exercise. I’ve been told by more than one that the ancient Greeks owed the development of their math and science (circa 500-300 B.C.) to the Muslims (who only came into existence 1300 years later in the 8th century). I receive this information after teaching them about the history of science in ancient times. There seems to be a powerful disconnect between their beliefs and their openness to historical fact. In another example, over 20 years ago at a party, a Muslim engineering prof. told my father, who was a history professor, that Istanbul was always Muslim – it never had a Christian past. My father discussed the founding of Constantinople, and its role under Constantine and later as a seat of the Catholic and later the Eastern Orthodox Church to no avail. This man regarded it the height of impertinence that anyone should claim that Istanbul was ever not Muslim. Very worrying as these are educated Muslims. Mind you, I also know some very reasonable Muslim individuals.

    I very much enjoyed your thoughts in this thread, and am in agreement with your intentions and most of your ideas. Thank you for the vital work that you are doing in analyzing the temperature records. Once I’m more solvent I’ll send a donation in your direction.

    REPLY: [ Thanks in advance… Yeah, there’s a whole lot of stupid in the world. More than enough for ‘all sides’. (Look at how often folks, trying to be ‘inclusive’, talk about the “Three Great Religions” of Islam, Judaism, and Christianity… Apparently unaware of Buddhism, Hindu, Animists, Paganism, etc. in the modern world. But who needs to recognize Asia and Africa. FWIW, I know some Pagans. They are still around. Nice folks, too. In some ways more in touch with reality than the rest of us.)

    There seems to be a fairly constant long duration process (multi-generational) that religions go through. Islam started about 700 years later, so we’ve probably got another 500 to 700 years for “their reformation” and until then it looks like The Inquisition all over again… One just hopes that the process can go faster in the modern world and / or the the whole idea of a consistent process is not just “nuttiness” on my part (sample size is way too low to be valid) and we don’t end up sliding back into global chaos from religious wars again. Slaughtering each other over issues like “Is a depiction of a person an ‘idol’ or not” just seems like such a stupid waste of time and effort. But we, collectively, seem good at it. ;-)

    Oh, and I should add: I’ve got a couple of copies of the Gnostic Bible and some intro / interpretation books about it, and while I’m in no way an expert on it: They don’t seem very hung up on the physical world as evil, just more inclined to believe you could come to understandings of a more perfected world divorced from it. The major ‘issue’ with the Catholics seems to have been over their idea that you could “know” (thus, their name) without the intervention of a power structure such as the bishops, cardinals, Pope’s et.al. And on that I must say I agree with them… “Knowing” comes from inside. (Though a good external guide can help dramatically, and a bad one is worse than nothing… you are better being left alone than being mislead by “authority”, IMHO. But best is a truly helpful guide, just devilishly hard to “vet”… ) So the Egyptian Coptics have a more or less protestant feel to them, and some threads of Gnostics in them. Similarly the Syrian and related middle eastern sects have some Gnostic threads. Just dimmed with time. And that “we don’t need you” attitude stuck in the craw of the Catholic Popes and Roman Emperors. Thus they wrote history painting the Gnostics as whacky, evil, and self-hating. (And they may well have had some elements of that, but I just can’t find it in their writings, so doubt the veracity of it, given the source of much of the history about them was biased as it was written by non-Gnostic Catholics… in many cases bent on exterminating them… )

    I think my basic point, hidden in all that verbiage, is this: Most folks are just plain folks and all religions pretty much reflect that sameness of folks world wide. They want good things for themselves, their families, and others. Some folks get all “into it” and often become ‘leaders’ in the power structures of ALL religions that have them, and take things to whacky and “nutty” extremes, including painting those who do not agree in various shades of “evil” and “hateful” and “extremist” and… But the reality is that normal folks are on both sides and they are just not that different. It’s the “pot stirring authorities grasping after power” who are the problem in the majority of cases. IMHO.

    And that applies to Sunni, Catholic, Shiite, Eastern Orthodox, Orthodox Jewish, Lutheran, Anglican, etc. ad nauseum alike. It is a fundamental aspect of human behaviour. Some percentage of us lust for power, and rise chasing after it; then exploit that power by knocking down others (grasping after power in competing structures) and the victors paint the losers as evil (and sometimes from both sides at once when a ‘draw’ or partial ‘draw’ happens…)

    And the plain folks just try to keep their heads down, give their kids a better life, and ‘do the right thing’… and avoid getting trampled in the Elephant Dance happening above them…

    I just wish I could figure out a way to reduce the divergence (and thus, the damage).

    -E.M. Smith ]

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