Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Abiogenesis and alchemy, again

G-man remonstrated:

I explained to Rho that enough information exists about alchemy for us to know that it is invalid. The same is not true of abiogenesis - this should be hugely obvious.


Since they're the same in quality, naked assertions to the contrary don't do alot for me.

abiogenesis is the best scientific theory out there for the origins of life.

Then so much the worse for science.
Here's another example where a claim to supernatural activity exists and the scientific evidence points the other direction but G-man has the gall to say that abiogenesis is the best "scientific" explanation. Cracks me up.
Spontaneous generation is bunk - wasn't that disproven in the 19th century?
No one has ever observed life arising from non-life in a natural environment.
No one has even been able to get close to creating life in a closely-manipulated lab environment with intelligent design all over the place.

They speak out of both sides of their mouths - sometimes life is extraordinary, beautiful, wonderful, awesome, complex... but when it comes to being pressed about their alchemic beliefs about abiogenesis, they say "Well, we've caused some amino acids to come together in a lab environment!"


That doesn't even begin to suggest that we have enough information about the early earth to invalidate abiogenesis.

You'd better hope so b/c the early earth environment as it's usually thought of is hostile to life's forming out of non-life and hostile to terran life in general.

Alchemy: we know it is invalid.
Abiogenesis: We can't know that it is invalid yet. See? Drop the analogy.


Since abiogenesis IS alchemy, why should I?


'Life' is just a word humans use to communicate.

Retreating to "it's just semantics!" is often an abandonment of the original field of argument. White flag acknowledged.

To say metaphysics - rather than science - has the answer is incorrect.

Which I never claimed - I don't know where you got that.

35 comments:

merkur said...

G-Man: I'm surprised that you've only just noticed that Rhology doesn't read for comprehension, and isn't interested in actual debate. It's depressingly clear, and clearly depressing, that he's not.

By the way, if we were to create life in a laboratory environment, Rhology, would that make us gods? Not that I care very much what your reply is, but it doesn't bode very well for any alternatives for abiogenesis. From a Christian perspective, that is.

Rhology said...

if we were to create life in a laboratory environment, Rhology, would that make us gods?

No.
What wouldn't bode well?

merkur said...

"You'd better hope so b/c the early earth environment as it's usually thought of is hostile to life's forming out of non-life and hostile to terran life in general."

No, it isn't thought of like that at all, particularly when you consider the range of environments that bacteria are able to survive in.

NAL said...

rhology:
No one has ever observed life arising from non-life in a natural environment.

No one saw Adam created from dust, but that doesn't seem to bother you.

rhology:
Spontaneous generation is bunk - wasn't that disproven in the 19th century?

Perhaps you'd like to provide some evidence to show that it was disproven.

Rhology said...

Louis Pasteur.

NAL said...

The spontaneous generation that Pasteur and others disproved was the idea that life forms such as mice, maggots, and bacteria can appear fully formed. They disproved a form of creationism.

Rhology said...

You mean that they can form naturally.
So what was disproved was that bacteria can appear fully formed. But abiogenesis has to believe that SOME form of life APPEARED after a certain mixture of amino acids, etc. It's the same concept.
I love that you defend it, don't get me wrong. It's like digging your ditch deeper and deeper with every comment. Keep 'em coming.

NAL said...

rhology
But abiogenesis has to believe that SOME form of life APPEARED after a certain mixture of amino acids, etc.

This is wrong. Life did not appear after a certain mixture of amino acids. Abiogenesis is life arising in simple form from nonlife by way of a series of chemical steps/selections. Each step in this series relied on previous steps.

Creationist Abiogenesis

Rhology said...

And there was presumably a time before which there was no life and after which there was.

NAL said...

That requires a definition of "life". What is your definition?

Rintintin said...

Gosh, where to start with this one? :)

1) Correct me if Im wrong, but isn't it ID ists/creationists that think full organisms form intact rather than scientists? I don't think any scientist is proposing that a cell as we see now just puffed up from nothing as if by magic - rather that there were a number of steps that led to it. The question is - what were those steps?

2) according to origin of life research, the early earth had a reducing atmsophere, which is more favourable to chemical processes forming life than our current oxidising one that arose with the advent of phtosynthesising cyanobacteria

3) as life already exists now were a similar process to take place today, most likely microbes etc would digest any replicators etc well before they got anywhere near becoming fully formed organisms

4) there are studies ongoing at the moment that have replicated the MU style expt in a variety of different atmospheres that all result in the formation of amino acids; there are examples of RNA molewcules that can to an extent self-replicate; other studies involve stripping single celled organisms down to the bare minimum of genes to see what is needed for a viable organism to survive; lipids can spontaneously form a bilayer which could be a possibility for a primitive membrane around cells, and so on and so forth.

It is indeed far from a complete explanation, but then we are dealing with something that is porposed to have happened the better part of 3.5 - 4 billion years ago. However, as always in science, hypotheses are proposed and tested (eg the examples above) - what exactly is ID or YEC doing to solve the problem? It obviously all had to come together somehow - what mechanisms or steps are these people proposing to discover the answer? Not a whole lot other than complaining about there not being an answer by the looks of things.

5) How is abiogenesis alchemy - you, me and everyone else had to have been put together by some kind of mechanism whether it be directed by god or not! We are all made up of naturally existing chemicals - I'm not seeing anything here that would break any laws of thermodynamics or anything.

There's a fairly consistent theme amongst people who pick holes in science that they assume because answers are not known now, they will never be known. That may be, but science's track record in working things out is pretty good and extremely vaulable to us.

NAL said...

rhology:
Here's another example where a claim to supernatural activity exists and the scientific evidence points the other direction ...

Of course the scientific evidence points away from your supernatural claim.

Post your evidence to the claim that the universe is ~6000 years old. If that claim is based on the Bible, give explicit verses and your understanding of the text. If you believe that the Bible claims that the universe is ~6000 years old, then your understanding of the text is mistaken. If you believe that the universe was created in six 24-hour days, your understanding is in error. Science will help you understand the Genesis portion of text correctly. You don't want to go through life with a mistaken understanding.

Rhology said...

"...the other direction" indicates that the scientific evidence stands against G-man's claim.

Hopefully that clarifies.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Rhology is right on one count: The scientific community, while awash in hypotheses about abiogenesis, has not come close to proving one and, resultantly, has not consolidated around a single hypothesis. However, this admission of temporary ignorance does not mean science is not up to the task. Look at the history of human civilization and you will find that, over time, supernatural "explanations" have been replaced by scientific ones. The demon theory of disease was replaced by the germ theory of disease. Primitive fears that old, ugly women conjured destructive thunderstorms have been abandoned as the sciences of meteorology and climatology have developed. In essence, a great many "gaps" originally left for god have been filled by naturalistic explanations. I trust that a solid theory of abiogenesis awaits in the decades to come. Certainly, enough brilliant minds are hard at work on this.

In the meantime, I am satisfied with this observation: I would much rather have to explain the spontaneous appearance of a very simple replicator, such as RNA, than explain the spontaneous appearance and/or eternal existence of a god character who is millions of times more complex than the human brain.

Lucian said...

Men who forbid marriage, huh?

(Are You out of Your mind ?).

The Jolly Nihilist

Read Cioran and quit being so jumpin' Jolly!

Lucian said...

9. Please present extraordinary evidence that evolution—the cornerstone of modern biology—is incorrect.

I just thought I'll answer this here, instead of the combo back at Your blog, because of certain aspects that might interst Rho here also:

I'm an Orthodox Christian; Protestant [like our host here] haunt me with questions like "how come that so many Fathers rejected the Apocrypha from their Canons?"; liberals with: "how come that so many books made it into the N.T. only so much later, not to mention that certain which were there previoulsy were later rejected ?"; evolutionists [like Yourself] are curious about Evolution, etc.

Now, I'm gonna resume all three answers into one, in good ol' Trinitarian fashion :p , and say that everything in this life oscilates between certain limits:

-- in the case of the O.T., the Canon never drops below the "39" books, minus Esther [but with their text following that of the LXX, not that of the MT], ... nor does it go beyond & above the number of the books of the LXX (plus IV Ezra).

-- the same for the Canon of the NT: it never drops below some one-and-a-half dozen books; nor does it exceed the number of the 27 + the writings of the Apostolic Fathers. (No Gnostic writings were ever included on any lists, much to the disapointment of modern conspiracy-theorists).

-- the same goes for the entire human race also: tall or short, fat or thin, dumb or smart, black or white, male or female, sick or healthy, sane or insane : we all belong to the same human race and share in the same human nature. (oscilations within certain limits, variations on the same theme, diversity within certain parameters).

Amibas, flowers, fishes, cats/dogs, monkeys just don't belong together, that's all. :-/

Mathematically there exists a possibility ... physically no.

My father's a mathematician and I'm studying engineering, ... and the answer (or my answer, at least) to Aldous Huxley's famous question [the one about monkeys typing Psalm 50 on a typing machine by mindlessly hitting the keys given a huge amount of time] is a blatant and straight-forward "no" ... if You like, I'll illustrate my reasoning to You by way of a stupidly-simple example:

-- mathematically, a capacitor NEVER unloads itself of the its own electromagnetical load. (Why so? Beacause the expression Exp(-t/T) reaches zero when t = infinity).

-- practically, from an engineer's point of view, a capacitor unloads itself in a matter of seconds, ... at max! (because when t reaches 3-4-5 time-periods [the famous "subtangent"], the value is approximatively zero with a completely insignificant error).

So, ... it's "possible", I guess, ... but surely not what I would call 'probable' ... and, to make a pun, not even math, which is the most 'philosophical' of all real sciences bothers itself with "possibilities", ... only with 'probabilities'.

(It is equally >mad< to say "all people should look exactly and identically the same" as well as to say "amibas, flowers, fishes, cats/dogs and monkeys are all variations on the same theme" -- they just aren't). Call it a "hunch", or a "wild guess", or call me "skeptic" or "infidel", but I just don't "buy" it. :-\

Or just blame it on my mental formation as a math-obsessed engineering wanna-be, and dismiss it all as "conflict of domains" because it lies outside of my "field of expertise", or whatever ... but when-ever I hear biologists argue for "a VERY minute YET VERY possible probability that exists for evolution to have actually happened" I feel as much convinced as I am by the bombastic and fantastic claims that Prots make of producing Patristic proofs for the doctrines of Sola Scriptura, or Sola Gratia, or Sola Fide, or whatever. :-(

-----

If You disbelief my incredulity at the "monkey-business" [the one with typing Psalm 50], let me tell You this: get all the monkeys You need into a lab, give them all the typing-machines that You can get, and see how much it takes [my gut hunch: an eternity] to write NOT the whole Psalm, but just the first sentence: ... and being so generous, I even give You multiple options, see which is being typed first: in English: Mercy me, oh Lord, according to Your great mercy; or in Latin: Miserere me Deus secundum magnam misericordiam Tuam; or in Romanian: Miluieste-ma Dumnezeule dupa mare mila ta. Have fun! :-|

Lucian said...

And apropos Psalm 50 ...

youtube.com/watch?v=_bIgJaNEHb0

merkur said...

"And there was presumably a time before which there was no life and after which there was."

As has been pointed out, a lot depends on one's definition of life. The dividing line may not be as clear-cut as one would like it to be for the purposes of this discussion.

NAL said...

lucian
-- mathematically, a capacitor NEVER unloads itself of the its own electromagnetical load. (Why so? Beacause the expression Exp(-t/T) reaches zero when t = infinity).

This would be true if electric charge did not occur in discrete units.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Lucian,

I think a quote from John Allen Paulos' book "Irreligion," which carries the subtitle "A Mathematician Explains Why The Arguments For God Just Don't Add Up," would be a better response than anything with which I could come up.

Paulos writes, “We have a deck of cards before us. There are almost 10^68—a 1 with 68 zeros after it—orderings of the fifty-two cards in the deck. Any of the fifty-two cards might be first, any of the remaining fifty-one second, any of the remaining fifty third, and so on. This is a humongous number, but it’s not hard to devise even everyday situations that give rise to much larger numbers. Now, if we shuffle this deck of cards for a long time and then examine the particular ordering of the cards that happens to result, we would be justified in concluding that the probability of this particular ordering of the cards having occurred is approximately one chance in 10^68. This probability certainly qualifies as minuscule.

“Still, we would not be justified in concluding that the shuffles could not have possibly resulted in this particular ordering because its a priori probability is so very tiny. Some ordering had to result from the shuffling, and this one did. Nor, of course, would we be justified in concluding that the whole process of moving from one ordering to another via shuffles is so wildly improbable as to be practically impossible.”

Evolutionary processes have no goal toward which they are working. Therefore, the Psalm 50 analogy is flawed. The number of paths evolutionary processes could have taken, quite literally, seems infinite. The results with which we live represent the path said processes just happened to take. It is fundamentally incorrect to look at some evolved structure and then rewind back to ascertain its a priori probability of having evolved. You would not be considering the six billion alternate structures that happened not to have evolved.

Not to belabor this too much, but also consider an eliminative coin toss tournament. Even if there were millions or billions of tournament participants, one participant would have to win (that is, one person would win every single coin toss in which he participated). At the end of the tournament, one player would have won, despite the fact that the a priori probability of his winning every single coin toss is vanishingly small.

Consider evolution as a shuffling of the card deck, or an eliminative coin toss tournament.


Yours,
JN

Lucian said...

Point well taken: what You're saying is perfectly right: we live in a world full of possibilities, which keeps its options open all of the time. (Newton vs. Einstein).

But my point was that some things just don't (or can't) happen, no matter how much time You give them, since time has probably absolutely nothing to do with them.

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Lucian,

Because it is obvious that you are an intelligent individual, I am going to make an educated assumption about your views on evolutionary theory. My assumption is that you acknowledge the fact of microevolution (that is, evolution within a species not causing actual speciation). I make that assumption because, to be frank, only stupid people refuse to acknowledge microevolution. And you are not stupid.

However, I think it is key that you understand that many successive microevolutionary steps would lead quite naturally to macroevolution (that is, evolution of the type that Richard Dawkins, mainstream science and I espouse). Small, successive changes accumulate into large changes, including the aforementioned process of speciation. This is, by far, the best explanation for this planet's manifest and wondrous biodiversity.

For creationists, though, the nail in the coffin is the neatly organized geologic strata. Those strata indicate a clear evolutionary progression over the course of eons. Certainly, I acknowledge your right to disagree. However, to substantiate your rejection of Darwinian evolution, I do humbly request at least two examples of horse fossils found in the Paleozoic strata (among trilobites, crinoids and other such life forms). Alternatively, I request at least two examples of fossil rabbits found in the Precambrian. Well-evidenced examples only, please.

For all of evolution's imperfections (and there are some), creationism's demons are much harder to exorcise.

Lucian said...

Small, successive changes accumulate into large changes

My honest opinion: no, it doesn't. It doesn't, because it can't. And it can't because it's preposterously against its nature.

DNA doesn't make exact and identical copies out of each and any one of us [*] ... nor does it let such errors "accumulate" over time, or "in the course of aeons", or whatever ... it has its own embedded little mechanism that avoid for such grosse distortions or considerable diformities to ever gain any serious ground and change it in any way that's fundamentally damaging to its core. (Otherwise it wouldn't be called DNA).

Yet it also permits an almost infinite set of variations, even small mutations to occur, thus producing the extraordinary diversity that we're able to witness first-hand today.

Why don't such minute variatory mutations ever gain any significant ground ? Because "it takes two to tango", and the 'error' (which anyway happens only very rarely) halves itself with each mating (the chance that two individuals that mate just-so-happens to carry the same defect is -from my point of view- dismissible).

The fact that a mutation that is by definition in considerable minority will ever gain terrain over and against a 'normal' or 'healthy' majority is -in my opinion- untenable or even unthinkable.

I can't help You out with the strata, though. :-( Geology has never been one of my strong points. But I think I'm gonna ask You about two things about which I'm curious:

-- I've heard creationists argue over the complete lack of sometimes even up to dozens (?) of strata in several/many places or regions of the earth ... as if all those millions of yrs never happened in those parts of the Planet.

-- and about the fact that many animal species [American pre-historic wild-cats, as just one example among many/few] just vanish from the stratigraphic record of fossil evidence ... simply to reappear millions (?) of yrs later, as it were ...

Any info about these two issues will be appreciated. :-( Thanks.

-----
[*] No two copies of the LXX, MT, or NT are identical (to answer Rho's unstated question).

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Lucian,

Thanks for responding. I am curious as to your level of education in evolutionary biology. Have you taken any college-level biology courses? If so, did they thoroughly explain contemporary evolutionary theory? It seems that you have some misconceptions that probably originated from pseudoscience websites such as Answers in Genesis. I do not know whether you frequent AiG but, if you do, please realize you are getting the analog of an explanation of progressive principles by neoconservative zealots. In short, you are being misinformed.

Let me break down Darwinian evolution to its core. You acknowledge that sexual reproduction is an imperfect process, during which new mutations can occur. Presumably, you acknowledge heredity, which basically means those mutated genes can be passed down to offspring. (Whether any single offspring possesses the phenotypic variation in question is not particularly important). The only other core element of evolution is variable fitness in the natural environment. Fitness in this context means only the ability to mate and reproduce. In essence, within the same species and same population, some creatures are more “fit” than other creatures. And so, if a particular mutation is beneficial to a creature’s fitness, statistically speaking, those genes will be more likely to be passed down. Over stretches of time, beneficial mutations will grow much more prevalent in the gene pool and deleterious mutations will die out. The changing genotypic makeup of a population results in phenotypic modification—observable evolution. Please note that evolution is only coherent in the context of populations. Individuals do not evolve, and placing any great emphasis on one individual or “family” is misguided. Our primary concern is gene prevalence in a population.

Let us not fall into the trap of vague generalities. Creationists often have a tendency to cite examples which, in actuality, hobble their own dogma. One such example is the eye, which often has been falsely labeled as irreducibly complex. In truth, the natural world demonstrates a beautiful continuum of eyes, ranging from exceedingly simple to amazingly effective. Human eyes, for example, are quite spectacular in comparison to most. However, ospreys, just to take one example, have eyes which make our own seem quite pathetic and primitive. In any event, it surely was a propitious mutation when the first creature on the planet was endowed with a few light-sensitive cells. It is not at all hard to observe that such a mutation would increase the creature’s fitness compared to its compatriots. That is all that is needed for the gene(s) in question to begin its path to prevalence in the population’s pool. Another suitable example would be wing nubs—precursors to the array of wings we observe today. Even if 1% of a wing was the first mutation, there is a height from which a creature possessing the nub could fall and survive, whereas, for a creature lacking the nub, the fall would likely result in death. This is a clear example of increased fitness; increased fitness results in a gene’s increasing prevalence in the population’s pool. This is all that is needed for the phenotypic cornucopia we see today. (Note that, if one population becomes split into two geographically isolated subgroups, the process of speciation is essentially bound to occur, particularly if different environmental selective pressures are in effect for the two subgroups.)

As to your questions about the geologic strata, although I am certainly not an expert, I can try to answer them. However, you will need to be considerably more specific vis-à-vis geographic locations and species of animal. What specific locations lack strata? What specific species appear in widely separated strata, but do not appear in the intervening ones? Specificity is the keystone to good science, and is necessary for me to provide any kind of answer.

Do realize, though, the force of the geologic strata argument (which I certainly did not invent). If god really did confect all the creatures in the natural order, pretty much in their current forms, pretty much all at once, there most certainly should not be neatly ordered geologic strata. If special creation were true, we should find rabbit fossils alongside crinoid fossils alongside tyrannosaurus rex fossils. We should find horse fossils alongside trilobite fossils alongside Archaeopteryx fossils. Despite much creationist effort, no anachronistic fossils have been genuinely found. No matter your stance on evolutionary theory, this fact is powerful and, I would argue, only explicable through a Darwinian prism. Should you disagree, you are obliged to present a more cogent explanation of these facts.

Lucian said...

If I would've been able to put my hands on the sources from which my two questions stem, I would've done so already, and phrase them very clearly and in detail. But I lack them.

The first one was from a book written by creationists, the first and only one that I was ever able to possess. As far as I can recall, it was a region somewhere in Great Britain, and the number was about 80 strata. (?) If I remember correctly, a few more examples were given, which I can't recall. (The book is no longer in my possession, nor am I aware where it might be).

The second one has nothing to do with creationism, but with a Dicovery-Channel documentary on wild-cats, since pre-historic times, their evolution, and fossil-data, etc. (I have no ideea how that documentary was entitled, nor do I ever recall it being aired again).

I have no in-depth knowledge of evolutionism, more than it has already been presented to us in any biology-class I've ever attended since Gymnasium and all the way through High-School, or any Tele-encyclopedia [*] episode that I've ever watched.

I'm a student at a Faculty of Engineering (since I've enjoyed maths my entire life and programming since relatively recently); therefore, I obviously have/attend no biology-classes.

Nor did I spend too much of my time reading creationist books or viewing creationist documentaries. (Though I was obviously very curious about finding out more about their views: like Eve and the forbidden fruit, having my curiosity tempted by the serpent of wisdom).

Your answers are clear-cut and compelling: I guess You've managed to make a connection in my mind between "the survival of the fittest" and "evolution" per se. (Of course, I understood that connection only in part before ... but I did not get the whole picture). Interesting ...

-----
The name of a decades-old scientific TV show, aired every Saturday evening on the Romanian National Television since times immemorial.

Lucian said...

I also recall (from the same book) the example (and picture) of a fossilized high tree, bent or inclined at about 40 or 45 degrees, which pierced through a great number of geological strata. [The example with the dozens (?) of lacking geological strata had also a picture attached to it (the view was simply beautiful)].

Lucian said...

Ragrding the complexity of the human eye: LOL :-) Certain features of the human eye are precisely some of the reasons that one of my faculty-professors is atheist: too stupidly designed. :-)
"No serious engineer would make such a serious design-flaw", he said. (He was talking about the rise of the optic nerve from the retina, only to dive back into it again, thus creating the undesired effect that leads to the appearence of blind-spots, which defies any logical explanation for its being there [i.e., no >greater good< is achieved by this completely uncalled-for sacrifice])

The Jolly Nihilist said...

I am glad that, to at least some extent, I have clarified evolutionary theory for you. It truly is elegant in its simplicity and ease of comprehension. Even if you still are doubtful about it, I trust you now understand its core tenets. And, I also trust you will now know when somebody is trying to mislead you (i.e., If somebody talks about individuals evolving, he is ignorant of Darwinian thought).

Because you referenced the human eye, I have selected a brief passage for you from Dr. Michael Shermer. Dr. Shermer is a Christian-turned-atheist who is educated in the sciences and has publicly chided atheists such as Richard Dawkins for their harsh language against theism.

Dr. Shermer writes, "The anatomy of the human eye, in fact, shows anything but 'intelligence' in its design. It is built upside down and backwards, requiring photons of light to travel through the cornea, lens, aqueous fluid, blood vessels, ganglion cells, amacrine cells, horizontal cells, and bipolar cells before they reach the light-sensitive rods and cones that transduce the light signal into neural impulses--which are then sent to the visual cortex at the back of the brain for processing into meaningful patterns. For optimal vision, why would an intelligent designer have built an eye upside down and backwards?"

Also, think back to the information I provided earlier about ospreys. If humans truly were god's chosen creatures, why would the deity endow us with comparatively weak eyes in comparison to ospreys, which are mere beasts from a biblical perspective? This is similar to the age-old atheist question of why god has such an inordinate love of beetles (This question is inspired by the near-endless list of beetle species.)

Religion and its intrinsic speciocentricity are fundamentally at odds with physiology--whether of human or nonhuman animals--and myriad other elements of the natural order.

Lucian said...

Nobody has ever presented to me evolution as a process that modifies the individual (in an almost instantaneous manner). It obviously pertains to the species.

Lucian said...

What makes me rather incredulous of this theory is (first) that things evolve and vary WITHIN their own species, ... never OUTSIDE of it. (DNA assures that things can be diverse, while at the very same time certifying that they'll NEVER spin OUT of control).

And second, because of a very simple similarity: Darwin does to the Week of Creation what the Gnostics have done to the Holy Trinity. Both transform things by entire orders of magnitude (3 coequal Persons that mutually indwell and fully know each-other become in the GNOSTIC faith(s) this complex system of no less than 30 Aeons, each of them WAY more "cooler" than each-other, each inferior Aeon giving birth to 'monsters' were he to even try to comprehend the superior Aeon; DARWIN makes 7,000,000,000 yrs out 7 days); and both have an obsession with aeons (Aeons as 'worlds' in the Gnostic system(s); aeons as entire 'ages', millions of yrs each, in the evolutionary system).

The realisation of this thing(s) makes Darwinism seem to me as something almost incredulous, ... not to mention untennable. :-\

The fact that his whole theory of evolution "just-so-happens" to follow the exact same order as that of the Biblical Creation-Week (why didn't the Christian Darwin choose ANOTHER faith-system upon which to extablish the skeleton of his utterly objective & fully scientifical reasoning? and why did he choose a religious system AT ALL, in the first place !?), while at the same time embelishing the simple account in a very original manner ... this whole retelling of sacred history (with particular little modifications where things don't seem to precisely fit one's view) reminds me more of, say, what we see happening in inter-Testamental Second-Temple Jewish literature, like -for example- in "The Book of Jubilees" or in "The Book(s) of Henoch", than to remind me of pure, unbiased and completely objective science. :-\

He clearly drew on sources [so as not to say 'plagiate'] different from mere natural observation, all the while pretending not to. Why not OTHER sources? Why precisely THESE ones? Why even daring to let ANYTHING ELSE than the fundamental principles of scientifical research inspire him?

Why should I believe an subjective and original and completely personal embelishment of a story as true, over and against the root-story itself (which now even becomes "literatura non grata") ? It makes no sense to me. :-\

Lucian said...

I know this may sound rather queer, but I view evolutionary theory as a pious individual fabrication based on private speculation over very 'hip' and up-to-date facts, a complete sophisticated and sophisticathing re-working of a very plain, old and childishly simple (even raw) traditional African-Asian story that treats the origins of the Universe. (And the odds of that coincidence are simply... well,... I think that they're even slimer than the possibility of evolution-per-se as accurate and historical fact). Scientifical truth as a modernity-cloaked retelling of an ancient-old creation myth ... I mean, what are the odds of THAT !?

While I am aware that the most ancient man appeared in Africa ... but that this same man also just-so-happened to know (and this since time immemorial) the schematical and over-simplified version of a scientifical truth that was to be discovered only hundreds of thousands of yrs after-wards, and this by people belonging to an entirely different race of men, living on a completely different continent... I can't help but wonder as to what the chances of THAT being (f)actually true might even be ... :-\

The Jolly Nihilist said...

Lucian,

Here is another place where I fear you have been misinformed, probably by creationist literature or, perhaps, simply your own speculations. Firstly, although Darwin had been a Christian in his youth, he was NOT a Bible-believing Christian after his discovery of evolutionary theory. He became an agnostic, as evidenced by two well-known quotes from his book "Life and Letters of Charles Darwin.”


“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an Agnostic.”

“I think an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind. The whole subject [of God] is beyond the scope of man's intellect.”


Perhaps you have heard that Darwin had a "deathbed confession," during which he disavowed evolution and embraced Christianity. Those stories are provably false—malicious rumors meant to undercut a brilliant scientist’s life’s work. There was no deathbed confession, and anybody telling you otherwise is trying to mislead you.

You also are factually incorrect about Darwinian evolution merely being an embellishment of the biblical creation tale. The order of events, in point of fact, is completely different. [The following information comes from Talk Origins, which is an excellent web resource for those deprived of Darwinian information.]

Genesis provides the following chronology: (1) a beginning; (2) a primitive earth in darkness and enshrouded in heavy gases and water; (3) light; (4) an expanse or atmosphere; (5) large areas of dry land; (6) land plants; (7) sun, moon, and stars discernible in the expanse, and seasons beginning; (8) sea monsters and flying creatures; (9) wild and tame beasts and mammals; (10) man.

The actual chronology is this: (1) a beginning; (2) light; (3) sun and stars; (4) primitive earth, moon, and atmosphere; (5) dry land; (6) sea creatures; (7) some land plants; (8) land creatures and more plants and sea creatures; (9) flying creatures (insects) and more plants and land and sea creatures; (10) mammals, and more land and sea animals, insects, and plants; (11) the first birds, (12) fruiting plants (which is what Genesis talks about) and more land, sea, and flying creatures; (13) man and more of the various animals and plants.

Dr. Victor Stenger, with professorial experience in both astronomy and philosophy, says it well. Referencing a deity in which he does NOT believe, he writes, “Instead of six days, he took nine billion years to make Earth, another billion years or so to make life and then another four billion years to make humanity. Humans have walked on Earth for less than one-hundredth of one percent of Earth’s history.” Any cosmic narrative of which we are the center truly has no connection with reality.

If you are inclined, I invite you to browse my own website. Not only have I discussed evolutionary theory on occasion, but I also have offered biblical criticism, such as "The Argument From Mundanity." That essay argues that the Bible is far too mundane to have been written (or inspired) by the creator of the universe. After all, the Bible does not contain a single sentence that could not have been written by a man or woman living in the first century, as Sam Harris observed so wisely. At root, for a book with such pretensions to greatness, it is utterly ordinary, wallowing in the ignorance of its time.

Lucian said...

I've heard no such fairy-tales about Charles Darwin. And yes, I knew about him being or becoming an Atheist due to his Agnosticism.

And, as I've told You, particular details are a bit censored or refurnished in order to facilitate or support the author's particular stance on certain issues about which he had an axe to grind. (See, for instance, how the author of Jubilees perceives the entire Genesis narrative in his treatise).

As for Genesis chp. 1, here's the outline:

1) Light. ... 4) Luminaries.
2) Water. ... 5) Fishes.
Air. ........ Birds.
3) Earth. ... 6) Animals.
................ Man. (last one)

7) God. Rest.

Pretty impressive coincidences, in my opinion, don't You agree ?

Lucian said...

On Your own blog You wrote the following:

9. Virulent Christian anti-Semitism helped create the environment in which the Holocaust took place. Dr. Harris writes, “…the anti-Semitism that built the Nazi death camps was a direct inheritance from medieval Christianity. For centuries, Christian Europeans had viewed the Jews as the worst species of heretics and attributed every societal ill to their continued presence among the faithful. While the hatred of Jews in Germany expressed itself in a predominantly secular way, its roots were religious, and the explicitly religious demonization of the Jews of Europe continued throughout the period. The Vatican itself perpetuated the blood libel in its newspapers as late as 1914. And both Catholic and Protestant churches have a shameful record of complicity with the Nazi genocide.”

As You Yourself agree, the Veda-reading neo-Pagan Adolf Hitler himself ("the dictator formerly known as Schicklgrubber") had no problems with putting a Christain cloak around his preposterous pretensions, under which to disguise his novel doctrine. That's what I'm arguing about Darwin too: You can't escape Your own culture, upbringing and traditions. (The same goes for the secular Jews anywhere & everywhere)

The Jolly Nihilist said...

What is key to understand, though, is that, as I already wrote in my previous reply, the Genesis creation tale does not match up with Darwinism or modern scientific views on the development of the cosmos. The order of events is substantially different, whether we are talking about the cosmos or life on Earth. The variations are NOT mere accents and details; they are dramatic and irreconcilable.

In proposing a scientific worldview and a naturalistic approach to the origin of species and the cosmos, we are throwing Genesis by the wayside. In short, when you wrote, "...his whole theory of evolution 'just-so-happens' to follow the exact same order as that of the Biblical Creation-Week," you were inadvertently perpetuating a demonstrable untruth.

Look at the irreconcilable lists and be mindful of this. Darwin did not need Genesis to craft his brilliant theory.