My Stumble Upon button sometimes gets me into forums where I cannot resist taking on the locals who demonstrate less than stellar thinking, especially when it is related to god belief. Here is a recent example from the Nofunnybusiness web site.

jacob Says:
http://thatsnotwhatimeant.wordpress.com/2009/08/13/science-is-fun/#comment-105

Hi guys… I’m a post-graduate in the biological sciences, and I can humbly say that I possess more knowledge than most of you do on matters of evolutionary science and various theories and experiments designed to prove that life arose out of a random collision of amino acids and nucleotides.

Yet, every theory lacks in an essential thing.

We can use a huge electrical discharge to somehow ‘create’ amino acids (the building blocks of proteins)(see miller-urey experiment http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller–Urey_experiment). We can observe something akin to cellular processes in artificially formed ‘coacervates’ (see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coacervate)

Yet, we dont have an answer to one question- how did all these amino acids and nucleic acids decide to come together to form the 1st living organism? How did they arrange themselves in definite patterns, and continue to maintain such patterns in future generations?

Which brings us to the point of this debate. Like it or not, theories of abiogenesis simply fall short. They’re appreciated only because they’re brave attempts to discredit a supreme creator of his achievements.

We like to surround ourselves in the small cocoon of our accomplishments, and think, man, I did this myself! And gratify ourselves with that thought.

(Someone scoffed at how love and fear of God could co-exist. Its simple. You love him because he made you and brought you up and kept you safe till this moment. You fear him because he hates the sins that you sometimes commit, and because you know he’s watching your every move. You love him because he is a God who willingly forgives your sins (when u ask for forgiveness) and does not take them up against you later.)

It is indeed enlightening to know that most of us remember God only when we are in great danger, or in deep trouble. When that feeling of helplessness overwhelms us, when we feel that whatever we may do wont have an impact. Its when we’re sitting in our car, driving contentedly on our way back home from the office, when we see a container-truck (driven by some crazy 16 yr old fleeing the cops) not more than 50 ft away frm us…. and then when we exclaim,’Oh my ….’


= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =


This is my reply.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = = =

It seems that your graduate studies have neglected to educate you in areas that are crucial to a good critical analysis and evaluation of the area you are pontificating upon here. Since your university has yet to issue you with a professional degree I presume they believe that you have not yet mastered the practice of valid scientific methodology. I sincerely hope so. If not, then you should enrol in a reputable university.

Your “scientific” thinking needs some repairs.

First, improve your knowledge base.

Take a look at the most up-to-date research in the area.

http://www.wired.com/wiredscience/2009/06/tpna/
"A self-assembling molecule synthesized in a laboratory may resemble the earliest form of information-carrying biological material, a transitional stage between lifeless chemicals and the complex genetic architectures of life. Called tPNA, short for thioester peptide nucleic acids, the molecules spontaneously mimic the shape of DNA and RNA when mixed together. Left on their own, they gather in shape-shifting strands that morph into stable configurations. The molecules haven’t yet achieved self-replication, the ultimate benchmark of life, but they hint at it. Best of all, their activities require no enzymes — molecules that facilitate chemical reactions, but didn’t yet exist in the primordial world modeled by scientists seeking insight into life’s murky origins."

http://news.softpedia.com/news/Artificial-Life-Might-Come-from-Self-Replicating-RNA-101593.shtml

"Scientists at the Scripps Research Institute, in La Jolla, California, managed to create a tiny fragment of RNA, which has the most important property of life – self-replication."

Next, apply some basic logic to the argument you presented.

There is no valid reason for proposing that areas not yet explained by science are better explained as the product of a divine being for which there is no valid scientific evidence.

Science is far closer to explaining how life began on earth (hint: the first replicating chemical did not “decide” to form) than religious believers are to explaining how an extremely complex supernatural being could come into being without the help of another divine being, and so on, ad infinitum. Did this complex being “decide” to form out of nothing? Did it form from something non-existent by pure chance? Or did it “just exist” eternally in spite of the fact that other things need to be created out of something at some point in time. If it did just pop into existence from nothing then there is no need to explain the creation of anything because it, too, could just pop into existence from nowhere.

Furthemore, religious believers have an incredibly hard time explaining why this being of unknown origin is identical to the particular version of the supernatural which they were taught to believe in and not equivalent to the manifestation of someone else’s indoctrinated beliefs or original speculations.

Now evaluate your argument in the light of what other disciplines have to offer.

Psychologists have been far more successful in explaining how it is that speculations about the existence, nature and origins of supernatural beings form in the brains of humans. Social biologist have been quite successful in explaining how it is that such thought memes replicate and evolve in the minds of others over the centuries. Back to the science of cognitive psychology to explain why you accepted the idea in the first place, how the idea is maintained in your mind, how you will modify it and why you will then pass it along in its slightly different form in forums like this while firmly believing that you are in possession of the “truth”.

The bottom line is that human speculations and dogmatic assertions about the supernatural are far less compelling to people who have learned to think logically and critically than the discoveries from the ever evolving field of scientific knowledge. Just because science is still working on understanding how life formed is not a valid argument for accepting the overwhelmingly failed hypothesis of the supernatural causation of life, the universe and everything. The answer may not be 42 but there is no valid reason to believe that your religiously generated answers make any better sense.

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Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 26, 2009 at 7:34pm
Hi guys.

There's a sequal to this on my next blog. Happy reading.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 26, 2009 at 4:41pm
Dynamite, Rosemary. I love this stuff.

I can humbly say that I possess more knowledge than most of you do on matters of evolutionary science and various theories and experiments designed to prove that life arose out of a random collision of amino acids and nucleotides.

I can't believe this guy. I hope he doesn't wind up teaching in public school somewhere. To teach biology is to explain the story of evolution. How can he study so much evidence for evolution and still cling to nutty religious orthodoxy. Does Jacob believe the world is 6000 years old?

As in Dawkins Climbing Mount Improbable, like other religious people, Jacob is failing to understand the power of time. If the Earth is 4.5 billion years old, the Azoic Age is 500,000 years. That’s a half billion years to stir the primordial soup. All the ingredients were there: water, carbon dioxide and importantly ammonia from oceanic vents to provide nitrogen ions which comprise the posts in purine/ pyrimidine bases to add the early replicators stability. Bear in mind it took much longer—another billion years—to evolve from prokaryote to eukaryote, a cell with a true nucleus with its own membrane.

Question for Jacob: why would God create a replicator, and then wait a billion years to finish the job with a cell?
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 26, 2009 at 1:17pm
@Larian

No problem. Go right ahead.
Comment by Larian LeQuella on August 26, 2009 at 7:52am
Rosemary, I found your reply incredibly well thought out and downright beautiful! I run a web page called http://factsnotfantasy.com where one of the issues I tackle is the evolution debate. I have a small section devoted to abiogenesis. May I "borrow" some of your material?
Comment by Greywolf on August 26, 2009 at 2:29am
It just astounds me that theists will automatically assume that if science cannot give a definitive answer to a particular (as of yet) unsolved mystery of the universe it means a "God" must exist. Yet they have no problem accepting that this "ready-made" divine creature came ready-made already endowed with supernatural powers and abilities far beyond all human understanding. Now where these supernatural powers and abilities came from and how they came to be joined to a cosmic being with no beginning doesn't even raise an eyebrow with these people. "Faith" is good enough to address these issues for them. And don't you know this divine being remains undetectable using the most sophisticated scientific means imaginable. Why's that? Well, because "It" works in "mysterious ways". Now if that doesn't satisfactorily answer all the questions scientists might have regarding the theist's "God", I don't know what could.
Comment by Chrys Stevenson on August 25, 2009 at 6:39pm
Well done, Rosemary! :-)
Comment by Jim C. on August 25, 2009 at 6:14pm
Outstanding response, Rosemary.

One thing that I often tell the anti-evolution folks is that even if by some outside chance they manage to completely disprove every discovery made by evolutionary scientists, it doesn't give their argument any validity.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 25, 2009 at 2:53pm
Yes, the answer was not meant to convert the theist. One short dig at his woolly thinking is unlikely to have much of an effect, especially in the short term. Besides, I was not too polite about his intellectual arrogance which will put him off side.

The idea was to educate other readers who might be taken in by the student's assertion that he knew what he was talking about in the relevant areas.
Comment by wallflower on August 25, 2009 at 2:41pm
Your answer will never convince a theist. The rationalist can learn from your further highlighting science. Thanks. Our graduate student (poor thing) fell into a small trap when the first wikipedia reference was made. I like wikipedia, but not to support an air-tight argument in re: biology.
The best we can do is continue to show by demonstration the experiments that make Genesis an interesting question, but not the foundation of a life-philosophy. And please, not another religion! They're very expensive to keep up. peace

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