My discussion continues with Jacob, the self-styled expert in biological sciences and critic of the scientific exploration of the feasibility and mechanism of abiogenesis.

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Author: jacob

thanks for taking the time to go throught wat i've written, and for taking the trouble to 'correct' me as well... i shall go thru ur points one by one..

firstly, i fail to understand how u can 'assume' that my university hasnt issued me with with my degree... or how u feel that i've not studied in a reputable university... i wonder how reputable ur university must be, if they could teach you to make such assumptions.... doesnt say much abt the standard of ur learning, does it?

now to look at the 'evidence' u have so painstakingly collected... the tPNA were synthesized under controlled conditions in a lab, whereas Darwin's 'organic pool' wasnt so amenable to the stable formation of such structures; especially under the prevalent environmental conditions of the time. I quote 'the molecules haven’t yet achieved self-replication..', if they had, u wud have had a valid case here... but of course, in your zeal to prove me wrong, u have missed out on these points....

next... religious believers DO NOT dwell upon how God came into existence... (only atheists like urself try to find out how God came into existence....) He was already there before it all began... its difficult for us all to grasp, but the human mind has its limitations.... its like trying to make yourself understand when time began, or what happened before the Big Bang... its simply beyond our capacity... a believer in God understands this, and is content to praise and thank God for the wonderful things He has created for us all...

coming to the part where u have written abt what psychologists and social biologists have said... u havent mentioned anything abt their explanations for the existence, nature and origins of supernatural beings in the brains of humans, only that they have been successful in explaining it... and i've never, ever, in any form, mentioned above that I alone am in possession of the 'truth'.... thats something only a person who feels that he has no reason to believe in God thinks... I'd rather say for myself that all that I've learnt all these years is nothing compared to the knowledge of God.... of course, u would never say something as such.. its utterly shameful for u to admit that ur knowledge can be inferior to anyone else's....

now look at ur last sentence... 'The answer may not be 42 but there is no valid reason to believe that your religiously generated answers make any better sense.'... i've no idea what u've meant by '42'... anyways...u say that 'the scientific explanation isnt complete, but so is the religious explanation'... well, let me say this... the religious explanation is complete in itself... a believer in God BELIEVES all things around us were created by Him. Full stop. whereas people who refuse to acknowledge Him will keep trying to find alternate reasons, in vain...

I am myself keenly interested in knowing how things happen, what's the purpose of their happening, and so on... but then i also appreciate the skill of the Creator in designing all of these, for instance in fashioning the shape of an orchid so that a male bee thinks it to be a female and unwittingly pollinates it... now i wonder what ur answer to this will be... evolution, perhaps?? if it is so, then answer this- natural selection says that the losers in the evolutionary race are slowly but surely replaced... if it is so, the bees who are attracted to mate with a flower should have been slowly replaced by those who know the scent of a female bee frm that of a flower, why hasnt this happened? maybe u wud like to say that IT IS happening, albeit slowly, well these orchids and bees have been sharing this unusual relationship over millions of years... (you would be surprised to know that the bee doesnt get ANY benefit for this, not even honey/pollen that flowers normally have to
offer...)

i hope that one day, u will wake up frm ur self-induced inability to be amazed at the versatility and ingenuity of God, expressed through His creations...


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Here is my reply.

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@Jacob

Thank you for your reply to my reply. Let me answer your counter charges.

”…firstly, i fail to understand how u can 'assume' that my university hasnt issued me with with my degree…”

I misunderstood your introductory comment to mean that you were a post-graduate STUDENT of biological sciences. If you have only an American College level Bachelor degree in the sciences then this explains why you do not demonstrate the level of expertise and scientific competence that I would expect of a person doing professional level studies and publishable level research in the area. My apologies for elevating you unduly.

”……or how u feel that i've not studied in a reputable university……”

I think I have explained that one sufficiently. In summary, you did not walk the walk of a person doing professional level training in the biological sciences which is the level I erroneously imagined that you had attained.

”……the tPNA were synthesized under controlled conditions in a lab, whereas Darwin's 'organic pool' wasnt so amenable to the stable formation of such structures……”

This argument is irrelevant. Go to http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/ and read up on abiogenesis and the scientific underpinning of the subject you studied at U.S. College level.

”……I quote 'the molecules haven’t yet achieved self-replication..', if they had, u wud have had a valid case here... but of course, in your zeal to prove me wrong, u have missed out on these points………”

It seems that your own zeal failed to note that the second study which I referenced did, indeed, develop self-replicating molecules. Go back to my original response to you, check out the summary article and then use your research skills to track down the original paper. Read it all.

One of the first rules of good research is that you get your facts from primary sources. Getting your “facts” from secondary sources is not objective science, especially if the people providing the information have a clear bias against the view being expressed or the interpretation given to the evidence. The very first thing a good researcher will do is to summarize the argument from the opposition – from the opposition’s point of view. If you are not thoroughally familiar with your opponent’s arguments then you have formed your current position from a basis of ignorance. In the scientific realm such ignorance will lead to your research paper being rejected for publication in a reputable journal. In an impartial court of law, a verdict which has been reached without due and equal consideration of evidence and arguments presented directly by opposing counsel is dismissed as a mistrial.

It is sad fact, but true, that religious believers who have impartially investigated the case both for and against their indoctrinated belief set are extremely rare. Almost all those who believe in the tenants of a religion do so on the basis of extensive ignorance of opposing arguments. It is ironical that the average informed atheist has a better understanding of the arguments used to support a religion than the believers themselves. It is a common theme among atheists born in Christian countries that the reason they became an atheist is that they read the Christian Bible from start to finish, discovering along the way that the god which is worshipped by modern believers has little in common with the general overview presented in this highly promoted, but sparsely read text.

”……..next... religious believers DO NOT dwell upon how God came into existence……”.

That is not something to be proud of. You stifle all curiosity about how something as amazing as a god could come into existence but you obsess over how something as amazing as the beginnings of life on earth could come into being without being created by the entity you do not believe needs to have been created. That, sir, is intellectual suicide.

If you can believe in a god without having to explain how he came to exist then you should have no difficulty accepting that life on earth evolved without having to explain how it came to exist either. There is no valid reason for using special pleading in the case of the god concept.

”…….He was already there before it all began.... …”.

How do you know this? What proof do you have?

Is this statement anything more than dogma based on the uneducated speculation of ancient goat herders?

Back when I was studying for the Christian ministry the standard answers to those questions were quite unsatisfactory. They went like this.

We know that god is eternal because the Bible says he says he is.
But in the real world it is not wise to accept what someone tells you about themselves without any proof that they are telling the truth or, more importantly, that what they think is the truth is actually factual.

We know that the Bible is the true word of god because it contains so many prophecies which have come true.
None of these prophecies are clear and unambiguous. They have to be “interpreted” by those with an emotionally vested interest in them being fulfilled before they can be viewed by other readers as either prophetic or fulfilled. Besides, there are many prophecies in the Bible which quite clearly did not come true at all. See here for a few examples collected by a former priest.
http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/jim_lippard/fabulous-prophecies.html

In the end the “proof” for the external existence of something called “god” is that the leaders of your particular religious viewpoint tell you that it is true and you believe that they believe that they think that they are telling the truth. This is not at all convincing if you have not been brought up in the religion and need to believe it at any cost.

As you said:
”… ..its difficult for us all to grasp, but the human mind has its limitations.... its like trying to make yourself understand when time began, or what happened before the Big Bang... its simply beyond our capacity... …”

For someone who is prepared to believe what he cannot grasp in order to believe in a supernatural being for which he has no tangible evidence it should be relatively easy to believe that the beginning of life on earth resulted from the gradual evolution of chemicals to the point where they became self-replicating when the environmental conditions were right.

It is much easier because, unlike your belief in an entity with no beginning or end, science is getting closer and closer to explaining how it could have happened. OTOH, no religious believer has ever been able to provide any reasonable explanation of how an entity could always exist. You must simply believe what you are told by the religious leaders and not question it. It sounds like the authoritarian who tells his child: “This is true because I say so and I am right. Don’t answer back or I will punish you for being so rude. “

You asked for an expansion of the explanations given by psychologists and social biologists.

The model for how a thought virus (meme) replicates itself over the centuries was first proposed by Richard Dawkins. See a brief non-technical explanation at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meme

Darrel Rey takes up the theme in his book, The God Virus. http://www.articlesbase.com/religion-articles/dr-darrel-ray-and-the-god-virus-853684.html

Ray is a psychologist who explains some of the elements I referred to briefly in my first response to you. Other factors come from my research paper in the area.

To summarize, religion is amost always a taught, not a discovered, belief system. It is maintained by social structures which the organism needs to fulfil essential human needs, such as a feeling of belonging and being accepted by others. It breaks down most easily among those who have higher needs for achievement than social rewards, among those who tend to be curious about life and among those with the ability to think independently and to think outside the conventional box. This is a good description of the scientific-investigative personality trait (http://www.careerkey.org/asp/your_personality/hollands_theory_of_career_choice.html) so it should be no surprise that the higher the educational level reached by a person, especially in the investigative sciences, the lower the level of belief in the supernatural.

Strength of religious belief is most virulent in those with strong conformist tendencies, rigid, authoritarian and dogmatic personalities, and among those who have difficulty dealing with shades of gray, shifting paradigms and non-absolutes.

The exceptions are those who develop abnormalities of brain chemistry that result in psychotic conditions with concomitant religious delusions, those who have seizure disorders with foci in a particular area of the right parietal lobe (known as the “god spot”) and those how have sustained damage to this area by other means (stroke, head trauma, etc.). That is, when certain parts of the brain fail to function normally people have experiences which they usually describe in terms of whatever religion or supernatural belief set is most familiar to them. Those who have no belief in a god (including Buddhist monks) experience a feeling of transcendence or oneness with the universe. In other words, people seek to explain unusual feelings in terms of what they know or in line with the context in which they experience these odd sensations.

The brain has evolved to try to make sense of its experiences and to see patterns in everything. It will fill in gaps in visual information as well as gaps in knowledge and experience in order to make sense of the world. This includes the phenomena of confabulation, a condition where the brain makes things up to fill in uncomfortable gaps in memory or experience. Although it may be very obvious to an observer that the person is making stuff up, the victim is not aware that they are lying. A similar process goes on in the minds of those who are emotionally attached to belief sets which cannot be rationally supported. People on the outside can see through the ploys, but those in the grip of the delusions cannot understand why the observer is not convinced by what appears to be clear to them.

”…….I am myself keenly interested in knowing how things happen, what's the purpose of their happening, and so on... but then i also appreciate the skill of the Creator in designing all of these,… …”

Your interest in knowing how things happen is limited to explanations which do not challenge your belief in a creating god. Any thinking outside this box is apparently so uncomfortable and anxiety provoking that you cannot step over the line. It is you, not me, who comes to a Full Stop. You are living in an intellectual cage with walls that are visible to others, but not to you.

The basis of effective research is the ability to suspend judgment, explore explanations and ideas which do not appeal to you and the ability to go where the evidence leads regardless of whether you like the implications or not.

”……natural selection says that the losers in the evolutionary race are slowly but surely replaced…(omitted material)… the bee doesnt get ANY benefit for this.. …”

For someone who pretends to be an expert in biological sciences your understanding of how evolution works is appallingly deficient. That alone undermines all your “humble” insistence on superior scientific knowledge in biological science vis a vis others on this forum. Once again, may I suggest that you spend some considerable time familiarizing yourself with the contents of http://talkorigins.com

”…….i hope that one day, u will wake up frm ur self-induced inability to be amazed at the versatility and ingenuity of God, expressed through His creations….…”

This assumes, quite wrongly, that atheists have never been committed and knowledgeable Christians and have never believed as you do now. I know the field from both sides. I do not believe that you have that privilege.

You also make the mistake of assuming people who do not believe in a supernatural being have “rejected” god and have deliberately chosen not to believe. First, it is impossible to “reject” something you do not believe exists. Second, most of the so-called “new” atheists say that the position was not one of choice; they are simply incapable of continuing to believe in something which no longer makes any sense. Most have a history of several years during which they tried desparately to find reasons to continue to believe what was familiar and comfortable.

Go to http://wiki.ironchariots.org/index.php?title=Atheism to find out what an atheist actually is and what they really think. In your ignorance, you are trying to argue against positions which atheists generally do not take and for positions which atheists have already investigated and found wanting.

You make me feel like I did when a concerned elementary school student tried to convince me to re-believe in Santa so that I would get lots of nice presents and not be punished with a stocking full of coal. The arguments she used were naïve but there was no way of explaining this to the student. Her case seemed compelling to her because she lacked the experience, skill, knowledge and intellectual development necessary to effectively evaluate it. Now she would laugh at her ignorance and lack of critical ability.

I once held beliefs similar to yours. In my mid twenties I became a candidate for the Christian ministry. It took one year of theological training, including an extensive study of the whole Bible, before I was forced to admit that whole sections of what used to be appear to be water-tight beliefs were actually logically untenable or at least extremely shaky. I was unable to continue to believe them without forgetting what I had learned.

It was several more years and a couple of psychology degrees before I could admit that I had not only lost all my belief in supernatural elements but I could no longer even pretend to believe. Like the Santa-believing Elementary school student, I don’t expect you to understand that. Perhaps things will be different in ten years time, should you decide to investigate the basis of your current mindset. Othewise, I imagine you will go on shielding your beliefs from challenge. Sadly, you will have a lot of company.

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Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 27, 2009 at 6:23pm
Part 3 is out guys. Enjoy!
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 27, 2009 at 3:04pm
@Richard.

I will pass your congratulations long to my mother, whose name is Mary. :-) She called me Rosemary, although I go by other names as well: Ibu Ros while in Indonesia and Rosita Lyndall de Wemm when in Mexico. When in Rome ... well that's another story which I haven't written yet.
Comment by Richard Healy on August 27, 2009 at 2:14pm
Excellent work Mary. Will there be a part 3? ;-)
Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 27, 2009 at 1:58pm
Jay, quite right about Darwin. I was just talking about your statement at a Humanist gathering. Darwin wasn't sure about the hereditary mechanism. He had a very good guess about what he called “factors,” the carriers of genetic information from one generation to the next.

What’s remarkable is that it wasn’t until the ‘20s that evolutionary theory was confirmed. This period is called the Evolutionary Synthesis—the new science of genetics proved Darwinism. Genes, mutation, chromosomal crossovers all explained the mechanism for change.

I love this line: Haldane, DeVries, and Theodosius Dohzhansky were the pioneers of the new science. The latter said, (paraphrased) “All the books and ideas about philosophy and religion writer before 1859 are essentially worthless.”

It’s like a book on geology written by somebody who believes the world is flat.
Comment by Jason Spicer on August 27, 2009 at 1:51pm
OK, I confess. I created life. Billions of years before I was born. Because hey, if you're not going to bother making sense, why worry about causality? That's just how I roll.

Brilliantly stated, Rosemary. Jacob is proof that education is no antidote to willful ignorance. You can lead a horse to water and all that. Further, the poor quality of Jacob's education is betrayed by his ignorance of the classics. As if an educated person hadn't read Douglas Adams. The only reasonable words ever put in God's mouth were, "We apologize for any inconvenience."
Comment by JayBarti on August 27, 2009 at 12:27pm
WOW! I am a pure neophyte when it comes to biology and evolution (my formal education ended with High School), and even I understand it better, and perhaps can write about it better then he can (the short form engrish he uses is painful to read). As others have successfully pointed out he doesn't seem to understand the time frame involved.

now to look at the 'evidence' u have so painstakingly collected... the tPNA were synthesized under controlled conditions in a lab, whereas Darwin's 'organic pool' wasnt so amenable to the stable formation of such structures; especially under the prevalent environmental conditions of the time. I quote 'the molecules haven’t yet achieved self-replication..', if they had, u wud have had a valid case here... but of course, in your zeal to prove me wrong, u have missed out on these points....

He is right lab conditions and the conditions of early earth don't necessarily operate the same way, but the idea of how it could of happened is completely valid. Those conditions are as close as we can get to understanding what the conditions of an early earth was like.

As for his "organic pool" argument, Darwin knew he didn't have all the answer, as anyone who has read his works will agree. He made educated guesses, at how it might have occurred. His organic pool was a good guess for the time, based on what he knew, I suspect he even knew that it wouldn't be that simple an answer.

It always worries me when supposed teachers speak in terms of absolute perfection of knowledge, my best teachers where always the ones who taught from a position of, this is what we know, rather then this is the way it is.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 27, 2009 at 11:46am
Rosemary, at least we got a good laugh out of it. What made it so funny is that he warned us of his advanced knowledge and scientific acumen. Then to make such a jejune, naïve observation about the birds and the bees is overwhelmingly ironic and funny.

Any chance of his reading our comments? Maybe we’ll deflate his ego and arrogance a little bit.
Comment by Rosemary LYNDALL WEMM on August 27, 2009 at 12:51am
My hunch is that this guy did a minor in biology, possibly from a clone of BJU. I actually suggested such a thing in my first draft but omitted it on the grounds that is was unnecessarily inflammatory. His expressed ignorance of the evolutionary process was just too much for my "rudeness governor" so he got some rather un-minced words at that point. I understand more about how evolution works than he does, and the extent of my background in the area is an Australian tertiary entrance Year 11/12 sequence in the subject (which translates to about International Bacchelaureate Diploma level or US Junior College.) He is so poorly trained that he does not even recognize the extent of his ignorance.
Comment by Richard Goscicki on August 26, 2009 at 10:33pm
Quite so, Carver. Hymenoptera is one the most successful orders in all biology. Bees, wasps and ants saw the dinosaurs come and go. Maybe male bees are attracted to pretty flowers? After all, Bob Jones said so.
Comment by Jim DePaulo on August 26, 2009 at 10:25pm
When I taught biology I had a student teacher with a similar mind set. I told him if he refused to teach a required curriculum unit (evolution) I could not pass him. I finally informed his college supervisor of the problem and he removed him of his teaching assignment with me.
I don't believe Jacob is a grad student in biology unless he's attending Bob Jones or Regency University. He has, however, developed an unjustified arrogance concerning is intellectual acumen.

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