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The Great Designer?
Posted by: Dale Franks on Thursday, October 30, 2008

Evolution is the central unifying theory of biology. Without it much of biology simply doesn't make sense. We simply have to take, as a starting point, that evolution is working in the real world in much the way theory implies.

But here's some food for thought.

Louis Pasteur's great achievement was proving that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, as was generally thought at the time. From this proof, the central truth of microbiology is "omni cellula e cellula", or "all cells come from cells."

And yet, evolutionary theory holds that life on earth did, in fact, begin spontaneously. So, two of the great tenets of evolutionary biology are 1) that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, and 2) that terrestrial life began through spontaneous generation.

Those two holdings are, as I'm sure you've noticed, mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true.

Discuss among yourselves...
 
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Not really, Dale. Abiogenesis / Spontaneous Generation held that complex and fully-functional life (maggots, fungi, etc) arose directly from decaying organic matter (dead animal flesh, rotting plant matter). On the other hand, most current people studying the formation of life are basing their study on experiments where we’ve demonstrated the formation and spontaneous organization of organic molecules (e.g. the formation of amino acids and their polymerization into polypeptides) under conditions very similar (since there’s debate, we can’t say identical) to those on a young Earth. There’s a huge difference between saying "insect larvae come into existence out of rotting meat" and "when you have these following conditions, you can see the formation of simple organic compounds, and then, over time, those compounds have a tendency to self-organize into larger units."
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
Dale — You might discuss it with us. Your setup for this discussion is pseudo-clever.

Evolution does not concern itself with the origin of life but with the origin of species, as Darwin put it, i.e. how life manages after it is kick-started into motion.

Which is not to say that biologists aren’t interested in the origin of life, but it is not the domain of evolution. It’s a tricky business, the origin of life, and there are various theories of how molecules became self-replicating. There is even the theory of panspermia—that the original molecules of life did not develop on earth but elsewhere, however.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
I understand, somewhat, the antipathy the right, especially the religious right, has for evolution. Nonetheless, the criticisms I hear from the right on evolution generally strike me as ill-informed, if not downright stupid.

I was sorry to read Ann Coulter’s imagined refutation of evolution in Godless. I have an intelligent conservative friend who actually believes that her arguments settle the matter.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
For a Theistic perspective on this discussion, I’d recommend the following book:

The Reason For God by Tim Keller
 
Written By: anon
URL: http://anon.com
I find that both sides of the debate are following some form of ’religion’. Truth is we don’t and short of it actually being ’by design and the designer stopping in to prove it’ we never will.

There is evidence that evolution is a real process - whether through adaptation/specialization or over billions of years much more. The fact that the system supports a method doesn’t prove it was the method.

Similarlly there is proof that ID is possible again easily shown with adaptation specialization (man is carrying out ID as we speak). Again no way to know... short of a visit.

The key to me is that we need to teach evolution because it is a process which occurs without a designer. It take 2 minutes to teach ID... so covering it should probably occur - with the focus being on understanding evolution, heredity etc.
( Course material for ID: There is the possibility that a ’force’ or ’being’ might exist that could design not only our genetic structure but that of every other life form in existance. There is no way to prove or disprove the existance of this force/being, and you are welcome to believe that it is the true origin of life.... now about evolution - because at a minimum that ’force/being’ provided a mechanism for life on earth to adapt and change ie. evolve based on what is around it and that is an amazing scientific concept.)
 
Written By: BillS
URL: http://bills-opinions.blogspot.com/
Its hard to buy an argument about evolution coming from someone named Lysenko.

But I just did.

My follow-up question is, okay, yeah I get the chemicals in the soup hit by lightning form stuff over time, etc., but dragging those chemicals back to the big bang, etc. why did this stuff exist in the first place?

 
Written By: Harun
URL: http://
Wow. People get their panties in a bunch over an interesting contradiction in the tenants of many of the evolution explains all.

Just because it took a long time to go from molecules to maggots, life still came from lifelessness.

The contradiction comes from a religious like absolutism of many evolution proponents.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Confusing abiogenesis with evolution does nothing to advance the debate. In fact, it suppresses it. It’s the trick of the creationist. It’s either a deliberate attempt to derail the debate, or a lack of understanding of the theory of evolution.

Compare it with theories about gravity: physicists don’t fully understand where gravity comes from either. The "why" is not fully understood, but the "how" has an amazing level of depth.
 
Written By: Joe R.
URL: http://leninvsmussolini.blogspot.com
In other words, part 2 of
two of the great tenets of evolutionary biology are 1) that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, and 2) that terrestrial life began through spontaneous generation.
is not actually one of the great tenets of evolutionary biology.
 
Written By: Joe R.
URL: http://leninvsmussolini.blogspot.com
Confusing abiogenesis with evolution does nothing to advance the debate. In fact, it suppresses it. It’s the trick of the creationist. It’s either a deliberate attempt to derail the debate, or a lack of understanding of the theory of evolution.

Compare it with theories about gravity: physicists don’t fully understand where gravity comes from either. The "why" is not fully understood, but the "how" has an amazing level of depth.
Although evolution doesn’t automatically reject spontaneous generation, many proponents of "evolution explains all life" or flat out anti-creationists generally do.

So the "debate" isn’t about evolution. Because most creationists will accept the examples of real-time evolution we can see around us primarily with insects. The "debate" is whether evolution alone explains the existence human life or not.
 
Written By: jpm100
URL: http://
Couple of things. Evolution by mutation and natural selection has to do with the origin of species, and technically, that isn’t even true, because Darwin didn’t have the mechanism for mutation, which came from Mendel. (Academic and pedestrian at the same time.)

Evolution is merely a chain of changes along a continuum. That may be in the design of a city (which is more emergent than city planners would admit), the development of literacy, the advancement of the sciences, or the English language - or any other, or the "retrograde" evolution of viruses.

I mention that because viruses are less complex than other organisms, but almost certainly have arisen after other organisms, since they require the more complex organisms to exist in order that they may reproduce themselves. (This is one example of why evolution ≠ increasing complexity.)

So, evolution may indeed cover how abiogenesis gives rise to life. The question, though, is "What, exactly, is life?"

Is a virus alive? Some of the damn things can sit around for God only knows how long without "dying."

Self organization may be a trick of geometry, a function of how atoms stack together into molecules, and how molecules stack together with other molecules. Nothing more. Look at any crystal.

The trick is getting to ever-more complex crystals that form more crystals, or that combine with another crystal in an interesting way, out of no motivation but for individual parts to swap atoms and electrons. Then they start having chemical reactions. Which brings other molecules into play.

Before you know it, you have a pile of cotton rags with a diplodocus under it.
 
Written By: AmosDWright
URL: http://
Confusing abiogenesis with evolution does nothing to advance the debate. In fact, it suppresses it. It’s the trick of the creationist.
Compare it with theories about gravity: physicists don’t fully understand where gravity comes from either.
Actually, this is where most people insisting ’science over creationism’ abandon science in the process. Scientifically, there is a Law of Gravity, meaning its been proven by the best methods available. Evolution is a Theory (as are all current porposals about the origin of life). By definiton, other theories on the subject that haven’t been disproven may be correct.
 
Written By: Ted
URL: http://
Evolution is a meaningless word, a political term.

Mirco-evolution, i.e. adaption = a valid, scientific theory. Not many educated Christians dispute this.

Macro-evolution, i.e. atheistic materialism = no scientific evidence for speciation.

Read above, and then re-read ignorant comments such as this: "I understand, somewhat, the antipathy the right, especially the religious right, has for evolution."
 
Written By: Terms matter
URL: http://
Macro-evolution, i.e. atheistic materialism = no scientific evidence for speciation.
TONS of scientific evidence for speciation. I’ll point you to it. Here’s a good starting point. www.google.com See what you can find.
 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
TONS of scientific evidence for speciation.
Show me the lab results for single cells "evolving" into Einstein, DaVinci, Edison, Mozart and Jefferson?

I googled and couldn’t find those (?)

Instead I found bacteria "evolving" into...bacteria. And fruit flies "evolving" into fruit flies...(?)

Marco-evolution = even stupider pseudo-history that fantasies of Jesus riding a dinosaur.
 
Written By: Terms Matter
URL: http://
Evolution is a Theory (as are all current porposals about the origin of life).
"Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time. Theories also allow scientists to make predictions about as yet unobserved phenomena".
By definiton, other theories on the subject that haven’t been disproven may be correct.
Well, you can’t disprove the existence of God (the "other theor[y]"). It’s not a testable hypothesis. It’s not a scientific theory. It’s not science at all. You either believe (like me), or you don’t. But, it is ludicrous to put it in a science textbook until its (ID) predictions are confirmed. And, since it won’t make any, this won’t happen.

 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
I googled and couldn’t find those (?)

Instead I found bacteria "evolving" into...bacteria. And fruit flies "evolving" into fruit flies...(?)
I’m sorry. I realize that we will have to disagree. I would point you to some sources, and you will point me to answersingenesis or talkorigins. Plus, it is 8:00AM where I am, so I have to work so that it may be redistributed at a later time.

Regardless, one of my favorite authors on the subject of genetics and evolution is Dr. Carroll, a professor of biology at Wisconsin.

http://seanbcarroll.com/about/

I would suggest these two books, the latter in particular is especially good and pertinent to the subject. It is one of my favorites. IMO, it is a slam dunk, akin to DNA evidence at a trial.

Genetics and the Evolution of Animal Design
The Making of the Fittest

I would love to debate all day, but I’ve already been there. I’m sure you have, also. Let’s just agree that AGW is B.S. and part on that note.

 
Written By: Is
URL: http://
Evolution is a Theory (as are all current porposals about the origin of life).
Again, evolution is not concerned with the origin of life.
In biology, evolution is the process of change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms from one generation to the next.
Wikipedia
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
It’s not a testable hypothesis.
Yes it is. But you are not being honest by what you consider "facts" or "evidence." Examples of evidence: personal contact with God, testable by those who experience it.

Other evidence considered equal to scientific evidence by most human beings: Eyewitness accounts, written documentation consistent with observable facts (e.g. Big Bang), etc.

You are also being loose with what you consider "science" — as "marco-evolution as explanation of life on Earth" isn’t testable or replicable in lab conditions, for example. Nor is there a fossil record to support this "hypothesis" and certainly not eyewitness accounts or written documentation.

In short: Don’t confuse science with scientism or atheistic materialism or philosophical naturalism.
I realize that we will have to disagree.
Whatever. Clearly you don’t have the evidence I asked for.
 
Written By: Terms Matter
URL: http://
"And yet, evolutionary theory holds that life on earth did, in fact, begin spontaneously. So, two of the great tenets of evolutionary biology are 1) that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, and 2) that terrestrial life began through spontaneous generation.

Those two holdings are, as I’m sure you’ve noticed, mutually exclusive. They cannot both be true."

That would be true if they referred to the same thing. As it is, they don’t. Pasteur’s hypothesis referred to diseases and epidemics (what became germ theory), not abiogenesis or biological evolution, which as others here have pointed out.

Wikipedia:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Louis_Pasteur#Statements

"Statements

In his triumphal lecture at the Sorbonne in 1864, Pasteur said "Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation recover from the mortal blow struck by this simple experiment" (referring to his swan-neck flask experiment wherein he proved that fermenting microorganisms would not form in a flask containing fermentable juice until an entry path was created for them).[4][19][20]"

So, Pasteur was talking about germs, here in the context of fermentation, and not biological evolution. Besides, he was not a great pioneer of evolution. His contemporary, Darwin was.


And no, evolutionary biology as a whole does not postulate that earthly life began by means of spontaneous generation (which essentially means appearing by magic), but by means of cumulative chemical change, which obviously has its roots in abiogenesis. The precise origins of fx RNA is not clear, but a good number of hypotheses exist on the subject.

In any case this is a long stretch from the spontaneous generation Pasteur and others at his time talked about, so please do not confound the two.
 
Written By: Peter Bjørn Perlsø
URL: http://titancity.com
"Show me the lab results for single cells "evolving" into Einstein, DaVinci, Edison, Mozart and Jefferson?

I googled and couldn’t find those (?)

Instead I found bacteria "evolving" into...bacteria. And fruit flies "evolving" into fruit flies...(?)

Marco-evolution = even stupider pseudo-history that fantasies of Jesus riding a dinosaur. "

If I had a dollar for every time I’d seen this line of debate...

TM. First of all, just saying you "googled and didn’t find some" is not an argument, and does nto mean there is none. Believe it or not, some parts of the world still are not completely assimilated into the internet, and second, even if they were, you have to demonstrate some adept usage of Google in terms of keywords and knowledge of relevant sites to search on to find the info you are looking for. In any case, try Wikipedia under "Speciation".

The line about "single cells evolving into X person" is hogwash and measningless abnd has no place ina debate about evolution. Evolutionary theory does not postulate silly things liek that, so you please be so kind not to erect such strawmen.

The old one about species X only evolving into species X again afetr reproduction, cloning or mutaion is also so old that my grandmother is tired of it. Likewise it’s a rhetorical strawman, because what the person who sets forth this line of (wrongful) objection to ET (abbrev Evolutionary Theory) conveniently neglects is to specify how much mutational change or genetic drift is required for a specielt to qualify as "new" after something has occurred. Of course, the critics of evolution never ever do this, for somewhat obvious reasons.

I’ll be diplomatic here and say that a wise man once said that it’s wiser to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth and remove the doubt for ever and for all to see. My meaning is that these attempts at arguments against ET, as seen here, are well known to some of us old timers, and use of them does not place the proponent of them in a favorable light when it comes to reasoned debate, on the contrary.


Have a good weekend. - p
 
Written By: Peter Bjrn Perls
URL: http://titancity.com
I tried Wikipedia and still didn’t find the evidence. Maybe you can post a specific example here? I tried google because a ET-believer here told me this held the answers. And surely if this was common-sense knowledge, it would be somewhere on the internet? There are sites about Star Trek vs. Star Wars and not this? How odd??
The line about "single cells evolving into X person" is hogwash and measningless abnd has no place ina debate about evolution
Really? Single cells evolving into people is hogwash? We agree on something!!!
specify how much mutational change or genetic drift
How clever!! Because these are PROOF of macro-evolution, right?
it’s wiser to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth


Right atcha you, monkey-boy.
 
Written By: Terms Matter
URL: http://
Lysenko - There’s a huge difference between saying "insect larvae come into existence out of rotting meat" and "when you have these following conditions, you can see the formation of simple organic compounds, and then, over time, those compounds have a tendency to self-organize into larger units."

Something that has always bothered me about the argument that life - somehow - spontaneously evolved from some sort of primordial soup is that it would appear to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e. that entropy (disorder) INCREASES in the universe. Life is orderly; small molecules become larger molecules, etc. Why should molecules become increasingly orderly and complex until, in aggregate, they become "alive" and, eventually, self-aware?

But let’s suppose that life did begin and evolve along the lines of atoms —> simple molecules —> complex molecules —> life. Why should this occur at all? Doesn’t the fact that atoms can only react in certain ways point back to some sort of intelligent design? Indeed, where did the atoms come from in the first place? Or the energy that drives the process of ordering them into increasingly complex molecules? Those who deny the existence of a creator and scoff at "intelligent design" are asking us to believe that the order, diversity, and beauty we see around us is the result of some sort of cosmic accident, like monkeys banging on typewriters not only writing the Britannica once, but also getting subsequent editions in order and on schedule.

Is points out the we cannot prove (or disprove) the existence of God. This is true. However, there is no good alternate answer to the question of where the universe came from: as far as I’m aware, there’s only, "Well, there was the Big Bang at some point in the past, and it all started there"; there is nothing about why this occurred in the first place, or what existed prior to it. Until somebody can come up with a plausible, provable explanation to the question of why the universe exists in the first place, then I’d have to say that the existence of God is as good an answer as any.

And God said, Let there be light...
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
If one reads about the Anthropic Principle, the Rare Earth Hypothesis, and Stephen Gould’s It’s a Wonderful Life, one learns that we humans live on a very unusual planet with a very unusual evolutionary history in a very unusual solar system in a very unusual universe.

It’s boggling. The current scientific approach is to make the universe so vast and with varying properties that somewhere, somehow life leading to us would have to exist.
 
Written By: huxley
URL: http://
Franks’ first line and premise:
Evolution is the central unifying theory of biology.
Really? Not on the evidence.

Genetics, as pursued and explicated through molecular biology and biochemistry, is the dominant theory and practice of biology. That’s been the great revolution in biology for about sixty years: the reverse engineering of life at the molecular level.

Evolutionary biology is a sideshow, and for some a pseudo-religion. The Neo-Darwinian synthesis (the combination of Darwin’s theory with Mendelian genetics) has not been able to stay on top of what has come out of that revolution in molecular biology and biochemistry.
 
Written By: Martin McPhillips
URL: http://newpaltzjournal.com
Louis Pasteur’s great achievement was proving that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, as was generally thought at the time. From this proof, the central truth of microbiology is "omni cellula e cellula", or "all cells come from cells."

And yet, evolutionary theory holds that life on earth did, in fact, begin spontaneously. So, two of the great tenets of evolutionary biology are 1) that spontaneous generation of life does not occur, and 2) that terrestrial life began through spontaneous generation.


Ah, but if Pasteur had only subjected his flask to the correct conditions of heat, light, electrical discharge, etc, he WOULD have generated life in it, and had he only continued to apply the correct conditions over millenia, he would have seen it evolve.

Wait... Doesn’t that imply some sort of HIGHLY, um, intelligent design on his part???
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
Dale Franks, your definition of spontanious generation is wrong in your argument. Complex cellular life is formed from complex cellular life in successive generations. Thats all Pasteur had proved.

Watch this video that illustrates some theories of Abiogenesis. It gets good around 3 minutes in.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U6QYDdgP9eg
 
Written By: Jimmy the Dhimmi
URL: http://www.warning1938alert.ytmnd.com
"Evolution is the central unifying theory of biology. Without it much of biology simply doesn’t make sense." This is what I think is the silliest part of the argument for evolution. Wheather it is true or not has NO impact on actual biological research. name one drug, one medical prodcedure, one environmental reabilitation that needed the theory of evolution. It is like saying that particle physics and electrical engineering need the "big bang" cosmology. From a utility standpoint, evolution has zero impact on research. Socialology and palentology may create some "just so" stories, but in actuallity, science can be done equally well with an evolutionary or ID standpoint. The real argument is philosophical and a worldview, not scientific.
 
Written By: Bradley Bass
URL: http://
The blind squirrel resolution to contradiction: Spontaneous generation is an extremely low probability event whose improbability grows with increasing organism complexity.

But even low probability events become probable if given enough chances. And integrating over the entire universe and over all previous time yields *A LOT* of chances. [FWIW I’m Southern Baptist, believe in God’s will in the world AND in evolution]
 
Written By: Jody
URL: http://
Likewise it’s a rhetorical strawman, because what the person who sets forth this line of (wrongful) objection to ET (abbrev Evolutionary Theory) conveniently neglects is to specify how much mutational change or genetic drift is required for a specielt to qualify as "new" after something has occurred. Of course, the critics of evolution never ever do this, for somewhat obvious reasons.
Wow, that’s a bald-faced lie. The standard definition for speciation has always been "new species cannot interbreed with the former species and create fertile offspring." This is the definition I have always seen creationists use. It is not a particularly good definition because most species definitions are based on physical attributes instead of actual breeding and genetic interactions, but it is still the standard.
Something that has always bothered me about the argument that life - somehow - spontaneously evolved from some sort of primordial soup is that it would appear to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e. that entropy (disorder) INCREASES in the universe.
Entropy can increase in an open system, just not in a closed system. Since the earth definitely receives large energy input from the sun, it is therefore an open system and increasing order is not really a problem.
When you have these following conditions, you can see the formation of simple organic compounds, and then, over time, those compounds have a tendency to self-organize into larger units.
I may not be completely up to date on current theory, but when last I checked abiogenesis theory looked like: young earth gives us amino acids *poof a miracle happens* unicellular life. Of course *poof a miracle happens* generally looks more like pseudo-scientific hand-waving hypotheses instead of "diety did it", but it amounts to the same sort of unsubstantiated stuff.
 
Written By: Jeff the Baptist
URL: http://jeffthebaptist.blogspot.com
This is a bit silly.

What evolutionary biology says is spontaneous generation of life is extremely rare. So complex life life maggots don’t spontaneously appear in meat on an everyday basis, but very simple single-celled organisms spontaneously appeared billions of years ago and gradually evolved into the life we see now.
 
Written By: TallDave
URL: http://www.deanesmay.com
Nobody’s gonna bring up exogenesis? Fred Hoyle? Chandra Wickramasinghe? Nobody?

Really?
 
Written By: Dale Franks
URL: http://www.qando.net
"Show me the lab results for single cells "evolving" into Einstein, DaVinci, Edison, Mozart and Jefferson?

I googled and couldn’t find those (?)
Sorry, I checked them out last week and haven’t returned them yet :)
 
Written By: capt joe
URL: http://
TM:

For a current example of speciation (what you are calling macro-evolution), take a look at "ring species". These species (often birds) can mate with their neighbors to the east and west, and this continues around the planet. What’s odd is that they can’t mate with their ’conspecifics’ on the opposite side of the world. Speciation takes some time, and requires certain conditions be met — this is an example of those conditions being met in a situation that we can observe and measure.

For a pretty decent read on Darwinism and the role of symbiosis, Margulis’ "Acquiring Genomes" does a good job.
 
Written By: William
URL: http://
Actually, this is where most people insisting ’science over creationism’ abandon science in the process. Scientifically, there is a Law of Gravity, meaning its been proven by the best methods available.
Yes, the law of gravity exists—and has been superseded by the theory of general relativity. Einstein’s theory is more accurate than Newton’s law.

You’re right about one thing: science is abandoned in the process. But not by the evolution proponents.
 
Written By: Joe R.
URL: http://leninvsmussolini.blogspot.com
It’s interesting to read the various posts. To a large extent, we all talk past / around each other. "Well, TECHNICALLY, (XXX) doesn’t mean what you say" or "We REALLY should be talking about (YYY)" and even "None of this has any practical application, so who cares?" with the usual snark and insults thrown in for good measure.

So, allow me to get back to the root of the question:

What is the origin of life on earth? Not "does it evolve" or "has it evolved" or "how does it evolve", but "how did it get here in the first place?"
 
Written By: docjim505
URL: http://
So...depending on which side we’re on -

We believe some higher being just sort of ’existed’ (out of the nothingness) and set it all up to run but we don’t believe that life could have just ’existed’ out of the components in the Universe (which we’re not quite clear on ’came from where?’).

OR

We believe that life just ’existed’ out of components in the Universe (which we’re not quite clear on ’came from where"’) And we’re not willing to believe that life ’existing’ couldn’t have created a higher being (first) in the same way we’re supposing it created life here on earth.

Like Ice Cream, there are all kinds of flavors you can make out of these ingredients.
But...’life’ out of nothingness....either way.

To me "I AM" is certainly as reasonable an explanation as a Universe (and life) that just sort of explodes into being.




 
Written By: looker
URL: http://
The amount of evidence supporting the theory of evolution is simply massive. We’ve been researching this for over a hundred years, and virtually every additional piece of the puzzle we discover adds to it. Darwin had the gist of it right, guys like Mendel, Morgan, Watson and hundreds of thousands of others around the world have added bits and pieces through rigorous scientific study. In the last 25 or 30 years we have become really good at sequencing DNA, understanding how it changes over generations and through species over time. All this has further confirmed Darwin’s basic theory. The depth and breadth of it is simply staggering.

What really really bugs me though is the way the anti-evolutionist types think they can smugly dismiss literally a library of evidence with a wave of the hand and some poorly thought out ideas like "intelligent design". Read a popular book like Behe’s and all of a sudden you’re an expert.

Look, I’m an MD, so I think I’ve got probably a little better understanding of biology than your average bloke, yet my knowledge of evolution only scratches the surface. And I probably know far more than the majority of my MD colleagues, since I find some of the research interesting and occasionally skim the literature. Yet I would quickly be inundated in any sort of debate or discussion among full evolutionary biologists.

Just like I would never pretend to be able to hold my own in a debate among particle physicists, or economists discussing the current subprime meltdown, if you don’t have at least a master’s degree level of understanding of evolutionary biology, you simply are not qualified to comment on it. If you want to discuss it at a cocktail party, fine, but don’t presume to be taken seriously. There’s no point in even trying, and for someone who

I know that sounds cocky and arrogant, but it’s the way it is. I’m sure most of you are experts in something, let’s say maybe carpentry, or plumbing, or something. How would you feel if some joeblow from the street came along and started confidently spouting complete baloney about how to do your job, telling you your years of experience are completely worthless, and he knows more because he reads Handyman magazine? Pretty annoyed, wouldn’t you be? Likewise, if you don’t know the difference between mRNA or tRNA, or don’t know what a ribosome does, or what a transposon is, or the significance of endogenous retroviruses in constructing phylogenetic trees, you need to educate yourself. At least 2-3 years of graduate level coursework for a basic understanding.

As an example, conflating abiogenesis and evolutionary biology simply serves to further illustrate this. Our admittedly limited understanding of the former in no way undermines the massive amount of evidence we have for the latter.

Lastly, I’m the first to admit most evolutionary biologist types are annoying liberal atheist academic types. But that doesn’t mean their knowledge of biology is suspect, any more than Krugman’s kooky liberal NYT columns repudiate his solid contribution to trade theory in academic economics.
 
Written By: Steve
URL: http://
TM: " it’s wiser to stay silent and be thought a fool than open your mouth



Right atcha you, monkey-boy. "

Such childishness and the evident lack of reflection on what I wrote from the cutting away of most of my post has once again assured me that arguing with creationists is a timesink.
 
Written By: Peter Bjrn Perls
URL: http://titancity.com
Its hard to buy an argument about evolution coming from someone named Lysenko.
I was a BioChem major for awhile, and I enjoy the irony of the name. Besides, he was a hero in a sense: single-handedly ensured that the Soviet’s genetic and biological science capabilities were crippled for decades.
My follow-up question is, okay, yeah I get the chemicals in the soup hit by lightning form stuff over time, etc., but dragging those chemicals back to the big bang, etc. why did this stuff exist in the first place?
As far as why there’s -matter-, period, and why matter exists in the proportions it does (lots of H and He around the universe, etc), we start to get into questions of physics and even mathematics, not chemistry (which is what we’re discussing when we talk about abiogenesis BTW, not biology or evolution). There are various discussions of the creationist/ID argument from incredulity, ontological argument, weak anthropic principle argument, but to keep this post from being too long I’ll just try to link to them:

http://www.stephenjaygould.org/ctrl/stenger_intel.html

http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/0001/0001197v2.pdf

http://xxx.lanl.gov/PS_cache/astro-ph/pdf/9612/9612113v1.pdf

http://prola.aps.org/abstract/PRD/v23/i2/p347_1

http://64.233.183.104/search?q=cache:mto0xTu_64AJ:philsci-archive.pitt.edu/archive/00001609/01/Anthropic_Explanations_in_Cosmology_(2003).doc+%22stephen+hawking%22+collins+flatness&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=8&gl=uk&client=firefox-a
Something that has always bothered me about the argument that life - somehow - spontaneously evolved from some sort of primordial soup is that it would appear to violate the Second Law of Thermodynamics, i.e. that entropy (disorder) INCREASES in the universe.
You’re mis-stating the 2nd law, which is that a CLOSED system, entropy will tend to increase, reaching its maximum at the point at which the system is in equilibrium. The universe as a whole trends towards entropy because it’s (as far as we can tell) a closed system, but when you look at something like a pond on earth, or a single living organism, or a planet, you’re looking at an OPEN system with external sources of energy. In the case of something like a young earth’s oceans you’ve got three potential energy sources: geothermal (geothermal vents, volcanoes, etc), solar (radiant energy entering the system from the sun), and electrical (depending on which model you find persuasive there was most likely a time where electrical activity in the earth’s atmosphere was much higher than it is nowadays).

If it were true not just that entropy increases as a whole in the universe but at every local point within the universe, not only would the sort of stuff we’re talking about not be possible, but none of us would be alive. Any living body is, in a sense, a collection of processes applying energy gathered from external sources to stave off entropy and establish order. Of course, because of thermodynamics and various other physical laws, none of those processes work forever ;).

Finally, on the issue of Xenogenesis: it’s just a regression that doesn’t answer or explain anything, and so isn’t really useful -or- relevant.
 
Written By: Lysenko
URL: http://
The question is not whether mindless forces can just happen to arrive in the right state where a living cell can be produced. It’s well established that they can. The question is how likely it is that they would do so, given all the variables that have to be exactly right for it to happen. Scientists disagree on that question, but I’ve definitely seen atheist scientists argue against Carl Sagan on the likelihood of life on other planets simply because it’s such a fluke that it appeared on earth. Lawrence Krauss, no denier of evolution or defender of theism, makes exactly such an argument in his excellent The Physics of Star Trek. Intelligent design arguments do not, despite how they’re misrepresented by their opponents, argue against the how of evolution. They argue against its likelihood and thus conclude that we can explain such an unlikely event if there’s a designer who arranged for such unlikely circumstances to occur.
 
Written By: Jeremy Pierce
URL: http://parableman.net
Dale,
VATICAN CITY (Reuters) – Pope Benedict told a gathering of scientists including the British cosmologist Stephen Hawking on Friday that there was no contradiction between believing in God and empirical science.
Hope that clears things up.
 
Written By: Wulf
URL: http://www.atlasblogged.com

 
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