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Origin of Life: Another Great Challenge to Darwinism


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Finished? It's not very nice to lock your own thread in order to get the last word, Hwi - especially when the entire reason why the thread was created is because a previous thread on the same subject got locked before the debate could run its full course.

No, I think the thread will only be finished once people stop posting in it. It seems to be winding down anyway, so that time may not be far off. But perhaps some other people still have things to say. I myself haven't read all the posts yet, and I might want to reply to some of them after I do. So, with that in mind...

Thread unlocked.

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*gasp*  But I thought that closing it was what you were all clamouring for. So I took a moment to make a closing statement, then closed it. What a surprise to discover that the cries to 'put it to bed' and 'make it stop' did not represent the consensus!

Going forward, any outcries to shut down this thread should be directed toward Edric, who saw fit to...resurrect it.

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Now that the thread has been unlocked, it has come to my attention that there are a few more specifics upon which to elaborate.  And I am delighted to do so.

We are about to depart for our Christmas holiday destination and we

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Many people are still laboring under the false assumption that the origin of life is simply the result of some naturalistic mechanism requiring only a self-replicating molecule to get it all started.  They fail to understand that the insurmountable difficulties associated with a self-replicating RNA molecule evolving by blind chance are so daunting that

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you have two sides, A and B, and an unknown, Z

A sees Z, reads something about it in a book, claims that concept X is the answer.

B sees Z, reads something about it in a book, claims that concept Y is the answer.

A sees Y, disagrees, claims Y is bollocks.

B sees X, disagrees, claims X is bollocks.

A pissed off at B for having its concept called bollocks.

B pissed off at A for having its concept called bollocks.

<insert long debate here>

<insert some more debate here>

A even more pissed off at B for having its concept called bollocks.

B even more pissed off at A for having its concept called bollocks.

It doesn't matter what you say, or how many Harvard professors you quote, you're not going to change anybody's opinion enough to have them agree with you unless they were already about to agree with you... the same goes the other way around, you're too damn stubborn to look beyond your own views (just as other people are too damn stubborn to look beyond theirs) to even consider it to be truth, and as such, you stick to your views (and they to theirs), and you end up with 42 pages of posts of wasted energy in trying to win a debate that cannot be won.. not by locking topics on your last post, not by reopening it.. A and B will just get even more pissed off at each other for not seeing each others point of view, resulting in a moderator having to step in to calm things down (until a Nth topic opens up and it all starts all over again)

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If anything, these experiments serve as excellent demonstrations of how exceedingly difficult (read impossible) it is to  synthesize these components without an intelligent agent guiding each and every step in the process.  This is clearly not the result of blind, random, unguided chance.

My personal opinion on this question is that, from a purely scientific standpoint, attributing the origin of life to chance is of no more (or less) explanatory value than attributing it to divine intervention. The objective of science is to explain (or, at least, describe) how it all works/worked in the first place. My knowledge of evolutionary biology and biochemistry is lacking at best (so forgive me if I'm wrong), but I believe that scientific understanding of this "how" is yet far from being complete. Perhaps further research will shed more light onto this question, or maybe biologists will not be able to determine exact origins of life at all. In any case, it seems to me that scientific data regarding the origin of life is used by people to support their religious or atheistic beliefs, which are not directly related to scientific knowledge.

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My theory is that you somehow managed to write all that down in your post. How could you possibly have evolved to do that just through natural selection? ??? ;D You did. So why can't DNA learn that? Also, that seems like you copied it out from somewhere.

Well, actually, think of people as computers. We have ENAC. Call that the single celled organism. Today we have supercomputers. Call that modern life. Between then and now, computer code was written and re-written through a method of natural selection from the most basic to the more complex. Some computers are now able to learn. So could the DNA not have re-written itself so it could "learn" and become the DNA you have? All it takes is a lttle push from matter forming from the Big Bang and atoms bonding together to make molecules, which make up cells, which eventually join together into an organism.

Hasn't anyone ever thought God would get bored of playing The Sims eventually? I did. So I deleted it. Now I'm on to Dwarf Fortress. Even with the AI feeling like it has a personality, I still get bored. Would you like it if your higher being got bored and removed you?

In your opinion scientists have failed utterly and miserably to explain something, in my opinion, religious people utterly and miserably fail to explain why so many people died in the 9/11 attack...unless it was because they deserved to die...I'm not sure?

Simply put, if you to start topics on a contentious matter, try to be a little more objective and a little more subjective, at least for the first post.

Dunenewt, sorry mate, but you said a little more objective and a little more subjective. That seems contradictory.

Can't we settle this over a game of Dune 2000?  ;D Athiests verse Theologists (I think that's the right word)

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My personal opinion on this question is that, from a purely scientific standpoint, attributing the origin of life to chance is of no more (or less) explanatory value than attributing it to divine intervention. The objective of science is to explain (or, at least, describe) how it all works/worked in the first place. My knowledge of evolutionary biology and biochemistry is lacking at best (so forgive me if I'm wrong), but I believe that scientific understanding of this "how" is yet far from being complete. Perhaps further research will shed more light onto this question, or maybe biologists will not be able to determine exact origins of life at all. In any case, it seems to me that scientific data regarding the origin of life is used by people to support their religious or atheistic beliefs, which are not directly related to scientific knowledge.

Yes, perhaps scientific data should not be used to support either worldview, yet the practice and habit is deeply entrenched on both sides.  I feel that this practice is actually more detrimental to the theists due to the fact that scientific theory and interpretations are prone to change.  Therefore it is unwise to pin your faith upon a shifting framework where the interpretation of scientific data changes and new theories arise leaving you in the unenviable position of having to adjust your beliefs accordingly.  This is precisely why I mentioned earlier that it would be more advantageous to solidly anchor one

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While I eagerly await Edric's eventual contribution to this issue, I'd like to reiterate that I've already written a fantastic treatise for this very topic, and it's on Page 2.

Additionally, I'd also like to point out that things like...

Yes, perhaps scientific data should not be used to support either worldview, yet the practice and habit is deeply entrenched on both sides.

...and...

If anything, the more the subject is researched and the more theories tested, the stronger the argument against a purely naturalistic cause grows.

...is evidence to me of fundamentally dishonest debate. (1) You begin your post by making a statement that essentially amounts to "well, we can all be right!" (For what reason, I don't know: a veneer of reasonability?) Within two paragraphs, the new you of right now has forgotten the old you of twenty seconds ago and makes a second statement that essentially amounts to, "but in the end, I'm righter than you all!" This is why I cannot really take any of this seriously. By the way, did I mention that I've written a fantastic post on this very subject like, a page ago? I've been far, far from convinced as to the truth of anything else. An honest debater would attempt to engage me on the merits of those points and attempt to sway me, but even failing so, have contributed to an increased understanding of the topic for all involved. (sigh) (2) This topic was created for a discussion on the origin of life and the evolution of species. However, it frequenty drifts to other issues. Materialism vs. non-materialism vs. dualism can be discussed elsewhere, and there's a fantastic link on that subject that I posted to the "Fance Dancers" thread in the Dune section, but I can't be bothered to find it at the moment.

EDIT: This is also really annoying:

Regarding the origin of life, it would be refreshing if educators were required to teach students that at present we have absolutely no plausible theories of how life started and that it is still a huge mystery.

Hwi, let's take a moment and dissect what you're actually saying. I know this isn't going to affect your obviously deeply-rooted-to-the-point-of-outright-prejudice beliefs, but I think I can help you phrase these beliefs in a way that doesn't make all of us want to smack our foreheads. (1) "{I}t would be refreshing" is pretentious since you're not actually a member of the intelligentsia or the scientific community and should be dropped, or at the very least saved until you have a real zinger that you can deploy to the embarrassment of another. (2) "{I}f educators were required to teach students that at present we have absolutely no plausible theories of how life started" is a frighteningly fascist comment, since it implies that you'd rather have students taught nothing than even Darwin's theory of evolution alongside intelligent design theory--which is what the mainstream thinkers on both sides are actually comfortable compromising on. Way to go for supporting freedom of thought, Hwi--though, I suppose ignorance always was bliss, eh? (3) This would be assuming of course that the rest of your sentence follows. (It doesn't.) "[A]bsolutely" is almost absolutely wrong when used in normal discourse. It has the same logical weight as "always" or "never," and here, your use of absolutely implies that we have actually zero possible theories or explanations. I mean, obviously this isn't the case: this is wrong for you to say unless you're intentionally going for hyperbole. (4)"[P]lausible," according to my handy-dandy Wiktionary, has five possible meanings: 1. Seemingly or apparently valid, likely, or acceptable; credible: a plausible excuse. 2. Worthy of being applauded; praiseworthy; commendable; ready. 3. Obtaining approbation; specifically pleasing; apparently right; specious; as, a plausible pretext; plausible manners; a plausible delusion. 4. Using specious arguments or discourse; as, a plausible speaker. 5. A possibility in reason or thought experiment, but which may as a matter of fact be true or false, the truth of which is yet unknown to the thinker. I think Darwin's theory of evolution can certainly fall under the umbrella of the term plausible: especially under 1 and 5. Meanings 2-4 have fallen out of regular use, but are convenient here to illustrate your misuse of the word plausible. "Plausible" is not a nigh-insurmountable level of credibility: it need merely be apparently possible, which you've conceded that Darwin's theory of evolution regarding the origin of species and the naturalistic explanation of the origin life... are. So, either you don't know what plausible means, or you're trying to have things both ways (see the pre-EDIT portion of this post). (5) Finally, "a huge mystery." Spooky. Funny thing is, you don't act like this is a huge mystery... well, you do, but only about half the time. And therein lies the problem. Remember the admonition under the PRP link.

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Therefore it is unwise to pin your faith upon a shifting framework where the interpretation of scientific data changes and new theories arise leaving you in the unenviable position of having to adjust your beliefs accordingly.

As unwise as it may seem to you, this is the only reasonable modus operandi of scientific research. The opposite of it, which you propose below:

it would be more advantageous to solidly anchor one

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It appears that you have misunderstood my point, MrFlibble. I was not implying that this is the manner or mental disposition with which scientists should conduct their research. But rather, I was making a statement about how the evolving interpretations of scientific data should impact the individual's worldview or religious beliefs. In other words, if one's unchanging faith happens to contradict the current interpretations of scientific data, then one would be better served in adhering to one's religious beliefs.  For instance, in Aristotle's day, what if your religious beliefs called for a heliocentric model whereas the popular interpretation of scientific data/observation theorized a geocentric model?  Would one have been wrong to hold to one's religious views at that time?

Note here that the subject of the challenge in this particular instance is not the scientific data, but rather the subsequent interpretation of said data.

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What, no reply to Wolf?! I am truly shocked! :O :O :O :O :O Look at my shock: five emoticons' worth!

(snort)

It appears that you have misunderstood my point, MrFlibble. I was not implying that this is the manner or mental disposition with which scientists should conduct their research. But rather, I was making a statement about how the evolving interpretations of scientific data should impact the individual's worldview or religious beliefs.

Babble, babble, babble, blah blah blah would someone wake me when she says something?

In other words, if one's unchanging faith happens to contradict the current interpretations of scientific data, then one would be better served in adhering to one's religious beliefs.

Um, say what?

For instance, in Aristotle's day, what if your religious beliefs called for a heliocentric model whereas the popular interpretation of scientific data/observation theorized a geocentric model?  Would one have been wrong to hold to one's religious views at that time?

OK, stupid as it <s>seems</s>, excuse me, <b>IS</b>, that's what I thought you meant.

First off, why are your religious beliefs making pronouncements about the nature of the relationship between the Sun and the Earth in the first place? Is there some "spiritual" significance to whether the Earth goes around the Sun or the Sun goes around the Earth? Seems to me your religious beliefs are sticking their big nose into places where it's uncalled for, biting off a bit more than they can chew. Do these beliefs also have something to say about, oh, the melting point of iron and other metals, for instance, so that you have an interest in the blacksmith's trade? Doth the timing of the quenching of the metal weigh upon the virtue of the implement fashioned? Do you tell the farmer how to sow the furrow with care, because THE LORD THY GOD is mickle wroth when seed is spilled elsewhere? Interesting concept, these "theory of everything" religious beliefs you espouse!

If your "religious" beliefs about something in the real world conflict with a scientific theory which adequately and accurately explains that thing when there is clear data (repeatable results by multiple observers), then YES, you are an idiot if you cling desperately to your beliefs.

There is overwhelming evidence for the fact of evolution. The theory of evolution explains it. To deny it is a sign of stupid adherence to dogma. Period.

The fact that life exists is evidence for the fact of abiogenesis. We don't yet have an adequate theory to explain the origin of life, but to my knowledge the scientific community as a whole has yet to raise the white flag in surrender,  and the mere suggestion that because we have no definitive answer we should run back to the warm and cozy and bless

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You have, in fact, conceded the possibility of "accidental" formation of life through natural, physical processes, but maintain that "there aren't enough chances" or "it's too hard" for this actually to happen. Given this concession, let's consider your point that "it's too hard."

Heh, no the point isn

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Anyone who has read the Bible or even heard of the more famous accounts would be fully aware that spirit beings (angels) often materialize to take on the physical form of man in order to interact with human beings.

No, anyone who has read the Bible or blah blah blah should be aware that the ANCIENT HEBREWS BELIEVED that spirit beings (angels) did such things. That doesn't mean it EVER ACTUALLY HAPPENED. Even once.

I am really, honestly sorry for having taunted you before this. I didn't realize how ill you truly are. Get well soon, mmkay? :(

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Yeah, seriously, Hwi, the coherent is going down and the crazy is going way up. I'm torn between not wanting to answer because it clearly feeds something unhealthy, but worry that not answering will create the perception, to you, that you're actually right, and therefore also feed whatever's going on that's unhealthy. It's really a catch-22, you see.

But... since I'm also pretty sick and can't resist, I'm going to continue tearing you apart. (EDIT: Disclaimer: if you really are nuts, don't read further. But, then again, the nuts never know they're nuts...)

Heh, no the point isn
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No, Wolf, I understand precisely what I am talking about and you know that. Furthermore, I feel more confident than ever in my position on this topic and am satisfied that I have accomplished at least two major tasks during the course of this discussion. Frankly, I thank you for providing me with the golden opportunity to do so.

So feel free to lob all the insults and ridicule at me that you wish. It is my sincere hope that in doing so you will be relieved of your mounting frustration and rage.  :)

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For a person claiming to have total command over a certain subject, that's a pretty lame reply: why don't you actually read my post and answer my objections?

Furthermore, I'm not insulting you (these are my literal and honest reactions to the things you are saying), and the only things I'm ridiculing are your ideas. Those two things are not one and the same, and most people I met in life were aware of that when they were 16. Again, not an insult! An observation of objective fact. If the truth offends you, well, find a way to get over it!

EDIT: Also, frustration =/= rage. Hwi, do you have a dictionary? Again, not an insult! An observation of objective fact. (I think I'm going to trademark that and use it whenever I see something you do that's incorrect/stupid. Again, not an insult! An observation of objective fact!) And, if you were in my shoes, you'd also be pretty frustrated: you haven't said anything new, or actually answered either of the two major issues, since page 2! And then, when new people tried to enter the debate, you were superficially polite, but basically gave them the brush-off! Again, not an insult! An observation of objective fact. Try answering the objections without just... repeating yourself? I don't know. You're just going in circles, Hwi.

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*Sigh*

Feel any better yet?

Honestly, Wolf, at this point, it seems that all you're really interested in is mockery and provocation.  So go ahead and do your worst. And when you're quite done, we can continue this discussion in a more civilized and productive manner.  

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More evasion, deflection... look, the only thing I'm attempting to provoke is a reasoned response from you--you've failed to answer anything that's been brought up in opposition to you at any point in this debate (though you may think otherwise, the reality is somewhat different), and as opposed to making your position clearer or more reasoned, you're becoming more obtuse and rabid. As for the mockery... well, that's just to keep me entertained while you figure out what's going on.

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