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8/06/2007                                                                                       View Comments

Evolution doesn't have a chance

By Dave, the WM

The Christian arguments against evolutionary science habitually revolve around impressive sounding statistics that seem to indicate the extreme unlikeliness for life to have evolved. These stats are used as an apologetic against natural processes in favor of a hands-on, designing creator.

You know what? They are right! No, not about the creator, about the astronomical chances against me existing.

I've thought about this. My father and mother have been married just short of 50 years. They have slept in the same bed their entire married life. And they had a normal sex life. From what I understand, each time they slept together, millions of potential humans died. Only four out of all the hundreds of billions of potential human beings that left my father to find happiness in the womb of my mother survived the process. Only four out of billions. Remarkable. My embryonic genesis was marked by the tragic deaths of millions of competitors. Had the tail twitched just a tiny bit slower, some other crying infant would have been born to my parents, and I wouldn't be here today.

I was just a shot in the dark, but I beat the odds.

But wait, the deck was just as stacked against my parents, wasn't it? Yet, somehow they were born, whereas hundreds of billions of their competitors never made it either. Had either of my parents lost the game of "He who swims fastest gets more chromosomes," I wouldn't be here. So, the impossibly large odds against me existing just went up.

But wait again! What about my grandparents? And their parents? And theirs? And on and on...

Understanding how reproduction works -- that millions of potential individuals draw the straw during each act of copulation, but only one (usually) gets lucky -- makes the possibility of any of us being here seem extremely unlikely. Compounding the odds by adding in all the known preceding generations, well, the statistical chances of any of us existing is decreased to virtually nothing. In fact, it's impossible.

Yet, here we are.

Most people acknowledge that when it comes to making babies, it's a fairly random process. You don't know what kind of person a coupling will bring. Boy, girl, athlete, musician, smart, loving, kind, bully, sickly... no one can tell you a thing.

"Will he be pretty, will he be rich, please momma please tell me. Que Sera Sera..."

Life? It's random. It's chance. It's accident.

And the person that the two lovers make together will be only one (usually) out of millions who will never breathe air. Millions against one.

You might say that another person, against impossible odds, has won the lottery of life.

The only alternative for the Christian, in his or her railing against the evil wickedness of chance, is to say that God is directing every single spermatozoa into the exact right egg. And in that case, Monty Python's “Every Sperm is Sacred” is true and the Catholic Church is right to forbid men from putting those little rubber thingies on their willies.

So what is it? Is life random and accidental? Or does God surf our prostatic fluid? Are the odds against nature so high that there is no reasonable explanation for the existence and proliferation of life but belief in a magical, ultra-dimensional deity who "poofs" everything into existence?

I say that life is the chance result of an incomprehensibly large number of randomly combined accidents.

What do you think?

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43 comments:

Kenny said...

I have a friend whose mother is so ugly that the chances of her getting laid make your stats pale in comparison. :)

Seriously, I like what Richard Dawkins always says, - something like, "It's true that it's statistically unlikely, but it only has to happen once."

Bob said...

It's an argument i have often used when sparing with fundies. The odds of any one of us having obtained life is so vast as to make the lottery look like a coin toss. Th gratest people who could possibly ever live didn't make the cut.....too bad you have to take me, instead......

freeman said...

Definitely random and accidental!

During a human male ejaculation, 300,000,000 (300 million)spermatozoa are released! And only one fertilizes an egg.

To add to the accidental; According to Stanford School of Medicine, "Even after implantation, spontaneous abortions can occur. In the normal course of human reproduction, about 60 percent of embryos spontaneously abort and are simply flushed in the course of the menstrual cycle".

So much for the soul being given at fertilization!

Anonymous said...

Coming to grips with the fact that god did not "form me in my mother's womb" was actually a major part of my deconversion process. I was taught since birth that god had a hand in the creation of every person alive today. The old scripture about god knowing every detail of my life before I even existed comes to mind.

But to accept that is to accept that god can create something less than perfect. How can a perfect being create an imperfect baby?

Furthermore, WHY? Why would this god go out of his way to fuck up not just my life but the lives of countless other people since time began?

And I'm supposed to WORSHIP this being?

HELL NO!!

~ Aurelia ~

Bill said...

There is a youtube video out there where a guy illustrates the point by dumping out a bunch of sugar and stating how astronomical the odds are agaist each grain of sugar lying exactly where they did in relation to the others, yet it happened and it was entirely by chance.

xrayman

Winter said...

Well, I am certain that your mother is happy not having to give birth to those millions of children.

freethinker05 said...

You know, I sometimes think about all the babies that die at birth, and the children that only live very very short lives, and also the ones that are born with mental/physical retardiness, and then think to myself; if god exist, he/she/it should have the all-power to at least mix the sperm with the egg right to create everyone equal. I think to myself, this shit just ain't no fair, so what's the purpose in life. "Some" religous people will say,"god works in mysterious ways", all the while thinking deeply about it themselves and doubting in their god's existense.

AtheistToothFairy said...

Dave,

I've considered your own thoughts several times in my life about why the person I call 'ME' is the one that landed up alive, over and above a non-ME person.

Beyond what you said though, I've wondered such things as to why I was lucky enough to land up in the USA and not somewhere much less pleasant on earth. What are the chances of being born not only in the USA versus other countries, but in a time of having all this modern technology etc..

Also, why wasn't I born as one of MANY lower life forms we have around, as some religions believe we can be.

Are we to assume that because I'm such a ummm 'great being', that god chose to put me in this great land and time, and as a human life form as well?

Then of course we have the folks who think god exists because the chances are also mighty slim for having such a viable planet as earth, with just the right conditions to support life.
Surely it took a 'god' to make such a perfect planet, they insist.

Of course, they ignore the fact that we couldn't have been born on Jupiter or Mars etc., so where else could we have landed up being born....other than some other distant earth; if one does exists.

It makes much more sense to say you were born on earth, because it's really the only place you could have been born; that we know about.
If you weren't 'born' on such a viable planet, you wouldn't be pondering such questions like these, at all.

So there are two ways to look at all this chance going on.

Either one realizes that things do indeed happen by beating some huge odds, or god is directing the whole show, right down to the swimming sperms you mention.

I think the answer is quite obvious, but only if one takes off that darn fundie hat first.

AtheistToothFairy

.:webmaster:. said...

The point, Gold-troll, is that the statistical unlikelihood of things is a moronic Christian apologetic.

Anyway, you wore out your welcome here a few years ago. Your comments are deleted.

Joe said...

It seems to me that the main thing people miss, and that seems to have been missed in this discussion is that xians and biologists talk about two different likelihoods. The likelihood that history unfolded the way it did, that we ended up with the overall physiology that we have, and that I met my acquaintance Jon at the mall last week are all very very small (some far smaller than others).

However, the probability that history would unfold some way, that all those adaptive and procreative processes would lead to some sort of evolution, and that the number of people I meet will occasionally result in an encounter all have a likelihood very close to 1.

What the creationists and ID theorists assume is that this is how we have to be. It was the plan. Quite to the contrary, this is how we happen to be. A few different twists along the way and we could have had a lot more body hair, or none at all, our arms could have be a lot shorter, or the fluke of Tiger Woods amazingly flexible spine would be the norm.

Something will happen someday. It's a sure thing.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Dave to a point, but there are a few things to assert here.

First, what Richard Dawkins said is wrong: it had to happen more than once. Consider that life started from primordial ooze. Forming life from primordial ooze is not just improbable; forming protein in this environment is virtually impossible according to organic chemistry (peptide bonds do not form in aqueous solution without the aid of enzymes, and neither would nucleic acids). Then, these molecules had to come together to form an organism of some sort, which is another amazing accomplishment in diffuse aqueous surroundings. Then, that being had to reproduce, yet another hurdle to overcome.

Basically, the argument provided has a seriously flaw in that there will almost always be an outcome that results in a human being (or fertilized egg). This is like saying I can't know the order in which I can draw a card from a stack of cards, but regardless, there is a probability associated with my guess. I might have an astronomical chance at guessing the order that someone pulls out a particular sequence of cards, but I still have a chance of getting it right.

This is not true of evolution. The likelihood of forming a molecule does not translate into a possibility of life. For example, if I toss a dime several times, there is no chance of me getting a head of Thomas Jefferson as part of the outcome. It just isn't going to happen. Neither statistics nor chemistry/physics is on the side of evolution. Why it persists in a world of logic like science, I will never know.

A. Ford

Anonymous said...

For this concept, randomness in a complex system, the weather is an interesting analog to consider. The current weather is a function of the past weather plus many small changes. We understand the mathematics behind the weather, and we use it to try to predict what the weather will be. The issue is not that we don't understand the rules that govern weather, but the sheer volume of their consequences is difficult to manage. The key is that the changes in the weather from one millisecond to the next, however innumerable they are, are all small. Thus we can predict the exact weather 5 minutes from now with great accuracy. But predicting the exact weather 5 months from now is simply not possible (with current technology).

But, does this lack of predictability make all weather a candidate for the miraculous? Take all of the weather, temperatures and rainfall in your own state or country at this very moment... what are the odds that you could have predicted all of it perfectly? Astronomically small, but here it is happening all the same.

The weather is also an interesting analog in that we used to use deities to explain the weather, just like life. But now, after so much research and observation, we understand the principles that govern the weather. Very few people would look at the current weather from a predictive standpoint and think, "wow... what are the odds that it is 78 degrees right here now with some cumulonimbus clouds overhead. From the standpoint of 1 year ago, the possibilities for this moment were so numerous (this is true) that the current scenario is a miracle... there must be a supreme being!"

The fact of the matter is, we understand the principles that govern the weather and many of those that govern evolution and life, and none of them involve the supernatural. But, the quanta that are governed by these principles are so numerous, and the interactions among the quanta are so numerous that we have difficulty understanding the consequences of these principles more than a few moments beyond the present. Drawing conclusions by looking past the "calculation horizon" in complex systems is simply conjecture... if this is your criteria for a supreme being then you should find gods inside your computer, the traffic in your city, the ocean currents, and even the weather you are having right now... no matter how good or bad.

boomSLANG said...

Yup, the theory of Evolution has some "hurdles to overcome". Meanwhile, "magic" hasn't left the locker room.

Anonymous said...

The problem with arguments that use large numbers and probability is that human intuition tends to fail us.

It is like arguing that if you drop a penny from a high-flying airplane, the penny will never hit the ground because the chances of it landing in any one spot are too remote to be taken seriously.

Lance said...

Hi AtheistToothFairy,

You said
"I've considered your own thoughts several times in my life about why the person I call 'ME' is the one that landed up alive, over and above a non-ME person."

That really boils down to the main questions of philosophy, theology and psychology; which are basically: Who am I? What am I? What is consciousness? etc. Very cool stuff and and a good reason to sit up late at night with a few friends and a bottle of wine or two.

In light of the premise of this post, and all the probability stuff, I'm just going to say that out of all those sperm one of them always wins the lottery and a consciousness is born. And my guess it that each consciousness is nothing more than a product of the complex chemical reactions going on in the brain.

Now, as to why you and I are each one of these lucky consciousnesses, I have no fucking idea? Please let me know if you get it figured out.

But as weird as this stuff is, you can see why people invent religion to try and sort it all out.

For me, I'll just enjoy the mystery.

Peace. - Lance

Lance said...

Hey Dave,
My post showed up twice. I see other posts that say "post was deleted by owner" or something like that. How do I delete one of my posts if I screw up?

Thanks.

Thanks for the post too. Your question of "Or does God surf our prostatic fluid?" made me laugh out loud.

Reality is hard for some folks to handle.

Bob said...

Richard Dawkins makes the point, so well, in describing evolution with his golf ball example:what are the odds of a golf ball hitting any particular blade of grass yet the ball is going to land in the grass, somewhere.

Anonymous said...

People keep refering to Dawkins here. The golf ball example illustrates what I was saying perfectly. The ball will hit some blade of grass; we just don't know which one. The weather is the same way. It will rain/sun/snow/hail at some point somewhere, we just need to plug in the right parameters to our models to get it right.

Evolution (origin of life) is not this way. From what we know about the parameters and equation, there is no way we could ever just plug them in to an equation and end up with an outcome that resembles life. The science is bad. This doesn't mean that alleles don't change over time; we understand why this outcome is true. However, the origins of life and the reason why new species come about flys right in the face of chemistry and biology. This (and the lack of data) is why no one teaches species evolution with rock solid examples of how one part of DNA morphed into another and how that change lead to a new reproducible species. Its more circumstantial in nature.

A better example for evolution is like the US Constitution. We can read its Bill of Rights, and we can see how they've changed over the years. However, they are all just variants of the same thing: people's rights. Imagine now if the Bill of Rights were to take on an article about why Britney Spears shaved her head. This is totally out of character for the Constitution, and we would all wonder why someone would put something like that there. There is no rhyme or reason; it just shows up. We could make up reasons for it being there all day long, but it just doesn't fit.

A. Ford

.:webmaster:. said...

A. Ford,

Number 1: Click the radio button labeled "other" and type your moniker there. That way you don't keep showing up as "anonymous."

Number 2: You sound pretty dogmatic here. What it sounds like to me is that you are saying, "I don't understand how any of this could happen, therefore GOD-DID-IT!"

Is that your premise? If so, it's weak. Can you tell any of us your scientific background, the courses you've studied, or at least a few titles by respected scientists you've read that echo your views?

Thanks.

.:webmaster:. said...

Here, A Ford, is a short synopsis to address your comments: LINK

stronger now said...

The likelihood of life sprouting up and the likelihood that after said life sprouted that it changed over time into us is indeed very low if one understands only what is currently understood about these processes. Is it actually unlikely or is it that we have yet to understand the process enough to make a sound judgement? If one were to assert that it can never be understood to a degree that would diminish the unlikelihood to a more comfortable level, then they are arguing in favor of mans future ignorance. Could man have understood why honey fermented into mead until Louis Pastur discovered that yeast was the culprit? The why and how of the natural world are still being discovered and it would do humanity a great disservice to stop inquiry for the simple explanation of "It's Magic".

Spirula said...

Neither statistics nor chemistry/physics is on the side of evolution.

First, your comments are all about abiogenesis, not about evolution. The Theory of Evolution isn't based on the "probabilities of abiogenesis", but on the palentology/fossil record, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, genetics, ecology, and population biology. All provide overwhelming evidence that living things have evolved into many, many different species. (There is no controversy about this in the community of biologists, of which I am a member). Regardless, that claim is neither substantiated nor correct. In fact, I know many chemists and physicists that firmly support the Theory of Evolution.

Second, you are incorrect about assertion that nucleotides are unable to self-assemble and replicate (and even do so in a "cell-like" environment). The evidence indicates otherwise.
Here is one recent experiment demonstrating this:

http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2004/09/040903091444.htm

(As an aside, if biochemists had your attitude, they would never bother to investigate "how it could happen". Fortunately they don't and instead they continue to generate experiments that explore just how abiogenesis might have occured.)

Third, scientific claims are not invalidated because of your personal inability to comprehend complex phenomena, but on actual evidence and experimentation. We scientists don't limit our hypotheses to what the public can fathom. Science isn't validated by vox populi.

If scientific investigation has shown us anything, it is that it is a very risky thing to make sweeping generalizations about what "can or cannot" be, especially in the realm of biology.

A. Ford said...

Once again, I see how people have only two modes of thinking: if you're not arguing for evolution, you must be arguing for intelligent design.

I said no such thing. I don't believe God made the world; I don't know what did. That's just the point. Don't follow down a path that you know isn't going anywhere.

For example, I could come up with a theory that every living thing in existence came from nonliving material (i.e. something dead). There's no God involved, but it isn't evolution either. This is just one scenario. Perhaps new creatures formed from the biomolecules of dead things; this would give the hint of macroevolution, but it is not the same thing (yes I know there's no abiogenesis, but if scientists believed that, they would not be suggesting a primordial ooze as the origin of life). Again, this is just one option, but there could potentially be others.

As far as people who share my views, why do I need others? Galileo didn't have others agree with him when he said Earth goes around the sun. Just because lots of people believe in something doesn't make it true. I think this is one of the arguments people commonly use to refute Christianity, right? After all, what biologist or biochemist would dare challenge evolution; it would be the same as going against the church to support science a few hundred years ago.

boomSLANG said...

As I said, while macro-evolution, in the eyes of some, may have a few "hurdles" to over-come, "Abracadabra" warms the locker room bench.

Notwithstanding, if there is a better natural explanation than Evolution, a Nobel Prize awaits. Keep me posted..I love to be directly associated with world-famous people!

THE ACE said...

I'm no scientist, and that's for sure, but it seems to me the longer time an event is given to happen, the more chance that event, or at least some random event, is going to happen.

If the Earth is indeed billions of years old, that's a heckuva long period of time, and the chance of some form of life or energy forming in that time period is much greater than if just given a
few thousand years.

I guess my radio career could provide an example; if I'm on the air for only an hour, chances are
I might not make any mistakes, but
during an airshift of several hours, I'll have more chances to screw something up, and probably
will!

Again, this is no great scientific
thought, but it still seems more
believable to me than some great
invisable man waving his magic wand, and everything comes to be
in seven days. (Whoops, just six
days. I think he rested on the seventh).

.:webmaster:. said...

Ford, you are not seriously comparing yourself to Galileo, are you?

However, you are entitled to your opinion about this and any other topic, regardless of the lack of supporting documentation. Still, since the science behind this discussion is terribly complex, I am curious as to where you come by the confidence for your opinion. I'll admit that for the most part "I don't know" when it comes to much behind abiogenisis and evolution. In other words, I am admittedly ignorant.

The primary thrust behind the little rant here is to show how silly it is for creationists to claim that the odds against life occuring naturally are so big that no life can exist.

Yet, here we are.

Not long ago, volcanoes, thunder, and solar eclipses were great mysteries shrouded in superstious awe. Now we know better. As time goes on, more answers will be forthcoming. And based on the esay de-mystifying of past supernatural thinking thorough science, I'd bet that everything in the Cosmos will eventually be found to be "natural."

twincats said...

I don't think we can rule out abiogenesis. Science is working on this hypothesis and has some interesting ideas.

A. Ford might want to check this out

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

and make sure his sources, whatever they may be, aren't making some of the statistical mistakes outlined there.

A. Ford said...

Just a little morsel of what I was talking about in the link below:

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/Biochemistry/Peptide_Bond_Formation

Cleverly hidden in most books on evolution is the fact that the above mechanism involves ATP, another molecule found in the biological world. Water competes with peptide bond formation, so there is no way you could make a peptide bond (or likely any truly essential biochemical bond) without ATP (or some equivalent) in a primordial ooze. Nope, not gonna happen.

Just so you know, I have a PhD in computational organic chemistry (like drug design), though I do physics now.

A. Ford said...

http://en.wikibooks.org/wiki/
Biochemistry/
Peptide_Bond_Formation

This is the link. Sorry.

.:webmaster:. said...

"Just so you know, I have a PhD..."

That's nice. You and Dr. Zach should chat then. Perhaps he'd have the patience for it: LINK

boomSLANG said...

Yes, yes!...by all means, stop wasting all that good intellect on the layman on this site.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Mr. Ford,

Regardless of your professions to the contrary, it's pretty clear you do have a problem with evolution, both in understanding it and with it as a scientific proposition. I suspect you haven't been completely forthright in your posts here.

I could come up with a theory that every living thing in existence came from nonliving material (i.e. something dead). There's no God involved, but it isn't evolution either.

You're right, it's an alternative hypothesis of natural abiogenesis, about which evolution has very little to say but might play a role in. That is to say, what you're talking about is abiogensis, not evolution. As a PhD in organic chemistry, you should know this.

As for developing your proposed hypothesis, didn't Louis Pasteur falsify the kind of spontaneous generation you seem to suggest as a valid alternative? Life, from non-life? In any event, you're not really proposing anything new, are you? The Miller-Urey experiment took non-living (i.e., dead) elements and combined them to form a very basic primordial soup, didn't they? They didn't create life from non-life, but did manage to discover that under the right conditions (conditions supposed to have existed on a very young earth) organic compounds that form the basis of life can form. From there, abiogenesis of the sort you seem to have a problem with could occur, could it not?

We really don't know. The point is that you are taking issue with evolution because it doesn't address the origins of life, when it really isn't meant to. Natural abiogenesis as a hypothesis is merely the result of a logical regression based on evolutionary principles, not evolution itself.

Cleverly hidden in most books on evolution...

I find the way you phrased this intriguing. "Cleverly" hidden? Are you suggesting that there is some sort of attempt at obfuscation or deceit on the part of those writing "most books" on evolution? Some attempt to confuse the public? This is a time-honored tradition among apologists - imply some sort of impropriety on the part of scientists (or whoever the chosen bogeyman is) so as to cast doubt on the results.

I'm no scientist, but have read enough books & materials on each side of the evolution debate to view your posts here with some suspicion, and no offense but I rather doubt your purported credentials. Perhaps you'd be willing to share the titles of an article or two - maybe even a book - that you've authored and have submitted for peer-review?

A. Ford said...

Here we go.

If you want to read about the origins of life and why it is not quite what you've been told, have a look here:
http://www.chem.duke.edu/~jds/
cruise_chem/Exobiology/
miller.html.

And yes, evolution does involve the origins of life (OOL); otherwise, it would not be presented in the biology textbooks alongside evolution. Also, it would not be brought up in some of the original comments if OOL and evolution were not interdependent. Something must start a process before it can continue.

What if instead of life evolving, biomolecules just lay dormant in some state for several years until they were hatched/coagulated/etc.? Again, this is just as good as evolution, especially if I say that we are the last to hatch. It also includes the origins of life in it. People may not agree with it, but as for validity, just try and prove it wrong.

I haven't authored any textbooks, and I have no plans to. Right now, I do chemical physics for a living. I'm more of a philosopher in my approach to all the evolution/orgins of life/meaning of life stuff right now. Also, the only reason I bring up any of this is because I see a transfer of people being fundamentally religious about God to being fundamentally religious about evolution/science. Frankly, I don't care how we got here; it isn't going to change anything. It is just the mode of thinking that people have that bothers me.

stronger now said...

How about the idea that a race of superintelligent alien life forms "planted" life here on earth then Used some kinda intergalactic ray gun to evolve life to a greater digree than would happen naturally? Try proving that wrong.

J. C. Samuelson said...

Mr. Ford,

For my part, I apologize if I've not communicated my thoughts effectively. If you re-read my post, you'll note that I did say "...abiogenesis, about which evolution has very little to say but might play a role in." As for why abiogenesis is presented alongside evolution, the answer may be quite simple. They are both biological hypotheses, and as we agree, evolution and abiogenesis are related. They are not, however, the same, as you seem to have been arguing. Evolution is how life changes over time. Abiogenesis is how life arose in the first place.

To draw a parallel, as you surely know there are several branches of physics that are related. Your focus is on chemical physics (by which I assume you mean physics at the molecular level), while other physicists focus on say, astrophysics or other fields in which the core theories of physics play a role. However, I'm confident that chemical physics and astrophysics are not the same regardless of any mathematical similarities they may have.

Do we understand one another? If not, please let me know where I've gone wrong.

To address your first point, I've read the article you've linked to before, though I don't recall if it was at that site or not. Something similar, at least. It's out-of-date. Perhaps you were unaware, but the Miller-Urey experiment was recently repeated successfully, accounting for the shortcomings of the first two attempts. See this article for details (though the title is unfortunate because it assigns it to evolution). In any event, my point in bringing it up wasnt't to begin arguing the validity of either evolution or abiogenesis or quibble over experiments, so maybe it's best to just drop this.

What if instead of life evolving, biomolecules just lay dormant in some state for several years until they were hatched/coagulated/etc.?

Maybe so. This seems similar to panspermia, but perhaps you mean they were already here instead of arriving via early Earth bombardment. However, again we're not talking about evolution, we're talking about abiogenesis, particularly if you suggest that these biomolecules had yet to self-replicate or combine to form even the simplest life. If these things hadn't yet occurred, then life did not exist to evolve. That said, some of the principles of evolution (mutation and natural selection at the molecular level) may have played a role in what did self-replicate and what did not, or what features of these early molecular organisms allowed them to survive and procreate, etc. Still, life has to begin first.

...the only reason I bring up any of this is because I see a transfer of people being fundamentally religious about God to being fundamentally religious about evolution/science.

To my mind, it's not about being fundamentally religious about science. It is, however, about understanding what science has to say on certain subjects. Many religious folks - not all, of course, but many - seem to think that science and religion are equivalent schools of thought, each being based purely on faith. As you should know, this is just not the case. I think what we're seeing is more people willing to challenge this fallacious idea, rather than a shift from one dogma to another.

Dave,

Forgot to mention that I really enjoyed your article. Then again, I can't remember one I didn't. :)

alanh said...

A. Ford wrote:

What if instead of life evolving, biomolecules just lay dormant in some state for several years until they were hatched/coagulated/etc.? Again, this is just as good as evolution, especially if I say that we are the last to hatch.

Hatching is something that happens to an egg, which is a living zygote in some sort of protective outer membrane. Is there any evidence that humans "hatched" from a "biomolecular egg?"

People may not agree with it, but as for validity, just try and prove it wrong.

A valid scientific hypothesis should be falsifiable. For example, your hypothesis doesn't explain speciation.

Dave8 said...

A. Ford: "Also, it would not be brought up in some of the original comments if OOL and evolution were not interdependent. Something must start a process before it can continue."

Is the concern, that one can't move towards a theory of evolution without entering an OOL "postulate" (Mathematics, Logic. a proposition that requires no proof, being self-evident, or that is for a specific purpose assumed true, and that is used in the proof of other propositions; axiom.)

I work out problems in different forms, in order to get a trig of understanding. Sometimes, I assert a postulate or series of postulates and work from there, both into the future and into the past. Rarely, if ever, do I make postulates about the "past" and move forward into the present, trying to make things "fit" or "work out".

A. Ford: "...the only reason I bring up any of this is because I see a transfer of people being fundamentally religious about God to being fundamentally religious about evolution/science."

If you are suggesting that "faulty reasoning" isn't limited to those of religious belief, then okay. Actually, I perceive faulty reasoning to be a pandemic, without categorical borders as well. An advanced degree(s), doesn't seem to make much difference in the big picture either, in my opinion.

The example you provide regarding the interdependence of OOL and evolution is ironic.

I understand "all" creationists use a primary postulate, rooted in the past, and then move forward to explain our present organic state - unchanged for the most part. In your example; you "postulate" a dormant bio-chemically primed state, brought into kinetic action by a causal event.

Your example mirrors, the same method used by creationists to promote a "present state" of organic life, using a primary "postulate", rooted in the uncertain past. That is a perfect example of poor science, and how faulty reasoning can be consistently applied to many categorical areas.

However, I would accept the creationist argument, as a religious "belief" founded upon "faith", or, without reliable and valid evidence. Such a belief is logically planted under the umbrella of religious faith.

I would not personally accept, in my humble opinion, the notion, that your example was scientific. Your example; demonstrates the ability to synthesize information, and concepts, in order to produce a hypothetical.

However, if you were to ever create an instance for your postulate, then, of course, there is no guarantee that your test results are valid, in that, they can be applied with certainty to the past, there is only "potential".

1-Observation of phenomena
--Not possible
2-Form a hypothetical regarding observation
--Not possible
3-Experimentation to demonstrate the truth or falseness of the hypothesis
--Not possible
4-Draw a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis
--Not possible

Since, the scientific method is used to distill scientific facts, then of course, we know that we can not establish "past" events as scientific facts. The best we can do, is take "reliable" and "valid" scientific facts, as established "today", and piece them together to form a series of data points, that do not conflict.

One may not be able to "prove" the past; even working from known facts of today and working backwards, but... it is better than the alternative of starting from an "unknown" postulate, rooted in the past that is non-falsifiable and trying to maneuver between data points, to arrive at our current state of organic life. Some in the English department would likely classify such a method, better, as "science fiction".

Science Fiction: "A form of fiction that draws imaginatively on scientific knowledge and speculation in its plot, setting, theme, etc."
http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/science%20fiction

Some science fiction has the "potential", to "become" (present to future) non-fiction, through the inter-relation between human-efficacy and "Universe potentiality". However, science fiction can not "change" the past, in order to become a non-fiction truth.

A. Ford, I'm not sure of your professional credentials, but you must admit that your presentation has given some a justified reason to pause.

A. Ford said...

Dave8 said:

One may not be able to "prove" the past; even working from known facts of today and working backwards, but... it is better than the alternative of starting from an "unknown" postulate, rooted in the past that is non-falsifiable and trying to maneuver between data points, to arrive at our current state of organic life.

First of all, how is what you say better? If we start with an unknown postulate, we will eventually find its problems as the geological/biological record is uncovered. Second, evolution does just what you claim it does not. Remember the dinosaur extinctions. Also, if the earth is really old, then several million years ago (before dinosaurs) ~95% of all phyla were wiped out (supposedly). This is a hole, a huge hole, that lasted for a large span of time in the evolutionary puzzle, but people manuever around it in textbooks like it isn't even there (I bet most of you didn't know this).

Regardless of what is said here, there will always be a certain element of "guessing" in science. This guessing is in the power of theory. Since people do the guessing, there is a certain element of bias in our assumptions that inevitably reduces down to faith (i.e. confidence) in that guess. Sometimes our guess is right (like in Galileo's case), and sometimes it is wrong (like the idea that atoms are the smallest unit of matter).

We can test our ideas, but the almighty observation isn't perfect. Consider magicians for example. They are masters of tricking our senses, yet they readily admit that their tricks are just illusions. We sometimes forget that nature is sometimes a magician in this regard as well.

boomSLANG said...

Also, if the earth is really old..

"IF"? You mean, you mean, "nature" has us "tricked" on that, too? Godini?!?!?!

.:webmaster:. said...

Evil, demonic forces are at work in the hearts of scientists everywhere. There are all in a conspiracy to deceive, if possible, even the Elect with the vain and secular religion of Evolution!

We know this is true, because not long ago these same kinds of people -- scientists -- attempted to undermine the faith of many by saying the Earth orbits the Sun and that the Earth is not flat with four corners as explained in God's Holy Word.

Wicked, evil, filthy, disgusting scientists are using their perverse intelligence to usher in the reign of Satan!

Hey guys, how I am doing?

Galileo's guess? A GUESS?! What guess would that be? Are you referring to when he nearly lost his life for refuting Biblical geocentricism and resurrecting Copernicus' mathematical equations and then supporting them by improving the telescope, observing the movements of the planets and charting them against that math? Is that the "guess" you are talking about? Or are you referring to one of the many other "guesses" he made ?

"Galileo is often referred to as the "father of modern observational astronomy", as the "father of modern physics", and as the "father of science". The motion of uniformly accelerated objects, taught in nearly all high school and introductory college physics courses, was studied by Galileo as the subject of kinematics. -- Wikipedia

Please do yourself a favor and climb out of your religio-apologetic stupor, educate yourself, and actually know what you are talking about. You'll come off as less moronic, even though your religion will always be based on the guesses of ignorant, primitive tribesmen and their myths.

Myths are for kids, silly rabbit.

alanh said...

A. Ford wrote:

Also, if the earth is really old,

You "do physics," yet don't "believe" in radiometric dating?

then several million years ago (before dinosaurs)

"Several" being a number higher than 230, when Dino and his buddies showed up.

~95% of all phyla were wiped out (supposedly). This is a hole, a huge hole, that lasted for a large span of time in the evolutionary puzzle, but people manuever around it in textbooks like it isn't even there (I bet most of you didn't know this).

Apparently our textbooks aren't as old as yours. There are many of these "holes," they are known as extinction events. Does your egg-hatching hypothesis explain them?

Dave8 said...

Dave8: "One may not be able to "prove" the past; even working from known facts of today and working backwards, but... it is better than the alternative of starting from an "unknown" postulate, rooted in the past that is non-falsifiable and trying to maneuver between data points, to arrive at our current state of organic life."

A. Ford: "First of all, how is what you say better?"

Starting with knowns, allows one to use the scientific method. For instance, I exist, and I am interesting, therefore, I am a natural phenomena that needs to be studied. Thus, "observation" of known evidence can generate the scientific method process.

Then, working from a "known", call it "me", and my DNA, one can "observe" a commonality between my structure, and other mammals, we'll call all this stuff "evidence", that can as well begin scientific inquiry by method.

There is no refutation of the "evidence", it is certain, and it exists. One can then hypothesize connections between the evidence, to create a timeline.

Notice, the OOL aren't even necessary in this investigation. One can work backwards as far as the evidence allows, and stop, before making a statement of "fact". However, one doesn't need to go back too far, to establish "evolution", as a "process of change" holds scientific merit based on "evidence".

Now, there is your alternative; guessing an OOL scenario, and never begin a scientific inquiry. Step one, requires a person to "observe" something. However, if you are suggesting, that you can continue to move backwards, beyond the evidence that establishes "evolution" and the "process of change", in order to establish an OOL hypothetical, then "you" have made claims beyond what the evidence shows.

So, the way I see it, you can work from an "uncertain", postulate in the past, with "zero" evidence, and think imaginatively about "how it all started", which is something akin to science fiction; or... you can start with known evidence for "evolution", and then move backwards in the "change process", until the evidence becomes less tenable, and then, "over-extend" it so that your "egg-hatching" hypothesis becomes totally "uncertain", and nothing more than an educated "guess", again, this would be something akin to science fiction.

When you work from uncertainty, you are working from biased opinion, and all evidence you use, is nothing short of your attempt to "build a case" to support your hope. If you use certain known facts, and work backwards, and then move from the evidence that supports "evolution", to propose an OOL theory then you have moved beyond the evidence and have made a science fiction statement, using scientific knowledge, to promote a theme, plot, setting, etc.

When you come up with some dormant bio-chemical goo that can be zapped, to start a genesis for life, let me know. However, I wouldn't accept your research as being "The" process that has led humanity and all organic life to its current state, I would only accept that you have "one" possibility, that "may or may not" have been the process out of many possible processes (alien implantation) that have brought us to our current state of organic life.

When one moves away from the evidence, by starting from unknowns, or by over-extending a theory based on what the evidence provides, they hold no credibility. Again, in either case, I call it science fiction, when one moves away from non-fiction scientific facts.

The "verb" or process of "evolution" is founded upon by the acceptance of the constant "change", you are seeking a "noun" within the process, called "bio-chemical eggs", let me know when you find some of those, and then lets see how they fit into the "process", thanks.

A. Ford: "If we start with an unknown postulate, we will eventually find its problems as the geological/biological record is uncovered."

The uncertain postulate, is that a "noun" called "bio-chemical eggs", doesn't have any evidence. The entire process of investigation, starts with a problem.

A. Ford: "Second, evolution does just what you claim it does not."

I have made no claim for evolution.

A. Ford: "Remember the dinosaur extinctions."

Yes, there is plenty of fossil evidence. What's your point?

A. Ford: "Also, if the earth is really old, then several million years ago (before dinosaurs) ~95% of all phyla were wiped out (supposedly)."

So, ~5% of phyla were left, to move organic life forward (supposedly).

A. Ford: "This is a hole, a huge hole, that lasted for a large span of time in the evolutionary puzzle, but people manuever around it in textbooks like it isn't even there (I bet most of you didn't know this)."

How about an alternative explanation, for not addressing the missing holes in the evolutionary puzzle. How about, it is intellectually dishonest, to over-extend evidence, to meet a biased agenda, or more benignly to "fill the gaps" for resolution.

A. Ford: "Regardless of what is said here, there will always be a certain element of "guessing" in science."

The moment, a scientist fills a gap, without supporting evidence, they are pummeled by the religious element. Scientific hobbyists may be as bold as to fill the gaps, because it's their "opinion", but a scientific fact is not an opinion, its reliable evidence that has been validated.

A. Ford: "This guessing is in the power of theory. Since people do the guessing, there is a certain element of bias in our assumptions that inevitably reduces down to faith (i.e. confidence) in that guess."

Again, you move into guessing immediately. No, there are "facts" first, many of them, and then, there is the attempt to piece together the "facts", in order to render a "process" that takes into "account" the "evidence".

The theory of evolution, is not a snap-shot of human life, it's founded upon the "process" of evolving organic life.

For example; here is a list of linear data points... 2, 3, 5, "x", 13, 21, "y", 55...

Now, one can argue that there are "data gaps" (variables), in this string of information, surely, and suggest that taking the data alone to build a jigsaw puzzle with missing pieces, takes "faith". Okay, I agree.

However, who suggests one need to take into account the missing data pieces? I surely don't "have" to assume what the missing data points are, in order to suggest I know historical "facts".

As well, entire books are written about the plethora of evidence and facts, and some may choose to not discuss the missing variables because the mountain of evidence, makes it unnecessary.

Why? Because, "evolution" is about the "process" of "change". One need not know all data points, in order to "render" a "process", using "known" evidence.

The Fibonacci Sequence I used as an example, not only shows known data points, it also suggests a pattern, and thereby a "process"... where "process" means "change".

I don't have to have "faith", in physical evidence, nor do I have to have "faith", in a "process" that continues to this day... The only "faith" required in the entire discussion, is in the "explanation" of "why"...

Why "this" process, why "these" data points, why not an OOL to go along with the theory, etc.

Now, "this" process, flies in the face of creation theory, which suggests there was an established "day" of creation, and nothing has adapted or changed.

The "process" of adaptation/change, doesn't require faith, it takes "faith" to believe against all evidence that organic life, has been unchanging since the beginning of the fossil record.

A. Ford: "Sometimes our guess is right (like in Galileo's case), and sometimes it is wrong (like the idea that atoms are the smallest unit of matter)."

In both cases, there was natural observation, and the ability to engage in scientific inquiry, also, there is the fourth step of the scientifid method...

4-Draw a conclusion that validates or modifies the hypothesis

The scientific method, takes into account that some conclusions, may be invalid after comprehensive testing... by, accepting the new information, and recalibrating the original hypothesis in order to render a conclusion that takes into account all evidence.

When all evidence, even if limited, is taken into account, points to a particular conclusion; then I accept a position of "certainty", especially if there is no knowledge that disagrees with the conclusion.

The atom, did in fact exist, just not in the context of "smallest" matter, thus, when new information was obtained, the hyopthesis was recalibrated - by some...

You are a physicist? Great. What do you suggest is the smallest form of matter? And, how do you define matter, thanks.

A. Ford: "We can test our ideas, but the almighty observation isn't perfect."

Not all ideas can be tested, like the idea/concept of "nothing" or "infinity". The almighty observation, takes a back seat to rigorous testing, that produces reliability and validity.

Where the atom was challenged, was on the point of validity. Where, obviously the testing "methodology", changed to incorporate better tools for analysis - technology. Thus, as the old validation tools, were updated, and new information was obtained, the original hypothesis (that stood for a few thousand years) underwent "evolutionary" change.

A. Ford: "Consider magicians for example. They are masters of tricking our senses, yet they readily admit that their tricks are just illusions. We sometimes forget that nature is sometimes a magician in this regard as well."

Magicians aren't masters of "tricking" our senses. They are masters at exploiting mental and biological blindspots. However, mental blindspots can be overcome through education, and biological blindspots can be overcome by technological aid.

Dave8 said...

A. Ford, here is the gist of what is being discussed. There are multiple ways to reason.

Deduction: Allows deriving b as a consequence of a. In other words, deduction is the process of deriving the consequences of what is assumed. Given the truth of the assumptions, a valid deduction guarantees the truth of the conclusion.

Deduction works great if one can provide evidence for the "assumption". This "fact", therefore, these likely consequents based on evidence. However, we not only don't have any evidence for the assumption bio-eggs from the past fossil record, we have "zero" evidence in the present, to support a postulate.

Induction: "Allows inferring some a from multiple instantiations of b when a entails b. Induction is the process of inferring probable antecedents as a result of observing multiple consequents."

If looking at multiple consequents, then this... Inference, helps to vector likely causal factors, so that research is limited to seeking likely antecedents. However, there is nothing to suggest that :a: evolution/adaptation, entails :b: bio-egg-hatching.

Abduction: "Allows inferring a as an explanation of b. Because of this, abduction allows the precondition a of “a entails b” to be inferred from the consequence b. Deduction and abduction thus differ in the direction in which a rule like “a entails b” is used for inference. As such abduction is formally equivalent to the logical fallacy affirming the consequent. Therefore abductive reasoning is like Post hoc ergo propter hoc as the cause is questionable."

And lastly, there is what you have really been advocating by your example, abduction. Where :a: is given "validity", to infer the consequent :b:.

So, to deduce without evidence for the assumption, may be someone playing trial and error, but it does little to recreate the past, it may only allow for possibilites, along with alien implantation.

To induce, may vector you to a possible cause, but you have not provided anything in the fossil record that would suggest bio-eggs as a plausible antecedent. Even if bio-eggs were sold over the counter at Wal-Mart, that doesn't mean that they existed many years ago in a primed state, to spawn organic life on earth.

So, if you can not generate a logical beginning, through deduction or induction, there is always "abduction", but of course, that is dogmatic, "affirming the consequent"

If P, then Q.
Q.
Therefore, P.

--If bio-egg is affirmed true, then evolution/adaptation.
--Evolution/adaptation has evidence.
--Therefore, bio-eggs are validated.

Anyway, there are times when one can actually employ solid deduction and induction, based on evidence... just not in your example, that I can see.