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Is evolutionary chance impossible? 
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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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All you need for the beginnings of life is a molecule that builds on itself and some encasing molecular structure. The reproduction of that molecule which builds on itself is then a mechanical event where it is physically broken into pieces, but the “data” which is nothing other than some repeating structure and at that point contains nothing about building anything other than that same pattern over and over again, takes some of that encasing molecular structure with it. And in that way, through nothing but the physical interactions of matter and the bonding properties of chemistry you have the beginnings of life.



This is a mechanistic explanation.

As long as we all are clear that to explain mechanistic events is not to explain life's origin.
I can't expect ayone here to explain the origin of life without getting into serious trouble. But to use the same Darwinian mechanistic operations ad nauseum to explain away the origin of life is relatively weak.

(yes, I'm familiar with Abiogenesis)


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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This is a mechanistic explanation.

As long as we all are clear that to explain mechanistic events is not to explain life's origin.


Why not? Evolution is mechanistic, and to go from bacteria to human is a far greater feat than to go from molecule to bacteria. The actual abiogenesis of the first forms of life is most likely far simpler than evolution, yet still mechanistic.

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Since it takes four thousand coordinated proteins all acting together for cell division to occur even in a so-called simple cell, which is not simple at all, isn't the idea of evolutionary chance creating such a process impossible? Isn't the idea of a divine designer, God, who engineered this process and set it in motion much more plausible?


And it takes 5 million coordinated water molecules to work together to turn into a floating solid called a snowflake. Isn't the creation of a snowflake impossible? :P


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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Ant:
This is a mechanistic explanation.

As long as we all are clear that to explain mechanistic events is not to explain life's origin.

I can't expect ayone here to explain the origin of life without getting into serious trouble. But to use the same Darwinian mechanistic operations ad nauseum to explain away the origin of life is relatively weak.

(yes, I'm familiar with Abiogenesis)


Exactly the opposite. Life emerges from the process of those very same mechanistic sequences. And why should you have any problem with that? Yes, it is a mechanistic explanation. As opposed to what? Magical?

The world IS mechanistic. Everything everywhere is built of nothing but wavelike particles all behaving exactly as they should according to the laws of nature. The light emitted by burning materials, the chemical interaction of various elemental molecules, the process of cell division, and of cognition are ALL the product of physical interaction of base particles just doing what they do.

It all amounts to the trajectories, collisions and interactions of quarks, electrons, photons, gluons etc...

I use the same arguments because they really are the events that are taking place. Darwin is not so large an influence on this as you apparently think. The ultimate mechanistic nature of the universe is revealed much more dramatically in quantum physics than in Darwin’s ideas.

Your beef with syntax and semantics is no real beef at all as it is just a simple and logical extension of the process I outlined above. “I don’t think it could” is no defense against the fact that it very obviously has and does emerge from the physical behavior of sub atomic particles.

The expression of DNA is inextricably tied to the chemical and physical properties of the proteins which it codes for. Those proteins activity within the body is as much influenced by their folded structure as by their chemical attributes. It all comes from physics and that makes it mechanistic (or the outcome of probability).


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Have you tried that? Looking for answers?
Or have you been content to be terrified of a thing you know nothing about?

Is this the virtue of faith? To never change your mind: especially when you should?

Young Earth Creationists take offense at the idea that we have a common heritage with other animals. Why is being the descendant of a mud golem any better?


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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And it takes 5 million coordinated water molecules to work together to turn into a floating solid called a snowflake. Isn't the creation of a snowflake impossible?


Very funny :roll:


Your brain is a bit more miraculous than a snowflake. Or is it? :P

I always marvel at how atheists gloss over the miracle of creation so vulgarly (not saying you). When atheists argue I see them beaming with arrogance because of their absolute certainty that they have a clear explanation for the origin of life, they are in an authoritative position to offer answers to help the ignorant find truth, or they are closer to answers than us "god of the gap" fans. Of course they are no different from the rest of us because of this:

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The Argumentative Theory of Reasoning ... maintains that there is an asymmetry between the production of arguments, which involves an intrinsic bias in favour of the opinions or decisions of the arguer whatever their soundness, and the evaluation of arguments, which aims at differentiating good arguments from bad ones and thereby genuine information from misinformation. This asymmetry is often obscured in a debate situation (or in a situation where a debate is anticipated). People who have an opinion to defend don't really evaluate the arguments of their interlocutors in search for genuine information but rather consider them from the start as counter-arguments to be rebuked.

:P


Let's not discount just how miraculous life is and the odds against it. In his book The 5TH Miracle theoretical physicist, cosmologist, astrophysicist Paul Davies scratches the surface of a miraculous "accident"


Quote:
There is a more fundamental reason why the random self assembly of proteins seems a nonstarter. This has to do not with the formation of the chemical bonds as such, but with the particular order in which the amino acids link together. Proteins do not consist of any old peptide chains; they are very specific amino acid sequences that have specialized chemical properties needed for life. However, the number of alternative permutations available to a mixture of amino acids is SUPERastronomical. A small protein may typically contain a hundred amino acids of twenty varieties. There are about 10 to the 130 different arrangements of the amino acids in a molecule of this length. Hitting the right one by accident would be no mean feat.

Getting useful configuration of amino acids from the squillions of useless combinations on offer can be thought of as a mammoth information-retreival problem, like trying to track down a site on the Internet without a search engine. ...,The highly special information content of a protein represented by its very specific amino-acid sequence implies a big decrease in entropy when the molecule forms. Again, the mere uncontrolled injection of energy wont accomplish the ordered result needed. To return to the bricklaying, making a protein simply by injecting energy is rather like exploding a stick of dynamite under a pile of bricks and expecting it to form a house


The 5th Miracle is an awe inspiring book that I actually was lead to by atheist Lee Smolin.
Armchair atheists debase the miracle of life when they give their gaseous, haphazard explanations for life.

There are at least ten billion billion stars in the observable universe. That number, as gigantic as it seems, is trivially small when compared with the odds against the random assembly of even a single protein molecule.
How does a community of molecules arise to begin with? Darwinian evolution can operate only if life preexists its processes. Darwinism offers no explanation for life's first steps. To qualify as a living system, the information within that system must be meaningful to the system - contextually meaningful. The information must be specified. Where does the context itself come from? Biological complexity is information based complexity. There is yet to be an account for the origin of biological information.

Is it all random? Is it possible to prove randomness? Please do so if it is.

Charles Darwin wrote that he was overwhelmed by...,

Quote:
the extreme difficulty or rather the impossibility of conceiving this immense and wonderful universe, including man with his capacity for looking far backwards and far futurity, as the result of blind chance or necessity. When this reflecting, I feel compelled to look to a First Cause having an intelligent mind in some degree analogous to that of man; and I deserve to be called a Theist.


Obviously, Darwin was a complicated man. But he grappled with the idea of an intelligence behind creation.

So, we have brilliant men like Darwin, unsure of life's origin and atheists like Johnson who are certain there is no divine intelligence behind life. In a sense men like Newton, Einstein, and Darwin who had a very religious- like reverence for nature are the antithesis of the current lot of militant atheists who are bigoted enemies of religious people in general - all because they're certain there is no "god" (or whatever you want to call it).

Yeah, right.


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Last edited by ant on Sun Feb 05, 2012 3:04 am, edited 1 time in total.



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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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As opposed to what? Magical?


Yes, it's all magic.


It's all just very logical.
Unfortunately, that is the extent of your explanation for the origin of life.

It is logical that life would eventually occur. It didn't have to emerge. It just did because the ingredients were all there in the soup.
I mean, it's that simple. It all makes logical sense. :roll:

I'm sorry my friend, but those are mighty shallow waters you are wading in. That may scare off some bible loving theists.
It doesn't scare me. :D


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Ant, you do a good job of presenting a plausible theist scepticism about science. However, you are completely wrong. Thanks for presenting a case for theism in such clear terms. This theme of whether the universe is mechanistic is a key point.

Natural selection through cumulative adaptation is a compelling, elegant and parsimonious explanation for the evolution of life. Positing an external supernatural planner as a God entity degrades the mathematical beauty of nature by injecting an element of illogical traditional fantasy.

Creationism is entirely a remnant of primitive unscientific thought processes. Creationism is not completely obsolete, because it has a valid connection to ethical ideas of community and purpose, and to traditional myths which have an evolutionary benefit, for which science has not yet found an adequate replacement.

But cultural evolution is steadily heading towards a fully natural understanding, when all supernatural concepts will be discarded, and only the natural content in traditional myth such as the Bible will be retained. Natural thought is enlightened, while supernatural thought is deluded.

Creationists do not understand the concept of replication that sits at the foundation of cumulative adaptation. Once an amino acid in those shallow waters that Ant mentioned replicates itself by chance, we are on the path towards life. Over millions of years, across large areas where it is physically possible, it just has to happen once.

Richard Dawkins has speculated that the original replicator may even have been based on silicon rather than carbon. The point is that once self-replication occurs in the simplest way, the product of the replication is subject to random mutation. The key point of evolution is that of all the random changes that occur in a replicated entity, only those changes that improve its ability to reproduce will be selected by nature, statistically over generations, as that organism replicates itself again and again.

This is a major and essential point to understand. Evolution selects traits that make a gene pool better fitted to its niche. Traits that produce less offspring die out, while traits that produce more offspring increase. Each reproducing entity is a precedent for the future, and nature constantly pushes towards the most effective and efficient structure available for the genetic material in its material context.

Evolution is completely mechanistic. Positing any non-mechanistic factors is primitive illogical thinking that fails to engage with reality.

Dawkins observed that the three factors governing evolutionary success in a stable environment are whether a gene is durable, stable and bountiful. Natural background random mutation within such an environment will continually progress towards a state that is better adapted to its context. Sometimes an organism gets it right early, like trilobites, and is stable for hundreds of millions of years. Sometimes a dynamic changing environment produces rapid evolution.

The example of cultural evolution helps to show how the laws of natural selection apply to all living systems. While cultural factors do not have the stability of genes, they do follow a natural material mechanistic process that can usefully be understood by the laws of evolution.

Especially with technology, the niche exerts evolutionary pressure to constantly adapt towards more efficient and effective traits. In a dynamic competitive environment we see rapid change with cumulative adaptation building on existing precedent, seen in technology for transport, energy, communications, information, health and any other sector.

Humans are physical material objects. But the materiality of language is one of the most complex natural systems we can imagine. Language connects us to the past and future in ways that are very hard to reduce to their material causal mechanism. But that does not mean a priori that such a material causal mechanism to explain the evolution of language and culture may not exist. It must.


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Robert, ant's question in the posts immediately preceding yours concerned what had to happen before evolution had anything to work on. He characterizes that seminal development as still an unanswered question. Since I believe that this is the case, calling it a mystery isn't out of line. He is generalizing about prominent atheists, though, when he states that they paper over our lack of knowledge of how life began. I recall Dawkins stating that he does sees many things about life as mysterious, and that he doesn't claim knowledge of how life originated. His atheism is in regard to the claims made by theists that there must necessarily have been a Creator, and further that this Creator has revealed its truth to selected humans.

To say merely that there is something about life that we don't know about, and even to say that this uncertainty opens the door to what some may wish to call divinity, isn't by itself a theism.

Regarding natural selection itself, it isn't as though our discovery of that process has answered all the questions about how life moves on. We can't explain scientifically the basic creativity that fuels all of this, much less have a handle on predicting very much about what might happen to life. None of that proves any certain notion of divinity, merely bringing it into the realm of possibility.


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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Robert, ant's question in the posts immediately preceding yours concerned what had to happen before evolution had anything to work on. He characterizes that seminal development as still an unanswered question.


Correct and well put.

Quote:
Since I believe that this is the case, calling it a mystery isn't out of line.


Correct. And no serious intellect would call such deep questions out of line.

Quote:
He is generalizing about prominent atheists, though, when he states that they paper over our lack of knowledge of how life began.


Correct - but sorta correct :P
I am generalizing about certain common atheistic bigots, not prominent atheists like Smolin or Dawkins. Quite frankly, I greatly admire Dawkins and his work. I'm against his militant attitude against religion, but nevertheless, I admire his work.

In his book, The God Delusion, Dawkins recommends Finding Darwin's God, by Kenneth R Miller. It's a great book.
I look to serious atheists who, like Dawkins, are intellectually honest enough to admit they don't have all the answers.
I forgot which debate it was, but in that debate, Dawkins stated that although he believes it is highly improbable that there is a god, as a scientist he can not rule out the possibility completely. His opponent responded by indicating that at best, by definition that would make Dawkins an agnostic and not an atheist.


Quote:
Regarding natural selection itself, it isn't as though our discovery of that process has answered all the questions about how life moves on. We can't explain scientifically the basic creativity that fuels all of this, much less have a handle on predicting very much about what might happen to life. None of that proves any certain notion of divinity, merely bringing it into the realm of possibility.


I can agree with all that you've stated directly above.

You've summarized my position pretty well. I attempted to broach the unanswered questions that would bring light to my position.
In doing so, it weeded out those that more or less will only consider them on a superficial level. In response, those individuals gloss over the big questions by regurgitating Darwinian mechanics.

It's fascinating to me how fervent militant atheists are with their feverish insistence that there is no god. It is nearly identical to religious fanaticism, something they also claim to detest.
It's really quite funny when you think about it.
As I've stated before, when science becomes dogma, it is no better than religious dogma.


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
ant wrote:
I forgot which debate it was, but in that debate, Dawkins stated that although he believes it is highly improbable that there is a god, as a scientist he can not rule out the possibility completely. His opponent responded by indicating that at best, by definition that would make Dawkins an agnostic and not an atheist.


As Dawkins likes to say, everyone is an atheist regarding the hundreds or thousands of different Gods, with possibly one exception.

If people were defending some kind of deist position, it would hardly necessitate the hostility from Dawkins and others. But 99% of the time, people are making completely indefensible claims about what they think their God wants, what happened in the past, etc.

Yes, it is possible that Thor exists. But do you consider yourself agnostic about Thor?



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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
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Yes, it is possible that Thor exists. But do you consider yourself agnostic about Thor?


non sequitur


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Thanks for your post, Robert.
Just one quick question:

Quote:
Evolution is completely mechanistic. Positing any non-mechanistic factors is primitive illogical thinking that fails to engage with reality.


Have you addressed my initial questions/comments regarding the origin of life?
Although your argument demonstrates mechanistic evolutionary processes, why does it not commit a genetic fallacy of irrelevant conclusion?

We must be careful not to rely too heavily on fallacious tactics.


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
ant wrote:
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Yes, it is possible that Thor exists. But do you consider yourself agnostic about Thor?


non sequitur


I don't think so, because that's precisely what people are arguing when they use their version of God as a possible explanation of existence and life.



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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Dexter wrote:
ant wrote:
Quote:
Yes, it is possible that Thor exists. But do you consider yourself agnostic about Thor?


non sequitur


I don't think so, because that's precisely what people are arguing when they use their version of God as a possible explanation of existence and life.



There's an explanation for thunder.
But if we need to red herring this issue, so be it.

Can you prove that there is no teapot orbiting Saturn right now?


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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
ant wrote:
There's an explanation for thunder.
But if we need to red herring this issue, so be it.

Can you prove that there is no teapot orbiting Saturn right now?


Fine, substitute another one for Thor. You're the one dodging the point.



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Post Re: Is evolutionary chance impossible?
Dexter wrote:
ant wrote:
There's an explanation for thunder.
But if we need to red herring this issue, so be it.

Can you prove that there is no teapot orbiting Saturn right now?


Fine, substitute another one for Thor


Okay.., Dionysus - The god of wine, parties and festivals, madness, drunkenness and pleasure

We already know the origin of wine (grapes)

People create and manage parties (but it begs the question, "Who created people/life?")

Madness is a state of mind, perhaps due to chemical imbalances, which originate in the brain.

Drunkenness - I've been responsible for my own drunkenness on more than one occasion. But I think it's safe to say drunkenness is caused by people.

Pleasure is a tough one - it is a subjective experience. I'll give you this one. Maybe Dioysus does exist.


I don't think I'm dodging the point.


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Le GuinThe Genius of the Beast by Howard BloomAlice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll Empire of Illusion by Chris HedgesThe Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner The Extended Phenotype by Richard DawkinsSmoke and Mirrors by Neil GaimanThe Selfish Gene by Richard DawkinsWhen Good Thinking Goes Bad by Todd C. RinioloHouse of Leaves by Mark Z. DanielewskiAmerican Gods: A Novel by Neil GaimanPrimates and Philosophers by Frans de WaalThe Enormous Room by E.E. CummingsThe Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar WildeGod Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything by Christopher HitchensThe Name of the Rose by Umberto Eco Dreams From My Father by Barack Obama Paradise Lost by John Milton Bad Money by Kevin PhillipsThe Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson BurnettGodless: How an Evangelical Preacher Became One of America's Leading Atheists by Dan BarkerThe Things They Carried by Tim O'BrienThe Limits of Power by Andrew BacevichLolita by Vladimir NabokovOrlando by Virginia Woolf On Being Certain by Robert A. Burton50 reasons people give for believing in a god by Guy P. HarrisonWalden: Or, Life in the Woods by Henry David ThoreauExile and the Kingdom by Albert CamusOur Inner Ape by Frans de WaalYour Inner Fish by Neil ShubinNo Country for Old Men by Cormac McCarthyThe Age of American Unreason by Susan JacobyTen Theories of Human Nature by Leslie Stevenson & David HabermanHeart of Darkness by Joseph ConradThe Stuff of Thought by Stephen PinkerA Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled HosseiniThe Lucifer Effect by Philip ZimbardoResponsibility and Judgment by Hannah ArendtInterventions by Noam ChomskyGodless in America by George A. RickerReligious Expression and the American Constitution by Franklyn S. HaimanDeep Economy by Phil McKibbenThe God Delusion by Richard DawkinsThe Third Chimpanzee by Jared DiamondThe Woman in the Dunes by Abe KoboEvolution vs. Creationism by Eugenie C. ScottThe Omnivore's Dilemma by Michael PollanI, Claudius by Robert GravesBreaking The Spell by Daniel C. DennettA Peace to End All Peace by David FromkinThe Time Traveler's Wife by Audrey NiffeneggerThe End of Faith by Sam HarrisEnder's Game by Orson Scott CardThe Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark HaddonValue and Virtue in a Godless Universe by Erik J. WielenbergThe March by E. L DoctorowThe Ethical Brain by Michael GazzanigaFreethinkers: A History of American Secularism by Susan JacobyCollapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed by Jared DiamondThe Battle for God by Karen ArmstrongThe Future of Life by Edward O. WilsonWhat is Good? by A. C. GraylingCivilization and Its Enemies by Lee HarrisPale Blue Dot by Carl SaganHow We Believe: Science, Skepticism, and the Search for God by Michael ShermerLooking for Spinoza by Antonio DamasioLies and the Lying Liars Who Tell Them by Al FrankenThe Red Queen by Matt RidleyThe Blank Slate by Stephen PinkerUnweaving the Rainbow by Richard DawkinsAtheism: A Reader edited by S.T. JoshiGlobal Brain by Howard BloomThe Lucifer Principle by Howard BloomGuns, Germs and Steel by Jared DiamondThe Demon-Haunted World by Carl SaganBury My Heart at Wounded Knee by Dee BrownFuture Shock by Alvin Toffler

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