Atheist Arrogance?

While reading "Micha's post":http://catallarchy.net/blog/archives/2005/03/01/good-and-hard/ it occurred to me that atheists appear to tend toward more arrogance than I see in most religious people. An excellent example is my wife's ex boyfriend, who she calls an "evangelical atheist" because he took pleasure in attacking other people's religious beliefs.

I wonder if this has anything to do with the fact that socialism and atheism seem to go hand in hand? There must be a certain humility in believing there is a higher power than you, at least when you believe you do not know for sure what that higher power's purpose is for you, or even if it has one. Certainly some people believe that God talks to them and only to them. However, it takes a special kind of arrogance to believe that you (or any human for that matter) can direct an economy. This is the same kind of arrogance that allows one to say with certainty "there is no God" and that others should join the "reality-based community."

Do understand that I'm talking about a particular kind of atheist here. There is, of course, the Sartrian atheist, who says "Holy crap! There's no God! Now what do I do?" The same sort of humility can come from the belief that one is alone in the universe and has no set purpose as from the belief that there is someone much more powerful than you. But there is also the type of atheist who believes that he or she can be God, because the position is open. This person, in my opinion, must be watched far more closely than the Jerry Falwells of the world.

As for me, I'm an existentialist agnostic who is prone to flights of fancy. I don't believe it is possible to know whether there's a God, so I'll be skeptical of anyone who claims to know either way. Even if God calls you up on the telephone, you still have to use your own judgement to determine if it really is God, and then you have to decide whether or not "he" is crazy.

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It is of course the case

It is of course the case that there are arrogant, idiotic people in every field and belief system.

But intelligent and rational people generally do not suffer the willfully unintelligent and irrational gladly, although some can forgive unintentional stupidity and irrationality. This doesn't tend to win them many friends among idiots and failed mystics.

Sometimes "arrogance" is simply the willingness to state that two plus two equals four.

Just a single enzyme.

Just a single enzyme.

Enzyme, hell. How about the constiuent amino acids?!

The Miller-Urey experiment, for all its problems, produced only two or three of the twenty (cannonical) amino acids (alanine, glycine?), and the mixture was racemic (mixed chirality). Plus, the experiment required a reducing environment, and geologists now think the primordial atmosphere was oxidizing, not reducing.

Anyway, all this gobblygook means is that before you can even create an enzyme you gotta create a basic polypeptide with constituent amino acids -- with the proper chirality. Surely the odds of that happening in an abiotic soup are vanishingly small.

The "odds" argument is a bit

The "odds" argument is a bit silly. Go outside. Pick up a rock. Use your handy atomic disassembler to measure the locations of every single atom in the rock. Now, what are the odds that a rock could be made, randomly, with the exact structure of the one you picked up? Probably worse than 1/(the number of particles in the universe) yet, there you are, holding such a rock.

Astounding, isn't it?

Andy, We (that is,

Andy,

We (that is, scientists) understand how igneous rocks are made. We have a perfectly good model in physics and chemistry for how that works. One can take an abiotic molten melt, one that might have existed 4 billion years ago, and predict quite precisley what kind of rocks will form when the melt is cooled. One can do this in a labaratory. It's not a matter of probabilty if a rock will form; igneous petrology is a fairly well understood science.

What isn't at all understood is how you get the first self-replicating biological macro-molecule from an inorganic soup. This is the business of abiogenesis, and it is very much relevant to talk about odds in this case, precisely because this particular kind of order seems so unlikley. Rocks aren't unlikely.

If this kind of order was not unlikely, if there was a well understood model for
how this worked, scientists could create, in a labratory, the basic constiuents of a very simple single-celled critter, and further predict how those constiuents would self-organize into a self-replicating macro molecule. To date, that hasn't been done, not even close.

RKN, Abiogenesis is unlikely

RKN,

Abiogenesis is unlikely compared to what? The statistical argument only works if we have some standard for comparison. What is the likelihood of God's existence? What is the likelihood that God created life? Is that likelihood more or less likely than abiogenesis? Without some standard to compare it to, we cannot say whether abiogenesis is plausible or not. It is only plausible or implausible when compared to another theory.

Richard Dawkins has some useful thoughts on this thread's topic, from an article on Forbes:

I once asked a distinguished astronomer, a fellow of my college, to explain the big bang theory to me. He did so to the best of his (and my) ability, and I then asked what it was about the fundamental laws of physics that made the spontaneous origin of space and time possible. "Ah," he smiled, "now we move beyond the realm of science. This is where I have to hand you over to our good friend, the chaplain." But why the chaplain? Why not the gardener or the chef? Of course chaplains, unlike chefs and gardeners, claim to have some insight into ultimate questions. But what reason have we ever been given for taking their claims seriously? Once again, I suspect that my friend, the professor of astronomy, was using the Einstein/Hawking trick of letting "God" stand for "That which we don't understand." It would be a harmless trick if it were not continually misunderstood by those hungry to misunderstand it. In any case, optimists among scientists, of whom I am one, will insist, "That which we don't understand" means only "That which we don't yet understand." Science is still working on the problem. We don't know where, or even whether, we ultimately shall be brought up short.

Agnostic conciliation, which is the decent liberal bending over backward to concede as much as possible to anybody who shouts loud enough, reaches ludicrous lengths in the following common piece of sloppy thinking. It goes roughly like this: You can't prove a negative (so far so good). Science has no way to disprove the existence of a supreme being (this is strictly true). Therefore, belief or disbelief in a supreme being is a matter of pure, individual inclination, and both are therefore equally deserving of respectful attention! When you say it like that, the fallacy is almost self-evident; we hardly need spell out the reductio ad absurdum. As my colleague, the physical chemist Peter Atkins, puts it, we must be equally agnostic about the theory that there is a teapot in orbit around the planet Pluto. We can't disprove it. But that doesn't mean the theory that there is a teapot is on level terms with the theory that there isn't.

Now, if it be retorted that there actually are reasons X, Y, and Z for finding a supreme being more plausible than a teapot, then X, Y, and Z should be spelled out--because, if legitimate, they are proper scientific arguments that should be evaluated. Don't protect them from scrutiny behind a screen of agnostic tolerance. If religious arguments are actually better than Atkins' teapot theory, let us hear the case. Otherwise, let those who call themselves agnostic with respect to religion add that they are equally agnostic about orbiting teapots. At the same time, modern theists might acknowledge that, when it comes to Baal and the golden calf, Thor and Wotan, Poseidon and Apollo, Mithras and Ammon Ra, they are actually atheists. We are all atheists about most of the gods that humanity has ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.

And for more on the probability arguments, see: Probability of Abiogenesis FAQs

Abiogenesis is unlikely

Abiogenesis is unlikely compared to what? The statistical argument only works if we have some standard for comparison.

Really? If I ask you, what's the probablity of the roulette ball landing on red, you first ask me, "Probable relative to what?" I don't think so.

What is the likelihood of God’s existence?

The question is unanswerable because there is no evidence of God's existence in the first place. On the other hand there is abundant evidence that self-replicating cells do in fact exist.

Without some standard to compare it to, we cannot say whether abiogenesis is plausible or not

That's simply false. Predictions using scientific theories are very often contained to the systems they seek to explain.

I should also point out that the business of abiogenesis involves quite a bit more than simple mathematical speculation on the odds of biological self-organization. The thing I think people need to understand here, is that until such day as scientists can experimentally demonstrate how the basic building blocks of life (amino acids, etc.) came to exist from an abiotic soup, we all have a legitimate reason to be skeptical that it did.

All science must be subject to this standard, abiogenesis and related theories on the origin of life should be granted no exception as far as I'm concerned.

And for more on the

And for more on the probability arguments, see: Probability of Abiogenesis FAQs

yes, at one time or another in the past I have looked at them, quite closely. talk.origins is a respectable group (and archive). Have you read any of the counter arguments or criticisms of claims made there? Do you know what premier problems exist with the exisitng hypotheses, or are you pretty much sure this has all been solved and that there's no room left for skepticism in this matter?

And without sounding arrogant, I should also ask how well studied you are in the relevant science.

There's nothing quite like semesters worth of organic chemistry, physiology, biology, and biochemistry to make one skeptical that self-replicating systems came about by chance. They *might* have, but many people who do know the relevant science remain highly skeptical. I'm one of them. That doesn't make them or me a theist, speaking for myself I'm not, it simply means me and others hold this science to the same high standard we hold other sciences.

If I ask you, what’s the

If I ask you, what’s the probablity of the roulette ball landing on red, you first ask me, “Probable relative to what?” I don’t think so.

In the case of roulette, we have a fixed, calculable sample space. We know that there are only a limited number of possible outcomes. Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to abiogenesis? Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to God's existence?

The question is unanswerable because there is no evidence of God’s existence in the first place. On the other hand there is abundant evidence that self-replicating cells do in fact exist.

Right. So until we have a better, more likely theory, abiogenesis beats the available alternatives. Or we could just say the question of how life began falls under the category of "That which we don’t yet understand. Science is still working on the problem. We don’t know where, or even whether, we ultimately shall be brought up short."

The thing I think people need to understand here, is that until such day as scientists can experimentally demonstrate how the basic building blocks of life (amino acids, etc.) came to exist from an abiotic soup, we all have a legitimate reason to be skeptical that it did.

All science must be subject to this standard, abiogenesis and related theories on the origin of life should be granted no exception as far as I’m concerned.

Sure, I agree with this. My only objection is when people use this sort of skepticism and say, "Abiogenesis seems statistically unlikely, so therefore, it must have been God." This is a double standard, unless we are willing to compare the likelihood of abiogenesis to the likelihood of God. All of those I've seen making the statistical argument don't seem to be willing to make this comparison.

Do you know what premier problems exist with the exisitng hypotheses, or are you pretty much sure this has all been solved and that there’s no room left for skepticism in this matter?

Not at all. My expertise is not in science. Like many other subjects with which I have no particular expertise, I must rely on the conclusions of the experts in the field, and the experts in the field either embrace abiogenesis or don't put forth an alternative plausible theory. I have no problem with skepticism; if I needed to make an argument that relied upon the truth of abiogenesis, I might need to research the matter further. But I have never needed to make such an argument.

Jason, There is something

Jason,

There is something called a quantum vacuum that has been experimentally verified. Do a search on "quantum vacuum experiment Casimir"

The Heisenberg uncertainty principle of 1927 led particle physicists to predict that particles would arise spontaneously from the vacuum, so long as they disappear before violating the uncertainty principle. This view is correct. The quantum vacuum is a very active place, with all sorts of particles appearing and disappearing. In 1948 Hendrik Casimir predicted that the particle activity in a vacuum creates a force that pushes two parallel plates together if they are sufficiently close. Here is why: Within the constrained space between the plates, fewer virtual particles can arise than outside of parallel plates, where there is more volume. Or think of the particles as waves: There is only room between the plates for short waves, which would have high energy. But the probability of high energy waves is small and they also vanish sooner than waves of lower energy. Outside the plates, there is room for longer wavelengths, which appear in greater numbers and persist for longer periods. The many outside the parallel plates push harder than the fewer inside.

Ten years after Casimir's theoretical study, careful experiments proved that such a force does occur in a vacuum. Surprisingly, it was not until 1996 that a physicist realized that the same effect occurs when two macroscopic objects are close to each other in a wavy medium, such as the ocean. Ships parked next to each other feel a force from the waves that tends to push them together.

Virtual particles is how we get something from nothing.

Also I have no idea where you got the idea that, to quote you:

"Without the Law of Causality, we don’t have science. If we determined that some things don’t have causes, all of science is untenable. That would not be very helpful for us."

This simply isn't true. If science determines that some things "don't have causes" well then so much the worse for "The Law of Causality" and science chugs on it's merry way. Science is not a foundationalist in nature. It makes models and improves on them. If a model is inadequate in some circumstance it is modified.

At this time the current thinking in science is that our world is only causal at a macroscopic level and is fundamentally non-causal at a lower level. Science also doesn't have a problem saying "I don't know" unlike the arrogant statement "God did it". Right now we don't really know the relationship between the quantum and macro aspects. We don't know how causality arises from non-causality.

Furthermore, you make a fundamental mistake in thinking regarding causation itself. Even if "The Law of Causality" were true it is applicablity within the universe does not mean it applies to the universe as a whole. If every thing within the universe has a cause that does nont mean the universe. Just like every person having mom does not mean that humans have a mom. Thus the "Law of Causality" would not require that the universe have a cause.

Also familiarize yourself with the idea of a finite universe with no boundaries. A perfectly acceptable theory of causation could work like north and south, where the beginning of the universe is like the north pole and the end the south. Causality like polar orientation would make sense most places but would lose more and more meaning the closer you got to the poles. Like the poles the beginning of the universe might just wrap around on itself.

The statistical arguments

The statistical arguments against the formation of even one enzyme are valid - IF you're talking about using a single set of atoms to perform combinations one after another.

If instead you're considering trillions of atoms interacting hundreds of times a second, the odds become quite a bit more favorable.

It'll take one monkey with a typewriter a long, long time to type out Hamlet. A trillion trillion monkeys with a trillion trillion typewriters will take somewhat less time. And since we don't actually know what the simplest self-replicating structures in organic chemistry are, they might not need to go straight to Hamlet in the first place.

"...they might not need to

"...they might not need to go straight to Hamlet in the first place."

A brainy orangutan could probably crank out at least Atlas Shrugged, given a few years.

[...] Cosmos As Micha and

[...] Cosmos

As Micha and Sean point out below, evangelism and religious belief are not limited solely to the theists, but is an equal opportunity mindset. Don B [...]

Brian Macker, Thanks for the

Brian Macker,

Thanks for the pick-up. :sleep:

There is something called a

There is something called a quantum vacuum that has been experimentally verified. Do a search on “quantum vacuum experiment Casimir”

Brian

I did some reading on this and there some problems. First it is a giant leap to go from some small knowledge of virtual particles to the big bang. Second, vacuums in the lab are not true vacuums - not all particles have been removed. This does not meet established preconditions for the big bang. Third, even a perfect vacuum could not have existed before the big bang because a vacuum requires something that was not available - space. Fourth, along the same line of reasoning, nothing cannot fluctuate. Again, a vacuum is not nothing, it is a "room" of nothing.

So yes, I'm sure it's fun to talk about but it is not a viable hypothesis unless what we know of the big bang changes.

With respect to the Law of Causality, science is a search for causes. If we don't know for certain that everything has a cause, a lot of what we "know" about the world is undermined because we can't assume causation anymore. However, it really isn't a big deal to this discussion so I won't harp on it.

Also familiarize yourself with the idea of a finite universe with no boundaries.

Please elaborate.

If instead you’re

If instead you’re considering trillions of atoms interacting hundreds of times a second, the odds become quite a bit more favorable.

I'm no scientist, but enzymes are not formed by random atoms. First you would need the formation of amino acids and then protiens. Simply postulating more proteins do not make the odds more favorable because to get more proteins you odds go up on the front end.

I'm not suggesting the problem becomes larger, just that essentially the problem remains the same.

What's funny is that scientists cannot even create amino acids in the lab using the conditions of the supposed primordial earth. Miller's experiement has beem debunked for a long time due to the fact the atmosphere he assumed was nothing like the atmosphere believed to exist.

In the case of roulette, we

In the case of roulette, we have a fixed, calculable sample space. We know that there are only a limited number of possible outcomes. Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to abiogenesis? Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to God’s existence?

Perhaps we should reframe the discussion. We aren't talking about whether abiogenesis is more reasonable than the existence of God, we are talking about whether it is reasonable to believe at all. From a scientific perpspective, is it reasonable to believe that a living cell came to be all by chance? No, it's not.

What your telling me is that you take abiogenesis because to you it is the best answer. Fine. But that doesn't make the infinitesimal probabilites go away. My thanks to RKN for being so forthright on the matter.

Sure, I agree with this. My only objection is when people use this sort of skepticism and say, “Abiogenesis seems statistically unlikely, so therefore, it must have been God.” This is a double standard, unless we are willing to compare the likelihood of abiogenesis to the likelihood of God. All of those I’ve seen making the statistical argument don’t seem to be willing to make this comparison.

Ok, let me be frank - I am not trying to use probability to prove that God created the universe. I am demonstrating that those who act as if the naturalistic worldview is an open and shut case either are ignorant or are dogmatic religious atheists.

I will readly admit that many theists are the same way. But most theists will admit that we don't "know". One must have faith. Most naturalists will not admit the same (at least publicly), but it is required nonetheless. Why is this?

Allow me to quote Darwinist Richard Lewontin of Harvard:

Our willingness to accept scientific claims that are against common sense is the key to an understanding of the real struggle between science and the supernatural.We take the side of science in spite of the patent absurdity of some of its constructs, in spite of the failure to fulfill many of its extravagant promises of health and life, in spite of the tolerance of the scientific community for unsubstantiated just-so stories, because we have a prior commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causesto create an apparatus of investigation and a set of conepts that produce material explanations no matter how counterintuitive, no matter how mystifying to the uninitiated. Moreover that materialism is absolite for we cannot allow a divine foot in the door.

Micha wrote: In the case of

Micha wrote:

In the case of roulette, we have a fixed, calculable sample space. We know that there are only a limited number of possible outcomes. Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to abiogenesis?

Certainly. The earth can be considered a closed system and the laws of physical chemistry apply. A decidedly more formidable problem, mathematically speaking, than the roulette wheel, but nonetheless doable in principle, and frequently in practice as well.

Do we have a similar calculable sample space with regards to God’s existence?

As I already pointed out, the question is unanswerable.

Jason said:

What’s funny is that scientists cannot even create amino acids in the lab using the conditions of the supposed primordial earth. Miller’s experiement has beem debunked for a long time due to the fact the atmosphere he assumed was nothing like the atmosphere believed to exist.

Correct. And as I pointed out earlier, there are other significant problems with the Miller-Urey experiment. A lot of people who adamantly argue that science has explained all of this don't understand why the Miller-Urey experiment is important in abiogeneis, nor do they seem to understand how the failures of the experiment severely weaken the argument for abiogenesis.

and then he said ...

Perhaps we should reframe the discussion. We aren’t talking about whether abiogenesis is more reasonable than the existence of God, we are talking about whether it is reasonable to believe at all.

This is a really good point. I think it was Micha who said that it's fine to be skeptical of abiogeneis, but until a "better" theory comes along we should accept it -- (I hope I haven't misquoted him). I don't think one should accept a scientific hypothesis (and btw, abiogenesis, like evolution and natural selection, is very much a hypothesis, not a theory in the traditional sense) because all the alternatives are irrational or for some other reason unacceptable. It should be judged on its objective scientific merits, or lack of them, period.

I despair that the existing scientific hypotheses that seek to explain how life started on this planet are hideously weak in scientific rigor. That fact doesn't set me running to the chapel, and I'm not blaming anyone or impugning all science because of it, but it is what it is.

....and finally he said:

Ok, let me be frank - I am not trying to use probability to prove that God created the universe. I am demonstrating that those who act as if the naturalistic worldview is an open and shut case either are ignorant or are dogmatic religious atheists.

Another fine point worth elaborating on. I find it almost comical that many people (not anyone on this forum -- so far) who I've argued with about this possess no background whatsoever to critically judge the science which they adamantly argue explains everything we need to know about evolution, natural selection, and the origin of life.

Your point is well taken: what's the difference, really, between faith in god and faith in science as far as these people are concerned? Both represent a belief in something they don't really understand. It's fine to reject a belief in god because it's irrational, but to turn around and say, "Besides, science can explain all these things," is laughable, at least where the origin of life is concerned. Others, like Dawkins, sit back and say, "Yeah, well, be patient, one day science will answer all these questions." Maybe. But until then, he and that philosophical exponent of his, Dennett, ought to admit to the existing severe weaknesses in the science, as opposed to running around and labeling everybody like myself who does as, "an irrational theist."

Nice quote by Lewontin, btw; a wise man. His best books are worthwhile.

I'm afraid the

I'm afraid the experiment-space isn't limited to just the Earth. Even if the chances of life arising spontaneously are so small that it would likely occur only once in the entire history of the visible universe, we could be it. If it never arose, we wouldn't be around to notice.

And of course we can't ignore the very real possibility that life didn't originate on Earth in the first place.

These are precisely the sorts of reasons why abiogenesis isn't considered to be part of current scientific knowledge. Reason has established various semi-plausible ways in which life might have arisen spontaneously from unliving matter, but we simply lack the evidence to reach any definitive conclusion.

That doesn't make claims based on poorly-understood statistical arguments any more valid. Nor does it justify claims about "irreducible complexity" or "Intelligent Design", neither of which are logically coherent concepts.

Incidentally, we don't "stick with science" because its explanations are appealing to common sense. Nor do we use the scientific method because of any benefits we can derive from its discoveries. We apply the method because it's formalized honesty. Objecting to "materialism" is meaningless when 'material' is not a defined category. Science has found new forces and properties in systems where our explanations *were* thought to be fairly complete. There's no reason it can't do so again -- and it almost certainly will, given enough time. Quite simply, people who talk about "spirit" without either striking new empirical evidence or solid definitions are idiots.

Additional: Let's get two

Additional:

Let's get two things straight. First: abiogenesis does NOT suggest that modern cells arose directly from chance combinations of chemicals. That would indeed be extraordinarily unlikely, which is precisely why certain people keep misrepresenting the theory in that light: strawmen are a lot easier to knock down. Second: postulating that an ordered system designed and created the first life is NOT a better explanation from the scientific perspective, as it violates Occam's Razor. It accounts for nothing -- instead of struggling to account for the orderliness of life, we now need to account for the even greater orderliness of this postulated creative entity, for which there is simply no evidence. Instead of resolving the problem, it's just been pushed back where it's even greater but it's easier to ignore or handwave away.

In psychology, that sort of reasoning is sometimes called the "homunculus fallacy", from the idea that a tiny, abstract person existed within each human mind and directed its functioning... leaving open the question of how *that* being's mind worked. It's like claiming the world is a flat plane supported on the back of a turtle. What holds up the turtle? Another turtle, and so on down.

Let’s get two things

Let’s get two things straight. First: abiogenesis does NOT suggest that modern cells arose directly from chance combinations of chemicals. That would indeed be extraordinarily unlikely, which is precisely why certain people keep misrepresenting the theory in that light: strawmen are a lot easier to knock down.

Don't know if this was in response to something I said, but I'll jump in anyway.

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis that in part tries to explain how the fundamental biochemical *constituents* of a cell came to exist from an "abiotic soup," which is how the earth is thought to have been constitued about 4 billion years ago. Even simple prokaryotic cells are pretty complicated. Minimally, you need proteins, fats, and nucleotides. For proteins you need (at least) peptides, and for those you need amino acids. The focus of the Miller-Urey experiment was to simulate how the necessary amino acids could spontaneously form. It failed on a number of important levels.

Nobody here, so far as I have read, has mis-characterized abiogenesis to be the *direct* creation of cells from chance chemical interaction. The models from physical and organic chemistry will go a long way toward explaining how constiuent "pieces" might self-assemble into a functional whole (the laws and rules underlying these models are decidedly NOT random), but you first have to have the constiuent pieces to work with, and this is the crux of the matter.

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis that in part tries to explain how the fundamental biochemical constituents of a cell came to exist from an “abiotic soup,”

Nope. Abiogenesis is the hypothesis that life originated in the interaction of unliving matter. There are more specific hypotheses included in that category, such as the one you referred to.

We don't need to worry about cells. RNA has been shown to act as both an enzyme and an information-carrier, and all it needs are the appropriate chemicals. That's a lot simpler than even the most basic cell.

Nope. Abiogenesis is the

Nope. Abiogenesis is the hypothesis that life originated in the interaction of unliving matter.

You need to read more carefully. Abiotic, exactly what I said, *means* unliving.

We don’t need to worry about cells. RNA has been shown to act as both an enzyme and an information-carrier, and all it needs are the appropriate chemicals. That’s a lot simpler than even the most basic cell.

Sure, but you have to create a cell at some point. Enzymes are *constiuents* of cells, not the other way around.

And are you suggesting that the "appropriate chemicals" were native to the abiotic soup? If not, what are they, and how were they formed?

I've only skimmed the

I've only skimmed the comments on this one, but I do have recommended reading material on the topic of God, science, quantum physics and the inter-relation between them, for those who are interested. It's called The Science of God by Gerald Schroeder.

You need to read more

You need to read more carefully. Abiotic, exactly what I said, means unliving.

Read more carefully yourself. You claimed that abiogenesis is concerned with the formation of cells. That's the mistake I called you on.

Sure, but you have to create a cell at some point. Enzymes are constiuents of cells, not the other way around.

What kind of a point is that supposed to be? The point everyone is concerned with is not how the first cell membranes formed, but how the first life arose.

Read more carefully

Read more carefully yourself. You claimed that abiogenesis is concerned with the formation of cells. That’s the mistake I called you on.

I claimed no such thing. Most recently I stated what abiogenesis generally is, that is a hypothesis of how life might have arisen in an abiotic soup. You then claimed that was false, saying that what it actually says is how life arose from an unliving system. I followed up by gently reminding you that abiotic and unliving are synonymous.

Beyond that, I have said here repeatedly, *the constituents of cells*, specifically (but not only) the amino acids which are used to build some of those constituents. If you don't understand the importance of that to the hypothesis, you should familiarize yourself with the Miller-Urey experiment.

My impression of you is that until reading this thread you haven't given all this very much thought. Though I could be wrong.

What kind of a point is that supposed to be? The point everyone is concerned with is not how the first cell membranes formed, but how the first life arose.

Do you propose that life is constituted by something other than cells? Do tell!

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis that in part tries to explain how the fundamental biochemical constituents of a cell came to exist from an “abiotic soup,”

There you go. Right there, you asserted that abiogenesis is concerned with the building blocks of cells. That, as I'm saying for the second time, is false. Abiogenesis is concerned with the development of life from unliving matter.

If you don't understand the distinction between unicellular life and *life*, I don't think there's much of a point in continuing this conversation.

Should we fear the

Should we fear the "evangelical atheist"?
Is Mike Newdow a bigger threat than Jerry Falwell?
No, I don't think so either.

Jason, Now you are just

Jason,

Now you are just going in circles. You claimed “The cosmological argument simply says that something creating something out of nothing is more reasonable than nothing creating nothing out of something. In fact, it is antithetical to reason to believe the latter.”

I called you on that.

You claimed: “If we determined that some things don’t have causes, all of science is untenable.”

I called you on that also.

Now you are disputing quantum theory. Why? Because you don’t like the fact that the theory violates causality. It’s not a question of whether it’s true or not, nor whether one hypothesis is plausible to you or not. The point was that scientist don’t have a problem with non-causaul theories, they have proposed them, and in fact a non-causual theory, quantum theory, is accepted as the best theory we have for now. It simply shows that you were point blank wrong in your stereotype of science. Your statement “: “If we determined that some things don’t have causes, all of science is untenable.”, is false.

If you want a lesson in quantum theory I am not interested in giving it to you. Go out and look for yourself. You are in no position to judge it because you are just too ignorant on the subject.

You say:

I did some reading on this and there some problems. First it is a giant leap to go from some small knowledge of virtual particles to the big bang. Second, vacuums in the lab are not true vacuums - not all particles have been removed.

It’s you that is trying to take information about things internal to universe and applying it to the universe as a whole. Not me. I was not saying it was proper to do that. I was saying that even if you were right in your inappropriate application you would be wrong in fact. It was you that claimed “something creating something out of nothing is more reasonable than nothing creating ‘nothing out of something’[SIC]”.

You again:

This does not meet established preconditions for the big bang.

See you are doing it again. There are no “established preconditions” for the big bang. The term “precondition” is a notion that is only applicable within the universe.

This is in line with what I encounter much of the time with theists. They go even further and project human attributes onto imaginary things outside the realm of the universe. Sort of like the animists projecting human attributes onto trees.

Third, even a perfect vacuum could not have existed before the big bang because a vacuum requires something that was not available - space. Fourth, along the same line of reasoning, nothing cannot fluctuate. Again, a vacuum is not nothing, it is a “room” of nothing.

I wasn’t trying to analogize to the big bang. I was pointing out you were wrong about scientists and the current understanding of things within the universe. Also be aware that “The big bang” is has been used to refer to several different notions. One can, for instance, believe that the universe started with a big bang, and also believe it was spawned from some other universe.

So yes, I’m sure it’s fun to talk about but it is not a viable hypothesis unless what we know of the big bang changes.

I think this is one of the areas where science can honestly say “we don’t know”. Funny how you are so sure of yourself. I don’t see how you have supported your claim that the big bang is not a viable hypothesis. Have you found evidence that the universe is in steady state?

With respect to the Law of Causality, science is a search for causes. If we don’t know for certain that everything has a cause, a lot of what we “know” about the world is undermined because we can’t assume causation anymore. However, it really isn’t a big deal to this discussion so I won’t harp on it.

Not a big deal to what discussion? You seemed to think so, since you brought it up.

Also familiarize yourself with the idea of a finite universe with no boundaries.

Please elaborate.

I already did elaborate where I mentioned it. Go do some research. It’s not just space that doesn’t exist beyond the big bang. Time also doesn’t exist in some versions of the hypothesis. I have better things to do. To be fair this is starting to bore me, I probably will not reply to another post if you repeat what I have heard before. "It's déjà vu all over again", as I have heard these same misunderstandings over and over again.

This is like the other subject abiogenisis being discussed here. Every point was already covered in the link over at talk origins that Micha linked to. It’s like the people who push the “probablity” claims are a broken record. The attacks are pointless since the are basically attacking a straw man. Much like your straw man characterization of science, or the straw man picture of Atheists presented as the subject of this post.

As I suspected: "Ok, let me

As I suspected:

"Ok, let me be frank - I am not trying to use probability to prove that God created the universe. I am demonstrating that those who act as if the naturalistic worldview is an open and shut case either are ignorant or are dogmatic religious atheists."

That's hilarious. You want to demonstrate that the atheists are like the theists to discredit them?

Dogmatism and religious faith are antithetical to a naturalistic worldview precisely because such a worldview goes where the evidence leads. You are trying to equate something with the standard used as it's opposite. You have set yourself up for a fools task. Next you will be trying to prove that water is dry.

There you go. Right there,

There you go. Right there, you asserted that abiogenesis is concerned with the building blocks of cells. That, as I’m saying for the second time, is false. Abiogenesis is concerned with the development of life from unliving matter.

Good grief you are a poor reader. I said *constituents.*

*Ultimately*, yes, we need to get to the cell, because that's unit of reproduction, you know, like the necessary attribute of what we commonly call life?! Sheesh.

Of course abiogenensis isn't about trying to show how a *whole cell* suddenly popped into existence. What the hypothesis does have to explain is how the materials that would be necessary to *ultimately* build a cell came to exist in an abiotic soup. If you don't understand that by now, it's hopeless.

If you don’t understand the distinction between unicellular life and life,

What on earth are you talking about? Why don't you tell us in your own words what the difference is between uni-celluar life and life. Are you now claiming uni-celluar life isn't life? Or that prokaryotes weren't the likely progenitors of eukaryotes, or what?

Good grief you are a poor

Good grief you are a poor reader. I said constituents.

Constituent: Serving as part of a whole; component: a constituent element.

In other words, "building blocks" as that term is generally understood to refer to things other than little painted wooden toys.

Ultimately, yes, we need to get to the cell, because that’s unit of reproduction, you know, like the necessary attribute of what we commonly call life?! Sheesh.

There you are. There's nothing I could do or say that would demonstrate your profound ignorance of biology more clearly than what you've said right there.

There you are. There’s

There you are. There’s nothing I could do or say that would demonstrate your profound ignorance of biology more clearly than what you’ve said right there.

That's comical, Matt. I'll make sure to defer all the biological questions that might be asked of me next week your way. I'm interviewing in Ohio and New York with various PhDs in biomedical science. Trying to decide where to matriculate a pharmacology program.

I invited you more than once here to explain what you think you know. Blank out. It's not a moral error to say, "I don't know," you know.

Let's see here: you're

Let's see here: you're misrepresented a rather famous hypothesis (although I'm willing to give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're just confused). You've complained about the reading skills of others when yours where the skills in error. You've denied the rather obvious points that a) cells are not a fundamental unit of reproduction and b) cellular membranes are not required for life.

I know I'm impressed.

Come on, admit it, you're a

Come on, admit it, you're a poseur. It was you who didn't even understand what the "abio" in abiogenesis meant! Allow me to refresh your memory. You wrote:

Nope. Abiogenesis is the hypothesis that life originated in the
interaction of unliving matter.

That was our first clue as to your ignorance w.r.t. to this famous hypothesis, because you had written this in direct response to what I wrote, which was:

Abiogenesis is an hypothesis that in part tries to explain how the
fundamental biochemical constituents of a cell came to exist from
an “abiotic soup,” which is how the earth is thought to have been
constitued about 4 billion years ago.

See, you don't even understand that abiotic and unliving mean the same thing. And now here you come holding forth on my ignorance of a famous hypothesis! That is rich.

Tell ya what, Matt, here's my final invitation to you to prove to us you're not really a poseur. Dazzle us all with your mighty grasp of the science by answering this: Just what is it, biologically speaking, that actually divides during the reproduction of a life form? Your example may involve the simplest life form you can think of.

Disabuse me, Matt, disabuse me!

Guys - Enough with analyzing

Guys -

Enough with analyzing each other's mental or scholastic defects. Going forward, please limit yourself to the question at hand and rebutting/bolstering previous arguments.

But the arguments at hand

But the arguments at hand deal with the question of whether atheists are more likely to be arrogant, and that leads naturally to the question of whether theists are more likely to be arrogant.

RKN has repeatedly claimed he's disabused me of a notion I neither had nor wrote about (where exactly he came up with the idea that my comments are incompatible with an understanding of the word 'abiogenesis' I'll never know). He has some very odd notions about biology, seems to have problems with reading comprehension, and is putting foward statistical arguments he clearly doesn't understand.

In other words, he's the perfect example of just how arrogant and ignorant theists can potentially be.

Incidentally, the replication of the simplest living thing I'm aware of involves the division of a strand of RNA.

I didn't elaborate a

I didn't elaborate a statistical argument, so you're simply wrong about that. All I said in that regard is what has already been said by mathematcians elsewhere on this subject.

I have also made it clear in at least one post on this thread, if not more, that I am not a theist. So your suggestion that I am one...

In other words, he’s the perfect example of just how arrogant and ignorant theists can potentially be.

... is simply false to fact. Not that you'd ever admit to being wrong about something.

As for this...

Incidentally, the replication of the simplest living thing I’m aware of involves the division of a strand of RNA.

Yes, it involves the division of RNA, but that wasn't the question I put to you. RNA is an organic molecule; it is not itself an example of a living thing. And that's what I had asked that your example should involve. A molecule of RNA is a far cry from a living cell.

I didn’t elaborate a

I didn’t elaborate a statistical argument, so you’re simply wrong about that. All I said in that regard is what has already been said by mathematcians elsewhere on this subject.

You repeated a statistical argument that is made against the hypothesis of abiogenesis. The argument itself is inappropriate, as it concerns an event no one seriously argues in favor of. Your failure to use actual numbers or statistical terms doesn't absolve you for using the argument, it merely shows that you really don't understand it at all.

I have also made it clear in at least one post on this thread, if not more, that I am not a theist. So your suggestion that I am one…
is simply false to fact. Not that you’d ever admit to being wrong about something.

Oh, sure. Life didn't arise by itself, and yet you don't believe that it was created. Riiiight. And I suppose the fact that your rhetorical partner whose points you've been defending IS a theist is just a coincidence.

Yes, it involves the division of RNA, but that wasn’t the question I put to you. RNA is an organic molecule; it is not itself an example of a living thing.

Actually, it is. RNA molecules can catalyze their own duplication and assembly. They are the simplest living things currently known. Now, you could challenge this status, but then you'd have to explain why a self-replicating molecule should not be considered to be life.

Since the meaning of the

Since the meaning of the term 'abiogenesis' has been repeatedly falsely represented in this thread, I thought it would be nice to establish exactly what it *does* mean.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Abiogenesis
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=abiogenesis

The Catholic Encyclopedia uses the same meaning.

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/02571a.htm

Even people who (rather crudely) claim abiogenesis is impossible use the word to describe the same hypothetical phenomenon:

http://www.trueorigin.org/abio.asp

You repeated a statistical

You repeated a statistical argument that is made against the hypothesis of abiogenesis. The argument itself is inappropriate, as it concerns an event no one seriously argues in favor of.

You've confused me; no one seriously argues in favor of what -- abiogenesis?

Your failure to use actual numbers or statistical terms doesn’t absolve you for using the argument, it merely shows that you really don’t understand it at all.

This a comment section of a blog for goodness sake. Hardly a place where people expect mathematical rigor. Nevertheless, I'll recall this high standard of yours next time I see you trying to make a point here, and referring to an argument with a mathematical basis. Do be sure to show us all your work in that case.

Oh, sure. Life didn’t arise by itself, and yet you don’t believe that it was created. Riiiight.

Once again you appear to be incapbable of following a thread. I specifically said I'm skeptical of the present day explanations and hypothes[es] from science for how life supposedly began. Abiogenesis is hideously weak in its evidence from experiment. Yet here we go again, somebody points out the scientific weakness underlying the naturalistic view of life on earth and wham! they're labeled a theist. I'm not skeptical that life exists, I'm skeptical of the prevailing hypothesis for how it supposedly happened. That's all.

And I suppose the fact that your rhetorical partner whose points you’ve been defending IS a theist is just a coincidence.

As far as I know it is. You're letting suspicion lead your conclusions.

You might be familiar with a man named Stuart Kauffman. I worked down the hall from him for a time while I was in New Mexico. Very smart guy. He's written a number of books dealing with complexity and self-organization, wherein he spends a little time challenging certain aspects of Darwinian theory. My point in mentioning this is that soon after his books were published, he became an "ally" of the Christians simply because he was challenging some cannonical Neo-Darwinian views. This even though he had had repeatedly said when interviewed that he's very much a scientist, and committed to finding answers to problems that interest him using only the established scientific method.

The point is this: holding criticisms of something in common with others doesn't mean you share with them the same basis for those criticisms.

Actually, it is. RNA molecules can catalyze their own duplication and assembly. They are the simplest living things currently known.

First of all, the "RNA-world" hypothesis is simply that, an hypothesis. So far as I know it lacks experimental evidence showing how a polymer of RNA can self-assemble from monomers on a clay substrate. A competing hypothesis for the first organic molecule is that polypeptides and nucleic acids *preceded* RNA, but the experimental evidence for this is only slighty less weak. This latter is what I was talking about earlier, something you flippantly dismissed as an "odd notion of biology." Couldn't of been too odd, given Miller, and Sidney Fox after him, both tried to accomplish this in the lab.

Now, you could challenge this status, but then you’d have to explain why a self-replicating molecule should not be considered to be life.

Oh, I don't know, how 'bout because in ordinary biological circles replication is considered a necessary feature of life, but by no means a sufficient one.

Since the meaning of the

Since the meaning of the term ‘abiogenesis’ has been repeatedly falsely represented in this thread, I thought it would be nice to establish exactly what it does mean.

Gee, thanks for posting this, Matt, but your accusation that I have falsely represented the hypothesis isn't suported by these references. In particular, I encourage inlookers to read the wikipedia discussion.

Look closely at their modern definition of Abiogenenis:

The modern definition of abiogenesis is concerned with the formation of the simplest forms of life from primordial chemicals.

Let's see now, could a resonable reader substitute "constituents" for "primordial chemicals." Sure they could. Do that, and then compare it with the definition I supplied earlier. Here it is, verbatim:

"Abiogenesis is an hypothesis that in part tries to explain how the fundamental biochemical constituents of a cell came to exist from an 'abiotic soup,' which is how the earth is thought to have been constitued about 4 billion years ago."

Biochemical constiuents = primordial chemcicals. Purely semantics. You could complain I added "of the cell", but I thought it was obvious we had been talking about the creation of the nascent chemical constiuents that would *ultimately* be useful in assembling a simple cell. I actually repeated that here at least once. Uni-celluar organisms are what both biologists and wikipedia referred to as, "the simplest forms of life." This is precisely how introductory biology texts present this sort of material. But even so, "of the cell" could be deleted without losing any meaningful part of my definition.

So no false representation, virtually the same actually.

RKN, If I were to say

RKN,

If I were to say "Uni-celluar organisms are the simplest forms of life" I would mean more precisely "Uni-cellular organisms are the simplest existing independent forms of life known by man". You will notice that in the more ambiguous sentence you are suppose to assume a reasonable context. In the second sentence I did not need to include "on earth" because we have not yet found life elsewhere.

To the sentence precise I had to add "independent" because viruses are a simplier non-cellular form of life but require an environment which contains their host species in which to replicate. I had to add "existing" and "known" because we do not know whether their exist today or in the past any simpler lifeforms. In fact, if one excludes magical and supernatural possibilities it is only reasonable that simplier forms have existed in the past.

In short, scientists are not claiming as a fact that unicellular organisms are the simplest lifeform possible. That all depends on the environment.

Not counting viruses as living is a little bit of chauvinism. The evolve the same as other living things. They have just done away with their replicating equipment because they are parasites on ours. They require host organisms in their environment to survive and reproduce. That's a little unfair considering that no animal could survive without the existence of plants, or other symbiotes (like bacteria for deep vent animals).

Their is no reason why lifeforms could not be simplier than unicellular. They would just require a different environment than we find on earth today. One without our existing complex lifeforms. These simplier lifeforms just may not be able to compete with cellular life, and the byproducts it produces like free oxygen. Having a cell membrane is quite an advantage.

I don't think anyone has come up with an abiogenisis hypothesis that rises to the level of a theory yet. That doesn't mean that the rather piss-poor attacks being made by creationist have any weight. Those arguments were disposed of rather easily at the talk origins site.

The origin of life does not require that a modern cell be the starting point. That is a red herring and that is part of what your argument relys on. Unless you have done independent research in this area it also relys on other mistakes, like the ones pointed out on the page linked to by Micha.

By saying, " but I thought it was obvious we had been talking about the creation of the nascent chemical constiuents that would ultimately be useful in assembling a simple cell." you are admitting to Matts charges. You do think abiogensis requires the creation of all the chemicals by chance that are required by a cell to reproduce.

In actuallity a much simpler set of circumstances is all that is required. This was covered in "The Selfish Gene" nearly thirty years ago in 1976. I am sure this information was not original with Dawkins as he got most of his materials from others, and he is not a abiogensis researcher. So it goes back further than that. You really are not up to date. You dismissed Micha's link but did not provide any arguments or links to back yourself up.

RKN, I find it strange that

RKN,

I find it strange that you use the phrase "cannonical Neo-Darwinian views" in your reply to Micha:

You might be familiar with a man named Stuart Kauffman. I worked down the hall from him for a time while I was in New Mexico. Very smart guy. He’s written a number of books dealing with complexity and self-organization, wherein he spends a little time challenging certain aspects of Darwinian theory. My point in mentioning this is that soon after his books were published, he became an “ally” of the Christians simply because he was challenging some cannonical Neo-Darwinian views. This even though he had had repeatedly said when interviewed that he’s very much a scientist, and committed to finding answers to problems that interest him using only the established scientific method.

The point is this: holding criticisms of something in common with others doesn’t mean you share with them the same basis for those criticisms.

I haven't read Kauffman's book, At Home in the Universe, but here is from a review at Amazon:

"He contends that complexity itself triggers self-organization--what Kauffman calls "order for free"--and that if enough different molecules pass a certain threshold of complexity, they begin to self-organize into a new entity: a living cell. There is a phase transition when water abruptly turns to ice. Likewise, life may have originated when the mix of different molecules in the primordial soup passed a certain level of complexity and re-grouped into living entities (if so, then life is not a highly improbable chance event, but almost inevitable). Using the basic insight of "order for free" Kauffman illuminates a staggering range of phenomena."

Are you sure you are not getting this stuff second hand from creationist literature? Doesn't seem to me like you have discussed this much with Kauffman even if you were down the hall from him. He seems to think that abiogensis is almost inevitable, which kind of clashes with your representation of him as being a critic. So why the phrases like "cannonical Neo-Darwinian views", misunderstanding of Kaufmann, and promoting of creationist style criticism (straw-man arguments, misrepresentation of data, misapplication of mathematics, misrepresenting scientists views).

I'm very impressed, Mr.

I'm very impressed, Mr. Macker. That's some very nice research. Clearly you've done your homework.

Although scientists argue over various theories of evolution and abiotic hypotheses, I'm not aware of any serious scientific arguments against the possibility of abiogenesis at all, although it's a common position among various theistic groups. RKN's claims that he's not a theist seem highly suspicious.

Sorry for the delayed

Sorry for the delayed response, I was in church this morning.

I'm kidding! I'm kidding!

I find it strange that you use the phrase “cannonical Neo-Darwinian views” in your reply to Micha:

It was actually a reply to Matt G.

Are you sure you are not getting this stuff second hand from creationist literature?

Gee, Brian, let me go check the literature on my bookshelves.

Just a sec...

...nope, not a single book there that has anything to do with creationism. Well, I'm sure there's a King James version of the bible in a box somewhere, but if there is, I don't know where it is.

Doesn’t seem to me like you have discussed this much with Kauffman even if you were down the hall from him. He seems to think that abiogensis is almost inevitable, which kind of clashes with your representation of him as being a critic.

Slow down there, Brian. I mentioned Kauffman and his books to illustrate to Matt how unlikely alliances can form. I didn't "represent Kauffman as a critic of abiogenesis." What I said, specifically, is that he was a critic of some orthodox Neo-Darwinian views in his books. One of the criticisms, if I recall correctly (it's been a while since I read "At Home In the Universe"), was that natural selection and evolution were *inadequate* to explain diversity in organisms. Not wrong, simply inadequate. But that was a scientific criticism of orthodox evolutionary theory, not abiogenesis. Abiogenesis and evolution are causally related, but other than that the former has nothing to do with the latter. They are separate lines of scientific inquiry.

So why the phrases like “cannonical Neo-Darwinian views", misunderstanding of Kaufmann, and promoting of creationist style criticism (straw-man arguments, misrepresentation of data, misapplication of mathematics, misrepresenting scientists views).

Perhaps the reason you think that my pointing out the hideously weak evidence from experiment underlying abiogenesis is a "creationist-style criticism," is because to date you've only heard the criticisms come from creationists? I'm just guessing.

As for your claim here that I "misrepresented data" -- what data? You'll need to be more specific if you want me to make something clear.

Same goes for "misrpresenting scientists" and "misapplying mathematics." I've done neither.

What I *have* done is debunk Matt's criticism that I misrepresented the hypothesis of abiogenesis, ironically, by using the very links he posted, which he thought supported his criticism that I misrepresented the hypothesis!

Moreover, his unorthodox biological view that RNA was the first, simplest form of life is also false. The orthodox biological definition of what life is, requires that at least once over the course of its existence, a life form exhibit ALL of the following features:

1> Self Replication
2> Catabolism and Anabolism (call it metabolism)
3> Compound Growth
4> Some evidence of the ability to receive stimuli from the environment
and react to it. (Lot's of different ways to fulfill this criteria,
of course).

RNA doesn't exhibit 2-4, which is why biologists don't consider RNA to be "alive." Perhaps Matt is prepared to topple the orthodox view in this regard with his own "odd notions of biology."

Speaking of Matt, he said:

I’m very impressed, Mr. Macker. That’s some very nice research. Clearly you’ve done your homework.

[snicker]

"Research?" The funniest thing about this comment is that you're probably not kidding! You call a second-hand comment, from someone neither of you know, about a book neither of you have read, snipped from Amazon.com to be "really good research?!" May I ask what you do for a living, Matt?

I’m not aware of any serious scientific arguments against the possibility of abiogenesis at all

Get your head out of the sand and look around.

And finally...

RKN’s claims that he’s not a theist seem highly suspicious.

Do they now. Well let's see. Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that it could be establisehd to your satisfaction (somehow) that I really wasn't a theist. Would you still be critical of most or all the points of criticism I've made on this thread?

Suppose, just for the sake

Suppose, just for the sake of argument, that it could be establisehd to your satisfaction (somehow) that I really wasn’t a theist. Would you still be critical of most or all the points of criticism I’ve made on this thread?

Of course. Arguments stand (or in this case, fail miserably) on their own merits, not on the attributes of the people who make them. The arguments you've made are intellectually bankrupt whether you're actually a theistic creationist or not.

Well good then, you still

Well good then, you still have some intellectual honesty to build on.

But you've yet to sustain with facts and detail these accusations you have leveled at me. I've invited you to do so more than once. The only time you came close, and challenged me with an actual argument, was when we were talking about the simplest form of life. You claimed it was RNA; I elaborated in my last post to Brian that that was false, and showed why. This, and other counter arguments I've made have gone unanswered by you.

Simply repeating that my arguments are intellectually bankrupt absent any counter argument whatsoever from you, I actually think reveals the feebleness of your understanding about the relevant science involved, which you nevertheless uncritically accept as a done deal. Smells a little bit like "faith" to me.

RKN, I have decided that you

RKN,

I have decided that you are an airedale terrier which holds scientific theories to impossible standards such as the following:

"The thing I think people need to understand here, is that until such day as scientists can experimentally demonstrate how the basic building blocks of life (amino acids, etc.) came to exist from an abiotic soup, we all have a legitimate reason to be skeptical that it did."

I guess you'll buy into evolutionary theory when we are able to produce humans from shrews or perhaps via an abiotic soup and a billion years.

The specific creationist style arguments you have made are:

1) Religious faith is equivalent to scientific faith, with equivocation on the meaning of the word faith.
2) Impossible to generate life from abiotic soup using dubious statistical arguments. You don't provide the math but just state it works. You were provided with a link that shows it is nonsense but you claim that it has been rebutted.
3) You define life in your own quirky way, which of course requires a high level of functioning. Then you claim that this is irreducibly complex (which is what the statistical argument is).
4) You come up with bizzare requirements for science such as the above quote.
5) You think that the inability of some chemists to reproduce what evolution can do is a problem. Of course, it is not going to be easy. You ignore evidence from other sciences.
6) Straw man arguments. Like the "constituents of the cell" one.

Matt has rebutted some of your arguments, others are rebutted over a talk origins. Such as your misunderstanding that abiogenisis requires the building by chance of the constituents of a modern cell. It doesn't.

BTW, your definition of "life" is a definition of advance life forms. There is no reason to require both catabolism and anabolism. Evolution can kick off merely with rudimentary kind of anabolism provided by the environment or by self catalizing enzymes like RNA. There is no need for your "ability to recieve stimuli from the environment". You are working with some medical definition of life and not an evolutionary one. Matt has explained this to you but you seem to be stuck in your "orthodoxy".

I nor Matt would say that scientists have created life in the test tube. So what exactly are you railing against.

Geologically life has shown a progressive decrease in complexity. There being a point before which there is no evidence of life. This and the fact that we have not found life floating around in space argues against any sort of steady state theory where life has always existed. Any theory that assumes life did not arise abiotically is even more vulerable to "complexity" and "statistical" criticisms. It is just laughable to argue this way.

So what exactly do you propose as a more reasonable theory? Remember you cannot provide me with an abiotic one, since this is exactly what you are arguing against. Name one non-abiotic theory besides "god did it". It came from somewhere else is not a origins theory and just postpones the question.

So what exactly do you

So what exactly do you propose as a more reasonable theory?

Brian,I want to apologize for boring you with my ignorance. But I want to thank you for bringing us back around to the point I wanted to discuss in the first place. Whether you can explain away, rationalize, or rebut probabilites or cosmological problems or not really isn't the issue. There are many, many intelligent atheists out there acknowledging the severe difficulties inherent in a material worldview. I quoted one of them - I can quote others, including Richard Dawkins if you like.

In otherwords, theists and RKN are not the only ones that have problems with it. Surely there are other atheists out there who are at least competitive with your level intelligence. So the question is this:

Is naturalism reasonable to believe on its own merit?

as opposed to

Is naturalism a more reasonable explanation than creation or ID?

Let's just say for argument's sake that I think naturalism is more reasonable to believe than ID. Does that make naturalism reasonable?

I would be more than happy to address the points you made with respect to quantum physics but I would like to hear your thoughts on this matter.

I guess you’ll buy into

I guess you’ll buy into evolutionary theory when we are able to produce humans from shrews or perhaps via an abiotic soup and a billion years.

I'm growing tired of repeating myself, so this will likely be my last post on this topic. Abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolutionary theory. You need to come to understand this. Don't believe me? Post the point at talk.origins and get back us on their answer. Fair enough?

1) Religious faith is equivalent to scientific faith, with equivocation on the meaning of the word faith.

Stevie Wonder said it best: "People who believe in things they don't understand are superstitous."

You define life in your own quirky way

My own quirky way? Is that so. Tell ya what, let's surf over to wikipedia and take *their* definition of life as gospel (sic), since both you and Matt seem to be impressed with this kind of "research." And evidently since you used that site for the correct definition of abiogenesis, surely it will validate the real *orthodox* definition of life. Fair enough, Brian?

Wikipedia's definition of life:

----------------------------
A conventional definition

In biology, an entity has traditionally been considered to be alive if it exhibits all the following phenomena at least once during its existence:

1. Growth
2. Metabolism, consuming, transforming and storing energy/mass; growing by absorbing and reorganizing mass; excreting waste
3. Motion, either moving itself, or having internal motion
4. Reproduction, the ability to create entities that are similar to itself
5. Response to stimuli - the ability to measure properties of its surrounding environment, and act upon certain conditions.

--------------------------------------------

Look at that! Almost exactly what I said! No qualifications about this definition being relevant only to advanced forms of life ("an entity"). In fact, the context of the definition is the nascent origins of life.

Now, either you no longer think wikipedia is a credible site from which to cite definitions, or you have to concede my definition is not in fact, "quirky." What's it gonna be, Brian? I'll stop there for tonight. I have a biochem mid-term on Wednesday to study for.