An article in Salon caught my eye while looking at other things online:
Saturday, Jan 3, 2015 10:00 AM -0400
God is on the ropes: The brilliant new science that has creationists and the Christian right terrified
A young MIT professor is finishing Darwin’s task — and threatening to undo everything the wacky right holds dear
The triumphalistic tone and immediate leap to a socio-cultural and/or aggressive materialistic agenda backed up by denigratory caricatures, published in a seemingly respectable magazine, already speak inadvertent volumes.
But the lead-in to the piece (leaving off some rhetorical points-scoring off the bogeymen Mr Rosenberg particularly targets and evidently views as insane) is where the other shoe, proverbially, drops:
Darwin also didn’t have anything to say about how life got started in the first place — which still leaves a mighty big role for God to play, for those who are so inclined. But that could be about to change, and things could get a whole lot worse for creationists because of Jeremy England, a young MIT professor who’s proposed a theory, based in thermodynamics, showing that the emergence of life was not accidental, but necessary. “[U]nder certain conditions, matter inexorably acquires the key physical attribute associated with life,” he was quoted as saying in an article in Quanta magazine early in 2014, that’s since been republished by Scientific American and, more recently, by Business Insider. In essence, he’s saying, life itself evolved out of simpler non-living systems.
What leaps out to me, is that Mr Rosenberg apparently does not understand that a cosmos whose circumstances, parameters and laws are set up so that life is inevitable in suitable habitats, would be exquisitely fine-tuned. Leading straight to grounding a cosmological design inference. Which, is in fact the answer that Plato made in The Laws, Bk X c. 360 BC, to the ancient materialists. (After, he first paused to expose their utter intellectual-moral bankruptcy in light of radical relativism and amorality: “the highest might is right.”)
Yes, we can go on to highlight that life based on highly informational macromolecules organised in functionality- specific ways, is not reasonably explicable on bare mechanical necessity of natural law and/or random shuffling on a solar system scale or the scope of the observed cosmos. Just for one instance:
Yes, we can also point out that there is no adequate empirical warrant for supposed scenarios for origin of life, whether of genes first or metabolism first schools, even the now common form of appealing to a speculative RNA world. (If you doubt this, kindly provide the Nobel Prize winners who showed this, and their empirical findings.)
This may require a bit of amplification, so here is the exchange between Orgel and Shapiro:
But, a grand elaboration is not necessary at this point.
What we need to address is simple: why is it so obvious that a great many “need” Darwin and extensions to Darwin to be utterly triumphant to the point that those who dare differ on reconstructions of the remote, unobservable past of origins, are to be characterised as ignorant, stupid, insane and/or wicked? (Let’s leave off for the moment the obvious conflation of making design inferences on empirically tested, reliable signs, and “right wing” “Creationism.”)
What is that telling us, in the teeth of a case where plainly Mr Rosenberg failed to consider whether a cosmos that is so fine tuned in its circumstances, parameters and laws, that life will emerge at suitable points and times, might just be pointing us to the handiwork of a designer powerful enough to build a cosmos?
Let’s just pause to hear noted, Nobel-equivalent prize holding astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, as a spring-board for discussion:
From 1953 onward, Willy Fowler and I have always been intrigued by the remarkable relation of the 7.65 MeV energy level in the nucleus of 12 C to the 7.12 MeV level in 16 O. If you wanted to produce carbon and oxygen in roughly equal quantities by stellar nucleosynthesis, these are the two levels you would have to fix, and your fixing would have to be just where these levels are actually found to be. Another put-up job? . . . I am inclined to think so. A common sense interpretation of the facts suggests that a super intellect has “monkeyed” with the physics as well as the chemistry and biology, and there are no blind forces worth speaking about in nature. [F. Hoyle, Annual Review of Astronomy and Astrophysics, 20 (1982): 16.Cited, Bradley, in “Is There Scientific Evidence for the Existence of God? How the Recent Discoveries Support a Designed Universe”. Emphasis added.]
This seems to have originally appeared as the conclusion to a talk given at Caltech in 1981 or thereabouts. Earlier in the talk, he elaborated on Carbon and the chemistry of life, especially enzymes:
The big problem in biology, as I see it, is to understand the origin of the information carried by the explicit structures of biomolecules. The issue isn’t so much the rather crude fact that a protein consists of a chain of amino acids linked together in a certain way, but that the explicit ordering of the amino acids endows the chain with remarkable properties, which other orderings wouldn’t give. The case of the enzymes is well known . . . If amino acids were linked at random, there would be a vast number of arrange-ments that would be useless in serving the pur-poses of a living cell. When you consider that a typical enzyme has a chain of perhaps 200 links and that there are 20 possibilities for each link,it’s easy to see that the number of useless arrangements is enormous, more than the number of atoms in all the galaxies visible in the largest telescopes. This is for one enzyme, and there are upwards of 2000 of them, mainly serving very different purposes. So how did the situation get to where we find it to be? This is, as I see it, the biological problem – the information problem . . . .
I was constantly plagued by the thought that the number of ways in which even a single enzyme could be wrongly constructed was greater than the number of all the atoms in the universe. So try as I would, I couldn’t convince myself that even the whole universe would be sufficient to find life by random processes – by what are called the blind forces of nature . . . . By far the simplest way to arrive at the correct sequences of amino acids in the enzymes would be by thought, not by random processes . . . .
Now imagine yourself as a superintellect working through possibilities in polymer chemistry. Would you not be astonished that polymers based on the carbon atom turned out in your calculations to have the remarkable properties of the enzymes and other biomolecules? Would you not be bowled over in surprise to find that a living cell was a feasible construct? Would you not say to yourself, in whatever language supercalculating intellects use: Some supercalculating intellect must have designed the properties of the carbon atom, otherwise the chance of my finding such an atom through the blind forces of nature would be utterly minuscule. Of course you would, and if you were a sensible superintellect you would conclude that the carbon atom is a fix.
No wonder, in that same talk, Hoyle also added:
I do not believe that any physicist who examined the evidence could fail to draw the inference that the laws of nuclear physics have been deliberately designed with regard to the consequences they produce within stars. [“The Universe: Past and Present Reflections.” Engineering and Science, November, 1981. pp. 8–12]
So, now, let us reflect. END