Extraterrestrial life Intelligent Design

Fixing the unfixable Drake equation

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War-of-the-worlds-tripod.jpg
Alien tripod by Alvim Corréa, 1906 French edition of H.G. Wells’ “War of the Worlds”

From astrophysicist Ethan Siegel at Forbes:

Again, Earth is our only laboratory for this, but let’s be optimistic in the absence of evidence, and assume there’s a 1-in-1,000 chance that a world that starts with a primitive, replicating, information-encoding strand of life can lead to something like the Cambrian explosion. That gives us 10,000 worlds in the Milky Way teeming with diverse, multicellular, highly differentiated forms of life. Given the distance between the stars, that means there’s likely another planet where this has occurred just a few hundred light years away.

The uncertainties here are huge, and any number that you can pick is as ill-motivated as any other. Someday in the future, we’ll have the capability of performing our first tests, however. When our telescope technology enables us to determine the atmospheric contents of worlds, we can look for the presence or absence of biosignatures like methane, molecular oxygen, and carbon dioxide. It will be indirect evidence, but it should be an incredible step towards inferring whether worlds have life on them or not. If we say there’s a 1-in-10,000 chance that a potentially habitable world has life on it, as good a guess as any, that means there are 10 million worlds in the Milky Way where life exists.More.

Would you invest in a scheme like this?

The Drake equation is unfixable because it is based on a hope (we are not alone) created to avoid confronting a fear (we are alone). It’ll never die. But it is fun.

See also: Obituary column: By the time we hear from the space aliens,they will be dead

32 Replies to “Fixing the unfixable Drake equation

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Siegal article is basically an exercise in materialistic wish fulfillment. I hate to burst Ethan Siegel’s “ET’s are out there somewhere” bubble, but the way to ‘fix’ the Drake equation is to put some realistic numbers in it about what we do know about what it takes to have a planet that can support life and not to pussyfoot around the edges of the Drake equation as he did in his article.

    Eric Metaxas – Does Science Argue for or against God? – (Sagan’s estimate based on the Drake equation shown to be overly optimistic) – animated video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po

    Much to the disappointment of Star Trek fans (and Siegal), the avalanche of recent scientific evidence has found the probability of finding another planet with the ability to host simple life, much less advanced life, in this universe is not nearly as likely as astronomer Frank Drake, and Carl Sagan, had originally predicted.

    Many conditions are required to be met in order to have a planet that can host life. Here is the final summary of Dr. Hugh Ross’s ‘conservative’ estimate for the probability of finding another life-hosting world in this universe.

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability Estimates for the Features Required by Various Life Forms:
    Excerpt:
    Requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less:
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10-614
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10^-333
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Requirements to sustain unicellar life for three billion year:
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-859
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-578
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle

    Requirements to sustain intelligent physical life:
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle
    http://d4bge0zxg5qba.cloudfron.....3_ver2.pdf
    http://www.reasons.org/explore.....ndium-2009

    When one factors in some realistic numbers for the probability of ‘simple’ bacterial life randomly coming together in this universe, the probability for a planet which may host ‘simple’ life in the universe explodes into gargantuan proportions:

    Miracles in Evolutionary Theory – July 28, 2016
    Any sufficiently advanced improbability is indistinguishable from a miracle.
    Excerpt: In Signature in the Cell, building on research by Douglas Axe on protein function, Stephen Meyer calculated the probability of one relatively short protein 150 amino acids in length as being one chance in 10 to the 164th power (10-164, pp. 210-212). In other words, expecting just one protein by chance exceeds the universal probability bound calculated by William Dembski (10-150) by 14 orders of magnitude — 100 trillionth the chance! The word “miracle” doesn’t even come close to belief in such an event. Yet these evolutionists want us to believe that somewhere between 355 and 463 genes or protein products, all working in concert, emerged by chance.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....03032.html

    Signature in the Cell – Book Review – Ken Peterson
    Excerpt: If we assume some minimally complex cell requires 250 different proteins then the probability of this arrangement happening purely by chance is one in 10 to the 164th multiplied by itself 250 times or one in 10 to the 41,000th power.
    http://www.spectrummagazine.or.....ature_cell

    In particular, Siegal wants to know if there are “extraterrestrials who are intelligent the way we’re intelligent”

    7.) ft: the fraction of those worlds which presently house a scientifically/technologically advanced civilization. This is a superior question to the ones asked by the Drake equation. Who cares if this is the first or the tenth time a technologically advanced civilization arose? Who cares if they’re using radio waves? Who cares if they blow themselves up or self-extinct, or whether they have spacefaring ambitions or not? The big question is whether there are extraterrestrials who are intelligent the way we’re intelligent, and that means scientifically and technologically advanced.
    There’s no evidence for this anywhere other than Earth, of course, which means there’s a huge range of possibilities. It could be easy, like 1% of them get there, or it could be a freak coincidence that humanity arose at all, and the odds could be more like one-in-a-billion.,,,

    Might I suggest that the much more interesting answer to the question of “intelligent the way we’re intelligent” is that we are made in the image of God instead of some undiscovered ET that may or may not be similar to us in terms of intelligence?

    Humanity – Chemical Scum or Made in the Image of God?
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElBWAwjPzyM
    Excerpt: although humans are fairly defenseless creatures in the wild compared to other creatures, such as lions, bears, and sharks, etc.., nonetheless, humans have, completely contrary to Darwinian ‘survival of the fittest’ thinking, managed to become masters of the planet, not by brute force, but simply by our unique ability to communicate information and, more specifically, infuse information into material substrates,,
    What is more interesting still, besides the fact that humans have a unique ability to understand and create information and have become ‘masters of the planet’ through the ‘top-down’ infusion of information into material substrates, is the fact that, due to advances in science, both the universe and life itself are now found to be ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis.,,,

    “The most fundamental definition of reality is not matter or energy, but information–and it is the processing of information that lies at the root of all physical, biological, economic, and social phenomena.”
    Vlatko Vedral – Professor of Physics at the University of Oxford, and CQT (Centre for Quantum Technologies) at the National University of Singapore, and a Fellow of Wolfson College – a recognized leader in the field of quantum mechanics.

    It is hard to imagine a more convincing scientific proof that we are made ‘in the image of God’ than finding both the universe, and life itself, are both ‘information theoretic’ in their foundational basis, and that we, of all the creatures on earth, uniquely possess an ability to understand and create information, and, moreover, have come to ‘master the planet’ precisely because of our unique ability infuse information into material substrates.
    Perhaps a more convincing evidence that we are made in the image of God and that our lives have meaning and purpose could be if God Himself became a man, defeated death on a cross, and then rose from the dead to prove that He was indeed God.

    But who has ever heard of such a thing as that?

    “Christianity is not merely religious truth, it is total truth — truth about the whole of reality.”
    – Francis Schaeffer –

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    Matthew 28:18
    Jesus came to them and said: I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth!

    Of humorous note from a SETI documentary:

    Tyson: “Their (SETIs) goal is the ultimate prize in the life finding game. Someone out there we can talk to.”
    Shostak: “Nothing to do but sit here and wait for them to call.”
    (And exactly at that moment the phone rings right behind Shostak).
    Shostak: “And on cue they’ve called.”
    – quotes as stated at 11:22 minute mark – Where are the Aliens Origins Nova Neil Degrasse Tyson – video –
    https://youtu.be/t1ReViBCDOs?t=667

    As a Christian who has seen a few answered prayers during my life, I find it strange that the SETI (Search for Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence) organization spends millions of dollars vainly searching for signs of extra-terrestrial life in this universe, when all anyone has to do to make solid contact with THE primary ‘extra-terrestrial intelligence’ of the entire universe is to pray with a sincere heart.
    God, who created heaven and earth, certainly does not hide from those who sincerely seek Him.
    I would think that personally communicating with the Creator of the universe would be a lot more exciting than not communicating with some little green men that in all realistic probability, given naturalism, do not even exist.

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

  2. 2
    Barry Arrington says:

    From the article:

    If we say there’s a 1-in-10,000 chance that a potentially habitable world has life on it, as good a guess as any,

    Blithering nonsense. This one estimate explains why the Drake Equation is stupid. Every OOL researcher knows that the chances of life arising on this plant by sheer dumb luck were astonishingly small. Some even invoke the multiverse to overcome the probablistic obstacles.

    The author blithely ignores these facts and instead of estimating the odds at “astonishingly small,” pulls 1 in 10,000 out his nether regions. The exercise fails to some degree at every level, but it fails most spectacularly at this level.

    You can have your Drake Equation. I’ll take the Fermi paradox any day. Why? Because it is based on facts, not pulling risible estimates from one’s nether regions.

  3. 3
    jdk says:

    The Drake equation is stupid, I agree, and the probabilities are just made up because we have no evidence whatsoever about whether life of any form, at any stage of development, exists on other planets or not.

    With that said, therefore, Barry’s statement that “Every OOL researcher knows that the chances of life arising on this plant by sheer dumb luck were astonishingly small” is just as unsubstantiated as any other guess, and betrays his bias, again unsubstantiated, that life arose by “sheer, dumb luck.”

    With an n =1 out of approximately 10 ^ 22 stars in the universe, making statements about the probable occurrence, or lack therefore, of life on other planets is, as Barry says, “blithering nonsense.”

    We have to admit that we just have no way of knowing at this time.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    “Rare Earth” and “The Privileged Planet” offer up better equations for finding life on other planets. Only TPP offers us a glimpse into what to look for to find technologically capable life.

    In an Intelligent Design scenario I would think it is a given that we are not alone- well at least it greatly increases the odds that we are not alone.

  5. 5
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk, you state:

    Barry’s statement that “Every OOL researcher knows that the chances of life arising on this plant by sheer dumb luck were astonishingly small” is just as unsubstantiated as any other guess, and betrays his bias, again unsubstantiated, that life arose by “sheer, dumb luck.”

    Au Contraire jdk. Barry argues from what we do know about unguided materialistic processes, whereas you are basically arguing a ‘materialism of the gaps’ argument. Huge difference. One argument is based on knowledge, the other is based on ignorance.

    Dr. James Tour points out that, since the laws of nature are universal, “Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth,,,”

    An Open Letter to My Colleagues – James Tour – 2017
    Excerpt: We synthetic chemists should state the obvious. The appearance of life on earth is a mystery. We are nowhere near solving this problem. The proposals offered thus far to explain life’s origin make no scientific sense.
    Beyond our planet, all the others that have been probed are lifeless, a result in accord with our chemical expectations. The laws of physics and chemistry’s Periodic Table are universal, suggesting that life based upon amino acids, nucleotides, saccharides and lipids is an anomaly. Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth.17
    http://inference-review.com/ar.....colleagues

    Here are a few of the ‘universal’ problems for any materialistic OOL scenario that are currently ‘known’ about:

    RNA world: Chemists Propose a Seemingly Unlikely Environment for the Origin of Life – February 27, 2013
    Excerpt: Benner and his colleagues consider three major problems with the RNA-world model:
    *The “asphalt problem”: Organic reactions often produce unreactive byproducts. These byproducts are a mixture of pieces of the product or polymerization of the product, but are chemically insignificant and otherwise unpromising. Hence the metaphor of “asphalt.” Typically, avoiding the production of such byproducts requires very specific and controlled conditions, or post-reaction purification steps.
    *The “water problem”: Many of the bonds in RNA will undergo hydrolysis. This occurs when water reacts with the bond, causing it to break apart. In a lab, the problem is easily addressed by using a different solvent. However, the environment of the early Earth could not draw on the resource of various organic solvents.
    *The “impossible bond problem”: The authors refer here to the difficulty in forming certain bonds in RNA. Usually this follows from thermodynamic issues that prohibit bonds from spontaneously forming.
    Conspicuously missing from the authors’ list of critiques are the “chirality problem” and the “information problem.” Later in the paper, however, they concede that their model does not solve the enigma of chirality, and they allude to a potential “fatal flaw” in their proposition, namely that the kinds of RNA molecules that catalyze the destruction of RNA are more likely to emerge than RNA molecules that catalyze the synthesis of RNA. –
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....68661.html

    Here are a few more sobering quotes from Dr. Tour:

    “We have no idea how the molecules that compose living systems could have been devised such that they would work in concert to fulfill biology’s functions. We have no idea how the basic set of molecules, carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins, were made and how they could have coupled into the proper sequences, and then transformed into the ordered assemblies until there was the construction of a complex biological system, and eventually to that first cell.
    Nobody has any idea how this was done when using our commonly understood mechanisms of chemical science. Those that say they understand are generally wholly uninformed regarding chemical synthesis. Those that say “Oh, this is well worked out,” they know nothing, nothing about chemical synthesis – Nothing!
    Further cluelessness – From a synthetic chemical perspective, neither I nor any of my colleagues can fathom a prebiotic molecular route to construction of a complex system. We cannot figure out the prebiotic routes to the basic building blocks of life: carbohydrates, nucleic acids, lipids, and proteins. Chemists are collectively bewildered. Hence I say that no chemist understands prebiotic synthesis of the requisite building blocks let alone their assembly into a complex system.
    That’s how clueless we are. I’ve asked all of my colleagues – National Academy members, Nobel Prize winners -I sit with them in offices; nobody understands this. So if your professors say it’s all worked out, your teachers say it’s all worked out, they don’t know what they’re talking about. It is not worked out. You cannot just refer this to somebody else; they don’t know what they’re talking about.”
    James Tour – one of the top ten leading chemists in the world
    The Origin of Life: An Inside Story – March 2016 Lecture with James Tour

    Origin of Life: An Inside Story – Professor James Tour – May 1, 2016
    Excerpt: “All right, now let’s assemble the Dream Team. We’ve got good professors here, so let’s assemble the Dream Team. Let’s further assume that the world’s top 100 synthetic chemists, top 100 biochemists and top 100 evolutionary biologists combined forces into a limitlessly funded Dream Team. The Dream Team has all the carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleic acids stored in freezers in their laboratories… All of them are in 100% enantiomer purity. [Let’s] even give the team all the reagents they wish, the most advanced laboratories, and the analytical facilities, and complete scientific literature, and synthetic and natural non-living coupling agents. Mobilize the Dream Team to assemble the building blocks into a living system – nothing complex, just a single cell. The members scratch their heads and walk away, frustrated…
    So let’s help the Dream Team out by providing the polymerized forms: polypeptides, all the enzymes they desire, the polysaccharides, DNA and RNA in any sequence they desire, cleanly assembled. The level of sophistication in even the simplest of possible living cells is so chemically complex that we are even more clueless now than with anything discussed regarding prebiotic chemistry or macroevolution. The Dream Team will not know where to start. Moving all this off Earth does not solve the problem, because our physical laws are universal.
    You see the problem for the chemists? Welcome to my world. This is what I’m confronted with, every day.“
    James Tour – leading Chemist
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....nt-design/

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Without Intelligent Design what else is there besides sheer dumb luck? Inquiring minds want to know.

  7. 7
    jdk says:

    re 5:

    When I wrote,

    Barry’s statement that “Every OOL researcher knows that the chances of life arising on this plant by sheer dumb luck were astonishingly small” is just as unsubstantiated as any other guess, and betrays his bias, again unsubstantiated, that life arose by “sheer, dumb luck.”

    ba77 wrote,

    Au Contraire jdk. Barry argues from what we do know about unguided materialistic processes, whereas you are basically arguing a ‘materialism of the gaps’ argument. Huge difference. One argument is based on knowledge, the other is based on ignorance.

    ba77, you tend to jump to conclusions about other people’s positions, and hence perhaps not read accurately.

    I was not arguing for a materialistic view, or any particular view. I was arguing that without some evidence, of which we have virtually none, we are unjustified in making guesses about the probability of life in the universe, irrespective of one’s metaphysial position.

    For instance, there is a possibility that the Designer has designed and created life in a variety of environments in a variety of ways throughout the universe, so that the chances of finding life of some sort, at some stage of development, with some relatively high frequency, is somewhat probable.

    If somehow we could magically have an complete inventory of life in the universe (fantastically impossible), that would provide some interesting evidence upon which we could speculate. If we were indeed the only life in the universe, that would be strong evidence, I think, for life on earth being the result of a special creative intelligent act. If, on the other hand, we found that life was common throughout our galaxy and many other galaxies, I think that would leave us with a variety of hypotheses: an ID hypothesis that the Designer actively created life many, many times, or, alternatively, that there are in fact underlying physical laws which make the biochemical evolution of life probable, either from a materialistic view or from a non-materialistic view that doesn’t include a personal creative designer.

    However, since we don’t have this type of evidence, and never will, I think my statement that “With an n =1 out of approximately 10 ^ 22 stars in the universe, making statements about the probable occurrence, or lack therefore, of life on other planets is, as Barry says, ‘blithering nonsense.'” is true.

  8. 8
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk, you apparently are not reading what I wrote.

    Based on our best knowledge, and given the fact that the laws of the universe are the same everywhere we look in the universe, then life in the universe should be exceedingly rare.

    It is an argument from what we do know, not an argument from what we do not know!

    Whereas you just repeated your ‘argument from ignorance’,, i.e. the ‘materialism of the gaps’ argument.

    Moreover, I am getting pretty tired of you constantly defending the materialistic position whilst denying to be a materialist.

    It is called hypocrisy!

    I firmly believe you just want to escape having to defend all the indefensible stuff that comes along with being a materialist,, all the while freely attacking ID as if you are impartial.

    You can’t have it that way! Since you argue like a materialist then you certainly will be expected to rigorously defend the materialistic arguments that you are making!

  9. 9
    jdk says:

    ba77 writes,

    Based on our best knowledge, and given the fact that the laws of the universe are the same everywhere we look in the universe, then life in the universe should be exceeding rare.

    Yes, but if you accept ID, life in the universe might be exceedingly common.

    Also, that is assuming that you are correct that the probability of life arising here on earth by some other means other than ID is exceedingly small, and then extrapolating to the entire universe.

    My point, which is neither arguing for or against materialism, is that we lack the evidence to make that judgment because our sample size is so small.

    And I don’t really care whether you’re tired of my comments or not. I believe that there are intermediate positions between the theism which you hold and materialism, and I believe that a position of agnostic skepticism about metaphysical belief is more reasonable than a sense of certainty about either.

  10. 10
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk, you stated:

    Barry’s statement that “Every OOL researcher knows that the chances of life arising on this plant by sheer dumb luck were astonishingly small” is just as unsubstantiated as any other guess, and betrays his bias, again unsubstantiated, that life arose by “sheer, dumb luck.”

    And then you stated:

    I was not arguing for a materialistic view, or any particular view. I was arguing that without some evidence, of which we have virtually none, we are unjustified in making guesses about the probability of life in the universe, irrespective of one’s metaphysial position.

    And you were corrected twice on that fallacious belief. again,, Given what we DO KNOW, and given the fact that the laws of the universe are the same everywhere we look, then we should expect life in the universe to be exceedingly rare.

    You are relying on ignorance, i.e. ‘materialism of the gaps’ to defend the scientifically indefensible materialistic position.

    And then when called on all that, you then switched around and stated:

    “Yes, but if you accept ID, life in the universe might be exceedingly common.”

    So what??? If and only if you accept ID as true could you argue that,,, (and then I could argue theologically and scientifically to defend the position that the Earth, and humans, are very special in this universe.),,

    ,,,, But defending ID is not what you originally were trying to do. You were trying to claim that materialists have just as much right to expect life to be common in the universe as the ID advocate does.

    That simply is not true. Again, given materialistic premises “Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth.”

    An Open Letter to My Colleagues – James Tour – 2017
    Excerpt: We synthetic chemists should state the obvious. The appearance of life on earth is a mystery. We are nowhere near solving this problem. The proposals offered thus far to explain life’s origin make no scientific sense.
    Beyond our planet, all the others that have been probed are lifeless, a result in accord with our chemical expectations. The laws of physics and chemistry’s Periodic Table are universal, suggesting that life based upon amino acids, nucleotides, saccharides and lipids is an anomaly. Life should not exist anywhere in our universe. Life should not even exist on the surface of the earth.17

    Origin of Life: An Inside Story – Professor James Tour – May 1, 2016
    Excerpt: “All right, now let’s assemble the Dream Team. We’ve got good professors here, so let’s assemble the Dream Team. Let’s further assume that the world’s top 100 synthetic chemists, top 100 biochemists and top 100 evolutionary biologists combined forces into a limitlessly funded Dream Team. The Dream Team has all the carbohydrates, lipids, amino acids and nucleic acids stored in freezers in their laboratories… All of them are in 100% enantiomer purity. [Let’s] even give the team all the reagents they wish, the most advanced laboratories, and the analytical facilities, and complete scientific literature, and synthetic and natural non-living coupling agents. Mobilize the Dream Team to assemble the building blocks into a living system – nothing complex, just a single cell. The members scratch their heads and walk away, frustrated…
    So let’s help the Dream Team out by providing the polymerized forms: polypeptides, all the enzymes they desire, the polysaccharides, DNA and RNA in any sequence they desire, cleanly assembled. The level of sophistication in even the simplest of possible living cells is so chemically complex that we are even more clueless now than with anything discussed regarding prebiotic chemistry or macroevolution. The Dream Team will not know where to start. Moving all this off Earth does not solve the problem, because our physical laws are universal.
    You see the problem for the chemists? Welcome to my world. This is what I’m confronted with, every day.“
    James Tour – leading Chemist

    As to,

    I believe that a position of agnostic skepticism about metaphysical belief is more reasonable than a sense of certainty about either.

    Really??? FYI there is no ‘middle ground’! Either ID is true or it is not. You are liable to get shot by both sides in this supposed imaginary ‘middleland’ of yours.

    Moreover, I never have seen you on any of the atheistic websites defending the ‘intermediate’ position. Perhaps you can put up a few links where you have asked PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne, or etc.. to adopt a ‘intermediate’ approach to ID? So that we can see if you are truly sincere in your ‘intermediate’ beliefs,,,

    Or is it only ID that you feel should take such a ‘intermediate’ position whilst the militant atheists get a free pass from you?

    ,,, Moreover, when you make a materialistic argument then the argument will certainly be treated as a materialistic argument. It is hardly fair, or sane, of you to ask others to treat your arguments as if they were other than what you wrote.

    Your, “Oh, but I’m not a materialist”, reply to arguments made against what you originally wrote certainly does not cut it!

  11. 11
    jdk says:

    ba77 writes,

    You were trying to claim that materialists have just as much right to expect life to be common in the universe as the ID advocate does.

    I was not, but I see that there is no way to keep you from making that erroneous conclusion.

    Also, I’m not sure why you think it would be the de facto case that the average Christian theist would assume life in the universe was common.

    Also, you write,

    FYI there is no ‘middle ground’! Either ID is true or it is not. You are liable to get shot by both sides in this supposed imaginary ‘middleland’ of yours.

    I did not say that there were no immediate positions between ID and materialism: I said there were intermediate positions between theism and materialism. I am sure there are positions, and I have written about some in the past, which attribute non-material creative but impersonal forces and principles to the universe that manifest themselves in the material world. I know you would reject these philosophies, but you are wrong to state they don’t exist.

    You write,

    Moreover, I never have seen you on any of the atheistic websites defending the ‘intermediate’ position. Perhaps you can put up a few links where you have asked PZ Myers or Jerry Coyne, or etc.. to adopt a ‘intermediate’ approach to ID?

    This is the only forum I participate in. I clearly state here that I’m not a materialist, and wrote a post recently as to why, when asked. If there are materialists here who want to discuss that with me, I’m willing.

  12. 12
    Origenes says:

    “We have no idea …” seems to be jdk’s favorite line. From there it’s all personal preference and everything is equally probable. The unknowable Tao fits right in there.

    When you point out to him that we a warranted idea about what blind particles in motion can do and cannot do, or that we do have a logical solid idea of some of the properties of the cause of the universe, he bails out.

    And here he is again telling us that we do not (cannot) know anything.

    The basis of any rational inquiry is demanding understanding. I get the impression that jdk has a different agenda.

  13. 13
    jdk says:

    origenes writes,

    We have no idea …” seems to be jdk’s favorite line. From there it’s all personal preference and everything is equally probable. The unknowable Tao fits right in there.

    Yes, I do believe that we don’t have any way of deciding between a number of metaphysical speculations, for several reasons, one of which is lack of evidence. Here I am making a different argument: we don’t know because we are just one planet out of billions of billions (and more), so we do have enough evidence to extrapolate with any confidence.

    When you point out to him that we a warranted idea about what blind particles in motion can do and cannot do, or that we do have a logical solid idea of some of the properties of the cause of the universe, he bails out.

    Hmmm. I don’t think I “bail out”: I think I disagree that you can know what you think you know with the certainty that you think you know it.

    The basis of any rational inquiry is demanding understanding. I get the impression that jdk has a different agenda.

    I am interested in us understanding, among other things, the limits of our understanding and the nature and function of the belief systems we create.

  14. 14
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk states:

    ba77 writes,

    You were trying to claim that materialists have just as much right to expect life to be common in the universe as the ID advocate does.

    jdk: I was not, but I see that there is no way to keep you from making that erroneous conclusion.

    and yet, earlier in the thread, jdk claimed this:

    I was not arguing for a materialistic view, or any particular view. I was arguing that without some evidence, of which we have virtually none, we are unjustified in making guesses about the probability of life in the universe, irrespective of one’s metaphysial position.

    What??? are we not to believe our own eyes as to what jdk actually wrote???

    Then, after being shown that materialists have no ‘scientific’ right to expect life to be common in the universe, jdk backpedals to “well there are other positions rather than Theism”.

    So what??? You were defending materialism in particular saying “we are unjustified in making guesses about the probability of life in the universe, irrespective of one’s metaphysial position.! And then were shown to be, scientifically, wrong.

    If you do not believe Theism, then take up one of the other metaphysical positions you believe to be true, besides materialism, and defend it and quit switching from materialism to another metaphysical position when called on your materialistic bluffs.

    You are extremely inconsistent in your argumentation! As such, I can not take your arguments seriously.

  15. 15
    bornagain77 says:

    Origenes

    “I get the impression that jdk has a different agenda.”

    Me too! His sincerity is definitely in question in my book.

  16. 16
    jdk says:

    ba77 writes,

    You were defending materialism in particular saying “we are unjustified in making guesses about the probability of life in the universe, irrespective of one’s metaphysial position.! And then were shown to be, scientifically, wrong.

    I know your position is that life could not have arisen by natural processes, and must have had some additional intelligent input. I certainly don’t accept that as scientifically proven.

    To deny ID in that form is not to endorse materialism, as your dichotomous view seems to think.

    ba77 writes,

    If you do not believe Theism, then take up one of the other metaphysical positions you believe to be true, besides materialism, and defend it.

    You’re missing a point that I think I’ve been pretty clear about here at UD: I don’t believe that any metaphysical system that people believe is “true”: they are creative inventions which we have built to explain things that we can’t truly know about. They are important and necessary to human beings in order to give us a structure upon which to build our sense of understanding and meaning, but they are not “true” in any ontological sense.

    So I never would “take up [a]metaphysical position … defend it”. I have, at other times, described some metaphysical beliefs that I like best, that have helped me make the most sense of the world and to provide a framework for my principles, and I offer them to others who might find them useful or interesting, but I would never “defend” them in the sense of trying to convince others they were true.

    Many, many years ago I wrote a paper for an anthropology class on belief systems in which I made the point that metaphysical belief systems are affirmed, not confirmed. They are choices, at both the individual and cultural level. I have continued to study religion and philosophy all these years, and continue to believe that the point I made back then is true.

  17. 17
    bornagain77 says:

    “I certainly don’t accept that as scientifically proven.”

    And yet you gave no scientific evidence to the counter the scientific evidence thus far presented to you. Go figure.

    Thus we are left with your personal opinion vs the scientific evidence I presented.

    Why should I care what your personal opinion is?

    Bring some empirical evidence to the table and then maybe I will respect your opinion a little more. Until then your arguments, besides ever shifting, are baseless.

    as to:

    I don’t believe that any metaphysical system that people believe is “true”: they are creative inventions which we have built to explain things that we can’t truly know about.

    Claiming that we can’t know anything, or metaphysics, to be true while refusing to acknowledge what we already, scientifically, do know to be true is a self-defeating metaphysical position.

    Again, why should I give your personal opinions preference over scientific evidence?

    I suggest you go peddle your metaphysical musings elsewhere, perhaps on PZ Myers’s blog and see how far you get with atheists. 🙂 That should be interesting and comical!

    If you do go, Please let me know how all that goes for you. I need the laugh. 🙂

  18. 18
    ET says:

    jdk:

    I know your position is that life could not have arisen by natural processes, and must have had some additional intelligent input. I certainly don’t accept that as scientifically proven.

    Science isn’t about proving, jdk. But given what we do know that claim is safer than the claim Stonehenge could not have arisen by natural processes. Just think of the number of just-so cosmic collisions of just the right type of cosmic debris that had to have happened just to get this planet.

    Life begets life

  19. 19
    jdk says:

    ba77, you have presented the thoughts of few scientists , but the idea that life could not have risen through natural causes is not the consensus view, nor the mainstream view. I am not qualified at all to assess all that is known about the biochemistry of early life, and I don’t think you are either.

    And I will note, again, that believing that life arose through natural causes is not the same as endorsing materialism: even Christians of the “theistic evolution” persuasion don’t have a problem with that, as they believe that God is present in all natural causation.

    ba77 writes,

    I suggest you go peddle your metaphysical garbage elsewhere.

    No thanks. You may consider my thoughts garbage (I don’t care about that), and no one is forcing you to read or respond to my posts, but I’ll offer my thoughts here if I want to.

  20. 20
    Origenes says:

    Jdk: Many, many years ago I wrote a paper for an anthropology class on belief systems in which I made the point that metaphysical belief systems are affirmed, not confirmed. They are choices, at both the individual and cultural level. I have continued to study religion and philosophy all these years, and continue to believe that the point I made back then is true.

    During all those years, did it not occur to you, jdk, that your point, applied to itself, is self-defeating? In a rather obvious way I must say. “All metaphysical belief systems are choices” is itself a metaphysical belief. So, your “point” undercuts itself.
    IOWs if your point is true, as you believe, then it is only a choice to believe that “all metaphysical belief systems are choices.” Your point “all metaphysical belief systems are choices” cannot be confirmed and is merely a personal or cultural preference.

  21. 21
    jdk says:

    re 20: No, my belief that “All metaphysical belief systems are choices” is not a metaphysical belief. It is about human beings, which are physical things that can be experienced empirically. Of course, “my belief that “all metaphysical belief systems are choices” is a belief based on my best judgment of the evidence, and like everything I believe, is only held tentatively (although fairly strongly), not dogmatically as certain. But that’s the way all beliefs are.

    Origenes writes,

    Your point “all metaphysical belief systems are choices” cannot be confirmed and is merely a personal or cultural preference.

    I think I could supply evidence for my belief, the main line involving the existence of the vast variety of different metaphysics throughout history, and the absence of any evidence-based method for deciding if any one is right. So my belief is not “merely” a preference, but rather a considered conclusion based on evidence that is fairly consistent with mainstream conclusions from an anthropological perspective on comparative religion and philosophy.

  22. 22
    jdk says:

    For instance, a page about Hindu Metaphysics:

    https://exemplore.com/misc/Intro-to-Hindu-Metaphysics

    Is it wrong? How would we know?

  23. 23
    bornagain77 says:

    jdk, I really think you ought not appeal to the ‘consensus’ view

    “Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of scoundrels; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the consensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you’re being had.

    Let’s be clear: the work of science has nothing whatever to do with consensus. Consensus is the business of politics. Science, on the contrary, requires only one investigator who happens to be right, which means that he or she has results that are verifiable by reference to the real world. In science consensus is irrelevant. What is relevant is reproducible results. The greatest scientists in history are great precisely because they broke with the consensus.
    – Michael Crichton

    If you do not understand the science, and are unwilling to ‘get into the weeds’, then don’t pretend your appeal to consensus and to vague philosophy trumps what (little) scientific evidence I have thus far put forth.

    I note that as part of your metaphysical garbage, you stated:

    I don’t believe that any metaphysical system that people believe is “true”: they are creative inventions which we have built to explain things that we can’t truly know about.

    Your belief is that metaphysical truth can’t be known.

    I am left to ask you how you can possibly know that your particular metaphysical truth, that metaphysical truth can’t be known, can be known?

    Your claim is a self-defeating claim. You exempt yourself from your very own criticism and claim to have knowledge which you yourself say can’t be possessed.

    Moreover, I hold that if your metaphysical position were actually true, (i.e. “I don’t believe that any metaphysical system that people believe is “true””), then science itself would have never have gotten off the ground.

    Modern science was born out of the Christian belief “which holds, among other things, that a personal, rational God designed a rational universe to be understood and controlled by rational persons made in His image”.

    The Threat to the Scientific Method that Explains the Spate of Fraudulent Science Publications – Calvin Beisner | Jul 23, 2014
    Excerpt: It is precisely because modern science has abandoned its foundations in the Biblical worldview (which holds, among other things, that a personal, rational God designed a rational universe to be understood and controlled by rational persons made in His image) and the Biblical ethic (which holds, among other things, that we are obligated to tell the truth even when it inconveniences us) that science is collapsing.
    As such diverse historians and philosophers of science as Alfred North Whitehead, Pierre Duhem, Loren Eiseley, Rodney Stark, and many others have observed,, science—not an occasional flash of insight here and there, but a systematic, programmatic, ongoing way of studying and controlling the world—arose only once in history, and only in one place: medieval Europe, once known as “Christendom,” where that Biblical worldview reigned supreme. That is no accident. Science could not have arisen without that worldview.
    http://townhall.com/columnists...../page/full
    Several other resources backing up this claim are available, such as Thomas Woods, Stanley Jaki, David Linberg, Edward Grant, J.L. Heilbron, and Christopher Dawson.

    No other worldview, (especially your “I don’t believe that any metaphysical system that people believe is “true” worldview), gave rise to modern science:

    Jerry Coyne on the Scientific Method and Religion – Michael Egnor – June 2011
    Excerpt: The scientific method — the empirical systematic theory-based study of nature — has nothing to so with some religious inspirations — Animism, Paganism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Shintoism, Islam, and, well, atheism. The scientific method has everything to do with Christian (and Jewish) inspiration. Judeo-Christian culture is the only culture that has given rise to organized theoretical science. Many cultures (e.g. China) have produced excellent technology and engineering, but only Christian culture has given rise to a conceptual understanding of nature.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....47431.html

    The Christian Origins of Science – Jack Kerwick – Apr 15, 2017
    Excerpt: Though it will doubtless come as an enormous shock to such Christophobic atheists as Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, and their ilk, it is nonetheless true that one especially significant contribution that Christianity made to the world is that of science.,,,
    Stark is blunt: “Real science arose only once: in Europe”—in Christian Europe. “China, Islam, India, and ancient Greece and Rome each had a highly developed alchemy. But only in Europe did alchemy develop into chemistry. By the same token, many societies developed elaborate systems of astrology, but only in Europe did astrology develop into astronomy.”,,,
    In summation, Stark writes: “The rise of science was not an extension of classical learning. It was the natural outgrowth of Christian doctrine: nature exists because it was created by God. In order to love and honor God, it is necessary to fully appreciate the wonders of his handiwork. Because God is perfect, his handiwork functions in accord with immutable principles. By the full use of our God-given powers of reason and observation, it ought to be possible to discover these principles.”
    He concludes: “These were the crucial ideas that explain why science arose in Christian Europe and nowhere else.”
    https://townhall.com/columnists/jackkerwick/2017/04/15/the-christian-origins-of-science-n2313593

    Thus the very success of modern science testifies to the truthfulness of the Christian worldview and testifies against your ‘can’t be known’ worldview.

    As Robert C. Koons states, Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.

    Science and Theism: Concord, not Conflict* – Robert C. Koons
    IV. The Dependency of Science Upon Theism (Page 21)
    Excerpt: Far from undermining the credibility of theism, the remarkable success of science in modern times is a remarkable confirmation of the truth of theism. It was from the perspective of Judeo-Christian theism—and from the perspective alone—that it was predictable that science would have succeeded as it has. Without the faith in the rational intelligibility of the world and the divine vocation of human beings to master it, modern science would never have been possible, and, even today, the continued rationality of the enterprise of science depends on convictions that can be reasonably grounded only in theistic metaphysics.
    http://www.robkoons.net/media/.....ffd524.pdf

    Moreover, I firmly hold, as outlandish as it may seem to you, that modern science finds its ultimate resolution for the quote-unquote ‘theory of everything’ in Christ’s resurrection from the dead.

    Copernican Principle, Agent Causality, and Jesus Christ as the “Theory of Everything”
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NziDraiPiOw

    One final note jdk, your metaphysical claim is basically that we can’t ‘personally know’ God, but the great and wonderful claim of Christianity is that each of us can, in fact, ‘personally know’ God

    God Can Be Personally Known and Experienced – Dr. Craig – video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWL5QhBQB30

    Bring It On: Personal Relationship with God – CBN video
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=li69XGSI7FU

    Matthew 27:50-51
    When Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, He yielded up His spirit. At that moment the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth quaked and the rocks were split.

    I myself, as unworthy as I am, have had a ‘personal experience’ of God.

  24. 24

    BA77 @ 23: Excellent point about relying on consensus. Never a good idea.

  25. 25
    Origenes says:

    jdk @21

    Jdk: No, my belief that “All metaphysical belief systems are choices” is not a metaphysical belief.

    You are mistaken, it is a metaphysical belief about the nature of metaphysical belief systems.

    jdk: It is about human beings, which are physical things that can be experienced empirically.

    Your statement is about metaphysical belief systems, or rather their cause. Secondly, you are severely mistaken if you, as you seem to imply, hold that metaphysics cannot be about human beings.
    – – – – –
    BTW you offer (and/or imply) a remarkable metaphysical belief: “human beings are physical things”? And what sort of empirical observation do you think applies to metaphysical belief systems? Just curious.
    – – –

    jdk: Of course, “my belief that “all metaphysical belief systems are choices” is … only held tentatively …

    Irrelevant. A self-defeating statement is self-defeating, whether one holds it tentatively or not.

  26. 26

    krebs –> exposed

  27. 27
    ScuzzaMan says:

    @jdk

    I think ba77 triggered your ego defenses and not your logic circuits.

    Call that a tentatively held theorem about humans that explains the known facts.

    You appeal to what we know about how things (humans) work but ignore what ba77 has cited about what we know about the wider universe and how those things in it work.

    You have, indeed, by this reader’s judgement, contradicted yourself in principle by applying two different standards; one to them and another to yourself. (Again, that’s just how humans work, eh?)

    Which is a shame, in my view, because I thought you made several excellent points regarding the Drake equation. I also agree with the other commenter who called it a materialism of the gaps. Siegel admits as much (although he’d no doubt deny it) when he repeatedly appeals to “some day”, conceding that today we just don’t have the evidence.

    1 in 10,000 is ludicrously optimistic; he admits to the latter but omits the former from his description of his own guess.

    One of the good points you made is that 1 in 10 to the 22nd power is not enough data points to extrapolate from.

    I sometimes make a similar point about the age of the universe: 100 years of observing the presumed expansion (even if we concede that the red shift indicates what it is assumed to indicate, and I do not so concede) is insufficient to linearly extrapolate out to 15 billion years.

    C’est la humanité.

  28. 28
    Origenes says:

    jdk @

    jdk: Of course, “my belief that “all metaphysical belief systems are choices” is a belief based on my best judgment of the evidence, and like everything I believe, is only held tentatively (although fairly strongly), not dogmatically as certain. But that’s the way all beliefs are.

    No, logic informs us that this is not how all beliefs are.

    Are you advocating some sort of fallibilism? As so often, self-defeating statements come in droves.
    – – – – –
    1. “All beliefs are held tentatively.”
    2. (1) is itself a belief, and therefore held tentatively & uncertain.

    Therefore, from (1) and (2)

    3. It is a tentative belief that all beliefs are held tentatively.
    4. (1) is either self-defeating or meaningless.

  29. 29
    ET says:

    Rare Earth hypothesis w/ equation:

    That is for prokaryotic-type life. I recommend the book

  30. 30

    I’ve long understood that the Drake Equation is missing an important term — P(pl), the probability that life can occur in Darwinian Random Selection terms. Given the evidence thus far uncovered, I would venture to say that P(pl) has a value approaching zero, this swamping out the other terms.

  31. 31
    bornagain77 says:

    Thanks ET,

    Your reference states

    The Rare Earth equation, unlike the Drake equation, does not factor the probability that complex life evolves into intelligent life that discovers technology (Ward and Brownlee are not evolutionary biologists). Barrow and Tipler[57] review the consensus among such biologists that the evolutionary path from primitive Cambrian chordates, e.g., Pikaia to Homo sapiens, was a highly improbable event.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rare_Earth_hypothesis#Rare_Earth_equation

    And here is Barrow and Tipler’s final calculation, from evolutionary presuppositions, that humans could randomly evolve

    “In Barrow and Tippler’s book The Anthropic Cosmological Principle, they list ten steps necessary in the course of human evolution, each of which, is so improbable that if left to happen by chance alone, the sun would have ceased to be a main sequence star and would have incinerated the earth. They estimate that the odds of the evolution (by chance) of the human genome is somewhere between 4 to the negative 180th power, to the 110,000th power, and 4 to the negative 360th power, to the 110,000th power. Therefore, if evolution did occur, it literally would have been a miracle and evidence for the existence of God.”
    – William Lane Craig
    The Wit of Dr. Craig – Part 9 “Evolution Loves God” – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GUxm8dXLRpA

    Apparently, when it comes to belief in ‘extraterrestrials who are intelligent the way we’re intelligent’, Evolutionists like Ethan Siegel don’t even listen to fellow evolutionists when it comes to questioning their belief in ‘extraterrestrials who are intelligent the way we’re intelligent’.

    I suggest Siegel, and other ET enthusiasts, might look a little higher than the stars to find Intelligent life:

    In the following video clip on special relativity, which was made by two Australian University Physics Professors, we find that the 3-Dimensional world ‘folds and collapses’ into a tunnel shape as a ‘hypothetical’ observer approaches the ‘higher dimension’ of the speed of light.

    Optical Effects of Special Relativity – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JQnHTKZBTI4

    In the following video, Barbara Springer gives her testimony as to what it felt like for her to go through the tunnel:

    “I started to move toward the light. The way I moved, the physics, was completely different than it is here on Earth. It was something I had never felt before and never felt since. It was a whole different sensation of motion. I obviously wasn’t walking or skipping or crawling. I was not floating. I was flowing. I was flowing toward the light. I was accelerating and I knew I was accelerating, but then again, I didn’t really feel the acceleration. I just knew I was accelerating toward the light. Again, the physics was different – the physics of motion of time, space, travel. It was completely different in that tunnel, than it is here on Earth. I came out into the light and when I came out into the light, I realized that I was in heaven.”
    Barbara Springer – Near Death Experience – The Tunnel – video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gv2jLeoAcMI

    God, who created heaven and earth, certainly does not hide from those who sincerely seek Him.

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

  32. 32
    Eugene S says:

    ET

    “Without Intelligent Design what else is there besides sheer dumb luck? Inquiring minds want to know.”

    Sheer dumb regularity, which of course is also designed 😉

    Problem is though, it does not help materialists either (nor does any combination of sheer dumb luck and sheer dumb regularity). That is their biggest problem.

    Somebody on this blog quite rightly suggested that all the science establishment tries to do is get rid of the obvious need for a Creator. This need is most clearly seen in biology of course, and they are working hard to obfuscate it. It is their hidden agenda 😉

    Just think of the amount of personal effort involved in constantly convincing oneself that the obvious is false.

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