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FOR RECORD, 2: The root error of the a priori evolutionary materialist “skeptic” [Darwinist Faithful . . . ]

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A few days ago, Joe passed along a hint from Petrushka concerning claims advanced by Szostak, which — via DNA Jock — were cast in the light of suggesting that design thinkers were not addressing the latest findings of OOL research.

Having had a few moments, I have paused and spoken to this, in the TSZ thread. I think this, too needs to be highlighted for record:


>>I took some time to see what Petrushka may be hinting at (the very coyness being suggestive that there is a lot less there than meets the eye).

Here is a clip from a Scientific American (Sept 2009) article courtesy Dr Cornerlius Hunter, back at the time:

There could be pools of cold water, perhaps partly covered by ice but kept liquid by hot rocks. The temperature differences would cause convection currents, so that every now and then protocells in the water would be exposed to a burst of heat as they passed near the hot rocks, but they would almost instantly cool down again as the heated water mixed with the bulk of the cold water. The sudden heating would cause a double helix to separate into single strands. Once back in the cool region, new double strands–copies of the original one–could form as the single strands acted as templates.

As soon as the environment nudged protocells to start reproducing, evolution kicked in. In particular, at some point some of the RNA sequences mutated, becoming ribozymes that sped up the copying of RNA–thus adding a competitive advantage. Eventually ribozymes began to copy RNA without external help.

It is relatively easy to imagine how RNA-based protocells may have then evolved. Metabolism could have arisen gradually, as new ribozymes enabled cells to synthesize nutrients internally from simpler and more abundant starting materials. Next, the organism might have added protein making to their bag of chemical tricks.

With their astonishing versatility, proteins would have then taken over RNA’s role in assisting genetic copying and metabolism. Later, the organisms would have “learned” to make DNA, gaining the advantage of possessing a more robust carrier of genetic information. At that point, the RNA world became the DNA world, and life as we know it began. [Connectives and logical, non-sequitur leaps highlighted]

Dr Szostak is a Nobel Prize holder.

We can expect that he would know what is known, and what is not. And, the above makes it clear that what is going on here is a tissue of empirically ungrounded suppositions — may, could, etc — joined to leaps of imagination with little or no empirical warrant, and often with no proper logical connexion. Moreover, the pivotal issue of the formation of FSCO/I (especially the information in key macromolecules) is simply ducked.

Then, at the end, the rabbit is pulled out of the hat, hey presto, as though it were all ever so inevitable.

The sole discernible piece of actual empirically warranted context is the PCR chain reaction, where typically, heat in bursts is used to feed the cycle of DNA replication by breaking apart DNA double-coils for the next stage of replication. But of course, how one gets the un- interfered- with reagents in sufficiently pure and single-handed form is ducked, much less the role of the polymerase in the PCR reaction cycle. Which, let us note is NAMED after the enzyme: POLYMERASE chain reaction. As in, chickens and eggs again.

In short, yet another poorly grounded just-so story designed to strengthen the faith of the Darwin Faithful.

No wonder, Hunter’s acid reply was: “What a pathetic and embarrassing example of evolution’s influence on science. While great material for a story book, it is astonishing that a scientist would pen such a passage. Religion drives science, and it matters.”

Ironically, at the same time, when the very same same Darwin Faithful put on their favourite Anti-ID hats, they are ever so skeptical [selectively hyperskeptical] in the teeth of billions of un-exceptioned cases in point on the existence and routinely observed cause of FSCO/I, the associated needle in haystack or infinite monkeys analysis of solar system and observed cosmos-scale capability to sample such a space.

The sharp contrast is utterly revealing, and underscores Dr Hunter’s point that evolutionary materialism is an ideology driven by a priori assertions in the teeth of serious challenges, and operating as a functional equivalent to a religious faith, complete with dogmas.

So much for the vaunted “skepticism.”

Indeed, it is worth highlighting why skepticism — as opposed to critical awareness — is no intellectual virtue, never mind how it likes to congratulate itself on its position of alleged “free thought” and its dismissal of “dogmas” — imagined to be the sole property of theistic religions.

A bit of dictionary work will help, as too often Lewontin a priori Evolutionary Materialism Darwin Faithful tend to fail the basic vocab test (as can be seen in the TSZ discussion in attempted reply to Mr Arrington’s post):

skep·ti·cism also scep·ti·cism (skpt-szm)
1. A doubting or questioning attitude or state of mind; dubiety. See Synonyms at uncertainty.
2. Philosophy
a. The ancient school of Pyrrho of Elis that stressed the uncertainty of our beliefs in order to oppose dogmatism.
b. The doctrine that absolute knowledge is impossible, either in a particular domain or in general.
c. A methodology based on an assumption of doubt with the aim of acquiring approximate or relative certainty.
3. Doubt or disbelief of religious tenets. [AmHD]

dog·ma (dôgm, dg-)
n. pl. dog·mas or dog·ma·ta (-m-t)
1. A doctrine or a corpus of doctrines relating to matters such as morality and faith, set forth in an authoritative manner by a church.
2. An authoritative principle, belief, or statement of ideas or opinion, especially one considered to be absolutely true. See Synonyms at doctrine.
3. A principle or belief or a group of them: “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present” (Abraham Lincoln). [AmHD]

The Freethinker

The Freethinker may be:

The Freethinker (journal), the oldest surviving secularist publication in the world, first published in 1881 . . . [TFD, disambiguation]

free ‘thought’
thought unrestrained by deference to authority, tradition, or established belief, esp. in matters of religion.
[1705–15][Random House Kernerman Webster’s College Dictionary]

It should be obvious that to be aware that we may err is important as a first step in serious thought, one that is crossed in one’s first math class, when one gets X’s.

But, a more mature thinker is one who is able to follow the chain of analysis put forth by Josiah Royce, Elton Trueblood et al: that “error exists” — let us call the proposition, E — is so is notorious by experience.

Where also E is undeniably true on pain of self referential absurdity and confusion of meaning as a consequence.

For, E and NOT_E are mutually exclusive and exhaustive. At least one of them MUST be, an error. (The usual attempted escape from this is telling, attempted denial of the first principles of right reason starting with identity that can separate the world into {A | NOT_A}; which is a signal failure.)

So what?

All you have shown is that skeptics are right to be concerned about the reality of error and so the proper place to begin free thinking from is doubt!

Not at all, look closer.

E has been shown to be not only notoriously true by experience, but it is by logic rooted in undeniable first principles, undeniably true.

That is, E accurately corresponds to what is, and is warranted to do so to certainty, indeed not only objective but absolute. It is undeniably true. That is, it is a case of knowledge, first acquired empirically, then confirmed to be undeniable.

So, truth exists, experience can at least sometimes correctly guide us to truth, and by logic rooted in common sense first principles, we can see that we can warrant truth as so, thus arriving at certain knowledge, here, absolute certainty.

Where also, the experience based knowledge and testimony of our world has long since properly led us to moral certainty that E is so.

In short, the stance of doubt as the first beginnings to knowledge has been undermined, and the attitude of dismissiveness to bodies of thought that are presented by authorities is also undermined.

Further, sometimes, experts and authorities are in fact just that and are summarising and presenting the truth that happens to be well warranted, starting with parents and elementary teachers.

And, arguably, pastors or Sunday school teachers too, could at least possibly be telling us the truth. [Kindly cf. especially the table of comparison on the minimal facts, and how these were arrived at. Notice, in context, the battle for truth that now rages in our civilisation.)

So, it is at least to be considered that, per the remarks of Simon Greenleaf, a founder of the Harvard School of Law and of the modern Anglophone theory of evidence:

. . . The error of the skeptic consists in pretending or supposing that there is a difference in the nature of things to be proved; and in demanding demonstrative evidence concerning things which are not susceptible of any other than moral evidence alone, and of which the utmost that can be said is, that there is no reasonable doubt about their truth . . . .

[27] . . . . In proceeding to weigh the evidence of any proposition of fact, the previous question to be determined is, when may it be said to be proved? The answer to this question is furnished by another rule of municipal law, which may be thus stated:

A proposition of fact is proved, when its truth is established by competent and satisfactory evidence.

By competent evidence, is meant such as the nature of the thing to be proved requires; and by satisfactory evidence, is meant that amount of proof, which ordinarily satisfies an unprejudiced mind, beyond any reasonable doubt. . . . . If, therefore, the subject is a problem in mathematics, its truth is to be shown by the certainty of demonstrative evidence. But if it is a question of fact in human affairs, nothing more than moral evidence can be required, for this is the best evidence which, from the nature of the case, is attainable. [Testimony of the Evangelists, Sections 26, 27, emphases added.]

In that light (and given that absolute skepticism about the possibility of knowledge is an implicit and self-refuting knowledge claim . . . ), too often the vaunted skepticism of today is in fact SELECTIVE HYPERSKEPTICISM; which is self-refuting by applying a double standard of warrant.

That is, what one is inclined to believe — cf. Szostak above and the apparently welcoming response to it in Darwinist Faithful circles — is given a free pass, but what one is disinclined to believe given one’s underlying secularist dogmas is derided as credulous and greeted with Sagan’s echo of Cliffordian evidentialism:

“Extraordinary claims require extraordinary [ADEQUATE] evidence.”

The strike and correct shows the problem.

Given, also, that dogmas are not the preserve of adherents of theistic religious systems, it ought to be evident that ANY worldview has core first plausibles that adherents hew to. The issue is, then, not “free” vs “chained [dogmatic]” thought, but whether one’s first plausibles have been given due critical reflection per the canons of comparative difficulties assessment relative to factual adequacy, coherence and explanatory elegance and power: simple, not simplistic, cogently explanatory.

Do I need to highlight here that “free thinker” ironically has too often been the self-congratulatory appellation of dogmatic and closed minded adherents of radical secularist worldviews and ideologies?

That, such are too often unaware that they are as chained by their own unquestioned a prioris as any naive religious believer they would mock and deride?

In short, it is time that the denizens and sponsors of TSZ pause and ask themselves whether they have seriously thought about whether they could be mistaken.

And then, maybe they could join us here to reflect on issues concerning worldview foundations and grounding, bearing in mind the concerns regarding the worldview of evolutionary materialism (whether dressed in the philosopher’s cloak or the scientist’s lab coat makes but little difference) here on in context.

It is particularly worth the pause to observe the remarks of noted evolutionary theorist J B S Haldane:

“It seems to me immensely unlikely that mind is a mere by-product of matter. For if my mental processes are determined wholly by the motions of atoms in my brain I have no reason to suppose that my beliefs are true. They may be sound chemically, but that does not make them sound logically. And hence I have no reason for supposing my brain to be composed of atoms. In order to escape from this necessity of sawing away the branch on which I am sitting, so to speak, I am compelled to believe that mind is not wholly conditioned by matter.” [“When I am dead,” in Possible Worlds: And Other Essays [1927], Chatto and Windus: London, 1932, reprint, p.209.]>>


One hopes that some genuinely free thought will now follow at TSZ. END