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Materialist OOA Research is Obviously Silly. What Does That Say About Materialist OOL Research?


Recently one of our materialist friends made a comment along the lines of “we’ve known life can come from non-life since the concept of ‘vitalism’ was debunked by the synthesis of urea from inorganic elements.”  Our friend is wrong.  Let me explain why. 

It is true that prior to the nineteenth century many chemists believed organic compounds were too complex to be synthesized and organic matter was somehow endowed with a mysterious “vital force.”  This is the essence of vitalism.   

It is also true that vitalism was largely debunked in 1828 when Friedrich Wohler produced urea, an organic constituent of urine, from inorganic ammonium cyanate.   

Moreover, it is true that since the famous Miller-Urey experiments in the 1950s, scientists have known that simple building blocks of living things such as amino acids can be synthesized from inorganic precursors under certain carefully controlled conditions.   

If all these things are true, why is our friend wrong?  The answer lies in the fact that “organic compound” is far from a synonym for “living thing.”  Don’t believe me?  Go to the nearest funeral home and examine a corpse.  That corpse is a bag of extremely complex organic compounds that are perfect building blocks for a living thing, but it is not a living thing.   

Simple amino acids and other organic compounds are a long way from living things.  The more we learn about life the more the materialist case slides into implausibility, because organic chemical compounds are not the essence of life.  Too be sure, the presence of organic compounds is a necessary condition of life, but it is far from a sufficient condition as materialist OOL (origin of life) researchers thought in the salad days of OOL studies in 50s and 60s.  No, the essence of life is the precise arrangement of matter into maddeningly complex systems working together toward a specific overall purpose (i.e., living) according to a digitally encoded DNA blueprint (i.e., information).   

The problem for OOL researchers is analogous to building an airplane from scratch using nothing but the forces of nature and sheer random chance (call it OOA “origin of airplane” research).  Say lightning struck a patch of beach sand and produced glass.  Materialists got excited when Wohler demonstrated that one constituent of urine could be produced from simpler inorganic compounds.  Our OOA researchers might get excited that an element of the airplane (the glass for the windshield) was produced by the combination of sheer random chance and the forces of nature. 

Now suppose a researcher performs an experiment in which he mixes anhydrous aluminium chloride with potassium (which Wohler actually did in 1827) and out pops aluminum.  Our OOA researchers should be beside themselves with joy.  The basic building block of almost all airframes can be created by just mixing a few chemicals together under the right conditions, surely a process well within the reach of blind chance and physical law.   

By now you are rolling your eyes.  Only an idiot would believe that the essence of an airplane can be reduced to glass for the windshield and metal for the airframe.  The essence of an airplane is the precise arrangement of parts into extremely complex systems working toward a specific purpose (i.e., flying) according to a plan (i.e., information).   

You might say that the analogy between OOL research and OOA research fails because “living” and “flying” are two different things.  I would grant you that the analogy fails, but not in the way you think.  The analogy fails because living things are actually far more complex than airplanes, and it follows that building a living thing through the combination of sheer blind chance and mechanical law is much less likely than building an airplane through the same process. 

Even a child can see the futility of trying to build an airplane using only natural forces.  Why is it then that many very highly educated people can’t see the futility of building something far more complex than an airplane using the same process?  Good question.  Let me suggest that someone who cannot see the obvious must be wearing blinders of some sort, in this case the blinders of materialist metaphysics.   

I will leave you with a quote from Paul Davies that the UD News Desk brought to my attention:

Most research into life’s murky origin has been carried out by chemists. They’ve tried a variety of approaches in their attempts to recreate the first steps on the road to life, but little progress has been made. Perhaps that is no surprise, given life’s stupendous complexity. Even the simplest bacterium is incomparably more complicated than any chemical brew ever studied.


But a more fundamental obstacle stands in the way of attempts to cook up life in the chemistry lab. The language of chemistry simply does not mesh with that of biology. Chemistry is about substances and how they react, whereas biology appeals to concepts such as information and organisation. Informational narratives permeate biology. DNA is described as a genetic “database”, containing “instructions” on how to build an organism. The genetic “code” has to be “transcribed” and “translated” before it can act. And so on. If we cast the problem of life’s origin in computer jargon, attempts at chemical synthesis focus exclusively on the hardware – the chemical substrate of life – but ignore the software – the informational aspect. To explain how life began we need to understand how its unique management of information came about.

Here is the first part of a new documentary screened on BBC 2 last night 'Wonders of life' It never ceases to amaze mow the language ever so subtly changes from speculation to fact (around 27min mark). http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b01qh3bb/Wonders_of_Life_What_Is_Life/ PeterJ
I have in front of me the following text: Protocells: Bridging Nonliving and Living Matter 650+ pages. Guess what the bridge is. Give up? There is none. I am now starting on my magnum opus. Broken Cells: The Bridge Between Living and Nonliving Matter What do you think? I am also offering the Origin of Death prize. I truly believe that if we can solve what it is that distinguishes a living body from a dead body we will solve the problem of the origin of life. Mung
Well my cited response to your #44 is not entirely true, Mung. It's the time constraint. Not enough hours in the day, so prioritize topics of habitual interest. But thanks for the effort. Axel
Thanks for #44, Mung, but not 'into' that sort of stuff. It's your wit that slays me. You were really 'buzzing' yesterday. Maybe today, too, but I'll have missed a lot of posts. Axel
It sounds as if, with their naturalist explanations, in trying to explain Intelligent Design away, they are always in a kind of Catch 22 situation. MacBeth's witches seemed to think so, Mung. As products of bumbling, stumbling, haphazard chance, what possible could have adapted materialists to recognise intelligent design, all around them, staring them in the face? That bumbling, stumbling, haphazard chance has done its work admirably. The fact that they consider that their poor, wretched, soulless, corporeal automata should be adapted to seek truths not directly focusing on survival is a nonsense of their own devising. I don't know whether Catch 22 or 'painting themselves in a corner' is the more apt description. Axel
Using intelligent guidance, scientists are busy trying to demonstrate how the basic constituents found in living things could have arisen without intelligent guidance. How bizarre is that? If you get the environment right, shouldn't the rest just follow auto-magically? Mung
Building A Better GPS Mung
Re the empirical study-findings, which have given rise to such a long litany of exclamations of wonderment, verging on incredulity by evolutionist scientists, maybe they should be logged on here under the Gump File, as when they are found. Axel
No matter how hard I try, I can never match Mung's GPS coordinates of the mind/brain spatial relationship... Axel
I have a box of Terry's All Gold evolutionary chocolates; therefore, I am in for a truly wonderful roller-coaster of amazing, absolutely COUNTER-INTUITIVE(!) discoveries. Axel
I once made a paper aeroplane, but I'm not sure how strong a proof it is of intelligent design. Axel
I wonder which evolutionist will be the next Forrest Gump clone? 'Wow. Evolution never ceases to surprise us with new, unforeseen departures from what we'd anticipated.' (Mother Nature doesn't seem to read their script, and will just keep ad libbing...) PS: Hi StephenB. I didn't acknowledge your crack about Forrest, as I had made the same one a few weeks before, and couldn't think how to respond. The gracious thing would have been for me to have just acknowledged it with a laugh. Axel
Or, on the anthropic principle, "I am, therefore I think." Jon Garvey
Mung, you're hilarious. Descartes: I think, therefore I am. Materialist: I imagine, therefore it happened. PS to Decartes: Thoughts are an illusion. englishmaninistanbul
Note: I hadn't seen 27-34 before posting 35. englishmaninistanbul
Thank you everybody! Eric, thank you for that layman-friendly debunking of the "proteins fold themselves" fallacy. IMHO I think this is a fact that would do well to be emphasised more, since I suspect this is poorly understood even among those members of the general public who try to follow the subject. (Has anyone coined a maxim along the lines of "insufficient information does more damage than no information at all", or can I claim it as my own? :) ) I think it would lend even more weight to the 'OOA analogy' to point out, for instance, that in the same way as metal has to be shaped into aeroplane parts, amino acids have to be forced to fold in a way that they ordinarily wouldn't to work. englishmaninistanbul
Englishman wrote:
However, in my mind’s eye I see atoms as being like little balls or beads, and molecules as combinations of those beads just sticking together by virtue of their own nature, like magnets. Ditto for amino acids–so long as you line them all up in the right order they just click together and start folding and there you have your protein. It makes the whole “organic soup” idea tentatively plausible, because it sounds like you’re just shaking up a box of magnetised beads of the kind I just described.
Unfortunately for the materialist, molecules disintegrate as easily as they form. The only way Miller got amino acids to form was to isolate them from the mixture. If he hadn't done that, they would have reacted with other things and disintegrated. So his results were artificial and would not happen in nature. And then you have the problem of left handedness vs right handedness like someone else pointed out. Chirality is a show stopper for materialism. I wouldn't want to be an OoL researcher. That must be one of the most frustrating areas of research to be involved in. Through the research, I'm sure there are other things we can learn about chemistry, molecules, etc., but I highly doubt they will ever be able to solve the problem of the origin of life. Materialists have faith and hope that someday it will be solved, but at this point, it is just faith and hope. There is no good reason to think it will be especially in light of what we do know about life. tjguy
Well Barry, all that you have shown is that we need to set out sights much lower. OOP (origin of paper) research is a promising new field that could shed important new light on the origins of paper airplanes. Mung
Well Barry, all that you have shown is that we need to set out sights much lower. OOPA (origin of paper airplane) research is a promising new field that could shed important new light on the origins of gliders. Mung
Well Barry, all that you have shown is that we need to set out sights much lower. OOG (origin of gliders) research is a promising new field that could shed important new light on the origins of airplanes. Mung
Vitalism is the doctrine, often advocated in the past but now rejected by mainstream science, that "living organisms are fundamentally different from non-living entities because they contain some non-physical element or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things"
No wonder vitalism is alive and well in the 21st century. 1. living organisms just are fundamentally different from non-living entities Everyone knows this. 2. because they contain some non-physical element "Non-physical element" is a contradiction in terms. 3. because they contain some non-physical element What is this non-physical "whatever" that can cause life? 4. or are governed by different principles than are inanimate things Isn't that obvious? Is there a reason biology isn't called chemistry, or physics? Mung
Some aspects of contemporary science make reference to emergent processes; those in which the properties of a system cannot be fully described in terms of the properties of the constituents. Whether emergent system properties should be grouped with traditional vitalist concepts is a matter of semantic controversy.
hahahahahah Mung
“we’ve known life can come from non-life since the concept of ‘vitalism’ was debunked by the synthesis of urea from inorganic elements.” Our friend is wrong. Let me explain why.
There are numerous reasons. Let's start with the fact that we don't even have a definition of life yet. What our friend meant to say was that we can now imagine life coming from none life. Of course, we could imagine that before, so our friend is wrong again. The fact of the matter is that we have no known process by which life arises from non-life. So it is in fact not the case that we know that it can. Our "friend" is either woefully ignorant, or bluffing. Mung
Take for example, ATP. Miniature Molecular Power Plant: ATP Synthase It can hardly be called a building block. It's not as if we ingest it in the air we breath. But would any "construction" in the cell take place without it? And it requires phosphate. But in what sense is the phosphate added to the ADP molecule to make ATP a "building block"? And here's a puzzler. ATP is need to build nucleotides, which are required to build proteins, which are required to build the system that creates ATP. b) in English: Adenosine diphosphate + inorganic Phosphate + energy produces Adenosine Triphosphate And where does the energy to make the energy come from, lol? Man I love this stuff. I can't wait for a collaboration between Mike Behe and Cornelius Hunter. Anyone want to start taking donations to fund a new volume in the same vein as Darwin's Black Box? Mung
Eric, Great points. And to what extent are the "building blocks" themselves constructed from other building blocks? Amino Acid Synthesis Amino Acid Synthesis and Metabolism And it's not just proteins: Nucleotide Synthesis and Metabolism Nucleotide Biosynthesis And keep in mind proteins don't just function in isolation. They are context dependent. Mung
englishmaninistanbul: Thank you for your comments. I think one piece of information you need to take into account is that biological structures are not simply an aggregation of smaller units that naturally come about through the processes of physics and chemistry. We first need to clarify which building blocks we are talking about. If we are just talking about chemical elements (atoms with their constituent protons, electrons, neutrons) then, yes, everyone agrees that those exist naturally. In addition, if we are talking about some simple molecules, yes, some of those too exist naturally. From there things get more dicey. Specifically, it is not the case, as you suggest, that molecules simply come together as part of a natural chemical process to form amino acids, and subsequently, proteins. Formation of the amino acids required for life under primitive earth conditions continues to be an active area of research. To be sure, there is evidence that some amino acids can form under primitive earth conditions, and some amino acids have been found in meteorite fragments and in space. However, it is far from certain that all of the necessary amino acids could have existed on the primitive earth at the same time and under the same conditions. (And we are completely setting aside issues such as relative abundance, chiralty, cross reactions, and so on.) So the formation/arrival of the amino acids necessary for life to form continues to be an area of interest for the chemical synthesis (to use Davies' term) origin of life paradigm. Those building blocks are still being studied. Nevertheless, I am willing to concede for the moment -- just for sake of discussion and to help focus us on the real issues -- that all the amino acids were readily available at the right time and place. What next? You mention:
Ditto for amino acids–so long as you line them all up in the right order they just click together and start folding and there you have your protein.
Not really. It turns out that amino acid chains often do not have a single folding pattern. An analogy I like to use is my child's toy of magnets and rods. In order to make a particular shape it is true that I need to have the magnets and rods in the right order. But while that is necessary, it is not sufficient. This is because the various magnets and rods can cross interact with each other, depending on how the chain is folded. And indeed, we are learning that systems within the cell help to fold the amino acid chain into the right form for the particular protein needed. Although the formation of proteins has long been portrayed as a simple 'amino-acid-chain-folds-automatically-into-protein' situation, that is actually not correct. Given a chain, say 300 amino acids long, there can be many possible folding patterns -- most of which constitute a jumbled mess, a few of which constitute functional structures, and perhaps only a couple of which constitute the relevant protein needed for the particular function. Moreover, even if we were to concede that a chain of amino acids will automatically fold to the correct protein, that still leaves unanswered the $64,000 question that you gloss over with ". . . so long as you line them all up in the right order . . . ." This ordering is precisely the issue that cannot be solved by natural means within the resources of the known universe. Beyond proteins, we have protein complexes, then larger molecular structures (for example, the molecular machines often discussed), organelles, cells, organs, larger systems, and the entire physical organism itself. All of this can, in the sense Davies is discussing, be termed "hardware." My point is that current chemical synthesis efforts don't even scratch the surface of dealing with all the hardware. Right now they are still stuck back at the amino acids and proteins -- what are often referred to as the "building blocks" of life. Eric Anderson
Humans today live with the help of machines, both internal and external. Are they somehow less human? Mung
The whole “building-block of life” idea is an odd one, really.
If you really think about it, it really is. Mung
Box: Life has an aspect that is machine-like, indeed uses nanotechnology based on information-rich carbon chemistry molecules. But that is not equal to saying that life is machinery. KF kairosfocus
In reality they don’t even take into account meaningful hardware requirements.
That's what I love about Upright BiPed's argument. It makes them focus on the material requirements. And when the see the implications, they run like hell. Talk about intellectual dishonesty. OT: By the way, "see" is being used metaphorically. So when Jesus says, "and they shall see the Son of Man ..." Why does that require a literal visual sighting of Jesus in the sky? Mung
Kairosfocus: “Box: Actually, the design inference makes no such assumption or assertion.”
Well B. Arrington, for one, does make the assumption (see post 4). And so did Behe and many others. The main point is that I do not believe that life is a complex airplane. Life isn’t machine-like. Bornagain77 mentions my hero S. Talbott. The next quote is about ID:
S.Talbott: ”Dawkins and Dennett sometimes seem fixated upon design, presumably as a result of their severely constraining preoccupation with religion and with the “creationism” or “intelligent design” promulgated by some religious folks. Although the word has its legitimate uses, you will not find me speaking of design, simply because — as I’ve made abundantly clear in previous articles — organisms cannot be understood as having been designed, machine-like, whether by an engineer-God or a Blind Watchmaker elevated to god-like status. If organisms participate in a higher life, it is a participation that works from within — at a deep level the ancients recognized as that of the logos informing all things. It is a sharing of the springs of life and being, not a mere receptivity to some sort of external mechanical tinkering modeled anthropocentrically on human engineering.”
By the way, I’m aware of the fact that you (KF) have a deep understanding of agency. In the thread ‘Is Atheism Rationally Justifiable?‘, post 340, you wrote:
Kairosfocus: “(..)the whole point of personhood (..), persons are first causes, self-moved actuators of chains of consequences. Persons act by their power of choice as the start point for action.”
Here is an interesting article that's makes a very persuasive case that 'vitalism', long thought dead in biology, is reemerging with a vengence: What Do Organisms Mean? - Steven Talbot Excerpt:,,, We discussed in previous articles how, whatever their belief in these matters, biologists today — and molecular biologists in particular — routinely and unavoidably describe the organism in terms that go far beyond the language of physics and chemistry. Words like “stimulus,” “response,” “signal,” “adapt,” “inherit,” and “communicate,” in their biological sense, would never be applied to the strictly physical and chemical processes in a corpse or other inanimate object. But they are always employed in attempts to understand the living organism. The prevalent descriptions portray the whole organism as an active unity, with powers of regulation and coordination intelligently directed toward the achievement of the organism’s own ends. Further, we noted that such descriptions, rooted as they are in the observable character of the organism, show no sign of being reducible to less living terms or to the language of mechanism. But this immediately raises a suspicion of vitalism in the minds of many scientists. Who, after all, is this organism? And by what special powers does it “regulate,” “integrate,” “respond,” and “communicate”? Bear in mind, however, that these questions press just as urgently upon the conventional molecular biologist as on the suspected vitalist. After all, the loaded terminology comes straight from the laboratory, where researchers are trying to make sense of what they see.,,, http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-do-organisms-mean -------------- Personally, I think finding 'non-local' quantum entanglement in molecular biology has returned 'vitalism' full force right into the center of biology Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA – Elisabeth Rieper – short video http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/ Does DNA Have Telepathic Properties?-A Galaxy Insight – 2009 Excerpt: DNA has been found to have a bizarre ability to put itself together, even at a distance, when according to known science it shouldn’t be able to.,,, The recognition of similar sequences in DNA’s chemical subunits, occurs in a way unrecognized by science. There is no known reason why the DNA is able to combine the way it does, and from a current theoretical standpoint this feat should be chemically impossible. http://www.dailygalaxy.com/my_weblog/2009/04/does-dna-have-t.html further notes: https://uncommondesc.wpengine.com/intelligent-design/g-k-chesterton-on-why-materialists-not-theists-are-the-dogmatists/#comment-442447 PS, it was Alan Fox who was the materialist who made the comment concerning urea overturning vitalism music: Mandisa: Good Morning - Official Lyric Video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnmWwudeqfM bornagain77
Once 2 + 2 don't make 4, it's very difficult for atheists ever to 'do the math', metaphorically speaking; impossible when approaching the deepest questions and truths. How they have the effrontery to take quantum physics in their stride, while continuing with their knuckle-dragging, materialist polemics, beggars belief. Almost... Axel
'And of course, if the universe is big enough to produce houses spontaneously by spontaneously baking clay into regular bricks and then assembling them with the appearance of design, then the absence of ratchet screwdriver trees in my garden is an unfathomable mystery.' A very striking, imaginative, as well as hilarious evocation, Jon. Axel
Box: Actually, the design inference makes no such assumption or assertion. Instead, it is looking at features of the natural world, whether the cosmos itself or cell based life and asking, are there empirically reliable signs of cause in this, and in particular does complex, functionally specific information that leads to configuration- specific function, a sign of design? That makes no metaphysical assumptions, it is a simple question of inductive warrant. The conclusions may then feed into arguments on what best explains evidently designed life forms in a world that also shows design signs, that seems set up to host such life, but that is a different order of question that builds on the prior empirical issue. What is happening, is that some of those who are violently hostile to the possibility that there may be a designed cosmos and designed life in it, project a metaphysics unto the inductive question that is not there. All that is actually required for the design inference to work is that we do not rule out the POSSIBILITY of design ahead of time. Which is exactly what the sort of tactics we so commonly see (redefining science as applied materialism etc), do. KF kairosfocus
EII: Try here on (in the context of the wider draft course), for an overview. If that does not hit the spot, you may want to try the always linked through my handle. KF kairosfocus
Of course I like ID much better than Darwinism, but both make the same mistake. Both hold that life is mere matter. ID states that this matter is designed, rich with information and extremely complex, but this does not change the fact that matter is mere matter. An interesting article which illustrates my point is: It's Not the "Complexity". Excerpts:
“In all physical systems there is a flow of information from the bottom upwards, in the sense that the components of a system serve to determine how the system as a whole behaves.”
Notice that there actually is no ‘system as a whole’. There is just a heap of matter.
“In living organisms, this pattern of bottom-up information flow mingles with the inverse -- top-down information flow -- so that what happens at the local level can depend on the global environment, as well as vice versa.”
‘Top-down information flow’ presupposes agency; an actual whole with causal power. This is the difference between airplanes and life. Box
KF: That is a subject I would like to know more about. I'm not sure it fits what I'm looking for, but I'd appreciate a few links, if you have them ready to hand. englishmaninistanbul
EII: Do you notice the complex, information controlled, energetically uphill step by step assembly process used in the cell to make proteins [including the significance of handedness, which is decidedly not what simple energy considerations would give you . . . mirror image molecules have the same energy levels], and how they are folder in ways that work key-lock style? KF kairosfocus
The whole “building-block of life” idea is an odd one, really.
"Of the 92 natural elements, 25 are essential for life. Of these, there are six main elements that are the fundamental building blocks of life. They are, in order of least to most common: sulfur, phosphorous, oxygen, nitrogen, carbon, and hydrogen. An easy way to remember this is SPONCH - a nice mnemonic. The remaining 19 elements are defined as trace elements, which are important, but required only in very small quantities. The basis of life is carbon. Carbon's importance comes mainly from the enormous variety of structures that it can form due to its unusual four valence electrons. Most important of these structures is the carbon chain, which forms the "backbone" of fatty acids and carbohydrates, among other organic molecules."-AP Biology/The Chemical Building Blocks of Life
Turns out you can't just sling life together out of anything. Moving on... Thanks, actually, for another nice analogy. If I see a house built out of bricks, I know for certain somebody made it, even if it's in the middle of a clay pit. But if I see a bunch of sticks arranged to form a shelter, I would most likely conclude that somebody made it, but then again I may not if it's a very rudimentary shelter in a forest. It's possible the sticks found their way there and it just looks like a shelter. The difference is that the stick shelter is simply a combination of smaller, naturally occurring units. A brick house, on the other hand, is a combination of units that must first be artificially fashioned. Life is made of proteins, which are combinations of amino acids, which are combinations of molecules, which are combinations of atoms. An atom is still the same atom when it joins others to form a molecule, a molecule is still the same molecule when it joins others to form a compound, and so on. They're still the same "shape", as it were. So far, more like a stick shelter than a brick house. What I'm asking is, are there any building blocks, essential components, whatever, of life that would make them more like the brick house? Units that must be "shaped" or rendered "artificial" or "unnatural" before they can form part of the whole, as opposed to units that are fine as they are? englishmaninistanbul
The whole "building-block of life" idea is an odd one, really. If you have a plan to build a house, then building blocks of some sort will be available. If there are no bricks you'll use sticks, and if no sticks you'll use straw and watch out for wolves. But until there's someone intending to build a house, there are no building blocks - just a universe full of stuff. And of course, if the universe is big enough to produce houses spontaneously by spontaneously baking clay into regular bricks and then assembling them with the appearance of design, then the absence of ratchet screwdriver trees in my garden is an unfathomable mystery. Jon Garvey
As a layman trying to visualise everything, one possible objection I anticipate could be that bits of aircraft are in themselves obviously things that could not occur naturally. Such as, for example, a flat, smooth panel with regularly spaced holes for rivets. However, in my mind's eye I see atoms as being like little balls or beads, and molecules as combinations of those beads just sticking together by virtue of their own nature, like magnets. Ditto for amino acids--so long as you line them all up in the right order they just click together and start folding and there you have your protein. It makes the whole "organic soup" idea tentatively plausible, because it sounds like you're just shaking up a box of magnetised beads of the kind I just described. Don't get me wrong, the probabilistic argument against the organic soup is quite good in and of itself, but it does seem to imply that if the universe were big enough and old enough (or in other words, if we had a big enough box of magnetised beads and shook them around for long enough) then actually you would get the building blocks of life. Whereas I think an even stronger point could be made that the idea life can self-assemble if you wait long enough is about as plausible as suggesting that a sheet of aluminium with regularly spaced rivet-shaped holes could turn up through natural forces given enough time (à la Douglas Adam's ratchet screwdriver trees). So, are any of the building blocks of the most basic life forms, or at least essential components thereof, analogous to my panel? englishmaninistanbul
Evidently, a secular faith-knowledge, applicable to the physical light-spiritual light continuum and the space-time continuum, correspond to the mechanistic level*; while a Christian faith-knowledge continuum, which, in turn, forms a continuum with its secular counter-part addresses the quantum level. 'Our friends' are still trapped in the former, wishing to continue to apply the canons of mechanistic physics to the extremes. To do otherwise might let the foot of religion in the door... And that would be unconscionable. *Unsurprisingly, Newton was too wise to discount the existence of other dimensions than the three he was famliar with. Axel
Since, then, biology seems to indicate information to be the key to the creation and sustenance of all living creatures, would it not tie in with my postulation that spiritual light(enlightenment) and physical light form a continuum? Such spiritual light-physical light continuum, the primary reality of our world, both externally and internally, seemingly constitutes the key to our prosecuting empirical research into the nature of said world of the time-space continuum, and our understanding of it. Bearing in mind the confirmation of theism via the pesonalization of the speed of light, and the effective confirmation of the Resurrection and ergo Christianity via the latest findings concerning the Shroud of Turin and its perfect match with the Sudarium of Oviedo, is it any wonder that virtually all the most innovative pioneers of empirical science have been Judaeo-Christians; with the exception, that is, of Einstein, who was not a pantheist, but a panentheist, believing in a 'spirit manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.' Elsewhere, he states: 'The scientists’ religious feeling takes the form of a rapturous amazement at the harmony of natural law, which reveals an intelligence of such superiority that, compared with it, all the systematic thinking and acting of human beings is an utterly insignificant reflection.' ... and: 'Every one who is seriously involved in the pursuit of science becomes convinced that a spirit is manifest in the laws of the Universe-a spirit vastly superior to that of man, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.' ... and: 'There is no logical way to the discovery of elemental laws. There is only the way of intuition, which is helped by a feeling for the order lying behind the appearance.' (Why, indeed, would random chance draw from chaos, what, to our eyes, seems a vast and unimaginably intricate filigree of order of all but infinite magnitude?') ... and 'The human mind is not capable of grasping the Universe. We are like a little child entering a huge library. The walls are covered to the ceilings with books in many different tongues. The child knows that someone must have written these books. It does not know who or how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. But the child notes a definite plan in the arrangement of the books—-a mysterious order which it does not comprehend, but only dimly suspects.' It is as if Einstein, an anything but apologetic poster-boy for Intelligent Design, was suffering from a kind of intellectual blood-lust for the partisans of scientism, putting the knife in again and again, laying it all out in a beautiful yet pellucid metaphor in that last paragraph. He must have loved that satirical metaphor, the Promissory Note. Axel
Barry: Your OOA analogy is rather spot on and quite instructive. I will shamelessly borrow it in the future. I do have a minor quibble with Paul Davies' quote, however. Those of us who deal with hardware will recognize that Davies' analogy of chemical constituents to "hardware" is too generous. Namely, hardware itself is a highly specific arrangement that not only requires information to properly construct, but which itself often contains complex specified information. Indeed, the line between hardware and software gets blurred at some level (for example, when we start delving into the details of SoC's, embedded systems, etc., and I suspect over time we will find the same thing in living systems). Thus, Davies is being too generous to say that attempts at chemical synthesis focus just on the hardware. In reality they don't even take into account meaningful hardware requirements. Instead, they are just focused on a very vague and abstract (and thus in most cases, singularly unhelpful) notion of matter somehow giving rise to function. It would be more accurate to say such attempts are just focusing on the underlying physical building blocks of the hardware. Eric Anderson
If mother nature constructs an airplane, but there isn't anyone around to see it, does Alan Fox still watch caravans? Joe
Barry Arrington:”No, the essence of life is the precise arrangement of matter into maddeningly complex systems working together toward a specific overall purpose (i.e., living) according to a digitally encoded DNA blueprint (i.e., information)”.
For me, the question is if life can be reduced to mere (precisely arranged) matter … Complex or not, in this view on life there seems to be ‘nobody home’. There is just matter. How about the mind, mr. Arrington? And how would you call a mind without a body if not 'life'?
Barry Arrington:”You might say that the analogy between OOL research and OOA research fails because “living” and “flying” are two different things. I would grant you that the analogy fails, but not in the way you think. The analogy fails because living things are actually far more complex than airplanes, (…)”
For me, matter doesn’t explain agency, but neither does complexity. Complexity is not the difference between airplanes and life. Agency is. Complexity does not explain consciousness, because parts (designed or not) are not the whole; which is consciousness. Box
Plus, we have all sorts of intermediate flying things. Like leaves. And pollen. And paper. And entire planets fly through space. There's a clear evolutionary sequence to airplanes. Mung
But there are many different kinds of airplanes. You have to factor that in to whether or not one could assemble by chance. Mung
And by Alan Fox's logic Mother Nature can produce stones, stones are the building blocks of Stonehenge, therefor Mother Nature can produce Stonehenge-like formations (meaning Stonehenge wasn't designed- designers were not vital to its existence.) Joe

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