Archive for November 2008

An Atheistic Creation Story in Action; “The Origin of the Genetic Code”

November 27, 2008

After I posted my explanation of abiogenesis as the atheistic creation story, Ubiquitous Che, over at rhetoric sans pareil, posted a video, and an article, in rebuttal.  I’ve already responded to his article on his blog, but I wanted to respond to the video itself.

 

The video is by someone called cbk007, who has a entire library of videos explaining evolution, and tackling the sticky subjects that are much attacked by Intelligent Design and Creationist folk.  This video is entitled “The Origin of the Genetic Code.”

 

I know that Ubiquitous Che meant the video as a response to “Abiogenesis:  The Atheistic Creation Story”, however all he did was provide a GREAT example of that creation story in action.  The point of my article wasn’t to show the impossibility of abiogenesis persay (anything is possible), but to show that abiogenesis is a story equal in mythology to any other creation story portrayed by any other belief system.  Cbk007’s video has only helped me to make that case.  I recommend you watch the video with the mind of discerning what is observable science and what is speculative.

 

 

 

I will now take the important claims and phrases cbk007 uses to make his case and I’ll respond to them. 

 

“As showed in the previous video, life can spontaneously form from fatty acids and activated nucleotides”

 

I don’t even need to watch the previous video to know that all cdk007 is doing here is speculating.  “Life CAN sponteaneously form . . .” is a statement in the same mold as “Anything CAN happen”.  And it violates a LAW of biology, the Law of Biogenesis.  In fact, if he had ANY evidence that this was possible he would have won the Nobel Prize in biology.  Also, this doesn’t solve ANY of the problems I put forth in my post.  Where does the genetic information come from?  But I’m sure he’ll get to that.

 

“Mutations in the originally random nucleotide sequences that increased the rate of replication would rapidly be selected for, this jumpstarting evolution.”

 

Ok, again, there is no evidence of this, it has never been observed, this is pure speculation.  As I already mentioned in my article, Natural Selection REQUIRES sexual reproduction to happen in the first place.  Cdk007 is using the very thing he is trying to explain; he’s begging the question.  He is also equivocating the definition of Natural Selection to pretend that it applies to non-sexual replication, it just doesn’t.

 

Correction:  An astute reader, Zhatt, pointed out to me that bacteria reproduce asexually.  I stand corrected.  However, Natural Selection still requires reproduction and pre-biotic chemicals don’t reproduce, so the rebuttal stands.

 

There are several points in this video I don’t need to respond to because all cdk007 is doing is saying what “could have” and “maybe” or “possibly could have maybe” happened.  He is manufacturing ways that RNA came about without explanation or evidence, because he has neither.  This is not science, it is naturalistic speculation at it’s most blatant. 

 

“ribozymes are routinely evolved in laboraties”

 

Firstly . . . your point?  Secondly, cdk007 is begging the question of how RNA can function on it’s own without DNA because this has NEVER BEEN OBSERVED.  It’s like cdk007 believes that the world of the hypothetical can just be transposed onto the real world without explanation and that this makes rational sense.  Thirdly, “ribozymes have been evolved” suggests that an outside hand guided the evolution.  Is this an example of true evolution?  Or is this evidence of theistic evolution?

 

“Experiments tell us that such micropeptides did exist naturally in the pre-biotic environment”

 

Now he’s just lying to people.  The “pre-biotic environment” that he is referring to happened 4.5 billion years ago.  How do experiments recreate the earth 4.5 billion years ago?  Oh, that’s right, they can’t.  It’s more pure speculation.  Scientists guess at what they think the primordial soup could have been made of, because they weren’t there and therefore can’t have any evidence of it, and call it an “experiment”, it’s disengenous at best and plain bearing false witness at worst.  That cdk007 portrays it as absolute fact makes it the latter.

 

“joining two amino acids can be evolved”

 

You need at least 15 more, in the right order, only left handed aminos, and then 500 just like it to form a cell.  I already went over this in my post, the chances of this are ridiculous and that cdk007 thinks it happened is a statement of faith.  But that’s not the real problem; how were these two amino acids joined in the lab?  With a scientists’ guiding hand?  With Intelligence?  Hmmmm.

 

“From here the evolution of DNA is simple”

 

This is just a flat out lie.  ANY geneticist will tell you it’s not simple.  I’m honestly just incredulous right now.

 

Cdk007 then shows pictures of ribozymes forming amino acids together in chains. 

 

He’s missing the point.  It isn’t that the amino acids can form into chains, it’s that they know the EXACT chains to form into, they must be a precise shape to work and cdk007 knows it.  How do they do this?  They are told by DNA how to do this.  This is what DNA does, this is DNA’s job, telling the RNA how to form the proteins.  He is using the formation of proteins to explain DNA; this is impossible, proteins would not form without DNA, they wouldn’t know how to.  Without the information DNA provides, proteins would not form properly.  He is begging the question and flat out ignoring the problem of the genetic information that proteins REQUIRE to form. 

 

He continues to use Natural Selection as a pre-biotic driving factor when this is impossible.  Natural Selection requires already formed, recombinating cells.  Cdk007 flatly ignores this.

 

During the video, cdk007 just repeats the fallacies I’ve pointed out above over and over again.  Using phrases like, “Over time . . .”, “will . . .”, “then . . .”, in order to ignore and falsely portray the COMPLETELY SPECULATIVE nature of his creation story.

 

The primitive structure of protein formation that he shows:

 

What he completely ignores is that, in ALL observed cases, in all observable science, this structure ONLY takes place within a cell, AND DNA must tell the RNA how to form this structure.  Where does the information on how to form in this way come from, cdk007?  Genetic information is required for this structure to form correctly, where does this information come from absent of DNA?  Where does this information come from at all?

 

“Curious how many of these components (mRNA, tRNA, rRNA) are still RNA today”

 

This is hilarious because he’s never seen anything besides mRNA, tRNA, and rRNA.  The existence of some “primitive” RNA that he is comparing the “today” RNA to is complete speculation and has never been observed. 

 

Then he begins to attempt to give computer simulations as evidence of evolution:

 

Computer simulations are designed by intelligent human beings with a purpose in mind (creating a simulation that will allow for evolution).  Thank you for providing evidence and an argument that evolution requires intelligence.

 

“There goes the ‘common design-common designer’ argument”

 

More hilarity.  So different codons means they have nothing in common with the rest of life?  Give me a break.  And plus, this is a strawman of the argument.  That argument is only saying that similarities in the genetic code aren’t evidence of evolution, only evidence of similarity.  The argument IS NOT saying that every genetic code must be closely similar.

 

“Intelligent Design/Creationism would predict a perfect code”

 

Uh, not really.  I can’t speak for ID guys, because I’m not one, but a basic doctrine of the Christian worldview is that humanity has messed up what God created in the Garden of Eden.  If this corruption is reflected in the genetic code then that only supports the doctrine.  However, I’m not sure that even Creationists need a perfect genetic code in Adam.  The argument that God didn’t create a perfect genetic code at creation therefore God isn’t intelligent or perfect is exactly like saying since God created humans with the ability to do evil therefore God must be evil. It doesn’t follow.

 

In closing, cbk007 makes several statements:

 

“Even something as complex as a “language” can evolve by purely natural means.”

 

I watched the whole video and cbk007 didn’t tackle the complexity of the genetic code, not once.  He pawned it off on Natural Selectin, which I thoroughly debunked, and left it at that.  What cbk007 actually did his entire video was IGNORE the problem of genetic information by speculating that the ribozymes, amino acid and RNA structures can form on their own and randomly, without being told how to do so.  This has never been observed.  It’s a nice story, and even atheists need a creation story, but calling it “science” when there is zero evidence to back it up is a bit irrational.

 

“All you have to do is open your eyes.  The evidence is out there.  The experiments have been done.  The simulations have been run.  Closing your eyes to the world around you, will not change reality.”

 

Actually, what it seems that I have to do is CLOSE my eyes and imagine the scenarios that you put forth.  None of them have been observed, they are pure speculation, and they have come from the intelligent and active imagination of atheistic scientists with the purpose of denying God.  It’s funny that you talk about reality but, in reality, nothing that you say happened has ever been observed to happen.  The reality is that RNA and proteins need DNA to form correctly, every observable instance shows that they cannot do what you say they can do on their own.  The reality is that Natural Selection only acts upon sexually recombinating cells.  In fact, everything you put forth asks us to imagine a violation of reality.

 

“The Genetic Code DID evolve”

 

And they say evolution and atheism is not dogmatically defended.

 

“All I ask is that you think about it . . .”

 

Actually, what it seems you’re asking is for us to take what you’re saying at face value.  Because if we were to think about it, we would realize the mere speculation that your entire creation story is based upon. 

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Is God Evil? A Response, Part 1 (Adam and Eve)

November 25, 2008

Daniel Florien over at Unreasonable Faith has begun a series entitled, “An Evil God?:  A Journey Through the Dark Parts of the Bible.”  It’s a bold undertaking and I admire him for taking on the challenge.  There are definitely some dark parts of the Bible that those who are so inclined can use for their atheistic cause.  The problem comes when they must put their morality upon God and must interpret Scripture through their Western thinking minds, with no heed to context, in order to heighten the absurdity they hope to prove.

Daniel breaks up his article into sections;  I will follow these sections and respond to him point by point.

The Bible’s Answer

According to Daniel, the story of Adam and Eve is meant to explain why the world is so bad.  Right there, Daniel reveals his starting presupposition that the Bible is NOT accurate in it’s story telling.  That is, the Bible claims that this narrative of Adam and Eve happened in the beginning, but by saying . . .

The Bible, like many myths, begins with answering how the world came to be and why it’s so screwed up.

The Bible is, at the outset and a priori, treated like a compilations of myth-stories whose sole purpose is to explain phenomena.  The idea that the Bible might be just recording history is never considered.  Taking into consideration that no archaeological find has EVER contradicted Biblical accounts, and have only helped to strengthen the historicity of Biblical texts, this might not be a rational assumption. 

He created Adam out of dust, and Eve out of Adam’s rib. (Woman, being the property of man, doesn’t get the dignity of her own mud spawning.)

Daniel takes exception to HOW God created Eve.  Really?  I guess I just don’t understand the arrogance, even on a hypothetical basis as I’m sure Daniel is speaking from, it takes to tell the creator of the universe that YOUR idea of how woman should have been created is better than His.  Just as importantly, this betrays the Western, post suffrage, filter Daniel is using to judge the moral fiber of God. 

Well, as you know, the snake tempts Eve, she eats the fruit and then Adam eats some too — and what do you know, they’re still alive.

It becomes clear that Daniel isn’t interested in discovering what the Bible is actually saying.  The passage Daniel is referring to is Genesis 2:17, “but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.”  What is translated as “surely die” comes from the Hebrew phrase (mwuth-mwuth).  It literally means “dying, die”.  A more literal translation would be “dying you shall die.”  However, the way the NIV translates it, “you WILL surely die” works too.  At the moment that they ate of the fruit, Adam and Eve began to die.  That’s what God was saying, and that’s what happened.

Soon after, God shows up, asking, “Where art thou?” (Come on, God, do you really not know?)

Again, Daniel makes no attempt to treat the Scriptural accounts fairly.  Adam and Eve are the ones that think they can actually hide from God!  God can’t use alittle sarcasm to show them how silly it is that they are hiding from an all-knowing being?  But there is a deeper layer to this.  Earlier in the Genesis account it tells us that Adam and God used to walk the Garden in conversation.  Adam has now sinned.  What a contrast  that Adam, instead of being open and searching after God, is now hiding from him!  Can’t you see that since God really isn’t asking where they are, He is instead asking, “Why are you hiding?”

And that’s the explanation for why the world is the way it is — our ancestors ate some forbidden fruit, God got angry, and now everything is screwed up.

Daniel seems to have an inability to see the big picture.  I’m sure that this is a false failing, as it makes it easier for him to mock a Biblical story.  God creates the world out of nothing, creates Adam out of nothing and gives him life.  Not only does He give Adam life for no reason except that He wanted to, He gives Adam dominion over the entire earth, and every livestock and plant to fulfill his needs.  When that is STILL not enough God gives Adam a companion suitable for him, God gives Eve life. 

Not only has God, out of nothing but love, given Adam and Eve life, He has also given them choice, free will, relative autonomy.  All He asks in return is ONE simple thing.  Adam and Even can eat of EVERY tree and vine in the Garden except ONE.  It’s a simple request.  There is only ONE rule.  That’s it!  And they can’t follow it, they listen to a serpent and disobey God.  God has given them everything, and they disobey Him.  God has no choice but to kick them out of the Garden (or destroy them and start over, but He chooses not to do that) or He violates His own Righteousness and Justice.

The world is not screwed up because Adam and Eve ate a fruit, as Daniel so purposefully narrow-mindedly suggests, the world is screwed up because man disobeyed God, the creator of the world.  It’s not a stretch to conclude that disobeying the Creator of the world, denying the purpose He has for it and humanity, would have an adverse affect on the world. 

The Blame Falls on God

This is the title of Daniel’s next section.  It’s going to be interesting to see how he shows this.

Man was doing what he does best — eating things that look delicious and disobeying rules for which he has no reason to obey.

Adam and Eve were given any number of OTHER things that looked delicious.  They were given the whole Garden save ONE item.  When God talks to you every single day, you can audibly hear His voice, and He created everything around you JUST FOR YOU; there needs to be no explanation for a rule God gives you.    God is all-powerful, all-knowing, and he obviously loves Adam and Eve because of all He gave them. “Because God said so” is the MOST rational explanation you can recieve.

As an illustration, I have a nine month old son.  Pretty soon he is going to start crawling.  Once that happens, and he becomes increasingly aware of the world around him, it’s going to be increasingly important that he understands the word “no”.  He’s not going to understand the rules I give him.  He won’t understand the danger of fire, of table corners, of class windows, of the road.  But he doesn’t need to, all he needs to understand is the rule.  Is it rational to attempt to explain rules and reasons to a child?  Isn’t it enough that all I want is his safety because I’m his father and I know better?  Aren’t we at least equal to children in comparison to God?

Only the snake gave an explanation, who said man’s eyes would be open, and they would know good from evil — that they would be like God. And you know what? The snake was right!

How does Daniel figure this one?  The snake flat out lied to them.  Genesis 3:4-5, “You will not surely die,” the serpent said to the woman.  “For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

If by “knowing evil” Satan meant committing an evil act (disobeying God), then the snake was right.  However that’s not how he portrayed it.  Man’s eyes were opened to their own evil, their own sin, and to their own nakedness.  Was this a good thing?  The snake portrayed disobeying God as a good thing, this is the ultimate of lies.  Satan also portrayed God as lying to them, as having alterior motives for forbidding the fruit.  Another lie.  Satan also told them they wouldn’t die.  Another lie.  For when they ate of that fruit they began to die.  Adam and Eve also died a spiritual death when they ate of that fruit.  They now needed propitiation to have a relationship with God. 

God was the one who man made with a nature that is suspectable to temptation.

God gave man free will.  That man allows this free will to be tempted with disobedience and lust is not the fault of the one who gave them the free will, it is the fault of the one with the ultimate control over the will, the man himself.

God made the tree look delicious and tempting.

Or was it Eve’s temptation and desire that made the fruit look tempting?  And it was a fruit, the same as the other fruit around it.  It was fruit.  There is no indication that it was any MORE delicious and tempting than any of the other fruit in the Garden.  This is you reading into the text what you want it to say Daniel.

God made man to require reasons — and didn’t give him any.

If God spoke to you in an audible voice, would you really require a reason from Him?  And if you did, is that God’s fault that you have a lack of faith and trust, that you’re so arrogant to think you know better than what God just commanded of you?

God created the snake and let him into the garden.

Uh, the snake was Satan.  An angel of his own will.  Again you are attempting to blame God for what others do with the free will God gave them.

And God knew all this would happen, yet still setup things so man would disobey him!

It’s unfortunate that Daniel commits this common logical error.  Forknowledge is not the same as causation.  Especially if the alternative is to destroy all free will.  Is that would you would have God do Daniel, create moral zombies who have no choice but to serve Him?  Wouldn’t you also be mad at God for this?

This myth does not get God off the hook for what a crazy, screwed up world we live in — it would make him responsible for it.

You are flat out ignoring that man is responsible for the will that was given to him.  By this logic, every parent would be responsible for the acts of their adult children. 

What kind of God would punish so many innocent people and animals throughout history because of one sin that he orchestrated to happen?

You are defining “innocent” how you want to define it, not how God and the Bible define it.  Who are you to put your definition of “innocent” upon the Bible?  The second you disobey God once, you are no longer innocent.

Daniel spends the rest of the section questioning why God did things the way that God did them.  Again, it just seems the height of arrogance to question how an all-powerful, all-knowing God did things, no matter how hypothetical He is to you. 

Two Ways

There are two ways to view the world around us: the natural and the supernatural.

Now Daniel is setting up false dichotomies of his own creation!  There can’t be any middle ground Daniel?  Science was started by Bible-believing, young earth creationist Christians (Kepler, Descartes, Bacon, Galileo, Newton, Copernicus), who believed that God was in control but wanted to understand the natural processes that caused everything.  The two are not mutually exclusive as you would like them to be. 

Christians believe that God created the world and is in control of it, so they must find a scapegoat for all this evil that goes on.

Are we really in desperate need of a scapegoat as you suggest, or can we easily look within ourselves and find the source of all evil?

Yet is the Bible’s answer really satisfying? As I have argued, it would make God responsible for this mess.

The only way this argument works is if you deny the existence and responsibility of free will.

On the other hand, we have the natural answer. We see that there are natural laws and can predict many natural disasters . . . We can study disease and see it is not demonic or a superstitious curse. And as we have progressed in science, we have been able to cure many diseases.

Are you suggesting that Christians deny these things, that we don’t recognize the natural causes and solutions to our problems?  Can you see the ignorance this position requires?  Christians founded the Red Cross, Christians founded the first hospital, the first schools . . .  do Christians really stay in their houses and pray while the world crumbles around them?  Come again?

The natural explanation makes far more sense than a supernatural one, and has the advantage of having an abundance of evidence. Why cling to old superstitions and supernatural boogeymen when we have a better natural explanation?

Have you really ever talked to a Christian that wouldn’t offer natural solutions to the problems the world faces?  You’ve got to better than this Daniel. 

The real problem with this is that Daniel is not answering the question.  The question he claimed the Bible was attempting to answer was “why” the world is so screwed up.  All of Daniel’s natural explanations aren’t answering “why” at all, only “how”.  Natural explanations, like diseases and how to cure them, natural disasters and how to avoid them, hunger and famine and how to prevent them, are only “how” answers.  In fact, “why” is completely outside the perview of science and solely in the perview of metaphysics.  Atheism, by definition, has no “why” answers only “what” and “how” answers.  For atheism, there is no “why”.

Conclusion

In order to call God evil, Daniel must deny human and angelic free will and responsibility, falsely portray Biblical accounts, ignore context, and judge God’s actions according to his own ideas.

Abiogenesis: The Atheist Creation Story

November 20, 2008

The idea that the diversity of life could be accounted for without God was not unique to Darwin.  Darwin was the first to provide a legitimate scientific paper, with some real world evidence, to support the idea.  However, Darwin was not willing to speculate on where that life came from in the first place in Origin of the Species.  The implication, in Darwin’s theory, of life originating without God is not a stretch by any means.  In fact, it was firmly understood by his followers.

Thomas Huxley is called “Darwin’s bulldog” for a reason.  His declaration that life was able to, and did, spring from non-living matter was a bold, aggressive and successful campaign.  However, it wasn’t an original idea.

Spontaneous Generation

Until the time of Darwin’s Origin, not only was it thought that life could spring from non-life, it was thought that it was happening all the time.  Every time they saw flies come out of a carcass or frogs from a newly created pond, this was spontaneous generation or life coming from non-life.  In fact, it was the Ancient Greek philosophers that taught this fallacy and it was still a part of the consciousness of humanity at the time.  Although the cell was just being discovered, the fields of molecular biology and biochemistry had not yet developed in order to explain the intricacies of the cell, so it was perfectly plausible that the bag of goo the cell appeared to be could come from non-living matter of similar substance. 

However, at that very same time, Louis Pasteur, one of the founders of microbiology, was in the process of proving spontaneous generation to be as fanciful as a flat earth.  Because of this, Huxley was forced to rename his position to bring it out of the ridiculous, so he called it “abiogenesis”.

‘… if it were given to me to look beyond the abyss of geologically recorded time to the still more remote period when the Earth was passing through physical and chemical conditions which it can no more see again than a man can recall his infancey, I should expect to be a witness of the evolution of living protoplasm from non-living matter.’ (Biogenesis and Abiogenesis, in Huxley, Thomas, Critiques and addresses, Macmillan, London, UK, 1873.

Notice how he cleverly pushes his re-definition of spontaneous generation into the distance past in order to ignore that the phenomena was no longer observable.  Huxley manufactures this explanation, fully admitting that no human being will ever observe it, not because he has any physical evidence this is possible, but merely because he believes it happened.

The Thesis

Can I say that abiogenesis is impossible?  Of course not, because I could never prove a negative.  However,  abiogenesis IS the atheistic supernatural creation story, requiring an equal amount of faith as any other creation story. 

The Current State of Abiogenesis

Obviously, much has happened in the fields of molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry since Huxley reinvented spontaneous generation.  For the past 150 years, scientists have been attempting to experimentally create life from non-living matter.  Also, several theories that could explain the possibility of abiogenesis have been postulated.  Let’s discuss the most popular theories and experiments and how current molecular biology, genetics and biochemistry show the impossiblity of each. 

 1.  The First Protein Formed from Pure Chance

Among secular academia, this theory has been completely rejected as an explanation for the origin of life.  However, it is still popular in normal circles, and as such, deserves some attention. 

Proteins are the building blocks of life.  Every biological structure is either made of proteins or rely on them to function.  Every protein has a job, a function, and that function is decided by the shape of the protein.  Proteins are made up of a group of amino acids, linked together in a chain.  But it’s not as simple as that sounds.  Even with the smallest of proteins, there is a minimal level of complexity that must exist for the protein to function.  It’s called tertiary structure.  And you don’t get any kind of tertiary structure in any protein made up of less than seventy-five amino acids.

So, in order for a protein to form itself you’ll need at least seventy-five amino acids to . . .

1.  Have the right type of bonds between eachother

2.  Amino acids come in left-handed and right-handed versions and you can only use the left-handed ones

3.  They must form in an exact sequence like letters in a sentence

Running the odds of amino acids randomly forming a short, minimally functional protein comes to one chance in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.  That’s a 10 with 125 zeroes after it.  And that’s only one protein molecule.  A minimally complex cell would need between 300 and 500 protein molecules.  So you must do a 1 in 10 with 25 zeroes chance at least 300 times.  It’s literally like saying that if we throw hundreds of thousands of scrabble peices onto the floor, the peices will eventually form Hamlet by themselves.

With this in mind, to suggest that randomly formed proteins could form a cell is to invoke a naturalistic miracle.  It’s a statement of belief at best and a confession of ignorance at worst.  It’s literally like saying, “I believe it happened” and leaving it at that.

2.  DNA Formed Itself

Another problem with the “protein first” theory is that it is common knowledge that proteins need DNA and RNA to form their structure and tell them what to do.  As such, it has been postulated that DNA formed itself first.

DNA is an acronym for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid.  The best way to describe it is this:  DNA is the library for a digital code containing the instructions for telling the cell’s machinery how to build proteins.  It is literally genetic information.  The question becomes, where did this information come from?  Can information randomly form itself?

This is the problem with the protein hypothesis.  Where does the protein get the information in order to order itself correctly?  As humans know, we can convey information in our twenty-six letter alphabet, or in the binary code which is just ones and zeroes.  The stunning discovery of DNA was that it stored genetic information in the form of a four-character digital code.  The characters in the code are adenine, guanine, cytosine, and thymine.  They are represented by the letters A, G, C and T.  These characters are also called “bases” and properly arranging these bases into “base pairs” (when they are grouped with another base) will instruct the cell to build different sequences of amino acids.  Different arrangment of characters yields a different sequence of amino acids.  In one protein you’ll typically need 1,200 to 2,000 letters or bases. 

The problem for the atheist is this; if you can’t explain where this information came from, you haven’t explained life because it’s the information that makes the molecules into something that actually functions. 

A few hypothesis have been suggested to rectify this information problem.

    A. Natural Selection Acted Upon DNA, Allowing It to Adapt Over Millions of Years

In fact, this was the premise of Richard Dawkins’ 1996 book Climbing Mount Improbable.  Dawkins’ suggested that a complex biological structure is like a sheer cliff.  It may seem, at first, to be an impossible climb, especially if someone attempts to accomplish it in a single bound.  However, the backside of the mountain reveals a gradual upward slope that makes the climb slow, but possible and, inevitable.  Natural Selection is this backdoor path that selects the chance variations that are most advantageous and, over long periods of time, little changes become large differences.

This explanation seems to be able to explain how abiogenesis could have climbed the seemingly impossible cliff of building the first cell.  The fact that Natural Selection allows for the huge differences that molecules-to-man evolution requires is a matter of debate, however Natural Selection certainly does not apply to prebiotic chemicals. 

Here is why.  Natural Selection requires a self-replicating organism to work. To have reproduction, you must have cell division.  Cell division requires DNA and proteins which are the very things they are trying to explain in the first place!  You cannot a postulate an explanation presupposing what you are trying to explain. 

   B.  Chemical Affinities Explain How DNA or Protein Formed Itself

Inherent chemical attraction could explain how the four base pairs of DNA or the amino acids of a protein are able to form themselves.   The idea is that the development of life was inevitable because of the self-ordering capacities that amino acids and DNA’s base pairs have. 

There are some natural phenomena in support of this idea.  For example, Sodium (Na+) and Chloride (Cl-)ions use their naturally occuring affinity to form a crystalline solid called . . . Sodium Chloride (table salt). Experiments were done to discover wether or not amino acids and DNA base pairs have similar forces of attraction that would cause them to order themselves.   What did they find?  Amino acids just don’t have this chemical attraction.  And the slight affinity they did demonstrated don’t correlate to the patterns found in functional proteins.  This is not surpising since the DNA information they need to be ordered correctly is absent with just amino acids present. 

However, there is a deeper problem.  Even if the DNA bases did have chemical affinities to eachother (which they don’t), that wouldn’t explain the complex library we see today.  DNA expresses it’s language in the bases A, C, G and T.   If A had a chemical affinity to T, it would form itself like NaCl does, with a pattern of A-T-A-T-A-T-A-T.  This is not the pattern we observe in DNA and it is not the ordering that would yeild a genetic message, just a repetative chant, so to speak. 

Self-organization would not yield a library of protein forming information.  You need a variation in the message to get information out of it.  If you open a book, you don’t see the word “the” repeated over and over again.  Instead, you have an irregular sequencing of letters.  It’s this irregularity that adheres to a certain known pattern that conveys information.  The same is true in language as it is in DNA.

 

 

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself yet again.

    C.  RNA Formed First

The idea is that since RNA is much less complex than DNA, it’s more likely that RNA formed itself first.  In order to subscribe to this theory, you must ignore that none of the above described problems have been solved just because the required lenghth of an RNA sequence is shorter than a DNA’s sequence. 

In fact, you’ve added two problems.  The first one being that RNA needs DNA to know in which order to form, so you’re back to square one, the second being that in order for single strand of RNA to replicate, there must be an identical RNA strand (that also formed itself exactly like the first) right next to it.  So you’ve doubled your problem.

Conclusion

Every belief system has their creation story.  The supernatural event that started it all.  Atheism is no different with abiogenesis.

As Francis Crick, one of the discoverers of the structure of DNA in 1953, said:

“An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get going.”

A miracle indeed.  The main point is that no matter how many theories and hypotheses’ origin of life researchers come up with, they are mere speculation.  That is, every available piece of information tells us that life comes only from life.  There are no examples of DNA, RNA or proteins forming themselves under any conditions.  Any phenomena that theoretically makes this possible is outside of every known natural law.  This, by definition, makes abiogenesis a supernatural phenomena. 

Every atheist must believe in this supernatural phenomena in order to keep being an atheist and any statement of affirmation regarding abiogenesis is a statement of faith, directly on par with the religious statements of faith they so joyously deride.  The only difference is the cloak of “naturalism” that they put over their supernatural belief in order to hide their faith from themselves.

Keith Olbermann’s Humanism

November 13, 2008
It has become quite a popular video, the one with Keith Olbermann giving his “special comment” on the Prop. 8 in California.  Keith basically asks those who voted for the measure a series of questions.  However, Keiths opinion is not just that, it is indicative of a spreading, media supported worldview. 
 
Secular Humanism
 
Wikipedia defines secular humanism as “a humanist philosophy that upholds reason, ethics and justice, and specifically rejects the supernatural and the spiritual as the basis of moral reflection and decision-making“.  This partial definition begs the question of where they get their values of reason, ethics and justice in the first place, and what makes those words “valuable” absent of God.  Wikipedia continues, “Like other types of humanism, secular humanism is a life stance focusing on the way human beings can lead good and happy lives.”  This the entire basis for Keith’s opinion on the matter of same-sex marriage. 
This is verified by the Council for Secular Humanism’s affirmations,
“We deplore efforts to denigrate human intelligence, to seek to explain the world in supernatural terms, and to look outside nature for salvation.”
I honestly wonder how they are defining “salvation” here.  Are they attempting to assert that salvation exists inside of nature, and if so, is death “salvation”?  Or, are they just showing that, according to them, there is no such thing as salvation and the entirety of humanity shares the same fate of eventual meaningless annihilation.  This forces me to ask how reason, ethics and justice are meaningful when there is no difference between my fate and Hitlers’?
 
But I digress.
 
The point is that, in this video, Keith is a self-righteous preacher of the religion of secular humanism and the television camera is his pulpit.  As you will see, Keith attacks any notion of truth in regards to God’s Word.  That there can be no greater calling than his humanist calling, no greater cause than the happiness of human beings, regardless and in spite of what any religous text says.  In fact, Keith is willing to use Biblical quotes to further his humanist agenda while ignoring the Biblical ideals that deny humanism.  This will become apparent as you watch the video.  I really recommend watching it instead of just reading my responses.  It’s quick, and a great example of the battle of the worldviews that we find ourselves in.
 
 
 
 
(I apologize ahead of time for the snark in some of my replies.  Mr. Olbermann is so condescending that I just can’t help it)
 
“What does this matter to you?”
 
I have a question as an answer.  Who is Keith to suggest that it shouldn’t?  Who is he to tell me that human history, my conscious, my religion and my God are wrong in telling me the traditional definition of marriage?  Who is he to suggest that I am wrong in sticking up for this?
 
Keith also says that homosexual couples, “want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option . . .”
 
Putting away the ridiculous assertion that a marriage license is synonymous with permanence (especially in California), I have another question as an answer.  Their relationships aren’t already permanent and happy?  The marriage license will make them MORE happy, MORE permanent?  Aren’t they committed to each other because they’re committed to each other, not because some license tells them they are?  A marriage license instantly makes you more happy, therefore we are denying homosexual couples happiness?  Talk about a strawman of epic proportions.  In fact, most of married America, and the divorce rate, will tell you that being married leads to a DECREASE in happiness!
 
Keith goes on, ” . . . they don’t want to deny you yours.”
 
The point that he ignores is:  Yes they do.  They want to deny me my right to define marriage as between a man and a woman.  They literally want to force me to define marriage as they define it.  This is exactly what the issue is about. 
 
Keith continues, “. . . they want what you want, a chance to be a little bit less alone in the world.”
 
This is sensationalism that I didn’t think Keith was capable of; I guess I didn’t know him enough.  Keith is suggesting that Prop. 8 breaks apart same-sex couples.  Are you kidding me?  How can he take himself seriously, much less expect anyone else to, if he makes these kind of comparisons?  He is equating the people of California standing up for the traditional definition of marriage with us FORCING couples apart, making them more alone.  The ridiculousness of the suggestion speaks for itself.
 
“…just as you are taking away the legal right that they already had.”
 
How did they acquire this ability?  By a court ignoring the will of the people and overturning Prop. 22, essentially creating legislation, which courts aren’t supposed to be allowed to do.  Remember that system of checks and balances that our government is based upon?  The In re Marriage Cases decision violated that system, and yet, nobody is talking about this part of it.
 
“What if someone passed a law saying that you couldn’t marry”
 
If I didn’t meet the requirements for acquiring a driver’s license, I wouldn’t expect the government to give me one.  Same-sex couples just don’t meet the requirements for acquiring a marriage license.  It’s that simple, and it’s nothing personal, nor are any rights being violated.  As Keith just admitted (and passed over as quickly as he could), same-sex couples right now have the exact same rights under the law. 
 
However, if Keith wanted to argue that since “marriage” is a religious distinction and a religious issue, therefore “marriage” should not be legislated by the state, that the state should call everything a “civil union” and leave the definition of marriage, and wether couples get married or not, to the individuals.  I would stand next to him, in support of such legislation.  Let’s take the principle of “separation of church and state” to it’s logical conclusion and keep the word “marriage” out of government.  We can all agree on this, right?
 
“If this country hadn’t redefined marriage, black people still couldn’t marry white people…”
 
Justifying an incorrect redefining of marriage (same-sex marriage) with ANOTHER incorrect redefinition of marriage (racial restrictions) doesn’t make his argument valid.  In fact, it shows that Keith has no argument because he must pull on the heart strings of Americans who are still hurting from the racial strife of our past.  This issue isn’t about race, it’s about redefining a word and forcing that definition upon everyone else.  In fact, Keith, you should be ashamed of yourself for bringing up race.  This country now has an African American president-elect, and you want to shove us back fifty years.  You should be ashamed for pulling the race card.
 
Marriages were not legally recognized to be married if the people were slaves.”
 
Now Keith is comparing same-sex couples to slaves.  Again I must wonder how he expect us to take him seriously.  Also, no one is comparing the “correct definition of marriage” to America fifty years ago.  I haven’t heard that once.  We are comparing the definition of marriage to that which the Bible lays down from the book of Genesis on, what has been the definition of marriage since the beginning of recorded history.
 
This next part is hard to quote, but basically Keith is saying that it is a travesty that homosexuals used to have to hide in fake marriages with members of the opposite sex, therefore we should allow same-sex couples to marry.
 
I must be mistaken here, but I was under the impression that American government is not in the business of legislating happiness.  That we aren’t trying to fix the personal problems of those who felt and feel they must hide their chosen lifestyles. 
 
Keith then says that those sham marriages violated the term “the sanctity of marriage”, so much so that the term has no meaning.
 
It’s inconsistent to use the Biblical idea of the sanctity of the marriage bed to try and violate the Biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman.
 
Again, Keith says, “What is this to you, no one is asking you to embrace their expression of love.”
 
By legislating it, yes they are.  But now Keith has switched from making this issue about race, to making it about “love”.  Do we really agree on a definition for that word “love”?  What kind of love are we talking about?  But more on this a bit later. . .
 
“But don’t you, as human beings, have to embrace that love?”
 
Yes I do Keith, I really do.  People are people and I have compassion and love for all human beings.  But love is not license.  Love does not force me to enable what I see as a destructive lifestyle, to approve of what God tells me is an issue of morality.  Love does not force me to allow the redefinition of marriage and the redefinition of basic human rights.
 
“With so much hate in the world, and so much needless division . . . this is what your religion tells you to do?”
 
Keith has just degraded the Word of God to mere religion.  He is assuming that there is no truth in religion, only meaningless tradition, pomp and circumstance.  Who is Keith to degrade the beliefs of others?  Who is he to trivialize the Word of God, to assume that such a notion as objective truth doesn’t exist?  He is asking those who believe there is truth in God’s Word to violate their beliefs.  Does his public pulpit really afford him the right to do this?
 
“You want to honor your god, and the universal love you believe he represents?  Then spread happiness.”  
 
Just after degrading my religion to mere tradition, Keith appeals to my religion?  Well done.  Just as God is Love, He is also Righteousness, Truth, Justice and Wrath.  To attempt to separate one aspect of God from the rest is to create your own version of god.  This is something that I suspect Keith did a LONG time ago.  Not once, in all of Scripture, did God say He was concerned with our happiness.  But you know what He does say He’s concerned with?  Our righteousness.  Let me give an illustration.  If running into the street makes your child happy, will you allow him/her to do so?  Of course not.  Your child doing the right thing, being safe, is more important than what makes them happy.  This is similar to God’s love for us.
 
And then, Keith takes the cake with this one…
 
“You can quote me whatever you want from your religious leader or your book of choice, telling you to stand against this.  And then tell me how you can believe both that statement, and another statement, ‘Do unto others as you would have them do unto you’.”
 
I wonder if he sees the inherent contradiction in quoting one verse of the Bible, while ignoring the Bible on how it defines marriage? 
 
“You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight . . .You are asked to stand on a question of love.”
 
This is where Keith’s secular humanistic belief system rears it’s ugly head.  Keith assumes that human love is the ultimate love.  That how humans define love is the ultimate definition.  He defines love as allowing people to do whatever makes them happy.  And that “happiness” is the ultimate good.  If we believe that God exists, then our definitions of love and happiness should necessarily be defined as God sees it.   In fact, this definition of love assumes that Scripture is not God’s Word and that no God exists.  If we don’t find the ultimacy of the human mind to be convincing, then the question becomes, how DOES God define love?
 
God’s Definition of Love, Not Keith’s, is the One that Matters
 
I’ll give you God’s definition of love, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).  The sacrifice of Jesus Christ is God’s definition of love.  It doesn’t find much searching to discover why Christ died on the cross; He died to save us from our sins.  Homosexuality is one of those sins.  It’s no more or no less a sin than lying, no different than heterosexual adultery, there is no greater or lesser sin with God, but it’s still a sin.  So those who are refusing to support a redefining of marriage ARE doing it out of love.  Love for their God and God’s love for their fellow man. 

Why Prop. 8 Still Scares Me

November 10, 2008

I keep this blog out of the political realm because, frankly, human beings have much more pressing issues than what is going on in Washington.  That is why you will notice that this article, although about a political issue, isn’t about politics at all.

For those of you who have lived in a cave for the past 2 months, California’s Prop 8 proposed to add an amendment to the California State Constitution, defining marriage as ONLY between a man and a woman.  A brief history:  in 2000, Prop 22, which prevented same-sex marriage, passed with 61.4% approval and only 38.6% against.  On April 15, 2008, the California Supreme Court overturned Prop 22 in In re Marriage Cases.  The defenders of traditional marriage had an answer ready and quickly gathered over 1 million votes in order to put Prop 8 on the ballot for November 4th. 

Prop 8 has passed and, being a constitional amendment, has overturned the California Supreme Courts’ decision on April 15th.  As a Christian, I should be content, right?  Traditional marriage has been protected for another day, shouldn’t I feel a sense of comfort in that?  But, I had no comfort.  The way Prop. 8 has played out over the last month, even with it winning, has left me with nothing but apprehension for the future of humanity.

But why “the future of humanity” hyperbole?

I honestly contemplated wether or not this had anything to do with the Biblical position on homosexuality.  Yet, I work with several homosexuals, two on a daily basis, and, if this apprehension was due to the issue of homosexuality in general, I would have this aversion to them, and I don’t.  People are people, and even though they know how I feel about their lifestyle, we get along splendidly. 

They Tried to Redefine a Word

I realized that there were a few things about Prop. 8 that had nothing to do with homosexuality that just literally scared me.  The first being that the “No on Prop. 8” people (specifically the lawyers who brought the In re Marriages Cases to the California Supreme Court, the activist group that hired them, and those that wrote and supported the TV and radio advertisements) were attempting to redefine a word.

Wether you consider the Bible to be God’s Word, mere history or farce, marriage has been defined as the joining of a man to a woman since the beginning of recorded history.  I understand an individuals desire to marry the person they love, gay or straight.  However, because a miniscule part of the population desires something, we should redefine a word that has existed as it is for hundreds upon hundreds of years to satisfy them?

What about redefining the word “rape” to only include women that didn’t have a certain blood-alcohol level at the time of sex?  What about redefining the word “murder” to only include those that didn’t deserve it?  What about redefining the word “citizen” to include only those born in this country.  Surely, there is a minority of the population out there who desire each. Before the ad campaign for “No on Prop. 8”, I would have thought those ideas farfetched.  But if we start at redefining the word “marriage” just because certain people want to do so, what’s next?  You may scoff at the idea, but I challenge you to think about it again.  What if the MAJORITY wanted to start redefining words, would we grant them such power?  Should we?

Not Once Did They Mention The Issue Being Voted On

“No on Prop. 8” did it.  They were able to run an entire ad campaign about same-sex marriage without uttering the words “same-sex marriage”.  The second thing that scared me was, not only did they do this, but it nearly worked.  They had almost half of California voting no on Prop. 8 based on the phrase “equal rights for all” when the vote was about “same-sex marriage”.  One of the “no on Prop. 8” ads even prominently displayed the phrase, “Regardless of how you feel about marriage, Prop. 8 is just wrong.”  Am I in bizarro world?  “Regardless of how you feel about marriage…”?  The Prop is ABOUT marriage! 

This would be just like if I said to you, “Regardless on how you feel about who should be president, Barack Obama should be president.”  Shouldn’t we all be insulted and apprehensive that legislation was almost passed without ever mentioning what the legislation was about?

However, you may be reading this, saying to yourself, “Prop. 8 DID take away a basic human right.”  That is another thing that scared me, about the “no on Prop. 8” campaign, they tried to redefine basic human rights

Having a Marriage License Is Not A Basic Human Right

Is having a business license a basic human right?  What about having a driver’s license?  Could I sue the DMV for not giving me a drivers license based on them “violating my human rights?”  Of course not.  Could I sue my ex-wife (I don’t have one of those by the way) for “violating my human rights” by divorcing me?  Of course not.  Having a marriage license is not, and has never been, a basic human right. 

Isn’t it scary, that the “No on Prop. 8” people were almost able to redefine what basic human rights are?  Isn’t it scary, the amount of outrage produced at the mere mention of a violation of human rights, without questioning whether or not human rights have actually been violated?  Isn’t it scary the fervor that can be drummed up about seemingly any subject if a group mentions “human rights”?  Shouldn’t we ALL be wary of the implications of this?

The ironic part is that the real human rights issue, wether or not same-sex couples have the same legal rights and standing as heterosexual couples, hasn’t changed.  Homosexual couples have, since 2005, been able to apply for a civil union and recieve the exact same benefits any married couple does.  So even if homosexuals were allowed to marry, there legal status wouldn’t change a bit.  The issue then, clearly, is not one of equal rights, but one of redefining what equal rights are.

“Stop the Hate, No on 8”

It’s a common tactic among those who have no valid argument, to make those that oppose them out to be “evil”.  Christians are commonly guilty of this as well.  For the “no on Prop. 8” people, this has taken the form of calling those that voted Yes as “hating” homosexuals.  Several reports have actually compared the restriction of marriage with the Japanese internment of the 1940’s and the restriction of African Americans to the back of the bus and the “seperate but equal” classroom.

Homosexuals are not being rounded up into internment camps like the Japanese were, they are not being beaten by the police in the streets like the hippies of the ’60’s, nor getting tear-gassed like Reagan did on the campus of UC Berkeley in the spring of ’69, nor are homosexuals getting hosed by firefighters during protests like the African American’s were in the ’60’s.  I can only pray that society gets a grip on it’s self.  Homosexual couples have the exact same rights as heteros, and their speech is being honored as all speech should be.  There is no discrimination taking place.  Why is desiring that the definition of marriage stay the same labeled as hate?

Besides a personal feeling of anger at being told that I hate a group of people, shouldn’t we all be worried at the prospect of a group labeling those who disagree with them as haters?  It would be the same as saying that all those who voted for John McCain hate black people. 

The “No on Prop. 8” proponents should ask themselves one question.  Who, exactly, is spreading the hate?  Those comparing the restriction of marriage to it’s correct definition to racism should be ashamed of holding this country back from the racial progress we’ve demonstrated by electing an African American man with the middle name of “Hussein” to the office of the Presidency.

Conclusion

Same-sex couples, under a civil union, have the same legal rights and priviledges that someone with a marriage license has.  Not only is there no discrimination taking place, there are no basic human rights being violated.  The right to own a marriage license is based on the definition of marriage, just as owning a driver’s license is restricted to meeting certain requirements.

The proponents of same-sex marriage know this.  So they attempted to redefine the word marriage by stroking the flames of emotion with talk of an erroneously defined “basic human rights violation” while  those standing up for the definition of marriage are labeled as haters.  Shouldn’t we all be wary of and fight against such guilt and hate mongering tactics?

Intelligent Science is Now “Apologia”

November 6, 2008

For awhile now I’ve been contemplating the purpose and scope of my small portion of the blogosphere.  When I started this endeavor in June, it was merely to provide a place of reference for the arguments that I’ve already formed and to explore the scientific evidence for God’s existence (and hopefully get in some discussions that would help me better understand opposing positions).  However, soon after I bought my domain and started this blog, I read Pushing the Antithesis:  The Apologetic Methodology of Greg L. Bahnsen

At first, the ideas presented were hard to wrap my head around.  My averse reaction was solely due to the realization that I would have to change everything.  Neutral ground is a place that doesn’t exist, evidence must be interpreted and as such, it is our underlying presuppositions (deep seeded assumptions) that define what we believe, and not the amount of brute evidence what we have.

It’s About Worldviews

Worldviews are the system of presuppositions that each of us hold to.  The battle Christians find ourselves in is not one of evidence, it is one of worldviews.   Try this out.  Argue Biblical manuscript evidence with an atheist and watch them brush away each argument with, “It doesn’t matter, God doesn’t exist”.  We must tackle the presupposition that they can know such a thing, and show them how their non-belief in God leads to them to not being able to explain anything

The more I argued with and learned about those opposed to the Christian worldview, and orthodox Christianity specifically, the more pervasive assumptions became.  That is, each thinker held onto unassailable presuppositions that informed their interpretation of every fact and topic in consideration.  It became less and less about scientific and Scriptural evidence, and more about the assumptions we all have that we filter all evidence through.

The question then becomes, what worldview allows us to explain the world as we know it?

Like the Walls Were Closing In

The more pervasive the existence of worldviews became obvious to me, the more I felt restricted by the title of my blog, and the scope that it implied.  I wanted to be able explore all implications of the Christian worldview, and defend all aspects of it.  My official training has only been in the scientific realm of secular universities and therefore, I am theologically vicariously- and self-taught.  Since I find myself to be merely philosophically and theologically functional, I wanted to be free to explore what I lack in those areas.  However, I will always have a scientific inclination as that is what I find the most fascinating.

Why “Apologia”?

The Latin root word for our “apologetics” is “apologia”; meaning “to speak in defense”.  The word is simple yet encompasses all that I want to do; stand in defense of the Christian worldview.