Archive for biology

When Bio-Nerds Get A Book…

Posted in Personal with tags , , , , , , on 2009/09/12 by darkshrouds

I got my new book in on Wednesday, September 9th and have been reading every now and then, as I have time between classes. So far, I am in love again with The Greatest Show on Earth by Richard Dawkins. I’m also the envy of a good portion of my biology teachers because, well, it doesn’t come out here in America till the 22nd of September I believe. I had it shipped for the UK for a good good reason, cause I’m a bio-nerd.

Here’s a picture of it below. Right now, it is my precious and it has been added to my large collection now.

From SSACON2009

Isaac Mills

P.S. Sorry for the late update and lack of them. I will be posting the posts I already have ready over the next day or so.

I Have Been Flattered… With A Post

Posted in Religion, Science/Technology with tags , , , , , , , , , on 2009/07/19 by darkshrouds

I made a simple comment on Vere Loqui on the topic of A Dilemma for Darwinists. I was expecting a simple comment back, as my argument was very small. I’m flattered that I have been honoured with a post located on the blog. (The link to that post isn’t working right now, so if you click here, you can get to the main page and read it under the title of More on the Darwinists’ Dilemma)

It is only proper that I respond to the kindness of a post, with one of my own. I shall begin with my comment.

How to easily fix this. Oh yes, I recall now.

Abiogenesis has some very good proof behind it. Such as the research done and covered below.

Also, man rising from the dead has the problems of what occurs after death – enzyme breakdown, cell decay due to fermentation and decomposition (anaerobic), etc. I must go with Mr. Sagan on this.

“In many cultures it is customary to answer that God created the universe out of nothing. But this is mere temporizing. If we wish courageously to pursue the question, we must, of course ask next where God comes from? And if we decide this to be unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the universe has always existed?” [Carl Sagan, Cosmos, page 257]

God does not appear to suspend the laws he puts forth if he exists, and we have no reason to believe the contrary. Why then, should we state that it is so?

Now, I’ll admit that I really wasn’t attempting to be difficult and I was, well, a bit tired and wanted to be lazy. However, that is not an excuse and I shall do my best to further explain and address the argument against my comments.

Now first we begin with my comment on the good proof of abiogenesis. We have a theory, which fits the evidence and would produce the needed required material. This is a good start in that direction. This is a general overview and not the full list of evidence or the full list of the debate between scientists. There is much debate in specific areas of the theory and the theory is still incomplete in the sense that we don’t fully understand the complete movement of organic materials to life. However, there is research being done by many scientists on this theory and a decent list of what is known and not known can be found here.

First, he argues that evolution does not necessarily involve the belief in abiogenesis. To that, there are two responses: First, I did not say it did. I used the term ‘Darwinism’, not ‘evolution’. I have explained my use of the term ‘Darwinism’ a number of times on this blog as referring to the belief that the current state of biological life resulted solely from prior material factors. This is distinct from the mere theory of evolution, which involves only the belief in biological development over time, regardless of how that life came about in the first place. The former involves metaphysical assumptions which its adherents expects everyone else to accept without question, and the latter, it seems to me, does not.

But it is curious to me that the video Isaac linked to, while it claims that abiogenesis is no necessary part of evolution, defends abiogenesis, as if it is. And, of course, it does so by some rather extravagant speculation. And it does make you wonder: if the people who advocate it know the procedure of how life came about from non-life as well as they seem to think they do, then they ought to be able to perform the procedure, which, of course, they can’t.

Evolution, in the sense of natural selection and those mechanisms, has nothing to do with the formation of the first life. Evolution can be likened to going to an ad infinitum argument. Where did this animal come from, and so on and so forth until you reach the ‘first’. The last common ancestors genes are homologous, thus derived from a single common ancestor by duplication and modification, with this ancestor coming from an even simpler one. A decent article covering a majority of the Origins of Life in detail can be found here (and is also quoted partially in the line before). Abiogenesis involves no metaphysical assumptions. Some people may argue that God put life starting, however there is no evidence as such and no real reason to accept it. We remain agnostic, skeptic, and inquisitive. Experiments done show that organic molecules can be found in the pre-biotic earth quite easily. Learning what lead to life is what is being researched right now, with a good portion understood.

Again, Mr. Carl Sagan comes to mind, “If the general picture, however, of a Big Bang followed by an expanding universe is correct, what happened before that? Was the universe devoid of all matter, and then the matter suddenly somehow created? How did that happen? In many cultures, the customary answer is that a god, or gods, created the universe out of nothing. But if we wish to pursue this question courageously, we must of course ask the next question: where did God come from? If we decide that this is an unanswerable question, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of the universe is an unanswerable question?” If the understanding is that the universe was devoid of all life and then it appeared, how did it happen? It is common to ascribe a god, or gods, to this formation of life. But where did God come from and again, if this is unanswerable, why not save a step and conclude that the origin of life is a complex question. Since the universe already existed and is observable, we will be able to have data and thereby, able to answer to some degree the questions about the beginnings of life. Just because a question is complex, does not mean that we should assume that it is unanswerable, God did it, or it is irreducibly complex.

It is true that we have yet to create life in a test tube so to speak, from organic matter. Dr. Szostak and others are doing bottom-up abiogenesis research, small building blocks to discover the formation from smaller particles to life; Craig Venter and others are doing a top-down approach, attempting to discover the most simplistic life possible – the threshold on what would constitute life.

Isaac says there is “very good proof” behind the doctrine of abiogenesis. But there is no “proof”: there is only speculation. And just because the speculation is extravagant and even plausible on its face, it doesn’t amount “proof”–at least not in any sense of the word ‘proof’ with which I am familiar. A proponent of parthenogenesis could simply respond that they have proof too: in form of the gospels of Matthew and Luke. Undoubtedly this will not satisfy a Darwinist, but point is that the Darwinist will be at pains to explain why his “proof” for abiogenesis is any better that for parthenogenesis.

Now, first off, I just dealt with the first portion, and that proof has geological data used to determine constants for the atmosphere and there are simulated experiments included above. To equate that proof, actual data and analysis, to words on an ancient text that is problematic itself is far less valuable or admissible in the court of rationality.

“Religion submits to the court a signed letter that God created life on the planet earth.” (The letter however is written by many hands, and there is no signature of authenticate the document)
“Science submits to the court geological data and experimentation that shows that with the constants given, the materials for life are formed in significant concentrations and how it is possible life came about. While we don’t have everything, we have a considerable amount.”

I believe a good portion of the world will take science here, than believing a god or gods did so. Please, may the proof her at least be equal in value. Only Matthew and Luke mention the virgin birth, which, in a biography of God incarnate, would be something that you would expect an author to write down. Maybe we lost those portions, but that is a side observation.

To say that one believes in abiogenesis is a faith statement that is a part of the larger body of Darwinist dogma.

I do not believe in abiogenesis in the sense of a Christian stating that God exists. I hold that the theory is the most plausible, natural method that we have to explain the origins of life. It requires no more assumptions than my doing a chemistry experiment requires, because that’s what a good portion of the theory is, chemistry. Formation of organic molecules, bonds, formation of organic layers, synthesis, etc. are all chemistry (biochemistry really). This requires no divine intervention, it is how the universe works with the pre-biotic conditions.

A miracle claim is simply immune from these kinds of criticisms–precisely because it is a miracle claim. If someone says, “I believe the normal and otherwise uniform course of nature was interfered with in Instance A,” it is hardly a valid response to say, “But Instance A is problematic because it violates the normal and otherwise uniform course of nature,” which, for all practical purposes is what Isaac is saying here.

This would be a problem, if there was evidence that your so called miracle actually occurred. I’m reminded of a George Carlin quote on why don’t miracles happen and why prayers go unanswered.

Pray for anything you want. Pray for anything, but what about the Divine Plan?

Remember that? The Divine Plan. Long time ago, God made a Divine Plan. Gave it a lot of thought, decided it was a good plan, put it into practice. And for billions and billions of years, the Divine Plan has been doing just fine. Now, you come along, and pray for something. Well suppose the thing you want isn’t in God’s Divine Plan? What do you want Him to do? Change His plan? Just for you? Doesn’t it seem a little arrogant? It’s a Divine Plan. What’s the use of being God if every run-down shmuck with a two-dollar prayerbook can come along and fuck up Your Plan?

And here’s something else, another problem you might have: Suppose your prayers aren’t answered. What do you say? “Well, it’s God’s will.” “Thy Will Be Done.” Fine, but if it’s God’s will, and He’s going to do what He wants to anyway, why the fuck bother praying in the first place? Seems like a big waste of time to me! Couldn’t you just skip the praying part and go right to His Will? It’s all very confusing.

Compare the reality with my previous post about what True Christians should be able to do, and it is truly confusing.

The post concludes with this:

Isaac concludes, saying:

“God does not appear to suspend the laws he puts forth if he exists, and we have no reason to believe the contrary. Why then, should we state that it is so?”

Well, all I can say is that the religion that formed all of Western civilization has maintained for 2,000 years that that’s exactly what he did–and given reasons for it.

That’s why some of us say that it is so.

And that sir, is no good reason at all. Western civilization did not rise because of religion, but because of science. Science has brought us the computer, the rocket ship, tools, modern comforts, etc. What has religion brought us? Superstitions continually propagated. Again, science here seems like the winner. I’ll leave with one final video that I found amusing on PZ Myers blog.


Isaac Mills