“Not only has Dawkins ruined science. He’s ruined atheism too.”

Last week I skewered Richard Dawkins for saying life was a “happy chemical accident” on National Public Radio.

Richard Dawkins

A reader of my blog (a smart, well educated guy) rushed to Dawkins’ defense.

I demanded he explain how

“happy chemical accident” qualifies as science.

My reader retorts:

“Oh, I forgot NPR interviews are venues for rigid, technical discourse! How silly of me!”

I reply: “When the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science from Oxford University appears on National Public Radio, don’t you think we should expect answers that do in fact further the public understanding of science?

“Or… should we settle for glib dismissive attempts to dodge the question?

“YOU seem to be a reasonably intelligent and educated guy. So why are you of all people attempting to defend him or deflect blame when Dawkins puts his foot in his mouth?

“Surely you’re more than a mere minion of Richard Dawkins. Why not just be honest and hold the guy responsible for saying something so dodgy and unscientific?”

The fact that people like you rush to Dawkins’ defense – when you should be calling him out on his dishonesty – is a smoking gun.

Why can’t atheists hold Dawkins’ feet to the fire for being the anti-scientific crank that he is?

Not only has Dawkins ruined science, he’s ruined atheism too.

20 years ago, an atheist was an intellectual with whom one could have a reasonable dialogue.

Today, most people experience atheists as bellicose angry males who commonly suffer from depression, who post anonymous tirades all over the internet so they can share their misery with everyone else.

We have the New Atheists to thank for this. And their four horsemen. Dawkins – Dennett – Harris – Hitchens.

Wanna have an intelligent discussion about atheism? Read Voltaire, Nietzche or Bertrand Russell.

Agree or disagree, they will force you to think.

Wanna have a pointless shouting match with a bunch of mannerless name-callers who make up just-so stories about warm ponds and lucky lightning strikes and think they’re doing science? Sit down with guys who read Krauss, Dennett, Hitchens and Harris. Walk into a roomful of Dawkins fans. 

They will force you to emote.

So, dear atheist, why are you sitting here defending any of these proselytizers?

Why do you allow Dawkins to abuse his position and not even do his job as a scientist?

Atheists, I respect your right and desire to be atheists.

But I do not respect you when you defend anti-intellectual, anti-scientific dogmas that have no explanatory power, no service to humanity.

And I do not respect you when you defend a bully who relegates incredibly valuable scientific questions to mere accident.

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639 Responses

  1. Deon van Wyk says:

    I think the debate around the history of life has reached the point where those who hold onto the idea that Darwinian evolution explains all that exists have become a stumbling block to real progress in the debate.

    The reason I say this is because if one looks at where the ‘origin of life’ researchers are going, it is becoming more and more evident that they themselves have realized that life did not emerge on earth through some natural process. Even Richard Dawkins has stated that he thinks life may have emerged elsewhere in the universe and was somehow transported to earth.

    That would imply that life reached the earth in an already complex state from the outset. It also implies that the possibility exists that this planet was visited and cultivated for life in the distant past. There are so many factors required for the existence of complex lifeforms that it is difficult to see how an unguided random process could have been responsible for the introduction of the right lifeforms at the right time throughout earth’s history. It is estimated that there is only a 100 000 year window available for our advanced civilization to exist on this planet. We are in the middle of this period now and it can only be sustained for around another 50 000 years, and that is being optimistic. Stephen Hawking reduces this to 1000 years. So if homo-erectus was around now, with it’s limited cranial capacity, there would not have been an internet. A 100 000 year window would be woefully inadequate for an evolutionary process to produce humans from these earlier bi-pedal primates. Humans basically erupt onto the scene at the start of this ideal period during earth’s history with the ideal features and cranial capacity to take advantage of this and launch our advanced civilization.

    My conclusion is that life is not an unguided random process.

    • Peter Grafström says:

      Earlier in this series of comments I suggested that life emerges in a series of different environments each one reasonably favorable for its partial reaction. Those different environments and each one effective for its part in the chain towards high complexity are then mixed temporarily and partially so there is a chance to step up in complexity which would be very improbable if all happened in a single environment. This scenario would necessitate different setups of temperature and chemical potential and a mode of transportation between them. I suggest that such varied environments might exist both in binary star systems (or ternary etc) or other regions where inhomogeneous cosmic clouds exist.
      But in addition and that was recently brought up by scientists this type of varied environment might exist to some extent near hot water sources at undersea volcanoes.
      But I suspect the cosmical playgrounds would be more varied and metastability for molecular buildingblocks might be more easy to uphold in circulatory gasmasses.
      Just because we are not even close to figure it out doesnt mean it is time to dump the very economical hypothesis of the usual Darwinism.
      And God being a superbeing has long appeared to me as something that ought to be timeless. This eliminates the contradiction between creation at one time vs continuous evolution and harmonizes between the opposing camps. But that also means it is beyond our present comprehension.
      The future development of science might provide more insight into how the future past and present interacts in ways not yet understood. Guided evolution as some put it might have to do with such feedback phenomena.

  2. Iain Wetherell says:

    I can’t believe that so much can be said about stories made up over 2000 years ago and that anyone actually believes it.

    “Entertainment” 2000 years ago meant sitting round a fire in the dark – listening to whoever could come out with the best stories – the scarier the better – they didn’t have netflix, youtube, google or movies – they provided their own entertainment and talked a lot of rubbish… entertaining rubbish (pretty much like netflix youtube and most movies:-)

    Religion is about controlling people and a good story to keep people in check is an extremely powerful tool – as all of us marketers know.

    Many still believe in this fiction.

    Why did Jesus arrive 2000 years ago when the planet is 13 million years old? Wasn’t he a bit late to the party?

    Life is an incredible wonderful amazing thing and cannot be explained. Making up fictional characters doesn’t help me but…

    If believing in fictional stories passed down from generation to generation with continual editing to suit whoever is telling the story, helps you get through your day then go for it.

    It seems an awful waste of time to me.

  3. Abed Peerally says:

    Thanks for sending me this series of comments about theism and atheism and agnosticism. Very interesting indeed. The pertinent issue to me includes the time factor for all the comments were made before the publication of my first book on the supernatural origin of our universe, published on 20 April 2017: In search of consciousness and the theory of everything. I am currently writing the second one that will actually explain the supernatural origin of our existence and universe. My two books will be the ultimate answer about existence to the extent it will provide scientific support to the belief that the universe requires a supernatural Mind behind its creation. Interestingly we take a wide view of belief that includes atheism exemplified by Professor V. Vedral of Oxford who agrees that there has to exist a Mind behind existence.

    • Laszlo Meszaros says:

      Please, don’t. I mean please, don’t explain how the universe was created. Not yet…

    • Paul Cotton says:

      This is all philosophy, not science. Philosophers have jumped to many incorrect conclusion is the past. Just because something is not known or explained does not mean that it is supernatural, a word which in itself is an oxymoron.

  4. Laszlo Meszaros says:

    Dear Seumas,
    please, show me those figures. (You won’t be able to.) Assertion? Nope. Although, you need a lot of thinking to take certain things together, but the math is there. I am planning to publish a paper in the subject sometime next spring. Please, look for it then…
    (Meanwhile a hint: 1. toss coins, then record the result. You find: HTTHHHTHTH… (H = heads, T = tails). 2. Let’s say you are interested in certain pattern, like HHTH. 3. It is provable that as you increase the number of tossings, the probability of finding HHTH approaches 1.)

    • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

      You have not a snowball’s chance in hell of ever demonstrating how the machinary of life could have built itself. Dream on brother Laszlo. 😉 Some phrases to meditate on: ‘Racemic mixture’; ‘peptide hydrolysis’. Ever done any organic chemistry? Do some more. Remind yourself of the effort and intelligence required to synthesize anything from a set of reagents.

      • Laszlo Meszaros says:

        Dear Seumas, yes, I did organic chemistry quite a lot, but it is not a problem of organic chemistry, or at least not the way as you think it would be. You are referring to intelligence. Ok, then let me refer to nature. Which one produced more in chemistry?
        Anyway, I am a scientist, you are probably a believer. So, I’m not sure if we can discuss this further… We speak different languages.

        • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

          Laslo, Your condescension is noted! You pretend this is not a problem for organic chemistry. Well, I obviously need “re-educating” then. However, whether you think it is, or is not, all chemicals, whether they are intracellular molecular machines, such as a chromosome, ribosome, or the golgi apparatus, or extracellular, as foods for example, being distributed to cells via the blood systems, obey the same laws of chemical reaction: It is just that the efficiencies and so-called position of equilibrium are different to those reactions outside of the cell. The machinery of life’s systems is able to mediate those reactions using proteins called enzymes (which you will no doubt be familiar with), and including other things, such as the parameters of pH, temperature, and concentration, and the by products of metabolism by loop control. At no time does any of these molecular ‘reagents’ (to generalize) not obey the laws of physics and chemistry. There are no special cases, except that the efficiencies achievable in bio-molecular reactions of the cell, as I have hinted, are thousands of times what could be achieved outside of a cell (in vitro) due to the fact that that cell operates at production quality control levels that would be the envy of any industrial chemist or automation engineer.
          You ask “Which one produced more in chemistry?” (i.e. intelligence or nature). This is a question with a built in assumption Lazlo; don’t you see? -You assume as a conclusion that nature, with no mind designing it, must have built itself, and you are on a mission to demonstrate it. This is what is called ‘begging the question’ (rather strongly!).

          So, let’s sum up: You have not conceded that there is a question to be answered on experimental and/or probabalistic grounds, so you do not ask it (assuming nature made itself, and which you intend to provide evidence for).
          At the end of the day, you will be ignoring good, experimental science, making many assumptions (and using a lot of hand-waving to not much effect, as we shall I believe see in this paper you tell us you are to write). You also assume that you have a superior scientific mind. But then we read the tired old canard about “given enough time, the probability of getting (the result) gets closer and closer to 1).” But the event is not about generating some random sequence of numbers that a computer could, given sufficient time predictably reach, nor even writing the words of a Shakespearean sonnet out perfectly (which could be demonstrated to be a much easier thing to achieve by random processes than formation of a functional protein. Have you carried out those calculations? I would urge you to do so. They are rather instructive, and would be a good basis for some sound reasoning.
          You also assume that our result, in this case, is achievable in the present universe, with its current fine tuning and laws of physics. The evidence is otherwise, given the intelligent effort required to generate a few polypeptides in vitro in the absence of any catalyst / enzyme. But you imagine that no intelligence would be required to develop life’s complex systems, ignoring the physical evidence before you, and that you have, I assume, witnessed.
          Time, as they say, is finite, and so is life itself.

          Where, Lazlo, is your logic? It seems not to be coming forth at present. You are in danger of demonstrating that you don’t exist, once you have run some example calculations. Best wishes, S.

          • Laszlo Meszaros says:

            Yes, I did carry out of such calculations and about to publish them. If you give me an email address, I can send the preliminary version of the paper to you.
            What you have to understand is that there is no such thing that providing evidence; instead, evidence is slowly emerging. What you can show evidence for is that there is no theoretical reason to deny the chance of life emerging without the assistance of some god figure.

            • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

              Dear Laszlo, Re. “there is no theoretical reason to deny the chance of life emerging”
              My response to that is “- except the second law of thermodynamics.” This does not afford any means by which the requisite bio-molecules could be protected from degradation just as fast as they MIGHT be manufactured by forces and intelligence unknown to science, assuming that you can overcome the problem of racemic mixtures, and other similar triflingly small matters of energetics! Blessings, S

              • Laszlo Meszaros says:

                Dear Seumas, you misunderstand the message of the second law of thermodynamics. It is only valid for an isolated system, into which there is no energy input. Once you have energy input, entropy decrease is permitted.
                (This is always the argument creationists come up with but always miss this condition, in which the second law applies.)

                • Laszlo, what you are really saying is that if you put energy into a system, you will get more organization and information, thus evolution is possible.

                  First your answer does not address the question he is asking at all. You’re just evading the question, as though all you need is energy and presto, life self-organizes.

                  Nobody has ever demonstrated that to be true.

                  But the real issue is not thermodynamic entropy. It’s because of information entropy. Most people don’t know how to properly articulate this question in the first place, but that doesn’t mean you’re right.

                  Nobody has yet figured out a way to simply put energy into a non-living system and get coded information out. If this were solved it would be an extraordinary accomplishment. If you can solve this, I have a $5 million prize for you http://www.herox.com/evolution2.0. My investors are eager to find someone who can solve it.

                  • Laszlo Meszaros says:

                    Dear Perry, no, I am not evading the question, but simply refer to thermodynamics. I did study it, lectured it. Did you? As I described here more than one, 1. code can emerge on its own (it’s matter of math; there is no room here to show you how*), once you have a receiver, which can interpret it. 2. It can be shown that, once you have this code/receiver system, you have an entropy decrease, which however requires energy input. (On the level of DNA it would mean that the polymerization of the nucleotides should be a spontaneous, i.e. energy releasing, chemical reaction. (Where is the 5 mill?)

                    • 1) prove it
                      2) show it

                    • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

                      You claim “. code can emerge on its own (it’s matter of math..), once you have a receiver, which can interpret it.”
                      The key statement being (presumably): “Once you have a receiver” – Which is coded, information specific and therefore only associated with the mind of a designer. Where is the origin of this so-called “Receiver” ? I suggest to you that you should be ‘working’ on that problem, from a philosophical point of view, as there is not apparent way to investigate its origin. -That is, if I understand your argument.

                • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

                  You say that the 2nd law of t is “..only valid for an isolated system, into which there is no energy input. Once you have energy input, entropy decrease is permitted.” Really? You seem sure about that. – Simple questions: Who was your physics teacher? And, more importantly:
                  Could you point me to any system, observed, that breaks the 2nd law of thermodynamics? I would suggest you research your answer from qualified physicists.

                  Otherwise, it has been interesting to consider these things. Thanks (reply also still awaited from my last query “how bio-molecules could be protected from degradation” just as fast as they might be manufactured, where there is no laboratory to supervise and run the process, and where the mixtures of chemical have some ‘difficult’ to manage properties.

                  • Martin Gately says:

                    And who was your physics teacher Seumas? We seem to have entered the realm of the ‘on the spot’ fallacy. As a popcorn chewer observer looks to me like Laszlo has got both you and Perry on the ropes.

                  • Laszlo Meszaros says:

                    Dear Seumas,
                    1. Yes, that is what I am saying. Please, get some relevant literature and check it yourself. Some help: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Second_law_of_thermodynamics.
                    2. Nothing breaks it, but there are people (including you), who either misunderstand it, or simply lack adequate knowledge. (In this regard, the most frequent mistake is forgetting about the isolated vs. open system differences).
                    3, Your question regarding degradation is simply not worth considering at this point.

      • Paul Cotton says:

        in the same way that you have not a chance of proving the existence of a creator!

        • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

          Paul, But you must remember, please that we who do believe (from experience and faith) are not interested in any pretence that a creator can be proved; only that you understand the living world (and even the construction of the universe demonstrates that it was conceived by a mind. You may hear the odd person saying that “God can be proved”. However, from the scientific point of view, God can never be experimented on, and therefore cannot be proved to anyone’s scientific satisfaction.

      • Peter Grafström says:

        Earlier in this thread I have pointed out that a sequence of chemical reactions in different environments could increase the probability and get passed the obstacles which you in my view correctly assume. In complex star environments several widely differing chemical and thermodynamical circumstances might exist and circulation of chemical buildingblocks would be possible between these different environments. A complex entity might then have emerged via several steps each one with a reasonable probability and then being randomly transported between the different environments. In a binary or ternary star environment with accompanying inhomogenous molecular flows the trajectories would be extremely varied. The probability for a complex molecule like DNA to emerge would still be very small but with the number of such systems and billions of years of time available it isnt obvious that it would be impossible.

        • Laszlo Meszaros says:

          Yes, Peter. Finally some science-thinking starts emerging.

        • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

          Peter, re. “The probability for a complex molecule like DNA to emerge would still be very small but with the number of such systems and billions of years of time available it isn’t obvious that it would be impossible.” -Well, that is what is in dispute, and requires science and mathematics to validate it. What you have written is a verbal hypothesis, with some claims, which are assumptions. However, you mention at least one assumption which does not apply to our case (if I understand you correctly): Namely the potential for there having been a number of such systems: “the number of such systems and billions of years of time available”. What number is that? Does this refer to a potential parallel set of environments across the cosmos, all with proposed potential for generation of complex bio-molecules, or is this about the environment of the Earth? In both cases, this is assumption which can only be estimated but one, certainly, (extra terrestrial environments) cannot be applied to Earth: It is the supposed product of Earth that we have to estimate for their probability of spontaneous generation, and what may happen elsewhere cannot affect events on Earth which have their own probability of occurrence. I hope this is clear.
          There is no science in this yet. Can you develop a genuine basis for a scientific answer perhaps? Please could you provide a sample feasibility study, by way of calculations perhaps from scientific experiments that have demonstrated the synthetic pathways required can at least be replicated in vitro, from inorganic and organic sub-units for synthesis of whatever bio-molecular type you wish, whether that be DNA/RNA, or a protein of, say 100 amino acids. List the reagents required, and their purity, with an advisory molarity. List (at least) the apparatus, and what management of the experiment may or may not be required, the degree of isolation and fractionation that must be carried out on any products as the synthesis continues. List the catalysts that are required, and the energy inputs / outputs. An human organic chemist is familiar with all these requirements.

          Before you do this, could you please assure us that you are familiar with the term ‘racemic mixture’ and how that might apply to experiments of this type?

          • Peter Grafström says:

            In that comment I was referring to binary or more complex starsystems. In a previous comment I also considered briefly thermodynamically complex systems on the seabottom, but that seems to be to be a less likely type of environment. Those star systems have the potential(ie there is a good chance such systems are chaotic) for producing a wide variety of trajectories tying together widely varying thermodynamical environments. I would venture to guess that one such system already would produce a small number of negentropy steps needed to go from simple to more complex systems. But not all the way to DNA. Perhaps ten steps would be needed and say 2 or 3 would be likely to happen for a modest number of molecules for one star system over millions of years. Those 2 or 3 neednt be at the same region of the sequence for the ten needed steps(according to the hypothesis) If they happened to be at two adjacent substeps of the sequence and (which would have a very small probality) they would meet along the trajectories, a bigger subset on the march to DNA would emerge. Maybe I have underestimated the production of partial reactions after millions of years. Maybe there would be much more of that. But my present argument is hopefully clarified a little bit compared to the previous comment. Thecargument needs better quantitative content but this ought to be easier to do now that the basic idea has been sketched. And there is at this stage no reason to be pessimistic which would be the case if the target environment would be a single type of environment and therefore thermodynamically simple. In the latter case I agree with you that the probability would seem hopelessly small. I am willing to add more precise quantitative estimates if you wish to continue but this isnt something I would otherwise be doing.

            I have also in a previous comment brought up the unused aspects of the electromagnetic invariance group which entails spacetime inversions. Nobody knows for sure what to make of it but it brings in infinite time spans related to finite times. It at least to me indicates that atoms may be beyond our time concept, they may be spanning infinite time. Since we as humans, consisting ourselves of atoms, can never enter the atomic world it is hard to test without much more theoretical work. But I mention it because it shows how physics isnt complete, even though electromagnetic quantum field theory is extremely accurate. Way beyond what could be dispelled as random. Physicists really have found out about some deep truths here. And the future will, I believe, bring out much more. In a former comment I also mentioned the potential for these developments to lead to insights about backaction from the future. And I meant that it might have something to do with a conscious universe thus sort of reconciliating physics and religion. But I dont think religious texts are of much help. It would be deep and look like mysticism just like religion but it wouldnt necessarily be less scientific only harder to understand and develop.
            You bring up racemic mixtures. There are other cases of asymmetries in physics you know. It isnt decisive for or against evolution.

            • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

              Peter, Thank you for the most interesting response.
              I still cannot agree that DNA/RNA and proteins could ever form naturally, as they all contain specific design data, from what source “no-one knows” or, worse, the intelligent source is denied and we are told “DNA is not a code” ! – DNA information denial is in fashion.

              I shall try to read about some of the ideas you have presented.
              Best wishes, S.

              • Laszlo Meszaros says:

                Dear Seumas, again you misunderstand something: DNA is indeed information (code), but please consider the following:
                1. to inform means to teach,
                2. you can only teach, if you have someone to be taught.
                Thus DNA emerges as a code, once you have a system, in which it can teach. (So, we are back to the basic question: how did life emerge?)

                • Seumas MacLaren says:

                  Laszlo, I feel it might well be you who neither understand DNA nor want to concede that it’s coded structure could not have emerged from chance events. Please consider, by the same token:
                  1. “To inform means ‘to teach’ “, yes, but this is irrelevant: The presence of information does not imply that something was taught, unless you are insisting that the replicator system for cellular and the species data evolved from something other than the replication product. Where is your evidence?
                  2, “DNA emerges as a code, once you have a system, in which it can teach. ” -In which a molecule, having no information to learn from, suddenly becomes a ‘trainer’? Sorry, this is all conjecture. Where is your evidence? I call for evidence.

                  • Laszlo, I concur.

                    I observe that when you make comments here, you rarely make any statements that can be held to rigorous standards of fact. If you could answer his question squarely we would all appreciate that.

              • Peter Grafström says:

                As you could see I am approaching the problem both from the established science angle while also pointing to hitherto not thouroughly researched frontier science and I am not familiar with any recent sources. But since it depends on nothing without foundation it is likely to have relevance.

                But as for the first aspect there is nothing to prevent the formation of complex molecules other than the unknown probabilities. But how do they then get down safely from orbit to a planetary athmosphere? I suspect that there would be great damage done to such a big molecule on the way down since it would necessarily move very fast say at least 8km/s so it would seem that a large number of incoming candidates would be split into smaller fragments.
                But nothing prevents the original entity to be much bigger than a DNA molecule part of which would be wasted while protecting the rest of it during the descent.
                Fast backward to the binary or ternary star system where it was assumed created in the lowpressure molecular swirls chaotically crisscrossing among the attracting bodies.
                Its hard to believe that a living cell could emerge there. I mean including something acting like mitochondria and ribosomes of some privitive sort.
                A cell is an advanced micro/nanorobot. Normally in a dissipative condition and environment. Not in a high vacuum.
                So it appears more likely that some big clump of complex molecules might eventually be formed and be carried by small micrometeors which after penetrating a bit into the earths outer thin athmosphere would shake off the clump so it wouldnt be burnt by heat from the meteor.
                Whatever survives down to earth would then probably have the best chance when added to the primeval soup. The said clump wasnt subjected to any selection so it wouldnt be likely to contain much useful code at the outset. But in this last environment there would be primitive selective processes running.

                Just mentioned this as yet another piece of the puzzle to figure out.
                So first high vacuum then risky descent then dive into a pond => give it a billion years and out comes life as we know it. That is what will be proven if the model evolves far enough. Piece of cake 🙂 Seriously I assume there must plenty of published articles about it already? Computerscience have simulated evolution a great deal for many decades but I am not familiar with what the status is today.

                • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

                  Hi Pete. You really should (and I do mean this) get into your science fiction novel. I think you might get a best seller. “Magnificent optimist” I would imagine is the understatement of the year.
                  Best wishes, S.

                  • Peter Grafström says:

                    Scientific sketches within the bounds of established science is not fiction, but the probabilities matter so one has to work out a large number details before it is getting interesting. The purpose was mainly to illustrate how entirely different environments encountered in sequence, change the probabilities compared with seeking to have the full sequence take place in a single environment. The impossibility arguments from some of you tacitly assume a single environment where I would agree about the impossibility. My sketches here were conjured up while making a touchdown on this blog and I normally never try when not here. I estimate the needed time to make significant progress as a matter of decades and I have no intention of doing that. But I might point out some conclusions I have come to in the process regarding what ought to be astrophysically measureable out there if star systems produce a small fraction in the form of the complex molecules needed. Since I havent checked the literature there may well exist such researches. Astrophysical research will be likely to span over an increasing spectral and intensity range for many years to come so theoretical input will be welcome.
                    No matter whether you believe in God or not you cannot escape the requirements of logic. God cannot act counter to logic, we never see other than lawbound physical occurrences. An almighty God who can act counter to logic could produce selfcontradictory outcomes and we never experience that other than figuratively speaking.
                    Science tries to enlarge the understanding of natures logic, it is far from fully understood. And it might turn out that you may see God in the selfreferential character of the universe. Selfreference is feedback and much harder to analyze than the corresponding open loop configuration of the system. Since we may be observing the feedback system we dont know what the open loop would be like. Perhaps this is highly relevant for understanding how dead matter and life are related.

  5. Laszlo Meszaros says:

    Dear Perry, show it where? Here? How? (My paper – which I am working on right now – is about 5 page long. However, if you look into combinatorics, you will find something similar to my points.) If you give me mail address, I would be happy to send the paper to you.

    • Seumas Maclaren (UK) says:

      Demonstrate the objective science in what you pretend to, dear Lazslo and Pete, and you will win a significant life-changing wad of dosh. (You might even buy us all a beer after the scientific meeting which you will be invited to at the London Royal Institution).
      Note that your paper though entertaining, will be a mixture of equations and conjectural hypotheses (a.ka. foundational assumption). I look forward to it with great amusement, and predict that like many before it, it will wow a few, and quickly be buried under the shifting sands of evolutionism.

      • Laszlo Meszaros says:

        Non-objective science is meaningless. I think we can agree on this, right?

      • Peter Grafström says:

        I agree that the theory would be full of unknown parameters which one would have to spend many years to determine. I have no such ambition.
        However this elephant doesnt have to be swallowed whole. In small chews it is intriguing to digest it.
        There are huge cold molecular clouds in outer space where organic molecules are being produced. Unlike in an earthbound uhv system there are no disturbing walls and the total mass is huge so events which wouldnt happen in a hundred years in the lab might still be abundant in such clouds.
        But lets leave the safety of established physics and speculate a little more. I will try to make some previous comments more intelligible. I spoke about feedback. Where did that come from. Well in my present thinking the stable particles proton and electron are related to the future and the past. (This was already suggested by Herman Weyl long ago (or perhaps interchanging their roles) From one perspective the electron is more pointlike in space while the proton is extended.
        Since the past ought to be more wellknown than the future the proton would then appear to be related to the future. On the other hand something pointlike could be interpreted to mean that it is in more perfect tune with the observer. Like a lock-in phenomenon. In that interpretation the electrons would be the synchronization points of the universe with respect to the observers.
        But nomatter the precise interpretation of their roles, I am confident that they together represents an extended time concept relative to lab-time. And while we’re at it the neutron would then appear to represent a mix of those two past + future or synch + future.
        Perhaps the finite neutron lifetime of about 1000 seconds is the extended duration of the concept of the present.

        Since the invariance group of electromagnetism offers unfamiliar time relations there seems to be a good reason to interpret the stable particles as the result of that. In particular what comes out is that constant acceleration of spherical reference systems is a more basic type of motion than that of constant speed. This because the distance in minkowski space is directly (actually inversely) related to constant spherical acceleration. Both contraction and expansion. The simplest application would be to interpret the stable particles as space-time horizons. Not as material objects. The consequence of constantly accelerated expansion/contraction is to compress the time so it appears as if time is frozen in. The relation is roughly logaritmic. And space also appears dramatically changed. If this is what atoms are, collections of space-time horizons far away from our present time yet appearing like tiny physical objects then the universe as we know it is like some kind of wavegroup with which the observers space-time is synchronized. We are comoving with something we cannot form an external view of. I expect that if we were to leave this synchronization there would no longer be any atoms, nothing material. That would be like nirvana.
        If you find this incomprehensible I dont blame you. It was an effort to bring more meat to people with the curiosity of a physicist and not all feel at home there.

  6. Kerry Colling says:

    Hi Perry. I saw your book – Evolution 2.0 – at Barnes and Noble about a year ago. This past Sunday a friend of mine who also happens to be an amazing Bible scholar told me about this book that he could not put down. One click ordering…done! I surveyed several of the discussions on this blog and it is truly sad to see that some people (mostly atheists) continue to display full on ignorance of the Christian religion, History, and Science. Sad.

    • Kerry, enjoy the book! I’ll be grateful if you leave a review when you’re done, as every single one helps the project out. Glad you discovered it. Paperback is just out now and hopefully still on the shelves at B&N as well.

  7. Peter Knapp says:

    “Dawkins has ruined atheism.” Guess I’ll take up knitting then. Sigh, back to being forced to believe in some present and local iteration of a supreme being.

  8. Michael says:

    Funny, but I don’t see your article as reasoned argument, but just a rant.
    – you claim you skewered him for saying life was a happy, chemical accident, but you provide no evidence for your skewering, nor why that statement is fallacious even in its simplicity
    – Dawkins hasn’t held that post since 2008
    – I’ve yet to see Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, etc. get into a shouting match, although I’ve seen plenty of religious apologists do so. Perhaps you could post a link or two? Certainly there are atheists who can’t debate well, but I think you’ll find more theists who don’t understand logical fallacies.
    – what “anti-intellectual, anti-scientific dogmas that have no explanatory power, no service to humanity” are referring to? Certainly not evolution or abiogenesis. Atheism? Why is the idea of life being an accident so disturbing to you?

  9. Peter Grafström says:

    The wonder of the world is such that there is nothing irrational about the hypothesis of intelligent design. It certainly does look that way. The machinery of the living cell and its rugged survivability does look like a marvelous feat of engineering. Way beyond anything current humanmade technology is capable of. In particular regarding its capacity for selfrepair and maintenance. Human technology breaks and is sometimes very hard to repair due to its complexity and its economy compared to just buying new items.
    However the idea of evolution also may be viewed as a very effective road to perfection. Cruel but effective no doubt.
    One problem is: we dont know if it is compatible with the laws of current science. Maybe or maybe not. It is very hard to deduce from first scientific principles how the assumed spectrum of mutations together with natural selection would result in what we see happen. One might suspect that at some point things just diverge seriously from the overall progressive character of the past billion years. Also, it is hard to prove from first scientific principles that a DNA molecule is stable. Since we know it is remarkably stable it is a fact but is it in agreement with the established laws of physics?
    For individual atoms I think it can be said that theory does agree well enough with known facts so the mostly reductionistic way of considering the world works for individual atoms. Further many aspects of stability of molecules are known to be covered by that scientific model.
    Therefore it isnt impossible that it would hold also for DNA.
    Since the theory is seen as very reliable few scientists probably doubt that there is any problem with the stability. I just raise this issue because the spiral character makes it much harder to calculate so there is some room for doubt.
    And again my reason for bringing it up comes together with the uncertainty connected with the convergence issue- which may be stated: does a reductionistic world view with everything basically being deducible from first scientific principles of the current edition succeed, or might there be subtle corrections not belonging to the reductionist model. For example are there subtle manipulations going on which secure that the actual mutations are less random than expected? Feedback mechanisms of unknown nature.
    I was just mentioning this as a background to what I aim to discuss. In previous comments I sketched how the so called invariance group of electromagnetism has not been fully exploited to interpret physics phenomena. That part which concerns spacetime inversions has a bearing on the nature of time and space leading to roughly logarithmic internal time and space when compared with our labtime. It depends on the assumption of subluminal velocity.
    That opens the opportunity to reinterpret the microscopic world in terms of a drastically different geometry: with a highly compressed scale. With time frosen in so to speak.
    Astrophysical distances, the whole known universe might be condensed down into something minute.
    Leibniz monads had apart from moral properties also the aspect of reflecting the whole of the world.
    Since microscopic particles like electrons, appear to have static properties, that unchangeable character is an unsolved problem in physics. My approach has been to see it as the outcome of phaselocking. It looks stable because in the simplest variant there would be two independent waves phaselocked by some nonlinear mechanism. Thus wave particle duality would be resolved by attributing the static character to the properties of waves. A concept related to the phase of waves. And the proton would represent another part of that unknown phase function. Perhaps shifted by 90 degrees. If so antiparticles for electron and proton could be expected to lie phaseshifted by 180 degrees.
    Since all elementary particles may be combined to have end products of only stable particles plus antiparticles plus energy there is hope that this phase idea covers everything.
    I have previously drawn attention to Herman Weyl who suggested an idea fully compatible with what I just outlined. Namely that electron and proton being related to time. To the past and future. Perhaps seing the proton as the future and electron as the recent past or as in my thinking the lockpoint.
    The electron size has been given an upper limit of 10-30m
    That makes it a good candidate for a point. While the proton charge distribution has a radius of less than 10^-15m but bugger than 10^-16m
    It is of some interest to mention that the size of the current estimate of the radius of the universe is about 2^137 times bigger than that charge radius.
    Coincidence or not of the emergence of the number 137 but after having pointed out the logarithmic space time in the very small, perhaps that character will be found in the large as well even though it doesnt necessarily present itself clearly to us.
    The idea that we together with the stable particles are in a phaselocked condition and that the remaining part of that phase function might present itself to us in a highly nonlinear manner isnt foreign to me. But the further away from the lockpoint one gets the true connections might become apparent. Thus at the largest scale our own world would really look like something logarithmically compressed.
    Now if the type of geometry that results by using the full invariancegroup of electromagnetism is considered for the superluminal case, ie when the gauge is chosen so the type of motion becomes superluminal, we may deduce with the same formulas which predicted logarithmic space time in the subluminal case, the spacetime instead becomes periodic and the gauge may interpreted as the period. Actually the gauge would be imaginary but nothing prevents that in the invariance group of electromagnetism.
    For other choices of gauge one would get exponentially decaying or rising geometries ie more related to the subluminal case.
    But this crossover from subluminal to superluminal may hint at a reinterpretation of the apparent singularity at the speed of light: that it is the kind of singularity you encounter when you try to measure something distant employing a baseline which increasingly lies at a perpendicular angle. 90 degrees. Pi/2.
    For example you might get a functional dependence like 1/cos(x) and as x goes to pi/2 there is a singularity but isnt really significant.
    We should expect that the phaselocking prevents us from reaching the whole phaseregion and that singularities related to our fixed phase would appear.
    I went through all this because my intuition brings me to speculate that DNA is one of the way in which the phase function appears to us. Maybe from the superluminal side.
    So beyond the speed of light something periodic and complexvalued emerges. Spacetime instead of logarithmic becomes something that can be interpreted as a screw.
    That is why I was led to speculate that it might show up as DNA. And despite all the previous detail I therefore think the discussion does belong here in the discussion of intelligent design vs blind evolution. Highly speculative but I have grown confident that the universe is an intelligence and that it has provided us with all necessary clues to come closer to its true nature. Why? Because at this stage we are moving towards an era of AI. And if the universe already is something of that character there might be some unforeseen problems awaiting us. We may need to have a better understanding of this worlds deeper constitution in order to be successful as we develop technology for the purpose. Maybe it is already there for us to connect to if we understand it better.
    This blogg challenges those defending blind reductionistic evolution for proof. It has given rise to interesting paths to follow for me and I am greatful to have found myself in this unexpected setting. Maybe God is the intelligence I was hinting at or maybe there is an infinite succession of civilisations creating simulations with inhabitants having barely grasped the deeper aspects of their apparent world.
    Or maybe we will discover that in some way it is all selfreferential…

  10. All reality is a digital replication. Science proves our cyber-existence beyond any question. It is an absolute truth. I just blew your mind.

    • Peter Grafström says:

      That theme has been brought up here before and moreover what you say confirms the idea of intelligent design albeit without a more detailed explanation the design team is unknown.

  11. Jack Welch says:

    I was recently asked by one of my friends on FaceBook to explain why I believe there is a “God”. The following was my reply:

    Mankind has ALWAYS believed in a deity or deities as far back as recorded history has been traced, including cave drawings. Does that mean God exists… hell no! It CAN’T be proven that God exists! By the same token, it can’t be proven that God DOES NOT EXIST… damned if you do and damned if you don’t! So then, how does one form an opinion? I don’t know about everyone else (faith comes to mind) but to me personally, I formed MY opinion on logic. I, like you, am a man of science and engineering. As I mentioned in March, Darwin is full of shit! Do scientists actually believe that an amoeba (where the hell did it come from) becoming everything in the ocean, including fish that grew both legs and lungs, began walking on land and magically progressing into every air breathing, ambulatory creature there is from dinosaurs to apes… although many grew wings and became all the flying creatures? Nothing insane about that! Oh yes… then there’s the “missing link” that just HAPPENED to go from an ape to a human and HAD to do it in pairs (Darwin never mentioned that) as BOTH MALE AND FEMALE at EXACTLY the same time frame in order to procreate? Why the hell would ANYONE consider THAT to be science? The ONLY thing he got right was “Survival of the Fittest”! So, what’s left? Well, there are those like Zecharia Sitchen that claim a race of extraterrestrials from the “Twelfth Planet” Nibiru, known as the Anunnaki, came to Earth to mine gold and needed slaves, so through molecular biology created mankind… if true, who created them? Here’s the explaination MY faith:
    Question, how do you explain to a man who was born blind, what the color blue looks like? Sure, you can tell them it’s the color of the sky… meaningless to a blind man. You can tell him that blue is the frequency between 631–668 THz, or a wavelength between 450–475 nm, which again, means nothing. The ONLY way to understand the color blue, is to EXPERIENCE it. You can’t feel it, you can’t smell it, you can’t hear it, you can’t taste it, you can only SEE IT… sight is a degree of belief that maps TO the degree of the evidence; FAITH. Experience, as well as Faith, come in different “colors” as well. I have personally EXPERIENCED phenomena that absolutely cannot be explained scientifically… one experience saved the lives of my family and myself. It was THAT experience that made me believe in a power beyond “normal” physics… speaking of which, have you ever studied quantum physics? It would appear as though science is beginning to meet God! “Reality” is much, much stranger than what we have been taught… yet it’s the “Rock” upon which we stand.

    • Jack,

      12-15 years ago I would have agreed completely with you.

      I still agree with your overall sentiment and I agree that a series of random accidents coupled with natural selection, allegedly being capable of producing all the diversity of earth, is absurd in the extreme.

      When I began studying evolution, though, I found real-time real-world experiments producing new species, new features and new capabilities in REAL TIME. All of this factual and verified. Nature is far more capable than most Christians give it credit for – which is further testament to a divinely ordered universe. And of course the typical Richard Dawkins explanation of evolution is scientifically bankrupt.

      This led me to conclude that “Darwinists underestimate nature, creationists underestimate God.” The fine details of all this are in my book Evolution 2.0 which I think you will find an enjoyable read.

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