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Impossibility Theory, An Advance Over Mere Indeterminacy: By Werner Fredsenberg
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Previously I have proved that life cannot have evolved. Today I will prove that life cannot exist.

Let us begin with Samuel Johnson’s response when asked whether we have free will. He replied that all theory holds that we do not, all experience that we do. A similar paradox occurs in the realm of Impossibility Theory. Many things occur in biology that all science says are possible, while all common sense says that they are not.

Consider the development of a barely-existent zygote into seven pounds of puzzled and alarmed baby. (“Where the hell is this?”) Anyone familiar with Murphy’s Law knows that it isn’t possible. Half an hour with a textbook of embryology will confirm this judgement. It is a case of phenomenal complexity following phenomenal complexity building on phenomenal complexity with, almost always, no errors of consequence.

The resulting little science project enters wherever we are with a squall, the ductus arteriosus closes, the nursing instinct kicks in, and the interloper eventually grows into, God help us, a teenager (arguably the only flaw in the process).

Those with better sense than to read physiology may not grasp the wild improbability that this will work. Start with the cell. The likelihood that it will function is that of winning seven Irish Sweepstakes in a row. The chemical machinery, the mechanics—endoplasmic reticula, ribosomes, various flavors of RNA, and all dozens of such things functioning sufficiently flawlessly to continue in existence, rococo chemicals going about their business without gumming each other up.

Imposs--ligaments

Suspensory ligaments, connecting the lens of the eye to the ciliary body. Do you really believe these delicate ropes can form perfectly all by themselves ? If so, I figure somebody must have put something in your drugs.

Common sense says that it can’t work. The sciences say that it can, and the fact that it does lends a certain weight to their argument. Each step in this impossible process can be shown to follow the laws of chemistry and physics. It all works. There is no need for spirits or poltergeists to explain it. Except that it obviously can’t happen.

Sez me, Something Else has to be involved. You tell me what, and we will split the Nobel money.

Here we run into one of those paradoxes that no one looks at because it would have dire consequences for how we think about things. Everything that happens in our heads as we think, or think we think, can similarly be shown ineluctably to follow the laws of chemistry and physics, meaning that we have to think what we think we think because it is predetermined. Back to Dr. Johnson.

A useful trait of the human mind, one that keeps us from going mad, is that is that if we see something enough times we begin to believe that it makes sense. This is not just the basis of quantum physics but of most of life. Women have babies all the time. It almost always works fine. Therefore it must make sense.

Again, physiology. Consider how the bones of our little bundle of joy turn into those of a middle linebacker in college. For a very small, short hollow bone to grow into a large, long hollow bone, unlikely things have to happen. Osteoclasts inside the cavity have to eat away the bone to make a larger cavity. Osateoblasts outside have to lay down more bone. They do this in precise coordination, which is impossible because they are on opposite sides of the cavity. Look at the skeleton of an adult. The bones are smooth, and flawlessly formed. The bone also has to grow in length. The mechanism of the articulation also has to grow, and do it exactly right. All of this works perfectly, which is impossible.

Think about the ear: Tympanum-malleus-incus-stapes-cochlea. Incoming sounds vibrates the eardrum which jiggles one little bone that jiggles another that jiggles a third that jiggles the cochlea which figures out what is going on sonically. This works for vaguely 20 Hz to 20 kHz in young females. Dogs and cats have greater ranges. In people it functions with little impairment for seventy years.

While this does not seem at all likely, it does fit nicely into the dominant paradigm of crossword puzzle and tinker toy. This holds that the universe is like a gigantic crossword. Some parts we have filled in. Others we have-not figured out yet, but we know that it is only a matter of time until we have it all. Nothing is inherently unknowable. We can fill in the whole puzzle.

The other half of this understanding is that everything can be explained mechanistically. If we can show that something occurs through a series of reactions, we have explained it entirely. This is beguiling, and redolent of nineteenth-century simplism. But…is it even plausible?

The following simplified description of the biochemical functioning of the retina is from Darwin’s Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution by Michael Behe. The book, which I recommend, is accessible to the intelligent laymen, for whom it is written. The author includes the following technoglop on the biochemistry of the retina to give a flavor of the complexity of things. The sensible reader will skip most of it.

When light first strikes the retina a photon interacts with a molecule called 11-cis-retinal, which rearranges within picoseconds to trans-retinal. (A picosecond is about the time it takes light to travel the breadth of a single human hair.) The change in the shape of the retinal molecule forces a change in the shape of the protein, rhodopsin, to which the retinal is tightly bound. The protein’s metamorphosis alters its behavior. Now called metarhodopsin II, the protein sticks to another protein, called transducin. Before bumping into metarhodopsin II, transducin had tightly bound a small molecule called GDP. But when transducin interacts with metarhodopsin II, the GDP falls off, and a molecule called GTP binds to transducin. (GTP is closely related to, but critically different from, GDP.)

GTP-transducin-metarhodopsin II now binds to a protein called phosphodiesterase, located in the inner membrane of the cell. When attached to metarhodopsin II and its entourage, the phosphodiesterase acquires the chemical ability to “cut” a molecule called cGMP (a chemical relative of both GDP and GTP). Initially there are a lot of cGMP molecules in the cell, but the phosphodiesterase lowers its concentration, just as a pulled plug lowers the water level in a bathtub. Another membrane protein that binds cGMP is called an ion channel. It acts as a gateway that regulates the number of sodium ions in the cell. Normally the ion channel allows sodium ions to flow into the cell, while a separate protein actively pumps them out again. The dual action of the ion channel and pump keeps the level of sodium ions in the cell within a narrow range. When the amount of cGMP is reduced because of cleavage by the phosphodiesterase, the ion channel closes, causing the cellular concentration of positively charged sodium ions to be reduced. This causes an imbalance of charge across the cell membrane that, finally, causes a current to be transmitted down the optic nerve to the brain. The result, when interpreted by the brain, is vision. If the reactions mentioned above were the only ones that operated in the cell, the supply of 11-cis-retinal, cGMP, and sodium ions would quickly be depleted. Something has to turn off the proteins that were turned on and restore the cell to its original state. Several mechanisms do this. First, in the dark the ion channel (in addition to sodium ions) also lets calcium ions into the cell. The calcium is pumped back out by a different protein so that a constant calcium concentration is maintained. When cGMP levels fall, shutting down the ion channel, calcium ion concentration decreases, too. The posphodiesterase enzyme, which destroys cGMP, slows down at lower calcium concentration. Second, a protein called guanylate cyclase begins to resynthesize cGMP when calcium levels start to fall. Third, while all of this is going on, metarhodopsin II is chemically modified by an enzyme called rhodopsin kinase. The modified rhodopsin then binds to a protein known as arrestin, which prevents the rhodopsin from activating more transducin. So the cell contains mechanisms to limit the amplified signal started by a single photon. Trans-retinal eventually falls off of rhodopsin and must be reconverted to 11-cis-retinal and again bound by rhodopsin to get back to the starting point for another visual cycle. To accomplish this, trans-retinal is first chemically modified by an enzyme to trans-retinol— a form containing two more hydrogen atoms. A second enzyme then converts the molecule to 11-cis-retinol. Finally, a third enzyme removes the previously added hydrogen atoms to form 11-cis-retinal, a cycle is complete.

The biochemistry is way over my head, but the complexity is clear. The idea that this came about by accident requires powers of belief beyond mine, and the idea that it functions flawlessly for seventy years is more so. Ask a biochemist whether he can construct this system in the laboratory. Ask him whether he can construct any system of similar complexity that will work, maintaining itself, for seventy years.

From all of which I conclude that we are more puzzled than we believe we are. These thoughts will not be well-received by those more inclined to protect the paradigm than to examine it. Oh well.

(Republished from Fred on Everything by permission of author or representative)
 
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• Category: Science • Tags: Darwinism, Evolution 
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  1. In the final analysis, every intelligent person must come to believe that there is an Intelligence at work in the Universe which is far more advanced than they are.

    No need to personalize this Intelligence by calling it “God” or any other label. It just is.

    The Buddhists probably came the closest when they labeled the first impulse that set all this in motion “Desire” because, as a good hit of acid will inform you, life yearns to come into existence and express itself in the most outrageous, improbable ways imaginable. A flower is an inexpressibly voluptuous, extravagant display of élan that no mechanistic explanation can account for.

    Life is Ardent.

  2. AnalogMan says:

    Is Fred recycling his articles, or is he just repeating himself? I’m sure I’ve read this before.

  3. @Threecranes

    Sorry but I don’t agree. I feel if you are intelligent + have a brutal scientific integrity the only rational conclusion is we evolved.

    I recommend you watch the “Life on Earth” series by David Attenborough. If you watch the entire thing it is quite obvious all the clues are readily apparent life emerged from the simplest of forms.

    Here is a link to the series:
    http://www.amarketplaceofideas.com/video-life-on-earth-david-attenborough.htm

  4. Dwright says:

    Yes, Fred has written on evolution and the mysteries of life before.
    So what?

    Garbage? Only an automaton spit out of contemporary education factories would utter that.

    • Agree: Vendetta
    • Replies: @Honorary Thief
    , @AnalogMan
  5. I don’t know about anyone else, but one whiff of myself before I take a shower prompts my brain to say to itself: “I stink, therefore I am.”

    Homo proponit, sed Deus disponit. – Thomas À Kempis

  6. It is baffling that so many people speak as if Darwinism were true when it can be handily refuted by first principles. You don’t even need to provide a long foray into biochemical complexity as Fred has done. Aristotle demonstrated the falsity of Darwinism about 2300 years avant la lettre.

    Somebody needs to forward this information to Sailer and the HBD crowd. They are constantly banging away about “evolution this” and “evolution that.” What happens to all their patiently constructed theories when you realize that evolution simply doesn’t exist?

    • Replies: @boogerbently
  7. @Freemon Sandlewould

    False dilemma.

    To be sure we evolved, but what was/is the impetus?

    Towards what are we evolving?

    Why?

    • Replies: @Rob McX
  8. jamie b. says:

    The Central Dogma of molecular biology is pretty gosh-darned well supported by the evidence, regardless of Fred’s incredulity. But okay, fine… supposing the central dogma of biology isn’t sufficient to explain the development of an organism. We must therefore conclude that supernatural forces intervene to push macromolecules around? Is that the claim being made here?

    • Replies: @Aschwin
    , @Stan D Mute
  9. Rob McX says:
    @Threecranes

    The Theory of Evolution posits no impetus – natural selection isn’t pushing towards a goal. Those organisms which leave more offspring (i.e. those better adapted to their environment in terms of finding food, avoiding predators, etc.) become more numerous in the long term. The attributes that make them better at propagating their genes may be the result of random mutation, or it may be a change in the environment rather than in the organism itself that causes it. Talking about evolving towards a predetermined goal presumes a purpose where in fact there’s nothing but blind chance.

  10. Uncertain says:

    If you consider a game of chess, does a chess game and its players follow the laws of physics and chemistry?

    Of course. Do the laws of physics and chemistry determine the outcome of a chess match?

    Of course not. If they did, what would the rules of chess do if everything was already determined by natural law.

    Does a game of chess manifest purpose and intention?

    Of course, a good chess player doesn’t just make moves randomly, and they adapt play in response to their opponents.

    One can understand a chess game best if you know the rules of chess, and you have some experience actually playing it. This explains what happens in a chess match much better than knowledge of physics or chemistry.

    I have no doubt that there are higher orders of organization beyond the laws of chemistry and physics, which will one day provide a much better and coherent explanation for the way life unfolds. These will no more refute physics or chemistry than the existence of chess refutes physics or chemistry.

    • Replies: @pvuk
  11. Leftist conservative [AKA "GOD ✓ᵛᵉʳᶦᶠᶦᵉᵈ"] says:

    Amen.

  12. @Threecranes

    Nah. It happens because it happens. No big deal; that is the nature of existence, and of life.

  13. I am not baffled; I am pleased to note that existence proceeds.

  14. If the description of how retinal cells operate was the only possible way to construct a biological light detector it would indeed be miraculous that the one and only way was found by evolution. But in fact there are no doubt trillions of ways to do it, each no more bizarre than the process actually used. The method used is the sort of hackish pile of tricks that you’d expect from several hundred million years of evolution. It would be useful to know how the eye spots in euglenas work. I bet you’d find a much simpler system but with some chemical similarities to the human retinal cells. Starfish have simple eyespots. Starfish, being deuterostomes like us, are a bit more closely related to us than euglenas are. So how do their eyespots work? I’d expect to see a simpler system than what humans have, but probably a bit closer to what we have than what euglenas have. If you want to know how something might have evolved you have to look at the simplest systems first, rather than just gawk at a baby and be flabbergasted by the whole thing.

  15. Aschwin says:
    @jamie b.

    I highly doubt Fred is arguing for a micro-managing God or life-force ordering around enzymes and neurotransmitters like a shiftmanager in Stalin-era steel mill. He is wondering about the likelihood of the process of a range of enzymes working in unison in complex procedures being the result of basically random mutations. And it is indeed a thought-provoking article, how unfathomable is “sight” given that this excerpt only explains part of the process!

    Some of the cranky commentaries provide an interesting insight into the desecularisation of the West. This article shines light upon a little-aknowledged fact that the majority of Westerners cannot possibly understand evolution beyond basic concepts, yet it has been a popular battering-ram against the remnants of Western Christianity for decades, where twenty and thirty year olds are inspired to point their fingers at Christians and mock them for their rejection of evolution, something they can’t possibly understand. I would say anyone with an IQ below 140 and without a degree in biology (or some serious self-study)is probably more intellectually consistent if he ends his explanation of life as “could be God’s work”.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  16. Rob Payne says:

    Science has become a religion because on one hand it replaces religion, and on the other, unless you are a scientist, you have to take what science tells us on FAITH. It’s said that only one or two people are capable of understanding Stephen Hawking’s math so, again, if we poop in our pants every time Hawking makes one of his declarations on black holes or whatever we are putting our faith into something beyond our understanding. On the other hand there’s plenty of solid evidence that evolution is real, it’s in the geological record, it’s also in the DNA which all life on earth shares. But the fact is that evolution is poorly understood, we don’t really know how it works if it actually does work which I believe it probably does, it seems hard to deny in the face of the overwhelming evidence that it does happen. Science is also part of the culture wars like that between the bible thumper redneck and city dwelling so-called liberals. Of course that’s a gross generalization. Science is also part of the neoliberal makeup, the phony baloney alleged humanitarianism as an excuse to invade weaker nations for plunder and profit. Supposedly science is proof of western culture’s superiority over the brown people we murder on a wholesale basis. It’s stupid to believe that science is all good just as it’s stupid to believe that Christianity is all good. Physicists going for the big bucks work for weapons manufacturers, I mean just who do you think comes up with all the ideas for advanced weaponry, the janitors? Science is a very narrow view of reality just as religious beliefs are. They are both flawed. And to believe that there are only two choices, religion or science, is also a flawed view. Why should there be only these two choices? In the end good and evil are human inventions having little to do with a universe that seems to be both predatory and aloof in nature. Both religion and science gives us a disproportionate sense of our own importance in a universe that could care less about humanity and its dubious future. We are truly ridiculous.

    • Replies: @Anon7
    , @Parabarbarian
  17. Lupa says:

    What a load of junk.

    Not “believing” in the theory of evolution today is the equivalent of geocentrism back in the day. To me it boils down to fundamental philosophy: you either place humans and human thought secondary to nature, or nature as secondary to humans. I belong to the former category, I don’t think the world stops existing every time I fall asleep. But yes, that’s technically an assumption too.

    However, since cell theory and the theory of evolution forms the foundation of all modern biology – it’s amazing how someone like Fred can even enter a hospital and ask for health care. It’s like disbelieving classical mechanics while sitting in a house built using them.

    • Replies: @utu
    , @Reg Cæsar
  18. JustJeff says:

    This is also how the technologically illiterate feel about computers.

  19. Yeah, it was this sudden realization of design in nature (anthropic principle) that started Francis Collins’ move from atheism to Christianity, with a few stops along the way. On this anthropoid principle, here are the words of a few Nobel Prize winners in science (as quoted in the book “Cosmos, Bios, Theos,” edited by Henry Margenau and Abraham Varghese):

    • Charles H. Townes, winner of the Nobel Prize in physics in 1964, said, “I believe in the concept of God and in His existence.”

    • Christian B. Anfinsen, 1972 winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry, said: “I think only an idiot can be an atheist. We must admit that there exists an incomprehensible power or force with limitless foresight and knowledge that started the whole universe going in the first place.”

    • D.H.R. Barton, who won the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1969, stated: “There is no incompatibility between science and religion. Both are seeking the same truth. Science shows that God exists.”

    • Arthur L. Schawlow, winner of the 1981 Nobel Prize in physics, said: “It seems to me that when confronted with the marvels of life and the universe, one must ask why and not just how. The only possible answers are religious. I find a need for God in the universe and in my own life.”

    • Sir John Eccles, 1963 Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine, said, “If I consider reality as I experience it, the primary experience I have is of my own existence as a unique self-conscious being which I believe is God-created.”

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  20. Talha says:

    And all of this just happens to take form on a planet with just the right distance from its enormous solar center and just the right distance from its only lunar satellite (being just the right size) that once every few years the orbs align exactly in a spectacular cellestial phenomenon called a solar eclipse. Why do the crazy mathematical improbabilites keep piling up on this planet?

  21. Macilrae says:

    By golly, Werner, but you have been on top form recently!

    But isn’t the question of Darwin vs. Creation a subset of Big Bang vs. GOD?

    It seems to me we have two choices while we reside on this planet and have some time on our hands – we can either attempt to use our pathetic human brain to try to puzzle out a rational (and ‘scientific’) explanation for the enigmas which surround us – OR we can just say it’s all down to good old God and concentrate on watering our begonias while he sits up there, on his cloud, nodding in approval.

    In either case, we are still faced with an Ultimate Mystery which I suspect will remain impenetrable by human science.

    I could add that there is a finite probability that evolution could happen – we tend to be a little blasé when we consider the four billion years in which life had the opportunity to develop but it does allow for rather a lot of exceptions to Murphy’s Law to interconnect.

  22. Excellent points, Fred.

    As someone with considerable study time devoted to biology, the process by which a baby is created is truly miraculous. Few people seem to appreciate the astonishingly complex process, or even the amazing events at the moment the baby takes his or her first breath.

    This is why I get a belly-laugh at notions that sex can be “changed” or that genetic manipulation of humans (other than selective abortion after genetic testing) is coming any time in the near, or even relatively distant future.

    The folly of today is based in a serious misunderstanding of our current knowledge. We today are no different than people living in pre-Copernican times. The vast addition of knowledge between then and now renders us smug and superior, but in fact we humans are still but scratching the surface of total knowledge.

    We simply don’t have the knowledge to understand how the complexity of life came about. Perhaps it is simply more than the human mind can handle. This does not argue for the existence of a superior being, it simply means that, just as an ant’s ignorance of gravity doesn’t make gravity invalid, our ignorance of principles guiding our reality doesn’t mean they inhere to a volitional “being.”

  23. Qasim says:

    Ask a biochemist whether he can construct this system in the laboratory. Ask him whether he can construct any system of similar complexity that will work, maintaining itself, for seventy years.

    Why stop at 70 years? Because that is the life-span of the average human? Part of the system of life is the ability to reproduce. So the proper question is whether he can construct a system that will work for 4 billion years!

    People who don’t feel awe when they view a picture of suspensory ligaments or read about the biochemical changes a photon of light produces in the retina are incomprehensible to me, I sometimes wonder if we belong to the same species.

  24. Science has become a sort of religion, where scientists are the modern priests.

    Science as real science can never be this. When AGW believers say, “the science is settled,” or “the vast majority of scientists agree…” they reveal utter ignorance about what science really is. Foremost of all, science is not in thrall of authority, scientific or otherwise.

    Whether at the individual level or humanity as a whole, we metaphorically exist in a large, darkened warehouse, the Sum of All Knowledge, and we have a flashlight that represents our knowledge…and it illuminates only a tiny part of the larger whole (whose ceiling and sides we can only guess at.)

    When we acquire more knowledge, our flashlight gets brighter. But the paradox of wisdom is that as we see more of the warehouse with our brighter light, we still can’t see the walls or ceiling, and a wise person realizes that even though our knowledge has grown, the Sum of All Knowledge is actually much larger than we presupposed.

    The more we know, the less of the total we hold.

    Unwise people simply don’t understand this paradox.

  25. Many of you misappropriate the label “God” for your own uses. To do so is to limit God to an image that is a construct and projection of your own minds. This gazing in a mirror and calling what you see “God” has been recognized as a “sin” by virtually every organized religion. It is called “Idolatry”.

    God is ineffable. Until we unravel the mystery of how we got here, why we are here and what our destination is, the notion of God may just as well be replaced with a giant question mark.

    Some of you are content with citing antecedents. As proof of evolution you gaze into the past and see an apparently unbroken chain of events that seem to be linked in an inexorable stream by a logic which you call causality. Then you are asked to predict what will happen in the future. But you answer that predicting the future is like seeing through a glass darkly.

    An analogy for your reasoning is that an evolutionary chain can be pulled as when we look back into the past, and so functions effectively, but when pushed, as when we try to project our conjectures into the future, the chain collapses and is worthless.

    “It is indeterminate”, you say, “and therefore random”. But indeterminacy and randomness are two different things. You have made an error in Logic by conflating two separate mental processes. The likely future outcome of evolution may be (at this time) indeterminate, but that doesn’t mean that it is random. Evolution may have its own plans. What we call random genetic mutation may be the expression of an inner compulsion on the part of living organisms to fill every possible niche by trying out every possible variation of genes.

    At this point in our understanding, you have no way of determining whether evolution is driven by an inner impulse or impetus. The proper, scientific response then is to hold your judgement in abeyance. You should be open-minded. And humble.

    Many problems in Science are resolved in due time not so much by one side emerging as the winner but by being rendered moot. New technological inventions that enable new observations lead to results that sidestep what had been logjams to understanding. No doubt many questions about life will emerge with progress in technology. We will have to wait till then for answers to some of our questions.

    But that doesn’t mean that we, today, have no right to bring up questions about issues that puzzle us.

    Some of you claim that we can adequately understand the present just by looking into the past. Not all learned men agree. One of the world’s wisest man–Aristotle–held the belief that we didn’t fully comprehend the essence of something until we had seen it in terms of what it was to become, what was latent within it, its destiny, that towards which it was growing, its final expression of its inner nature.

    This is a profound shift in mental perspective for most of us. But it make sense. Because virtually everything is better understood as the net product of two dynamic forces which hold one another in equilibrium.

    The Sun is the product of an explosive radiating force kept in check by the compacting force of gravity which paradoxically supplies the energy that breaks down the nuclear bonds that release the explosive radiating force and so on in a harmonic feedback cycle. The net result is a pulsing, fuzzy-on-the-edges entity. We call it an entity because it endures in Space and Time. But it is in fact a dynamic energy system in temporary equilibrium.

    Evolution itself is regarded as an explosive force provided by genetic variation held in check by the limiting one of natural selection.

    What is at issue here is whether this genetic variation is random or whether it is the expression of some inner or transcendent Logos? Maybe organisms, by some seemingly perverse logic, create imperfect copies of themselves in order to maximize their chances for survival. Maybe it’s not random at all, but part of the program to pass on an “imperfect” replicas of the program.

  26. “Sez me, Something Else has to be involved. You tell me what, and we will split the Nobel money.”

    I could tell you (and I suspect you already know, even if you won’t admit it), but it won’t get you any Nobel money.

    @Lupa
    ” It’s like disbelieving classical mechanics while sitting in a house built using them.”

    This is simply a resort for the credulous. The analogy utterly fails because in is completely inapt. Classical Mechanics has been verified to a fair thee well. Every time we turn around, more is found that results in Darwinism being further pushed into the realm of pagan superstition. Evolution is not science. It is philosophical speculation at best.

    • Replies: @Lupa
  27. pvuk says:
    @Uncertain

    I will need to think about this. Thanks,

  28. nickels says:

    I think it boils down to the human mind not being able to grasp the immensity of time.
    These things did not occur in the span of any kind of time that the human mind is exposed to, therefore it is out of the realm of our ability to apply ‘common sense’ to.

    • Agree: Biff
    • Replies: @Biff
  29. rod1963 says:
    @Son of Dixie

    Actually it’s nice to see such questioning of existing scientific dogma’s. Doesn’t matter if they’re wrong, it’ shows a sign of independent thinking which is a increasingly rare commodity thanks to modern schooling.

  30. Evolution works, being pig headed doesn’t turn you into a pig but it means you will keep screwing up.

    Fred, funny guy that you are, clever wordsmith of high entertainment value that you can be, you are one stubbornly ignorant fool who wont give in to the discipline of scientific thinking.

    Common you can do it, try harder, come on. Drink the god damn water you old stubborn horse.

    Quartermaster says “evolution is not science, it is speculation at best.” WTF is wrong with you people. Back to my science blogs, where the skies are not cloudy all day.

    • Replies: @boogerbently
  31. Anon7 says:
    @Rob Payne

    “Science has become a religion because on one hand it replaces religion, and on the other, unless you are a scientist, you have to take what science tells us on FAITH.”

    I guess I mostly agree with that. But you don’t have to take what scientists say on faith. A scientist might explain all of the physics behind an iPhone, but I don’t take my iPhone on faith, I can see that it works. Our highly technological society has science that works all through it.

    The biggest problem we have now is that the 24 hour news cycle has collided with science, which is an intellectual process that gets things right over a period of years, sometimes centuries. A scientist declares a theory about nature, which is promptly reported as a fact by reporters. Another scientist declares a competing theory, also reported as fact. Not helping.

    “Science is also part of the neoliberal makeup, the phony baloney…”

    Isn’t that the truth. My theory is that in high school and college you have the top percentile kids who are the next generation of scientists, whose thinking is subtle enough to really get it. But then the A/B students start worshipping (there’s no other word for it, human beings don’t have that much variation) the top students and problems ensue. Just look at how people treat deGrasse Tyson, for example; it’s ridiculous. Then Christians notice that there are people who are mindlessly worshipping something else, which makes them unhappy, and that school teachers require their children to also worship science and scientists, which makes them even more unhappy.

    “Science is a very narrow view of reality just as religious beliefs are.”

    I agree with that. It’s really good for finding out how the world works, but for a lot of people it doesn’t provide a personal world view they can live with.

    • Replies: @boogerbently
  32. “Previously I have proved…”

    The first sentence is un-provable except in the laboratory of language:

    narcissism |ˈnärsəˌsizəm|
    noun
    excessive or erotic interest in oneself and one’s physical appearance.
    • Psychology extreme selfishness, with a grandiose view of one’s own talents and a craving for admiration, as characterizing a personality type.
    • Psychoanalysis self-centeredness arising from failure to distinguish the self from external objects, either in very young babies or as a feature of mental disorder.

    Or, in the alternative, on Chomsky’s theory:

    Ungawa: As per your example, each of us has somehow acquired the capacity for crap which, from the very first step, is largely mysterious. Take a child. Almost instantly and reflexively, he or she is able to embrace, out of the environment, all datum which is garbage related. How? A chimpanzee has roughly the same auditory & visual system but plainly it does not. And that is just the first step that is not understood. How did we acquire the infinite capacity to produce and immerse in rather endless, inane bullshit?

    http://ronaldthomaswest.com/2015/04/01/merge/

    ^ It’s satire –

  33. Biff says:
    @nickels

    Agree, most everyone is stuck in the ‘here and now’, and propaganda is made easy by it.

    • Agree: nickels
    • Replies: @nickels
  34. @Freemon Sandlewould

    ” readily apparent life emerged from the simplest of forms.”

    Where did the “simplest of forms” come from?

    ????? Lightning….maybe ?

    ” brutal scientific integrity ” requires proof. Observe, measure, replicate.
    That’s why, after so many decades, it (evolution) is and always will be, a theory.

    I’ll stick with God.

  35. @Son of Dixie

    One man’s ceiling is another mans floor.

  36. @Intelligent Dasein

    Evolution exists in some form, just not as all encompassing as they claim.
    A white dog and a black dog can make a white and black dog.
    They can’t make a tree.
    If everything came from one original cell, where did that cell come from ?
    And how did it “evolve” into ALL LIFE ?
    If you want to believe in the “ANYTHING can happen over billions and billions of years”
    theory, that doesn’t exactly conform to your “scientific” requirements for proof, does it ?

  37. Lupa says:
    @Quartermaster

    That’s the point, you say mechanics are “verified” because you can witness for example a ball falling. But equally observable is natural selection – the only difference being the complexity of the matter involved (a ball / a cell) and the time scale (seconds / generations). The theory of evolution is not a final answer to anything and was never supposed to be – it’s a model for what causes organisms to evolve over generations. And ALL models in science are simplified – including classical mechanics.
    Saying it’s “science” or not – honestly I don’t even know what that’s supposed to mean… No intelligent natural scientist goes around labelling things “science” and “not science” – it’s all a matter of how well a model works within a context.

  38. @Anon7

    Are scientists, fabricating theories for research grants, any better than politicians soliciting lobby money from corporations ?

    • Replies: @Anon7
  39. @Dave Chamberlin

    ” discipline of scientific thinking.”

    Observe, measure, replicate.

    One lies and the other swears to it is NOT the “Scientific Method”.

  40. Anon7 says:
    @boogerbently

    I understand what you’re saying, but I know hundreds of people who do medical research, and I can tell you that not one of them would “fabricate” a research project just to obtain funding. It’s unethical; that’s why organizations like the NIH have a rigorous review process to make sure that there is a scientific basis for research effort.

    I don’t doubt that there are bottom-feeding “researchers” who try to use the system for their own ends, but there are bottom-feeders in any group. Of course the 24 hour news cycle would run that story endlessly…

    • Replies: @Wally
    , @dc.sunsets
  41. Old fogey says:

    Many thanks, Fred, for this thought-provoking post.

  42. utu says:
    @Lupa

    It is all believing. You Lupa – I bet, could not prove that we are not living in the geocentric universe. You must believe the priests of science.

  43. Wally says: • Website
    @Freemon Sandlewould

    So why didn’t other animals “evolve”? Why aren’t alligators building spaceships & computers, why haven’t giraffes grasped physics?

    Why only man?

    And why did man suddenly develop mentally after ages of relatively under development?

    • Replies: @Fun
  44. Wally says: • Website
    @Anon7

    Medical research perhaps, as opposed to bogus climate / global warming ‘research’ which is undoubtedly used to gain funding and advance a neo-Marxist agenda.

    • Replies: @Anon7
  45. @Anon7

    People involved in an endeavor are not the best judges of pristine honesty. Self-interest is utterly blinding, which is why a market transaction is best because in a sense the parties have diverging self-interest which disciplines the process.

    Grant-supported researchers do not have a market for their work. It is therefore impossible to know how much of one kind vs another kind, much less total quantity best delivered, should be produced. I worked in a lab for a couple years. We did good work, but most of it was utterly wasted because much of the raw data never was analysed. Was it wasteful? You bet it was.

    The other part of the problem is that once one is a Big Man on the Campus, you defend (to the death) the paradigm on which your career is based. If someone comes along with a theory that upends your entire work, would you approve it (in the peer-approval process) and go back to being the upstart’s bottle-washer (if his work pans out) or do you simply crush any potential threat to your prestige and position?

    Hierarchies in the grant process work AGAINST real science.

    • Replies: @Anon7
  46. Fun says:
    @Wally

    The basic answer to your question is that different species have/had different evolutionary pressures. At a certain point human beings reached a minimum level of technological and social sophistication, which sparked and accelerated the evolution of human intelligence.

    Read The 10,000 Year Explosion by Greg Cochran and Henry Harpending.

    • Replies: @Wally
  47. @jamie b.

    The Central Dogma of molecular biology is pretty gosh-darned well supported by the evidence, regardless of Fred’s incredulity. But okay, fine… supposing the central dogma of biology isn’t sufficient to explain the development of an organism. We must therefore conclude that supernatural forces intervene to push macromolecules around? Is that the claim being made here?

    We recently learned that organisms can survive space. Fungi have been living on the outside of the space station for a couple years now. So life could have begun virtually anywhere and been delivered to Earth. If life did develop independently on Earth, it seems to me the agnostics central failure is in comprehending the scope of Time involved. Earth, we think, is 4.5 Billion years old. Can any human mind really comprehend 4.5 Billion years when the oldest among us are blessed to see a full century? In human terms, 4.5 Billion years is indistinguishable from Infinite. Pondering it is akin to wondering how long it might take a single man to empty the Pacific using only a teaspoon.

    This is all fine and well if you have nothing to do, several cases of wine, and a sunny Mexican hilltop from which to ponder imponderables. But the important question in life is which yields more objectively valuable results? What are your tangible rewards for a lifetime of bowing, scraping, ritual performance, and always (always!) giving yet more money to a spendthrift Deity? What are your rewards for a lifetime spent in pursuit of objectively measurable answers to questions like, “how can I make it bigger/faster/better/cheaper/etc?” For me, the energy is better spent trying to make a better widget and thereby enriching my family (and all humanity to the extent my work improves their lives as well) after I’ve become worm food. I’d hate to spend my life pursuing an arbitrary and capricious piety only to learn afterwards that I’d chosen the wrong interpretation of the wrong sect of the wrong religion. Doh!

    • Replies: @AnalogMan
  48. Dr. X says:

    It’s kind of funny how the contemporary evolutionist snobs disdain everyone who disagrees with them and sneers at their critics as if they were unsophisticated rubes. This has been going on since the Scopes Monkey Trial in 1925 at least, and probably longer than that.

    Such condescension is the result of a narrow field of technical expertise but a broader unfamiliarity with, and ignorance of, 2,500 years of Western thought. Aristotle made the argument, repeated by Aquinas in the 13th century, that logically, EVERYTHING has a “first cause” or “prime mover.” This is certainly true of evolution, which argues that life as we know it is the result of a chain of causal events — but evolutionists refuse to ask what was the first cause of the evolutionary chain itself.

    This refusal is ridiculous and philosophically juvenile. One can admit that evolution took place, and at the same time SOMETHING created or caused the very principles of evolution to exist in the first place. Asserting that it is an “either-or” question — either evolution explains everything, OR creationism does — is simply a false choice.

    • Replies: @jamie b.
  49. jamie b. says:
    @Aschwin

    “…wondering about the likelihood of the process of a range of enzymes working in unison in complex procedures being the result of basically random mutations.”

    Then why did he say…

    “Previously I have proved that life cannot have evolved. Today I will prove that life cannot exist.”

    Anyway, there are legitimate and not-so-legitimate ways to figure out the likelihood of these things. What has Fred provided beyond mere appeal to personal incredulity?

    “…more intellectually consistent if he ends his explanation of life as ‘could be God’s work’.”

    Sure. Could also be aliens too. Likewise, we don’t know how the pyramids were built, so maybe aliens built them as well. But in the absence of extraordinary evidence, it’s probably more reasonable to assume that mundane forces were at work.

  50. @Dwright

    I wish Fred would stick to writing about blacks and feminists…

  51. jamie b. says:
    @Dr. X

    “…but evolutionists refuse to ask what was the first cause of the evolutionary chain itself.”

    Nope. The scientific community is as curious about the origins of life as you’d expect. Don’t know why you’d think otherwise.

  52. Wally says: • Website
    @Fun

    So, as human sophistication declined further & further they suddenly became smart?

    Your answer makes no sense.

    Actually your response implies humans should have become extinct.

  53. nickels says:
    @Biff

    Another factor comes from understanding fractals. Very simple rules create intricate and impossibly complex structures. The eye example is amazing, but has ridiculous symmetries that to common sense might intimidate, but, in reality, make it a less complex structure than one might think.

  54. CanSpeccy says: • Website

    What, I take it, Fred is driving at is that life is one Hell of a lot more complicated and amazing than one might be led to believe by all those pop-sci books telling you how life originated, or how some slime from a hydrothermal vent at the bottom of the ocean evolved into a liver fluke with its amazingly convoluted life cycle, or a wizzened philosopher such as the late Bertrand Russell, or why we see that grass is green, when the philosophers have firmly established that it is no such thing, and that furthermore, it may be a thousand years before we really grasp exactly how it all works, and indeed that we may never fully grasp exactly how it all works. Certainly my own experience suggests the need for considerable modesty in assessing our progress in biology to date.

    As an undergraduate student of physiology, I was intrigued by the phenomenon of morphogenesis: how cells achieve specific forms, how masses of cells form into a tissues, and how tissues get organized to form an organism. At the time, there were a few vague ideas kicking around. It was thought, for example, that polarity of an organism — for example, which end of a zygote will be the head end, which the tail end — might be determined by an electro-potential gradient established in some unknown way. In plants, diffusing gradients of indole-3-acetic acid seemed to account for the production of roots at the bottom end and shoots and leaves at the top end, although exactly how this gradient had the observed effects, and indeed why a gradient developed in the first place, was all quite obscure. And Alan Turing, who broke the Nazi enigma codes, and invented the universal computing engine, suggested that interacting gradients of diffusing chemicals could explain a tiger’s stripes. During the subsequent 50 years, some further insights have no doubt been gained. But relative to the complexity of the phenomena to be explained, a life-time’s accumulation of knowledge seems slight indeed.

    So what Fred, in his inimitable way, seems to be saying, as others have noted, is that it behooves the scientific community to speak of the advances in our understanding of organismal developmentand phylogeny with considerable modesty.
    .

  55. Anon7 says:
    @Wally

    Global warming research is a different kettle of fish. That field suffers from the fact that we really don’t have any other similar planets to compare, we have a relatively short baseline of human observation, they all use the same data sets and the same statistical tools, and it’s a young field. I also don’t like how “global warming” is used as a club to beat up all the usual enemies of liberalism.

    I guess I’d just say that (on the one hand) just because you used some version of the scientific method, it doesn’t guarantee that you got the right answer, but also that humanity needs to stop trashing our one, all-too-finite planet, because I don’t want my kids to live in a cesspool.

    • Replies: @Wally
  56. Anon7 says:
    @dc.sunsets

    “I worked in a lab for a couple years. We did good work, but most of it was utterly wasted because much of the raw data never was analysed. Was it wasteful? You bet it was.”

    Well, there are lots of reasons for why that happened, not all of them bad. The PI for the study might have gotten a preliminary result that showed that the hoped-for result was just not forthcoming, or the study might have been flawed at the start for some reason.

    It’s really a problem that the best we can do, as far as looking for truth is concerned, is to put a bunch of flawed human beings on it, but that’s all we’ve got.

  57. Pierrej says:

    Well, now I’m curious. If evolutionary theory isn’t true, then what alternative theory is there that better explains the diversification of species over millions of years?

    Where did the “simplest of forms” come from?

    ????? Lightning….maybe ?

    ” brutal scientific integrity ” requires proof. Observe, measure, replicate.
    That’s why, after so many decades, it (evolution) is and always will be, a theory.

    Evolutionary theory has nothing to do with how life began. The field investigating how life began is called “abiogenesis”. Evolutionary theory simply explains how species diversified after life had already begun.

    So why didn’t other animals “evolve”? Why aren’t alligators building spaceships & computers, why haven’t giraffes grasped physics?

    What would alligators need spaceships and computers for? They’ve been doing just fine for the last 80 million years without those things. Why would an animal that lives by eating leaves off of trees all day long need to grasp physics?

    but evolutionists refuse to ask what was the first cause of the evolutionary chain itself.

    Evolutionary theory makes no claims as to what the first cause was. That is a separate field.

    Nor do evolutionists refuse to ask what the first cause was. They simply don’t generate assumed answers for it.

    • Replies: @The Plutonium Kid
  58. AnalogMan says:
    @Dwright

    I’m not talking about “writing on the same subject”. I’m talking about writing the exact same material. Specifically, I’ve read that description of the functioning of the retina on a Fred Reed article before. Without the original article for reference, I can’t say whether this article is partly or entirely a reprint.

  59. AnalogMan says:
    @Stan D Mute

    In human terms, 4.5 Billion years is indistinguishable from Infinite.

    But not identical. I believe Richard Dawkins called this theory “the magic of very big numbers”. The problem is, nobody can quantify the probability of life arising spontaneously and evolving to its present state in 4.5 billion years. Or ever.

    Proponents of this theory like to talk about an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters eventually writing the complete works of Shakespeare. But 4.5 billion years is not infinite time, and the earth is not infinite space. There are some problems that are regarded as inherently insoluble, not because there is no solution, but because the computation required to solve them is not possible within human time frames. This is the kind of problem that is airily dismissed by the “magic of big numbers” fans.

    Somebody once lent me a book by John Lennox called “God’s Undertaker”. It addressed this theory by using as an example the Shakespeare analogy, but trimmed down. What is the probability of those monkeys writing just one Shakespeare sonnet? That’s 14 lines, about 128 words. He calculated that, if every particle in the universe (estimated at, I believe, something like 10³⁸) were a computer, generating a million keystrokes per second, there would not be enough time since the big bang (some 15 billion years, give or take 3 billion) to have typed (reliably) a single sonnet. And, of course, if one of those monkeys should have typed the sonnet, it would have meant nothing. Without a language, vocabulary, alphabet, it would be just one of an infinite number of very big numbers.

    For the record, I don’t believe in any religion, and am not arguing creationism. I’m simply saying that the proponents of the “standard model” haven’t made their case. For myself, I prefer your recommended course: don’t sweat it, you’ll never know.

    As a programmer, DNA looks familiar to me. In my experience, when you make an error in copying a program, it doesn’t develop new functions, it stops working. However, programs can evolve by a series of planned changes. I sometimes wonder if there isn’t a principle of intelligence, outside of the realm of physics but nevertheless real, at work in the universe. No way to know, of course.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  60. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Fred as usual has me thinking, at least as well as I can. I think we all live in a fancy fish bowl much like “Sea monkey’s”, you all remember them of course. I think we have about as much chance of figuring out our origin as they did.

  61. @Lupa

    Not “believing” in the theory of evolution today is the equivalent of geocentrism back in the day.

    So why do 90% of evolution believers insist that race doesn’t exist, when our lying eyes suggest that it does? (The rest are hiding anonymously on sites like this!)

    Do they believe this, or do they just say they believe it? And why are they so intent that we believe it? Some serious WTFs are extant in the scientific community today.

    If I’m moving to or just visiting a new city, I’ll ask a creationist where the safest neighborhoods are. I wouldn’t trust a progressive with my life.

    By the way, geocentrism actually worked better than heliocentrism until the elliptical nature of orbits was figured out. The skepticism wasn’t entirely irrational.

  62. Wally says: • Website
    @Anon7

    You are engaged in a strawman argument. There is only one version of the scientific method. One either abides by it or they do not. The neo-Marxists behind the absurd ‘global warming scam’ have avoided the scientific method like the plague.

    And since when does CO2 create a “cesspool”? If so, stop exhaling.

    NASA Exposed in ‘Massive’ New Climate Data Fraud:
    http://www.principia-scientific.org/nasa-exposed-in-massive-new-climate-data-fraud.html
    NASA Exposed in ‘Massive’ New Climate Data Fraud

  63. @AnalogMan

    an infinite number of monkeys on an infinite number of typewriters eventually writing the complete works of Shakespeare

    When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability. That “infinite monkeys” typing on “infinite typewriters” will write the complete works of Shakespeare is an absolute truth.

    4.5 billion years is a long time — quite sufficient for all evolution to date.

  64. @Reg Cæsar

    By the way, geocentrism actually worked better than heliocentrism until the elliptical nature of orbits was figured out.

    Neither “works” better. It has always been the case that the planets orbit the sun. Always. No explanation needed. Geocentrism was never, ever, ever true.

    Ever.

    • Replies: @Reg Cæsar
  65. Sean says:

    [There is] no distinction to be drawn between the development of reason and that of any other faculty, physiological or psychical, by which the interests of the individual or the race are promoted. From the humblest form of nervous irritation at the one end of the scale, to the reasoning capacity of the most advanced races at the other, everything without exception (sensation, instinct, desire, volition) has been produced directly or indirectly, by natural causes acting for the most part on strictly utilitarian principles. Convenience, not knowledge, therefore, has been the main end to which this process has tended
    — Arthur Balfour

    He argued the Darwinian premise of selection for reproductive fitness cast doubt on scientific naturalism, because human cognitive facilities that would accurately perceive truth could be less advantageous than adaptation for evolutionarily useful illusions. No one can formulate the proper question let alone prove that materialism is true.

  66. Meh. Argument from incredulity. Classic fallacy. C’mon, Fred, you can do better than this.

  67. @John Jeremiah Smith

    The “infinite monkeys” thing is only technically true. As a practical explanation, it has no value whatsoever. If you were playing bridge with friends, and one of them drew all spades for four hands in a row, you’d do much better to assume someone’s been messing with the deck even if you thought people had been playing bridge for billions of years. It is technically true that all the air molecules in your room will suddenly rush over to the other half, leaving you gasping for breath in a vacuum, but no doctor or homicide detective would accept that as a plausible explanation for death by asphyxiation. Wild improbabilities don’t become more probable simply because huge amounts of time are involved.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  68. @Pierrej

    Look up the term “teleological evolution.”

    If you think neo-Darwinism (the combination of Darwinian natural selection with Mendelian genetics) is the final answer to the evolution of species, the day may come when you’ll get a rude surprise. Near the end of the nineteenth century, it was thought that Newtonian physics pretty much explained the entire field of physics with only a few minor problems left to be cleaned up. In the early twentieth, relativity and quantum mechanics showed that Newtonian physics couldn’t explain what happens at interstellar and subatomic levels, and a lot of work remained to be done. The same could well happen to biology.

    • Replies: @Pierrej
  69. @The Plutonium Kid

    Wrong. “Infinite” means infinite. Probability = 1.

    You are wrong, in the entire, and exhaustive meaning of the word “wrong”.

    • Replies: @The Plutonium Kid
  70. @John Jeremiah Smith

    For practical purposes like predicting planets’ positions, Ptolemy was just as , if not more, useful than Copernicus, who wrongly assumed circular orbits.

    The Mercator projection is wrong, too, but we use it to navigate, don’t we?

    And the creationist– any creationism, including “turtles all the way down”– is far more likely to be right about everyday practical racial issues than is the egalitarian evolutionist. Equality is the circular orbits of the anthropoligical sciences– it’s worse than flipping coins.

  71. @Reg Cæsar

    What on earth are you talking about?

    Neither “works” better. It has always been the case that the planets orbit the sun. Always. No explanation needed. Geocentrism was never, ever, ever true.

    Ever.

    • Replies: @nickels
  72. @John Jeremiah Smith

    Your assumption of infinite time is entirely gratuitous. Nobody knows what, if anything, existed before the big bang. The question may even be nonsensical, like asking what lies north of the north pole. It is amusing that you fall back on arguments every bit as baroquely metaphysical as those of a medieval theologian.

  73. Pierrej says:
    @The Plutonium Kid

    If you think neo-Darwinism (the combination of Darwinian natural selection with Mendelian genetics) is the final answer to the evolution of species, the day may come when you’ll get a rude surprise.

    Well, I don’t personally think in terms of final answers with regard to anything. If a new discovery were to come along and completely overturn our current theories about life and the universe, I would certainly be very excited about it. In fact, I’m looking forward to such discoveries.

    Look up the term “teleological evolution.”

    Teleological evolution sounds intriguing. The possibility that there is design in biology is nice and all, but in what way is it distinct from evolution/natural selection? What physical mechanism/process does it use to explain the diversification of species over millions of years?

  74. Pierrej says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    So why do 90% of evolution believers insist that race doesn’t exist, when our lying eyes suggest that it does? (The rest are hiding anonymously on sites like this!)

    Do they believe this, or do they just say they believe it? And why are they so intent that we believe it? Some serious WTFs are extant in the scientific community today.

    I think a large part of it has to do with the massive indoctrination and propaganda enacted by the elites in Western Europe and the Anglosphere as a reaction to certain events that occurred in the 1940’s in which several countries had no trouble connecting evolution and racial reality.

    Even today, many people in Eastern Europe, China, and Japan, have no problem with an acceptance of evolution and an awareness of the reality of race.

    I think another thing making Western Europeans susceptible to believing this propaganda is their high tendency towards individualism. People from more collectivist societies seem to have a stronger in-group/out-group mentality, in which racial differences among individuals are clearly noticed. Whereas whites in individualistic Western societies more readily see people from other races as individuals, without focusing on their race. On the other hand, minorities in Western societies tend to latch onto whatever ideology is more convenient for them at the time.

  75. @The Plutonium Kid

    Your assumption of infinite time is entirely gratuitous.

    I did not assume “infinite time”. It was a proposition to which I replied. In the future, please take more care to chastise the responsible party.

    There is an entire branch of mathematics dedicated to study and definitions for infinities, and how they work. You may wish to acquaint yourself with the basics, at your leisure, of course. In any case, to reiterate what I would not have to reiterate had you the faintest notion of what you speak, “When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability. That “infinite monkeys” typing on “infinite typewriters” will write the complete works of Shakespeare is an absolute truth.”

    Got it?

    Now, as to what existed before the Big Bang, if anything … what on earth are you talking about? What possible relevance could it have to infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters? Unless, perhaps you are suggesting that time did not exist before the Big Bang? Perhaps you would base that on some nonsense like “If there was no one around to observe the passage of time, there would be no time.”?

    Just wondering. It sounds like something you might say. That, and thinking of it as being “metaphysical”. Haha, that’s good one.

    • Replies: @The Plutonium Kid
  76. AnalogMan says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability.

    You completely missed the point. We are not dealing with infinities. The universe is not infinite. There are not an infinite number of monkeys. In the same way, 4.5 billion years is not an infinite amount of time. So, actually, it is a question of probability.

    When you blithely assume that it must be sufficient time, that’s nothing but a gut feeling that it’s a helluva long time, so it must be long enough. That’s a purely emotional reaction.

    Long enough for what?

    When you start to examine the actual odds, like that example of the typing monkeys, the numbers make 4.5 billion years look trivial. You are overawed by the huge amount of time, while having no conception of the probabilities involved. The human genome of six billion base pairs is much, much more complex than a single sonnet.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  77. @John Jeremiah Smith

    “When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability. That “infinite monkeys” typing on “infinite typewriters” will write the complete works of Shakespeare is an absolute truth.”

    This, however, is a mathematical abstraction that has no practical application to the subject at hand. For all practical purposes, your infinite monkeys typing Shakespeare in an infinite time is every bit as silly as counting the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin. It may gratify the mathematicians who specialize in related fields, but when you get down from such stratospheric heights and start dealing in practical matters, it’s not terribly different from invoking miracles. Invoking infinity does not make extremely improbable events more plausible when we are dealing with the real world instead of mere abstractions. Sooner or later a time comes when an event is so extremely improbable that sanity requires us to regard it as impossible.

    Now, as to what existed before the Big Bang, if anything … what on earth are you talking about? What possible relevance could it have to infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters?

    Feigned incomprehension is a tired old trick. You really should be ashamed of yourself.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  78. @The Plutonium Kid

    I think you are mistaken when you write as though The Big Bang is a proven fact. It is mainly an extrapolation of perceived motion supported by the cosmic background radiation about which many fanciful tales have been written. Even if there possibly was A Bang that drove and structured our local “universe” that does not mean it was the beginning of existence.

    When one considers that it is postulated that dark matter and dark energy make up 90-95% of the “universe”, then one should grasp that we are a long way from understanding not only how it got here, and what is here, but what “here” means.

  79. Rob McX says:
    @Reg Cæsar

    I think that’s a false analogy. Ptolemy’s prediction of the planets’ positions was honest, and consistent with his geocentric model. The doctrine of racial equality is not consistent with evolution. It’s dishonest to convince yourself you’re both an evolutionist and an egalitarian. Creationism per se doesn’t really have anything to say about race, even if people who believe in it are good at learning about racial differences from the information available to them.

  80. @AnalogMan

    You completely missed the point. We are not dealing with infinities.

    Jesus H. Christ! YOU miss the point, dimwit! Yes, I WAS dealing with infinities.

    You are, in my opinion, entirely free to believe there is no such thing as infinity, or eternity, or any other concept that makes you swoon with religious delight. Knock yourself out.

    Now, PAY ATTENTION!!!

    “When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability. That “infinite monkeys” typing on “infinite typewriters” will write the complete works of Shakespeare is an absolute truth.”

    Can you stop the spinning in your head long enough to read for comprehension?

    • Replies: @AnalogMan
  81. @The Plutonium Kid

    This, however, is a mathematical abstraction that has no practical application to the subject at hand.

    LOL. And, what IS the subject at hand? Perhaps you would like to prove to me that there is no such thing as infinity? By all means, proceed. Perhaps you have a distaste for the concept of eternity, and your preference is to disprove eternity? By all means, proceed. Or, since you reject probability with your crushingly detailed analysis (“an event is so extremely improbable that sanity requires us to regard it as impossible”), perhaps you would care to demonstrate the limits of probability?

    “When dealing with infinities, it is not a question of probability. That “infinite monkeys” typing on “infinite typewriters” will write the complete works of Shakespeare is an absolute truth.”

    Deal with it, pal.

    • Replies: @The Plutonium Kid
  82. nickels says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    “No explanation needed. Geocentrism was never, ever, ever true.”

    It is easily true. One just has to include Coriolis forces, which are no more mysterious than gravitational forces.

    But it isn’t the simplest description.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  83. @nickels

    “No explanation needed. Geocentrism was never, ever, ever true.”

    It is easily true. One just has to include Coriolis forces, which are no more mysterious than gravitational forces.

    But it isn’t the simplest description.

    LOL, again and again. No, it was never true that Earth was the center of the solar system — or the universe, for that matter. Was it believed, by some, that the Earth was the center of the universe? Indeed, it was. How did that belief act to make the universe revolve around the Earth? When did belief ever succeed in making fond fancy come true?

    Do I understand parsimony? Yes. Do I understand that heliocentrism is simpler, more explanatory, thus a better explanation (even “more correct explanation”, if we dare to challenge creationism) than geocentrism? Of course.

    But, no, geocentrism is not true, not “easily” true. not EVER true, no matter what “forces” one might wish to “include”. Reality is reality; bullshit is bullshit. Positing a condition, even positing a hypothetical state, where bullshit is chocolate syrup will never, ever, ever turn bullshit into chocolate syrup.

    • Replies: @nickels
  84. @John Jeremiah Smith

    I gave you two examples of extreme improbabilities that no one would accept as rational explanations, even though they are not mathematically impossible. You appeared utter incapable of understanding them. I tried to explain that there is a point where the improbability of an event is so extreme that it simply doesn’t have any real explanatory power, that no sane, reasonable person would accept them as rational explanations.

    Here’s a pretty good explanation as to why the monkey analogy is crap:

    http://blog.statusnotquo.com/2013/06/21/extreme-improbability-a-practical-example-without-using-monkeys/

    Read that, and if you still insist on braying like an ass ( LOL! LOL! ) I won’t be listening.

    When you and the rest of the monkeys actually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare, get back to me. Throw in the complete works of Leo Tolstoy and Mickey Spillane while you’re at it. Meanwhile, as you are obviously doing your best not to understand me, I see no point in talking to you.

  85. Priss Factor [AKA "Dominique Francon Society"] says: • Website

    This is who Racial Reality works in 21st century America.

    A black guy beats up a white guy.

    White guy thanks the black guy for demonstrating his superiority over the white guy who is then to accept his cuckish position vis-a-vis the black guy. And since it is natural for the black guy to dominate over the white guy, white guy must apologize for past ‘racism’ because it robbed black men of their naturally deserved superiority over white men.
    And the white girl cuts off ties with the white guy and uses her womb to produce babies for the black guy.

    In a nutshell, black guy beats up white guy, white guy thanks the black guy and apologizes, and white girl has babies with black guy.
    This is the new racial ideal. But it’s paved over with the pompous rhetoric of MLK as if interracism is just about learning to love all races in colorblind fashion.

    Look at sports. Black males beat up white males, white male fans cheer for black male victory, and white girls throw themselves at blacks.

    So, in a way, all this controversy about ‘racism’ isn’t so much about the white ‘historical sin’ of having denied equality to black males. If that had been the essence of the ‘sin’, it wouldn’t seem so bad, so very wrong.
    The white ‘sin’ seems especially bad vis-a-vis the black man because it denied the natural right of superiority to the black guy. In the current US where the culture is dominated by rap music, rough sports, and wild sex where penis size and muscularity are king, the Negro Male will be seen as the Lion King. He will be seen as the naturally deserving winner of all.

    So, the great irony of ‘anti-racism’ is that it is premised on the race-ist conviction that black males ARE SUPERIOR to white males. So, white males not only denied black males equality in the past but denied black males the right to be King by Bio-Natural Right.
    After all, there is no controversy about ‘too many black running backs’ since it is assumed that blacks are naturally better at running. (No one calls for diversity in black-dominated sports positions.)
    But there is controversy about ‘too many white quarterbacks’ since blacks are seen as naturally superior, therefore deserving to dominate the leadership position in football as well.

    Imagine if a pack of wolves enslaved another pack of wolves and denied equal rights to the enslaved wolf pack. That would be bad but not totally bad. Once the unfair laws are removed, all wolves would be equal.

    But imagine if a pack of coyotes enslaved a pack of wolves and denied equal rights to the wolf pack. That would seem worse because, by Bio-Natural Rights, the bigger/stronger wolves should have dominance over coyotes. So, it would appear as a double-sin. Coyotes not only denied the right of equality to the wolves but the wolves’ right to dominate over inferior and weaker coyotes.

    And this is the real underlying racial complex in America. It is not so much about black males having been denied equality in the past but about having being denied their rightful superiority over white males.

    And we are seeing this play out in the ‘cuckold fetish’ phenom. On some psychological level, it appears to be about white male apology to the black male for having robbed him of not only racial equality but the naturally-ordained superiority over white males. The cuckish Ken-Burns-like white male is saying, “You black males are superior. You deserve my wife, my daughter, my mother, etc. And I, as a dorky white boy, deserves to be a cuck.”

    Now, black males are not superior to white males in every department. White males are, on average, higher in IQ and have certain emotional qualities that allow for better cooperation, teamwork, and social success. But such characteristics tend to be asexual — intelligence isn’t a male trait cuz plenty of women are smart — , and besides, American/Western society has been so vulgarized, animalized, sexualized, and winner-takes-all-ized that people place sexual, athletic, and funky-musical value above all other values.

    In a world where culture is no longer defined by seriousness or maturity, it’s all about who can rap loudest and swinging his dong farthest.
    In this cultural climate, the white man has come to see the black man as the natural superior. Therefore, the so-called ‘anti-racism’ is really founded on race-ist belief that black males are indeed better than white males. The cuckish boxing documentary UNFORGIVABLE BLACKNESS by dorky Ken Burns was really about this sexual-racial complex.
    It was about celebrating the fact that the black man can beat up white men and then attract white women for the very fact that he beat up white men. In her essence, the woman is a whore and prefers the winner over the loser even if the winner is of another race and the loser is of her own race. (It’s like French women went with German occupiers and sneered at French men who were seen as losers. And Japanese women went with American Occupiers and sneered at Japanese men as losers.)

    We live in the of UNFORGIVABLE WHITENESS where white-male-ness is to be reviled not so much because it denied the black male equal rights in the past but because it denied the black male his deserved SUPERIORITY over the white guy.
    Since black man is seen as superior, white males now believe black males should have first picks on the best-looking white women and that inferior white males must take the left-overs.

    Rap culture, black dominated sports, and interracist sexual culture speak not of racial equality but black male domination over the men of all other races.

    So, the promise of racial equality is now impossible in America. In words, we are lectured about ‘equality’, but in images, sounds, sports, and sex, the New America is about how superior black males must have first pick and access to the women of all races while the cucked out inferior males must cheer for black male victory. Look at all those cuckish white boys cheering for black athletes who beat up white boys and take white girls.

  86. When you and the rest of the monkeys actually come up with the complete works of Shakespeare, get back to me. Throw in the complete works of Leo Tolstoy and Mickey Spillane while you’re at it.

    I assume you mean Tolstoy in the original Russian?

    Meanwhile, as you are obviously doing your best not to understand me, I see no point in talking to you.

    I don’t know if you are doing your “best” to misunderstand me or not. I pointed out repeatedly that, as written, the conclusion is a matter of inescapable definition. DEFINITION. You refused to acknowledge that truth of DEFINITION. Got it?

    I have no need of reading your “the monkeys can’t do it” reference. I think it is fairly obvious that infinite monkeys and typewriters is not achievable. Works of Shakespeare being typed is irrelevant until there are infinite monkeys and infinite typewriters. But, IF there are infinite monkeys and typewriters, the rest is a tautology.

    Personally, I reject the notion that “anything that can happen, given enough time, eventually will happen”. Events are contingent, not independent. Time is a series of events, and events are contingent.

    You insist upon rejecting theoretical and/or abstract tautologies. Fine. ” I see no point in talking to you.”

    • Replies: @The Plutonium Kid
  87. @John Jeremiah Smith

    Whatever. I regard this as an admission that you’ve been talking nonsense the whole time.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  88. nickels says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    Climate models operate on flat coordinates on the surface of the earth. A helicopter sim will have on coordinate out the front another out the side.
    Mathematically all origins are equivalent.

    It depends on the context. One chooses coordinates on a utilitarian basis.

    This is not positivism. Its basic cartesian geometry and a few tensors to transform second order equations. Relavity might enter in but that’s over my head.

    On that basis I have to agree with the fellow above that the earth centered formulation was correct.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  89. @The Plutonium Kid

    Whatever. I regard this as an admission that you’ve been talking nonsense the whole time.

    LOL. That is the retort expected, and equivalent to an admission of error. It’s okay, nobody really cares but you.

  90. @nickels

    It depends on the context. One chooses coordinates on a utilitarian basis.

    On that basis I have to agree with the fellow above that the earth centered formulation was correct.

    Sorry, it does not depend on context. An interesting dodge, but a bit non-sequitur, and more than a little “off the wall”.

    That the earth orbits the sun is an absolute fact. Context is irrelevant to physical facts, in much the sense that blue is blue, context or no context.

    Now, if you, as an individual with rights to whatever interpretation you want, regard “point of view” as a valid approach to the physical reality of the earth orbiting the sun, fine, knock yourself out. In that circumstance, from the point of view of an ignorant savage observing the heavens in 1500BCE, his outlook is geocentric and valid as such, in context.

    If you think I might be laughing at you, you would be right.

    • Replies: @nickels
  91. nickels says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    Okay.
    Then what is the center of the universe?

    Provide an answer.

    Time will deem you a savage.

    You don’t get it, Jim.

  92. Then what is the center of the universe?

    Way too childish, nick. Bye now.

  93. AnalogMan says:
    @John Jeremiah Smith

    Calm down. Take a deep breath. Now let me try to explain this in terms even you can understand. I’ll take it in small steps and try not to use any big words.

    1. You said In human terms, 4.5 Billion years is indistinguishable from Infinite.

    2. I explained that “in human terms… indistinguishable from infinity” does not mean identical with infinity. Did you follow that?

    3. Now, you say, “I WAS dealing with infinities”. No, you are dealing with 4.5 billion years. Whatever your religious attachments to the concept of infinity, 4.5 billion is not it.

    Let me put it another way. IF 4.5 billion years is equivalent to eternity, and IF that means that everything that is possible will eventually happen within eternity as defined (4.5 billion years), then conversely, anything of low enough probability (like randomly typing a sonnet) has, in human terms, essentially zero probability. Anything with zero probability can never happen. Do you see how your “logic” can be used to prove anything you want to?

    I hope that makes it clear for you. If you’re still having trouble following this, ask your mommy to read it and explain it to you.

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  94. @AnalogMan

    Did you notice that your assertion of “…’indistinguishable from infinity’ … does not mean identical with infinity” directly contradicts your later assertion that “anything of low enough probability has, in human terms, essentially zero probability”? Did you notice that? In the first case, you assert that “almost infinity” is not infinity, but in the second case, you assert that “low probability” is equal to “zero probability”?

    You have begun to insult, rather than to discuss. Waaaay too childish, A-Man. Bye now.

  95. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    The argument from design seems to be the most persuasive. As agnostic Bill Gates states, “But the mystery and the beauty of the world is overwhelmingly amazing, and there’s no scientific explanation of how it came about. To say that it was generated by random numbers, that does seem, you know, sort of an uncharitable view [laughs]. I think it makes sense to believe in God, but exactly what decision in your life you make differently because of it, I don’t know.”
    https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates

    • Replies: @John Jeremiah Smith
  96. Donna says:

    If one understands evolution, this is not a mystery and there’s no need for any belief in a supernatural intelligence. Can a mega-ton airplane stay up in the air? Physics, not supernatural beings, can explain it.

  97. FozzieT says:

    G.K. Chesterton said it best:

    ““Somehow or other an extraordinary idea has arise that the disbelievers in miracles consider them coldly and fairly, while believers in miracles accept them only in connection with some dogma. The fact is quite the other way. The believers in miracles accept them because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them because they have a doctrine against them.”

  98. @Anonymous

    The Argument from Design is a “question begging” argument — completely invalid. What is “design”, after all?

  99. […] This post from the Fred Reed the other day is a good example of the other bit of weirdness with the anti-Darwin people. […]

  100. @Rob Payne

    If science is a religion then it is a religion which heals the sick and reveals the secrets of the Universe.

  101. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:
    @Pat Gilligan

    You’re unwittingly shooting down your own argument. You’ve listed theism-supporting quotations from five science Nobel Prize winners since 1963. Five people is not very impressive. Do you have evidence of any other affirmations of theistic belief among science Nobel Prize winners? Five people is a tiny fraction of all the science Nobel Prize winners since 1963. The majority of them are atheist or agnostic. You’re trying to make it seem as though the intelligence and achievements of these theists lend credence to theism and design, but in reality, you’re just highlighting how uncommon it is to find religious belief alongside great intelligence.

  102. melendwyr says: • Website

    Let me get this straight: the inability of a human to design systems as complex and subtle as biological ones is evidence that those systems were designed by an intelligence.

    Do I have your argument down correctly?

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