The Incoherence of Evolutionary Origins (2)

Part One

The Fusion of Confusion

Evolutionists, except the rather small coterie of Theistic ones, believe every complex and meticulously ordered thing got here through mechanisms which we neither see now nor can see in the evidence left in the past.  Even our cognitive faculties and the immaterial laws of logic and number “evolved.”  The Big Bang is the most popular notion of the origin of the universe at the present time, although there is a significant lobby of dissidents.  The Big Bang is an explosion.  All explosions are chaotic, disorderly things.  (The Big Bang exploded flat – not in all directions).  In other ways it would have been like every other explosion: confused and irrational.

But from this chaos the vast complexity of the first life sprang: not, it is true, overnight, but over billions of years.  From this incoherence the coherent came.  Do we ever see coherence, in the form of sequenced “specified” complexity, arise out of chaos and disorder?  No we do not.  Nothing self-orders in complex and specific ways without a code.  And a code needs someone to write it.   But evolutionary naturalism requires just the opposite.

Furthermore, as we, the observers, recognize and analyze the coherence in the world, our standing (or existence) as observers must be accounted for.  This was one of the questions asked by Richards and Gonzalez in their book The Privileged Planet.   It is a good question.  Why is the world comprehensible?  Why can we do science?

This question must be addressed by creationists and evolutionists.  It cannot be ducked on the pretext that evolution does not concern itself with such matters.  Biological evolution does not.  But there is such a thing as “chemical evolution”.  There is even a Center for it!

One prominent evolutionist puts the matter clearly:

One has only to contemplate the magnitude of this task, to concede that the spontaneous generation of a living organism is impossible.  Yet, here we are as a result, I believe, of spontaneous generation.”  George Wald, ‘The Molecular Basis of Life’, 339

We must not link this use of “spontaneous generation” with the old idea that new life arises from rotting meat.  Once this is kept in mind there is nothing wrong with Wald’s use of the term.  But talk about the power of presuppositions!  He believes in the impossible.  And as we shall see, it is not one isolated “impossibility” that evolutionists have to swallow.  In fact, it is not even the first.

Has this kind of evolution (a form of abiogenesis) ever been demonstrated?  It has not (link).  One creationist writer comments:

After decades of investigation, no environment has been discovered that facilitates abiogenesis. The richest inventory of chemical compounds have been zapped, irradiated, dried, rehydrated, and subjected to a host of parameters. All of these processes, however, have resulted in disorganized matter. In order to provide an appropriate framework for life, a machinist would still be necessary, one who could construct several thousand specific proteins, nucleic acids, carbohydrates, vitamins, and lipids in their exact configurations, all the while maintaining the integrity of each molecule in the collection. – Brian Thomas, “Origin of Life Research Still Dead.”

Also, as Meyer explains,

Every choice the investigator makes to actualize one condition and exclude another – to remove one by-product and not another – imparts information into the system.  Therefore, whatever “success” these experiments have achieved in producing biologically relevant compounds occurs as a direct result of the activity of the experimentalist – a conscious, intelligent, deliberative mind – performing the experiments. – Stephen C. Meyer, Signature in the Cell, 335.

To an evolutionist this means that “when” somebody produces organic cells from its constituents the cry will go up, “We have discovered the conditions in which life arose.”  But would it?  While some confidence in the deliverances of science, even defined in reductionistic tones, is warranted, and the great successes of scientists lend encouragement to the belief that more is to come, it is extremely doubtful that any of these successes have any logical connection to belief in evolution.  Scientists holding to evolution have done marvelous things, and so have scientists not holding to evolution.  But the principle of testing competing hypotheses is not bettered by a belief which itself has failed to substantiate any of its major tenets.

To any other person any announcement that scientists have found the original environment for life would only prove that trained scientists, knowing the constituents of cellular organisms, have replicated what was (perhaps) previously done.  It would certainly not prove it was achieved by undirected mindless processes.  If evolutionists could do such a thing (and they can’t), they would, in their announcements, be sure to divert attention away from the designed and controlled laboratory conditions and the training and funding of the scientists.

The Blind and Ignorant Watchmaker

Richard Dawkins wrote,

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.” – Richard Dawkins, The Blind Watchmaker, 1

We all know this quote, but behind it lies a steely determination not to recognize what we all do recognize in every other walk of life – design.  The title of his book is interesting but misleading.  Interesting because it evokes a scene where someone blind from birth, and having no prior knowledge of watches, proceeds over time to put together one of these marvelous mechanisms in full working order.  Misleading because the watchmaker himself, also envisioned as a product of evolution, but being far more complex than the watch, must also be explained.  Although Dawkins is being rhetorical, calling evolutionary processes by this name commits the fallacy of reification – a very common fault with these people.

What these sorts of quotes are telling us is that because of their naturalistic bias, these eminent evolutionists will not even consider special creation as an alternative.  And as there are just two models of origins, evolution (in their view), wins by default: it must be true no matter how much evidence accrues to falsify it.  Operating from such an outlook the evolutionist is doomed to miss the wood for the trees.

Evolution is treated as unfalsifiable, and is treated as such because it is viewed as having so much power to uphold the philosophy of naturalism.  It is the only avenue of explanation open to the materialist, and cannot be allowed to buckle under unwelcome scrutiny.  It is treated and taught as an unassailable fact.  Evolution supports naturalism.  Naturalism is the only methodology permitted by evolutionists.  Ergo, naturalism must support evolution.  It is viciously circular.

Writing some time ago, two evolutionists admitted that,

Our theory of evolution has become one which cannot be refuted by any possible observation ; every conceivable observation can be fitted into it.  It is thus outside of empirical science, but not necessarily false.  No one can think of ways in which to test it. Ideas, either without basis, or based on a few laboratory experiments carried out in extremely simplified systems, have attained currency far beyond their validity.  They have become part of an evolutionary dogma accepted by most of us as part of our training.” – E. Birch and PR Ehrlich, ‘The Journal of Nature’ 1967, number 214

Things haven’t changed:

 Science today is locked into paradigms. Every avenue is blocked by beliefs that are wrong and if you try to get anything published by a journal today, you will run up against a paradigm and the editors will turn it down.  – Sir Fred Hoyle, from ‘Scientific American, of March 1995′, quoted by Andy Macintosh, Genesis for Today

But the law of biogenesis holds.  Why look for ways to circumvent it?

Biologists know only that all life derives from proceeding life, and that the parent organism’s offspring are always of the same kind.  The idea that ‘life can come from non-life’ is called abiogenesis, which is assumed by evolutionists to have occurred only once or a few times at most in earth history. This conclusion is not a result of evidence, but is obtained because the current dominant worldview in Western science, naturalism, requires a chance spontaneous origin of life. – Jerry Bergman, In Six Days – edited by John Ashton, 40

The blind watchmaker seems to be on a hiding to nowhere.

More next time…

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10 comments

  1. I have to say that I disagree with a great many of the premises made in your first few paragraphs, upon which you have built the rest of this article.

    Firstly, you assert that naturalists believe that all complexity “got here through mechanisms which we neither see now nor can see in the evidence left in the past.” I would, of course, heartily disagree. If we narrow our view to the evolution of diverse life, we see the mechanism by which evolution occurs, both concurrently and in the evidence left by the past. That mechanism is biological reproduction. We see this occur every day. We see that the resultant offspring from biological reproduction differ from their parents, which in turn differed from their own parents. We can see the archaic evidence left by the past of this mechanism’s effect in numerous fields of study, though most clearly in paleobiology and genetics.

    Next, you assert that “The Big Bang is an explosion.” This is not correct. The Big Bang was a period of rapid expansion of space-time. It is true that popular science sometimes uses the analog of “an explosion” to help illustrate the idea (since explosions also represent rapid expansion of something), but you cannot then claim that this analog defines properties of the initial concept. For example, I have often heard the Trinity illustrated using the analog of a three-leafed clover, since a clover also represents three things in one being. However, if I were to then say, “The Christian God is a plant!” you would rightly take issue with my inaccurate claim. The Big Bang is no more an explosion than God is a clover.

    Finally, you say that “Nothing self-orders in complex and specific ways without a code.” This seems utterly ridiculous. Everything self-orders in complex and specific ways without need for a code or coder. Any random sequence of events leads to a complex and specific result. There is no need for an intelligent agency to impose complexity or specificity onto any pattern. The whole concept of “specified complexity” is simply pareidolia and argument from ignorance.

    Given these fairly glaring disagreements, I’d have to say that your conclusion would seem more than a bit suspect.

    1. BP,

      I have little time, but would like to offer a quick reply:

      1. Biological reproduction is an extremely complex thing. No mechanism has been close to being produced to account for it. See, e.g., the work of Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen called The Mystery of Life’s Origin, where the various experiments are brought together and analyzed, as are their question-begging (in some cases) simulations. If (as seems clear), you are referring to what is called micro-evolution (variation within species), there is no argument. There is “evolution” within species. There is no evidence whatsoever of macro-evolution (evolution of one species into another). Palaeontology provides evidence for fixity of species, though with micro-evolution. Genetics provides no evidence that one species came from another. What is found is that organisms are made of the same basic stuff, though with differing arrangements etc., which is what one would expect if they were designed. After all, if this wasn’t the case, they couldn’t eat each other! This is covered in e.g. Meyer.
      Besides, this is all passe. I am here talking about the origin of life.

      2. Joseph Silk calls the big bang an explosion in his book, The Big Bang (3rd ed.), 96. The initial singularity could be called an explosion. the fact that there was (supposedly) no space for it to explode into hardly helps matters. If we could see the big bang we would describe it as an explosion. The detonation of an A-bomb can be charted, but it is still an explosion.
      Now I realize that the Inflationary hypothesis comes in to explain the fact that the background radiation is equal in all directions. But that supposed incident was billions of times greater than the first one. Plus, some cosmologist have inferred a chaotic inflation event to try to account for the formation of stars and galaxies. And of course, no one has explained why the universe contains far far more matter than anti-matter (the Baryon number). Hence, though I note your complaint, I think I am justified in my use of the term.

      3. The self-ordering you speak of involves random events for sure. But I wrote about specified complex or coded events which are statistically improbable, but also very specific. This is the difference between Shannon information (your example) and specified complex information (my example). With respect, you rather naively conflate Shannon information and Specified Complex information. Your remark about specified complexity being an argument from ignorance shows ignorance itself of the work of Dembski and Meyer who have gone into detail on this very issue.

      1. 1. Paleontology and genetics both show evidence of minor physiological variations between similar species graduating to larger and larger differences the further those species get from interbreeding viably. When species are very closely related, genetically, they can reproduce to create viable offspring. As genetic variation increases, we reach a point where two species can interbreed but produce infertile offspring. Eventually, when variation becomes too great, the two species cannot breed at all. Despite Meyer’s protestations, this perfectly aligns with the idea of accumulated random mutation over generations leading to two populations diverging through speciation. Paleontology bears this out, showing a sequence whereby more basal traits diverge into differing specialized traits in subsequent populations.

        2) As I mentioned, the word “explosion” has been applied to the Big Bang even by members of the scientific community. That doesn’t make it a legitimate analogy. The effects described by the Big Bang have extremely little in common with, say, the effect of dynamite or an A-bomb. All that they do share in common is that both tend to be events describing a rapid expansion. Again, it is no more legitimate to ascribe the properties of a bomb’s explosion to the Big Bang than it is to apply the properties of a clover to the Christian God.

        3) I am familiar with Dembski and Meyer’s claims about the idea of “specified complexity,” and I find them to be completely unconvincing. Once again, any random sequence of events leads to a specific and complex outcome. How are we to tell the difference between specified complexity which IS the result of random variation, and specified complexity which is not? If one arbitrarily selects any single, specific outcome of a sequence of random events, that outcome is statistically improbable. The only difference between random outcomes and Dembski’s specified complexity is a pareidolic attachment to a single, particular possible outcome.

      2. Okay BP,

        I do not have time for these kinds of conversations. It is obvious to me, as it is obvious to anybody who has read Dembski and Meyer that you have not read them at all. You completely misconstrue their ideas. There is a huge difference between spilling a scrabble board over accidentally and forming an irregular and unique pattern (Shannon’s theory) and filling the board with words which can be checked against a dictionary (Specified complex information).

        The book I cited was a textbook by Silk. Added to that is the fact that my main point was that chaotic conditions (e.g. a cloud of mainly hydrogen gas) cannot turn in any amount of time into indescribably intricate organisms who theorize about them.

        Biogenesis is a law of science. Why would people try to evade such a well established law unless they were not happy with the implications of that law (worldview)?

        I do not have time for this BP. There is nothing substantive in your opinions. Time to move on.

  2. I’ve been out of town, so maybe the discussion here is over. But just in case, I have a question.

    “Biogenesis is a law of science.”

    I’m not sure that you fully understand the meaning of the word “law” here. As I’ve previously stated, laws are not sacred truths.

    Also, the following caught my eye.

    “The richest inventory of chemical compounds have been zapped, irradiated, dried, rehydrated, and subjected to a host of parameters. All of these processes, however, have resulted in disorganized matter. ”

    Now, obviously, I’m not an expert in the field of specified complexity, but you’ve obviously read a lot about this, so I have two questions.

    What is the specified complexity of the arrangement of atoms in water, methane, ammonia and molecular hydrogen?

    What is the specified complexity of glycine?

    Finally, I’d be glad to read what Demski has published about specified complexity in a peer-reviewed mathematics journal. Could you provide me with a reference here?

    1. David,

      This post is about the origin of LIFE (a minimal definition of which would be a self-replicating system). It is not about the existence and properties of substances which, when brought together without a code and a great deal of intelligence (more than humans have yet combined to produce), do not produce LIFE. Too, the deconstruction of compounds due to interaction with foreign elements and ultraviolet is consistently downplayed. Glycine is the simplest amino acid. Just putting it together with 19 or so other amino acids does not produce LIFE.

      You should read Thaxton, Bradley & Olsen’s ‘The Mystery of Life’s Origin: Reassessing Current Theories’ and the relevant chapters in Meyer’s ‘Signature in the Cell’ where the problems you seem to want to circumvent are discussed in detail.

      If you can cite one single counter to Biogenesis it would not be a scientific law. That’s what makes it a law. This despite all the money and talent wasted to find an exception because naturalism needs one.

      As for peer review, you didn’t read the Hoyle quote. I will refer to this issue in the third and final post.

      I think we’re done here.

  3. I think that you misunderstood my point. I should have been much clearer in my comment.

    You say…

    “This post is about the origin of LIFE (a minimal definition of which would be a self-replicating system).”

    Yes, but, this post included the following….

    “Do we ever see coherence, in the form of sequenced “specified” complexity, arise out of chaos and disorder? No we do not. Nothing self-orders in complex and specific ways without a code.”

    This is a key issue. This hypothesis is key to the argument that life cannot originate from non-life. We have to start with first principles here, before concluding that all of this specified complexity stuff rules out life from non-life.

    So, is it really, really true that nothing ever “self-orders in complex and specific ways without a code”? How can we test this statement?

    Well, we could start with a given arrangement of atoms and measure its specified complexity. Then we could look at a second arrangement of atoms and measure its specified complexity. If the second arrangement has a greater SC than the first, and we got from the first arrangement to the second arrangement by natural means, then the hypothesis in question is disproved.

    By the way, you keep referring to DNA as a “code”. It’s actually an arrangement of atoms in space. The word “code” is useful as an analogy, but DNA is not the same as a symbolic code.

      1. “However, since you’ve read all of these books, I really did think that you could tell me about the quantity of specific complexity in glycine.”

        Comment edited.

        Editor’s Comment: Sorry David, it’s time to move on. As you have not given a straight answer to any questions asked of you; have skipped over the major points raised in these posts, and as glycine does not equal life, your request is denied and your time-wasting is over. We both know you have no intention of educating yourself on this subject!

        Adieu.

  4. I honestly thought that I was both addressing issues raised in these post and giving you answers to your questions. My apologies for the misunderstandings. Adieu to you as well.

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