meester_bond (meester_bond) wrote,

The Reliability of the Bible Saga: Part 15

Recognising that perhaps my initial rebuttal of what Scott had said hadn't gone into quite enough detail, I then did a "re-debunking" of the post Scott had initially made when responding to my criticism of his views of ID. Here is what transpired from this:


What I rely on is the work done by John Barrow and Frank Tipler in their book “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle”…
Frank Tipler is a professor of Mathematical Physics at Tulane University and John Barrow is a professor of Astronomy at Sussex.

Newsflash, Scott: Expertise in Topic X does *not* automatically confer expertise in a different, unrelated Topic Y. John Doe’s uninformed opinion on Topic Y is as worthless as any other uninformed opinion on Topic Y, *regardless* of how great a level of expertise the uninformed-on-Topic-Y Doe may possess with respect to Topic X.

So, okay: You’ve got a dude with expertise in the field of Mathematical Physics, and another dude with expertise in the field of Astronomy… and they’re writing about the field of *biology*, said field having *no significant relationship to EITHER of the fields those dudes actually DO have expertise in?*

Hmm. A bit of a red flag, that. Still, it’s at least *possible* that Tipler and Barrow might actually have troubled themselves to acquire sufficient biological savvy that they genuinely do know what they’re talking about, so let us continue…

In their book “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” (pp. 562-564), [Tipler & Barrow] … list 10 crucial ingredients that must be present for life to develop.

“must be present for life to *develop*“? Okay, so T&B are talking about the origin of life—abiogenesis. Presumably, the ’10 crucial ingredients’ they cite must, therefore, *necessarily* be common to *all* life, because otherwise, they wouldn’t have cited whatever-it-is as being ‘crucial’ dealies which ‘MUST BE PRESENT for life to develop’ (emphasis added). So, what are these ’10 crucial ingredients’?

1. The development of the DNA-based genetic code

The last time I checked, the concensus among abiogenesis researchers—the people who *actually do* have the most expertise in this topic—is that DNA is a bit of a Johnny-come-lately, and it *couldn’t* have been involved with the actual origin of life. So I’m curious to know the grounds on which T&B assert that DNA is a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

2. The invention of aerobic respiration

There are critters whose metabolic processes are anaerobic , hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

3. The invention of glucose fermentation to pyruvic acid

Well, conversion of glucose into pyruvate to produce energy does occur in all cellular organisms*, although not always via the same pathway (see Entner-Doudoroff and Embden-Meyerhof, I seem to remember reading something a while back about the former being the oldest). I guess if you take a metabolism-first approach you could say that that particular piece of chemistry had to be present right at the very beginning of the process. Even then, I’m not sure about calling it a “crucial ingredient” for life to develop. It’s more like a “crucial step” of the development of life.


*with the exception of one or other obligate intracellular parasite. Incidentally, and relating to the discussion above, if you are too demanding with your definition of life you may end up unintentionally ruling out some of them.

4. The origin of autotropic photosynthesis

There’s plenty of critters that aren’t photosynthetic autotrophs, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

5. The origin of mitochondria

There’s plenty of critters that don’t have mitochondria, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

6. The formation of the centriole/kinetosome/undulipodia complex

“Undulipodia”? [shrug] A flagellum by any other name… There’s plenty of monocellular critters that don’t have flagella/undulipodia/etc, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

7. The evolution of an eye precursor

There’s plenty of critters that don’t have eyes, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

8. The development of endoskeleton

There’s plenty of critters that don’t have endoskeletons, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

9. The development of chordates

There’s plenty of critters that aren’t chordates, hence this point *cannot* be a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”.

10. The evolution of Homo Sapiens in the chordate lineage

Since when is *Homo Sapiens* a “crucial ingredient” which “must be present for life to develop”?

By my reckoning, here’s the final tally:

*8 (eight) BLATANTLY, GRINDINGLY WRONG claims that Thing X is a requirement for life to develop

1 (one) POSSIBLY VALID claim that Thing X is a requirement for life to develop

1 (one) claim that Thing X is a requirement for life to develop, said claim being starkly at odds with the concensus of people *who ACTUALLY DO know what they’re talking about*

For some strange reason, Scott Rachui, what you wrote here does not inspire me to regard Tipler and Barrow as being any more reliable when it comes to abiogenesis, than is the dude behind the counter at the local Little Caesar’s.

Well, maybe you garbled T&B’s message a little—maybe T&B didn’t mean to discuss the origin of *all life on Earth*, but, rather, just the origin of *one particular species on Earth*, said species being us humans. If so, I’m still not impressed, because in that case, what you’ve got is yet another variation on the time-honored Creationist argument “Very Low Probability! Therefore GOD DID IT!” The main problem with any such argument is that it *assumes*, up front, that humans are somehow a *necessary* product of… whatever processes were involved with the history of life on Earth.

Analogy: Take two 52-card decks. Thoroughly shuffle them together, and deal out all the cards in the thoroughly shuffled double-deck, face up. You’ll get a sequence of 104 cards, right? As it happens, that card-sequence you just dealt out is one of (104! 1.03*10^166 different card-sequences, which means the *particular* card-sequence you got is, therefore a 1/(1.03*10^166) longshot. But ID-pushers assure us that anything whose probability is less than 1/(10^150) is so improbable that it cannot have arisen by chance, and *that* means any such stupendously-improbable whatzit must, therefore, *be considered a product of Design*!

This is, of course, rubbish. It’s also a prime example of the Texas Sharpshooter fallacy. Yes, the particular double-deck card-sequence you dealt out is, indeed, a 1/(1.03*10^166) longshot, and so *what*? As improbable as that card-sequence may be, it *happened*. You *did* deal that card-sequence out. And any line of ‘reasoning’ which ends with “therefore, your card-sequence must have been the product of Design” is utter garbage.

Similarly, regardless of how improbable the specific sequernce of events which led up to *Homo sapiens* may be, that sequence of events *happened*. And the mere fact that said sequence of events *did* happen, is no more evidence of a Designer’s intervention with respect to *H. Sapiens*, than the mere fact that you dealt out a specific card-sequence is evidence of a Designer’s intervention with respect to that card-sequence.

But it’s more than just not having the answers. It’s this untenable faith commitment that life can spring from non-life.


You want to argue that *H. Sapiens* had to have been Designed, on the grounds that ‘life can only spring from life’? Fine. If that premise is valid, *the Designer of* H. sapiens *MUST itself, have been a living thing*. Because if you grant that the Designer *wasn’t* a living thing, *you’ve just negated the life-only-springs-from-life premise which is your justification for invoking a Designer in the first place*. And since the life-only-springs-from-life premise requires that the Designer *must* have been a living thing, it equally requires that *the Designer, itself, MUST necessarily have been Designed by SOME OTHER Designer*. And this Designer-designer, in turn, *must necessarily* have been Designed by a Designer^3… who, in turn, *must necessarily* have been Designed by a Designer^4…

In short: The life-only-springs-from-life premise, *if* said premise is actually valid, *ABSOLUTELY REQUIRES* an infinite regress of Designers designing Designers designing Designers designing yada yada yada, worlds without end, amen.

One way out is to declare that the Designer of humankind is, in fact, *not* a living thing—but if you go that route, kiss your life-only-springs-from-life premise goodbye. Another escape route is to declare that your Designer doesn’t *need* to have sprung from any other life; but this response, like the previous one, just plain old *destroys* the life-only-springs-from-life premise you’re touting as your justification for invoking a Designer.

And you think it’s *rejecting* the life-only-springs-from-life premise that requires a “faith commitment”?

Yyyyyyyyyyeah. Right. You bet, Scott. Sure thing. Uhh-huh.

Every attempt at an explanation has failed.

Only for values of ‘failed’ which include ‘not *yet* been confirmed’.

Every experiment (even the Miller-Urey experiment) has not met the necessary standard.

Hold it. Exactly what “necessary standard” is it that you assert hasn’t yet been met? And on what grounds do you assert that said “necessary standard” has, in fact, not not been met? I’d be willing to bet a substantial sum of money that every experiment you would dismiss as “not [meeting] the necessary standard” *wasn’t even INTENDED to address the question YOU denounce said experiment for failing to answer.*

Couple this with the fact that we DO have reasonable answers when reasoning to the origin of life from the existence of a necessary being that is himself the first cause, though He is uncaused (he exists by the necessity of his own being)…

Damn. You *are* blowing off the life-only-springs-from-life premise that you cite as your justification for invoking a Designer when it comes to human beings! Logic: U R DOING IT RONG.

I’m not going to bother fisking your god-talk, Scott. I will simply say this: When you can come up with an empirically valid experimental test for the presence or absence of whatever mode of intervention by your favorite god, *then* we can talk. Until that happy day, how about you leave your favorite god parked at the curb when you talk about science, hm?

Basically, all I got from Scott in response was more ad homs and claims that he felt perfectly justified in ignoring me from now on because I didn't have relavent qualifications, as well as of course the tone trolling and calling me childish, despite his display of petulant refusals to address the vast majority of what I had put to him. As I will demonstrate in my Part 16, this argument about qualifications was going to be an argument that would prove to be the undoing of both Robert and Scott.
Tags: reliability bible
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