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September 16, 2015

Comments

Serial trials and one true sequence fallacies presented beautifully.

How is this not a "god of the gaps" argument? "The odds against life developing from non-life are so stupefyingly large, there is no other answer than 'God'."

Additionally, you fail to point out that any hypothesized pathways to life are just that, hypotheses. There is no good answer yet to abiogensis. I could suggest that perhaps there is a pathway that no one has stumbled on yet that is much simpler. I could suggest that no matter how small the odds, random protein formation is a non-zero probability and therefore could happen. I could suggest that actually estimating the odds for each step is, more or less, an exercise in wild-ass guessing.

The bottom line is that no one knows how life started and "God" is a meta-physical non-answer to this physical question. Some apologists berate scientists and/or atheists for wanting physical explanations to what you would characterize as spiritual questions. Well, right now you're doing the reverse. Even if the odds as you proposed are precisely correct, it doesn't eliminate this physical explanation nor any other physical explanation. It doesn't justify a spiritual jump.

No. There are other (potential) answers to abiogensis and none of them, including God, has yet been shown to be correct.

Chip Salonna (proudly banned by Tim Barnett on Twitter)

Mike,
Re: Serial Trials

I'm not a probability wiz but it seems like you're saying that the probability cannot be reasonably determined because we don't know the number of "participants" working to build the functional protein.

If the above calcs are overly biased toward being highly improbable because they are the result of the "serial trials" fallacy then we'd expect to see that demonstrated in nature. We'd expect to see nature building functional proteins at a rate higher than what these calculations suggest. Do we see that?

Chip,
My understanding of the probability argument is to show that "nature did it" is not a very likely answer to the question. So when someone tells us that "randomness did it" people are justified to remain skeptical.

SteveK,

Wholehearted agreement. I encourage you to remain skeptical on this matter. I am in no way arguing for random protein construction as the answer to abiogensis. Only suggesting that in using this argument to suggest God, Tim is making a rookie mistake.

But (to use a favorite tactic of apologists), which is a more likely to hold an answer to abiogensis given that there is no proof of a supernatural natural realm, a supernatural answer or a natural one? Or, looking at this slightly differently, is it not more sensible to have more skepticism for the unproven supernatural answer or for the potential natural answer that you can touch, measure and see?

I have no idea what you mean by "proof", Chip.

If Tim is anything like me, the arguments that suggest God exists stand on their own, just as the arguments for naturalism stand on their own. But for someone who is unsure about the force of those arguments the probability argument (and others) can help get them off the fence.

SteveK,

There are about a half dozen points in your three short sentences that could be addressed. But I'll try to stay on topic and keep it to three.

1) By proof, I mean essentially something measurable, something, anything, that falls in line with the types of proof we normally expect for claims. I am willing to be flexible with this. Nothing is certain, of course. But something that moves us in the direction of a confirmation of a realm beyond the physical would be really helpful. If this can't be provided, which so far seems to be the case given that Tim argues as he has above, then that's what I call "no proof" and therefore I have no reason to believe in it.

2) Tim's blog post is one of these arguments you refer to that "suggest God", is it not? Then speak to my objection. Is it or is it not a "god of the gaps" argument as I outlined it?

3) What is an "argument for naturalism"? Can you give an example? Are you saying we have to argue for the belief that nature exists? Or do you take naturalism to be a denial that the supernatural exists? Is this (to you) a synonym for atheism? Something else?

Chip,
Re: #2,
I would not say the probability argument suggests God directly, but rather it does so indirectly. I'd say arguments that defend a particular ontological grounding for various things are more direct arguments for God.

Re: #3
I'd say arguments for naturalism also defend a particular ontological reality. If physical matter and energy are the ontological basis for everything we experience then naturalistic arguments are essentially physicalistic/materialistic arguments. See the link below.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/naturalism/#OntNat

I wonder what in the world all that has to do with evolution, Tim?

SteveK,

2) I didn't ask whether the probability argument was direct or indirect to the conclusion. I want to know if you disagree with my assessment. The argument seems to be:

a) Probabilities are vanishingly small that proteins could spontaneously and/or randomly form.
b) Must be another reason
c) God

I know reducing Tim's good-sized post down to these few sentences is going to lose something in the process. But I want to know if you see something wrong in what I say that can bring the probability argument up out of the mire of "god of the gaps" and into the clear sunlight of fallacy-free, level-headed argumentation because I don't see it yet.

It's fine if you want accept a "god of the gaps" argument for yourself. I just want to know if you (or Tim or anyone else) thinks I'm wrong here and if so, why.

building one functional protein with only 150 amino acids by chance alone

Tim's argument applies only to theories of abiogenesis which have no element analogous to the natural selection element in the theory of evolution.

Any theory of abiogenesis that includes an element analogous to natural selection is completely untouched by Tim's argument.

It's as if Tim's never heard of chemical evolution.

Chip,
I do disagree with your assessment. I think Tim's argument is that directed causation (aka designer) is, statistically-speaking, the more probable explanation when compared to random causation. I don't think that statement is controversial because it seems obviously true.

The ontological questions that arise ask what kind of thing can create order? Can a natural thing do this? What?

Can a natural thing do this? What?
A thing like natural selection.

You didn't address the ontological issue, RonH. What kind of natural thing is natural selection?

SteveK,

...directed causation (aka designer) is, statistically-speaking, the more probable explanation when compared to random causation.

Not when the odds for the existence of this "designer" haven't been calculated. You have nothing to compare to. Nobody's even made a stab at it which is appropriate because it would be an even more futile effort than the exercise that Tim has shared with us. I say again, "god of the gaps".

There's a hole in our physical knowledge where it comes to abiogensis. And you (and Tim) are filling it with God... because.

The ontological questions that arise ask what kind of thing can create order?

Now you're asking a philosophical question. There is no right answer for this.

Can a natural thing do this? What?

I don't know. But that is the question science is trying to answer, n'est pas?

I'm willing to leave it at that. Not claim that it must be thus and so "just because".

SteveK,

What kind of natural thing is natural selection?

It's an element of a scientific theory, like I said.

What I would like to do is calculate the probability of building one functional protein with only 150 amino acids by chance alone. But right out of the gate we encounter our first problem. It turns out that amino acids come in two forms: left-handed and right-handed. However, all of life is composed of left-handed amino acids. If one right-handed amino finds its way into your amino acid chain, then our protein is ruined. This is a well-known problem in biology called the chirality problem.

Well, I typed "chirality problem" into the Google machine, and guess what the top two links are? The "chirality problem" is well known in creationist and apologetics, not biological, circles. For a biological perspective on the origin of chirality in amino acids, check out Klussman et al., "Thermodynamic control of asymmetric amplification in amino acid catalysis", Nature 441, 621-623.

There’s another problem. Imagine you get all 150 left-handed amino acids in one place. You still need to bond them together with peptide bonds. However, not all bonds are peptide bonds. In fact, molecular bonds are grouped into two categories: peptide and non-peptide. The odds of getting a peptide bond are also 50%.

Oh, good Lord. First of all, peptide bonds are the only way you can make a stable, heterogeneous amino acid chain of any length. Secondly, the odds of any given bond between two amino acids being a peptide bond are 50%? Where in the world did you get that figure? I think the chances of rain in Death Valley tomorrow are 50%, because it's either gonna rain, or it's not gonna rain.

And, like the commenter above said, the "one true sequence" fallacy. Of the many bazillions of possible protein combinations, there are many bazillions that can result in a viable cell, not just one. If I transposed two codons in a bacterial genome, the odds of that one change killing the organism are essentially nil.

Of the many bazillions of possible protein combinations, there are many bazillions that can result in a viable cell, not just one.

Yep. If the purely-by-chance assumption is the worst part of Tim's presentation, then pretending there is only one 'functional protein' is the second worst.

There are bazillions of functional proteins or as one guy used to say, billions and billions.

If the above calcs are overly biased toward being highly improbable because they are the result of the "serial trials" and other fallacies then we'd expect to see that demonstrated in nature. We'd expect to see nature building functional proteins at a rate higher than what these calculations suggest. Do we see that?

RonH, Tim didn't assume there was only one functional protein. You must have skipped over this part:

The question is, how many of those arrangements are actually functional? Doug Axe at Cambridge University has determined that the probability of getting a functional protein from all of the total possible proteins is 1 in 10^74.

There's more than one functional protein, but there are many more possible combinations than there are functional ones.

Yes, you are right I did skip over it - or anyway I missed it somehow.

That would remove what I called the second worse part of Tim's presentation... if it were valid for Tim to use Axe's number the way he does.

You can read about what Axe did and why Tim can use it the way he does here.

I’m stunned by naturalists’ reaction to this. The theory of evolution was devised to explain what EVERYONE agreed was the appearance of design. Some may recall that when pulsars were first discovered, the signals were thought to be signs of intelligent life, and this was a simple repetition. In any other field, when one sees design it is immediately assumed to have a designer. Not so when it comes to life since it has grave consequences for atheism. Here Tim has highlighted complexity on an astronomically scale compared to pulsars. That a design implies a designer is not a jump in logic.
Neither is unreasonable to point out that the God of the Bible fits this role perfectly. Rather, the naturalist has the burden of disproving there is not a creator behind it.

C Cooper,

Did you follow the link I put in my previous comment?

And, just FYI: Douglas Axe, like most biologists caught in a like situation, was rather peeved when his work got picked up by the Discovery Institute, and personally helped Panda's Thumb write their refutation.

Usual cast of characters...

Axe defended himself at that time so Hunt didn't have the last word on that paper, it seems. Also of note, it seems that the paper was not attacked/refuted by another paper but by blog entry with resulting commentary...which Axe makes mention of.

Chip, as to your #1, maybe this:

All matter originates and exists only by virtue of a force... We must assume behind this force the existence of a conscious and intelligent Mind. This Mind is the matrix of all matter.
...this from Max Planck [one of the fathers of QM] will give you pause that there is indeed something moving us toward "confirmation of a realm beyond the physical", as if you even can rightly separate the two in the first place.

For a naturalist, I think the more pressing problem (not that the probability is not), is that if the universe came about by chance, then strictly speaking, under methodological naturalism, we have not rational thought as there is no free will. The atheist rages about atheism and decries theism not because atheism is true or theism if false, but simply because as a complex machine, that is just what he is compelled to do.

A universe with no ultimate purpose renders the very phrase that the universe has no purpose, meaningless.

"if the universe came about by chance"

Who says this? That isnt the current state of cosmological thought on the matter.

"we have not rational thought as there is no free will"

Firstly I dont see how this follows. Secondly if the God you believe in is omnipotent and omniscient then there is no free will. But I do admit that it depends on what properties you think the God you believe in has - Im just saying.

Brad B,

Your Plank quote has absolute nothing of value to me. WHY must we assume there's a "conscious and intelligent Mind" behind it all? Because all matter exists by a force? What does that mean? The big bang? We have no idea what caused that. Even if you can/do assume this external force, how do you demonstrate it? Plank is doing just what Tim has done. "I can't understand it so there must be a god."

I can assume that tiny, invisible pixies are responsible for the movement of each and every atom. But until I demonstrate it, you have no reason to believe it. Show me how prayer is effective. Not the other way round. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16569567) Where's the person whose amputated leg grew back? Who has video of angels appearing in a crowded church? Which abducted child magically disappeared from her captor's lair to be found safe in her room?

You think that a quantum physicist shrugging his shoulders and saying "must be God" is confirmation of the supernatural?? That's the very definition of ridiculous.

kpolo,

Did you read the link I left?


Brad B,

That Axe responds to Hunt means nothing.

How he responds is what matters.

Did you read the link (to Hunt) I left?

Why should I take a naturalist seriously when, according to their own worldview, there is no objective meaning or purpose to anything? According to the naturalistic worldview, his/her thoughts, emotions, convictions, etc. don't hold any more meaning or value than a clump of dirt.

Daniel,

You going to comment on the OP or just express contempt for unnamed others?

Probability?

What is all this fuss about from our Naturalist friends?

So something improbable happened.

So what?

Several have been asked – outright – here on this blog, “Do you claim that abiogenesis is in fact a probable, common event?”


Crickets.


But that isn’t the point really simply because we all agree on the “possible but not very probable” status of the events of our planet’s very narrow range of life-permitting constants (on the one hand) coupled with the possible but not very probable event of abiogenesis (on the other hand).


Yada yada yada……..


All this heat coming back from the Naturalists on this one, basic, elementary point makes us wonder what the threat is here? Is there even a threat? There doesn’t seem to be – but then why all the fuss coming back from our Naturalist friends?

Surely the mere fact of “probability” never has been the whole show of either the Theist nor of the Atheist. Why not just be honest, and up front, and carry one’s weight instead of all this emoting on the keyboard?

How about something honest from the Materialist – like this: “Not very probable? Well sure. Yeah I get that. But so what?

That would be more respectable than all these songs and dances.


There’s nothing complicated about any of these:


1) “……show that "nature did it" is not a very likely answer to the question. So when someone tells us that "randomness did it" people are justified to remain skeptical….”


2) “….for someone who is unsure about the force of those arguments the probability argument (and others) can help get them off the fence….”


3) “…..directed causation (aka designer) is, statistically-speaking, the more probable explanation when compared to random causation…..”


4) “If the above calcs are overly biased….. then we'd expect to see that demonstrated in nature. We'd expect to see nature building functional proteins at a rate higher than what these calculations suggest. Do we see that?”


The benchtop repeatedly affirms #1 and #3, while observational reality affirms #4, and #2 is simply a bit of basic psychology.


Nothing fancy.


There is a far more interesting topic here:


Whatever “property” the Naturalist means to hedge on, or equivocate on, by stealthily floating the term “orderly” will ultimately be revealed as a fallacy. “Emergent-ism” is nothing more than an appeal to magic, as David Bentley Hart’s intellectual honesty notes:


“…..a true physicalism makes no allowance for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes…. Talk of emergence in purely physical terms, then, really does not seem conspicuously better than talk of magic.”


That is not referring to abiogenesis, nor is it intended to. Rather it is only to demonstrate that if one means to speak of the ontology of “order” and infer that – on materialism – some sort of “emergent-ism” occurs such that the compilation of chemical reactions we call life is somehow “orderly” compared to some other compilation of chemical reactions then one is guilty of an appeal to nothing more than magic as the physicalist cannot rationally ascend beyond what chemical hit and miss factually allows him.


More and more atheists of late are realizing how foolish it looks to try to escape the facts of chemical cascades and so those such as Rosenberg, Harris, and others properly and honestly concede the whole show to the throws of reductionism’s elimination of this or that “emerged property” as pure fiction.


Even more interesting, many materialists of late are even eliminating the “distinction” between life and non-life for there is – on physicalism – no factual “distinction” that can actually exist amid various compilations of chemical reactions. That which is not implicit in the causes just does not "emerge" in the effects - on physicalism.


It is a peculiar state of affairs that the Theist alone has the duo of Probable and Order in his corner, and on the benchtop, while the Materialist has only the duo of Improbable and Random Reverberation in his corner, and on the floor beneath the benchtop.

What I took from this post is simply that it is not irrational to believe in Intelligent Design. In fact, the weight of evidence (the complexity of life being among that evidence) shows that in fact it is very rational to believe in God. I'm also confused about all the backlash from out Naturalist friends...

Daniel,

It sounds like you accept what's in the OP.

So, if you had read a different post advancing the opposite view, would you have concluded that it is irrational to believe in intelligent design?

Are you just saying 'the complexity of life is evidence for ID'?

Or, do you think that statement requires an argument?

If it requires an argument what do you call an objection to the argument 'backlash'?

RonH,

It's a simple, and single, point:

Do you affirm that abiogenesis is a probable / common event?

If not, it's fine. Probability isn't in your corner on that one point.

Our experience in observational reality on the benchtop and in the field affirms the stubborn tendency of destruction perpetually frustrating our attempts to build these things.

It's rational to believe our eyes there and demand hard evidence from you *IF* you seek to deny the benchtop, the field, our very eyes, and affirm that abiogenesis is a probable / common event.

Are you so frightened of loosing the intellectual right to assert "probable" that you perpetually evade the point?

"backlash" = "static filled evasion"

It's not just this post. I find that the more I learn, the more weight of evidence there is that supports the worldview I'm coming from (everyone has a worldview). Christianity (the worldview I'm coming from) provides answers to what I heard someone say every worldview should be able to address: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny. I find that this is just one of many things that support the worldview I'm coming from, whereas I've found a lack of evidence in other worldviews I've learned about to address these things (naturalism, etc.).

Daniel,

Why should I take a naturalist seriously when, according to their own worldview, there is no objective meaning or purpose to anything?

Because this is a silly reason to write someone off. As Christians often point out, there are a lot of smart people who believe in God. Well, there are a lot of smart people who don't. And they've come to this conclusion and it's disingenuous for you to not take them seriously.

I ask you to consider your motivation behind this statement (above). You're not being objective yourself. You're coming to the table with the requirement that serious worldviews must include objective meaning. Ask yourself, why does a worldview have to have objective meaning? Is it because "no objective meaning" is abhorrent to you? Does it make you afraid? Is it just because it disagrees with your personal beliefs? Is their something in the Bible that makes you think this?

I would really appreciate a thoughtful answer on this.

Yes, yes, more static, more noise, -Tis very probable -Tis very common ~ Oh dear yes ~ The cricket's endless sonnet ~


Do you affirm that abiogenesis is a probable / common event?

1) Yes
2) No

And another thing cracks me up...

Daniel: Where is your objective meaning?

Chip...this is a silly reason to write someone off

Chip: Objective meaning?
Chip: We dont got no objective meaning.
Chip: We dont need no objective meaning.
Chip: We dont have to show you no stinking objective meaning.

Stellar reasoning coming from the same guy who early on states that proof must be measurable by some sense perception...the most unreliable source of proof there is...a self defeating tenet of an irrational worldview being clung to by blind faith.

Oh, and also wants a thoughtful response on this...

Ridiculous.

Hi RonH, that Hunt responded to Axe in the first place means nothing also...my point in referencing Axe's response was for anyone who wanted to look and see what points were in dispute, they could [and do it easily by link].

The Axe piece was published in a scientific journal...Hunt et al were blogging...normally you'd be clamoring that the weight should go to the published author. Anyway, I scanned through Hunt's blog post prior to checking on further commentary of the initial interaction. I found Axe's 4 point answer to be easy to follow/read/understand so unless Hunt takes up a response to Axe's clarification/rebuttal I dont see a reason to read Hunt in detail.

And, I noticed as scbrownlhrm has already indicated, you like probability equations/statistics ad infinitum...when they seem to advance your agenda. Maybe you could have caught Hunt in his errors prior to Axe's rebuttal if only you'd have been more skeptical...could've saved us a lot of time, and Hunt a little embarrassment of being shown up publicly.

I dont see my first post from today so I have to try re-doing it. Maybe it got lost in the interweb or I messed up on it.

From Chip to Daniel:

"Because this is a silly reason to write someone off."

This from someone who dismissed Max Planck with a hand wave regarding his request for proof:

"But something that moves us in the direction of a confirmation of a realm beyond the physical would be really helpful."


So I gave him the respected Physicist, and now give another more modern take...borrowing from another's research, hoping to move us in the direction...and dont even think this is scratching the surface of proof that behind matter is a conscious mind....of course this is from fallible sense perception.


"Alain Aspect and Anton Zeilinger by Richard Conn Henry – Physics Professor – John Hopkins University

Excerpt: if mind is not a product of real matter, but rather is the creator of the “illusion” of material reality (which has, in fact, despite the materialists, been known to be the case, since the discovery of quantum mechanics in 1925), then a theistic view of our existence becomes the only rational alternative to solipsism (solipsism is the philosophical idea that only one’s own mind is sure to exist). (Dr. Henry’s referenced experiment and paper – “An experimental test of non-local realism” by S. Gröblacher et. al., Nature 446, 871, April 2007 – “To be or not to be local” by Alain Aspect, Nature 446, 866, April 2007 (Leggett’s Inequality: Violated, as of 2011, to 120 standard deviations)

http://henry.pha.jhu.edu/aspect.html


1) Yes
2) No


Crickets......

It's not everything. No. Rather, it's one, single, focused point:


The intellect is behaving rationally to believe the eyes, and the benchtop, and the field, and observational reality, and count all such lines as evidence in the arena of probability - heavily weighted against abiogenesis.


Daniel,

It's not just this post

So you say you have other reasons.

OK, but the subject right now is just this post.

And, there's a common convention about staying on topic.

And anyway, we have to decide about the quality of Tim's presentation.

And, we have to do that independently of other factors.

In fact, you should decide about the quality of each factor or reason independently before adding them to 'the weight of the evidence' you talk about.

Evaluating the quality of Tims' presentation requires us to consider objections to Tim's presentation (and to Axe's as well).

But, as far as I can tell, you aren't doing that.

Instead, you recite apologetics you've been taught: "origin, meaning, morality, and destiny".

It's a pattern here.

Change the subject.

Talk about the 'weight of the evidence'.

Call someone a 'naturalist'.

Call someone a 'contrarian'.

Talk about 'worldviews'.

Anything but the topic.

So, what do you say?

Is may accusation fair in this case?

Have you looked at objections to Tim's presentation?

RonH,


You are getting off topic.

Again.

Do you affirm that spontaneous biogenesis is a probable / common event?

It's on topic.

I asked you the same question several months ago in a similar thread on the same topic of probability and cells and so on.....


Etc...


Crickets still?


That seems to be a common tactic here by Skeptics - evade the actual "point" of an OP with static, noise, and other distractions.

The OP's thematic entry - the point of it all - the point the Skeptics seem too timid to address up front, with a bit of honesty:

"The origin of life is a mystery that has plagued origin of life researchers trying to find a naturalistic explanation. Nobel Prize winning molecular biologist Francis Crick, who co-discovered the structure of the DNA molecule, said, “The origin of life seems almost to be a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going." These are very telling words from an atheist. Of course, when Crick speaks of the beginning of life from non-life as almost a miracle, he is speaking of the incomprehensible improbability of getting the first life by chance."


Hi RonH,

Thanks for the feedback. Yeah, you're assessment is sounds accurate and helpful. Personally I like seeing things from the bigger picture and am also very unfamiliar with online posting (including the rules of it all) - still learning lots :) But yeah, definitely important to stay on topic.
I haven't taken the time yet to research both sides of the content of the post. Right now am taking a lot of courses and have difficult science test/quizzes this week, but would love to look more into it afterward.

I do think that scbrownlhrm asks a good, relevant question worth addressing: Is spontaneous abiogenesis a probable/common event? Yes or No?

In the real world:

Supernatural?

Syntax of the form “X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top” contradicts nature’s work on that same bench-top and her work out in the field and observational reality (minus mind atop matter).

In the same way, syntax of the form “X brought Y back to life” contradicts nature’s work on that same bench-top and her work out in the field and observational reality (minus mind atop matter).

It’s a simple, predictable, and demonstrable palindrome of mind atop matter: “X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top” is forever seamless with “X brought Y back to life”.

Supernatural? The Modern Skeptic and the Ancient Savage both suffer the same sort of misguided assessment as they both expect to be able to measure a kind of material ripple atop the water should God dip His toe into the pond that is the natural (created) order.

Such painfully reveals their (the Ancient Savage and the Modern Skeptic) gross lack of understanding concerning the nature of reality, and hence of Christian metaphysics, as they expect “God” to be a sort of “being among other beings” so to speak rather than that which sums to Being Itself, rather than that which sums to what David Bentley Hart terms “…the infinite wellspring of being, consciousness, and bliss that is the source, order, and end of all reality….” and so think that God’s toe dipped into the material order must do “violence” to the “laws of nature”.

The Ancient Savage does this from his ignorance of Science, while the Modern Skeptic does this from his ignorance of Theism’s actual truth predicates fallaciously fueling his own straw-man “supernatural” semantics.

Something as basic and as simple as the syntax of "X brought Y back to life" is coherent “out of hand”. Physicians do not violate the laws of nature as they morph – inside of Time and Knowledge – the very definition of the word "death". Infusing molecules and energy, or what have you, into dead bodies violates no "laws" (whatever laws of nature means) – but only serves to morph the definition of “death” to that which carries a definitional contingency upon the physician(s) / person(s) ability(s) rather than something that carries a definitional contingency upon the body proper.

The definition of Death is non-static – ever in flux vis-à-vis the Mind(s) which surround the Body in question.

It happens every day.

And the definition keeps changing. Fluxing. The reach(s) of said Person(s) around said body ever reaching farther.

How odd that death itself should turn out to be such a contingent state of affairs where Persons/Minds/Physicians are concerned.

The Skeptic is left without observational reality, without science, and even without the definition of death in his favor – rather – the only item he has left *IF* he means to reject the syntax of "X brought Y back to life” in any sort of “out of hand” fashion turns out to be his own a priori of what sort(s) of Person(s) exist / what sorts of technical ability(s) said Person(s) bring to the table. Period. Given that the definition of death is clearly, obviously, *not* housed in the body proper, but in the sort(s) of Person(s) surrounding said body, their capability(s) to infuse molecules, energy – and so on – well then of course it is all very simplified.

The only key variable left is the sorts of persons involved, as observational reality, science, the ever changing definition of death, and no need to mess with the “laws of nature” (whatever they are supposed to “be”) all affirm the coherence “out of hand” in syntax of the form “X brought Y back to life” in the real world as we actually find it. Given the nature of reality the Christian rationally predicted and predicts that said syntax easily obtains inside of nature all the while never doing “violence” to “nature”, never summing to the Skeptic’s straw man definition of “un”-natural.

Indeed, it’s a simple, predictable, and demonstrable palindrome of mind atop matter: “X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top” is forever seamless with “X brought Y back to life”.

Supernatural? Again – The Modern Skeptic and the Ancient Savage both suffer the same sort of disjointed logic as they both expect to be able to measure a kind of material ripple atop the water should God dip His toe into the pond that is the natural (created) order.

Again – The Ancient Savage does this from his ignorance of Science, while the Modern Skeptic does this from his ignorance of Theism’s actual truth predicates fallaciously fueling his own straw-man “supernatural” semantics.

How revealing it is that the Modern Skeptic and the Ancient Savage tend to come to the same sort of conclusions about the nature of what they are “seeing” in the peculiar and repeatable syntax of “X brought Y back to life” here in the real world – and of course let’s not forget syntax of the form “X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top”, as we find an event which the Christian’s definitions of mind, of body, of life, of death’s definitional contingency upon that which is something other than the body proper (and so on) easily granted him from day one the ability to predict. But the Savage and the Skeptic are each certain that such must be – somehow – doing “violence” to “nature”, each must be somehow “un”-natural and thus you each misread reality.

It is unfortunate that the Skeptic rejects metaphysical necessities in favor of Scientism or else he might have a clue as to just why it is his definition of “supernatural” sums to the classic case of the Skeptic’s Straw Man.

Supernatural? As it turns out, the perceptual “eyes” by which Man “sees” at all are the eyes of logic and of love. Such are the only eyes by which to see reality – to see God – and these the Skeptic’s metaphysics cannot retain for in his metaphysics we find that – at some ontological seam somewhere – both logic and love suffer the pains of elimination – ever beholden to some more proximal – and distal – taskmaster. The Skeptic therefore thinks about the nature of reality along the same misguided lines of the ancient Savage as they both conclude that, given the nature of reality, syntax of the form X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top and of the form X brought Y back to life is a syntax which cannot obtain in the natural order of things unless it first does “violence” against the “laws of nature” – for such syntax just has to be “un”-natural.

Science and Theism have left the ancient Savage – and hence the Skeptic’s own definitions – behind long, long ago.

Science and Theism converge as God is the most natural entity there is, or ever can be, as the un-derived is necessarily more concrete than the derived. The expectation – even the demand – of the Naturalist that he be able to measure a kind of material ripple atop the water should God dip His toe into the pond that is the natural (created) order reveals his gross lack of understanding on the nature of reality – on the Christian’s metaphysics.

The Christian has always known that the syntax of X brought Y back to life is all very natural and does not do any violence against the “laws of nature” – and hence the Christian’s definitions of mind, of body, of life, of death’s definitional contingency upon that which is something other than the body proper (and so on) have easily granted him from day one the ability to predict and even expect such occurrences to obtain inside of the created order.

That is why both the Hebrew and the Christian (and now Science) got it right – all those millennia ago.

Sadly, the Naturalist reminds us of another commentator elsewhere who asserted, wrongly, that "miracle" equates to "un"-natural, that dead people are never raised back to life, that everyone only dies once, and that should any of those be violated then such would be a “insult” against “nature” and that, given science, they are not possible. Of course, his basis for asserting such was the same conceptual poverty comprising all of the Naturalist’s own premises seen here thus far.

Ultimately he was verifiably wrong about the word nature, about the word violation, about the prefix "un" in un-natural, about the word raised, about the word miracle, about the word science, about the word – and definition of – death, and about the word possible.

Here we have verifiable evidence that scientism – which sums to a rejection of metaphysics – caused him, and is causing the Skeptic here – to misinterpret the nature of reality, to define things based on false premises and ultimately to badmouth the progress of science. Whereas, the Christian’s metaphysics successfully predicted that such events “did” and “can” and “do” and “will” occur given the nature of reality.

The naturalist’s scientism leaks through, ever tainting his stream of thought and contaminating his science, and affirms that the conceptual poverty of Atheism/Naturalism is, in the content of its modes of thought and in its premises, painfully demonstrable.

"What kind of metaphysics are you likely to cherish when you sturdily suppose yourself to be free from the abomination?" Well – any philosopher who lives and dies by scientism certainly has not ended up with an accurate kind of metaphysic – the kind which can afford him the predictive power of Theism – the kind which properly interprets the nature of reality. Indeed, the syntax of the form X brought Y back to life casually obtains inside of the natural order, given the nature of reality, and all without doing violence to the laws of nature.

Exactly as the Hebrew and the Christian (and now Science) have always affirmed.

T. Gilson’s blog had two commentators remind us of yet another way in which the Skeptic’s definition of “supernatural” is wholly fallacious. The first noted,

All facts require interpretation, you are interpreting through the lens of your worldview and I through mine. I’ll remind you that you are trying to show a contradiction in my worldview, the fact that it might contradict yours is hardly surprising.

While the second noted,

And that is part of a running theme here. As with my argument from moral truth, and my refutation of the argument for materialism, one simply can’t cram these kinds of questions into a scientific model. The entire point of what the theist is saying is that there are things which don’t fit that model. One is free to disagree, but it makes no sense to argue against the truth of those claims by pointing out that science doesn’t find them. Of course it doesn’t, that’s the theists point. The debate is over whether or not science gives us an exhaustive picture of all reality.

The fallacy of “emergent-ism” hinges on the scientific and metaphysical impossibility that physicalism “magically” makes room for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes and that fallacy combined with the very basic sorts of contours explored here easily demonstrate why our Atheist friends are a million miles away from earning the intellectual right to think that they can assert that Theistic epistemology must dance to Materialistic ontology. In fact, given the Skeptic’s own epistemology – all the weight of the intellectually rigorous is actually in the reverse direction – on pain of his own unintelligibility on terms such as “living” and “non-living” and “person” and “intentional” and “Man” and…. and….. and so on as, scientifically and metaphysically, that which is not implicit in the causes just does not "emerge" in the effects (on physicalism).

That is why the distinction between “living” and “non-living” is, of late, being fundamentally repealed by today’s more brave form of atheistic philosopher. Chemical hit and miss over “there” cannot be – in any literal sense – constitutionally different than it is over “here”.

David Bentley Hart echoes that same premise – which more and more Atheists are conceding of late (forced by logic’s demand for lucidity) – as the fallacy of emergentism cannot help the Naturalist ontologically locate “Man” of any kind, nor ontologically locate “Alive” of any kind, nor “Life” of any kind, nor “Non-Living” of any kind, nor…. nor…. for there is no such thing as magic:

A true physicalism makes no allowance for emergent properties in nature that are not already implicit in their causes. Unless, then, one is positing the existence of proto-conscious material elements, particles of intentionality and awareness that are in some inconceivable way already rational and subjective, and that can add up to the unified perspective of a single conscious subject (which seems a quite fantastic notion), one is really just talking about some marvelously inexplicable transition from the undirected, mindless causality of mechanistic matter to the intentional unity of consciousness. Talk of emergence in purely physical terms, then, really does not seem conspicuously better than talk of magic.

As science affirms the linguistic syntax of X built a cell from scratch on the bench-top and as science affirms the linguistic syntax of X brought Y back to life, and as Scientism cannot give us a complete accounting of reality and in fact must annihilate all intelligibility, we come to Professor Lennox as he comments on the views we obtain through our categorically different lenses:

Suppose that scientists manage one day to produce life in the laboratory from nonliving chemicals — as many believe they will, in light of Craig Venter’s construction of a synthetic bacterium using a genome contained in a computer program. Suppose, further, that this life thrives and establishes itself as a new species, Species X, say. Now imagine that all scientific records of this are lost, and in the far distant future scientists come across Species X. If neo-Darwinism is still the reigning paradigm, these scientists will inevitably argue that Species X is related to all other life by an uninterrupted naturalistic evolutionary process. They will be wrong, will they not? The relationship of Species X to other species involves a special and discrete input of information by intelligence. What is more, that intervention of human intelligence is, by definition, invisible to neo-Darwinism — just as invisible as is the special creation of humans by God to neo-Darwinism today. But neo-Darwinism is not the only pair of glasses on the market.

Well RonH, what's it going to be:

Do you affirm that abiogenesis is a probable / common event? 1) Yes 2) No

we're all Still Waiting (again)

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