Letter to the editor

334

Note:  On Dec. 26, 2014 an opinion piece appeared in the Wall Street Journal titled  “Science Increasingly makes the case for God.” Lawrence Krauss responded with the following letter disputing its specious science claims. Unfortunately the editors of the WSJ failed to print his response. Since then, the opinion piece has gained traction on right-wing and religious websites, spreading inaccuracies and misinformation. Lawrence’s letter corrects the record.

By Lawrence Krauss

To the editor:

I was rather surprised to read the unfortunate oped piece “Science Increasingly makes the case for God”, written not by a scientist but a religious writer with an agenda.  The piece was rife with inappropriate scientific misrepresentations.  For example:

  1. We currently DO NOT know the factors that allow the evolution of life in the Universe.  We know the many factors that were important here on Earth, but we do not know what set of other factors might allow a different evolutionary history elsewhere.  The mistake made by the author is akin to saying that if one looks at all the factors in my life that led directly to my sitting at my computer to write this, one would obtain a probability so small as to conclude that it is impossible that anyone else could ever sit down to compose a letter to the WSJ.
  2. We have discovered many more planets around stars in our galaxy than we previously imagined, and many more forms of life existing in extreme environments in our planet than were known when early estimates of the frequency of life in the universe were first made.  If anything, the odds have increased, not decreased.
  3. The Universe would certainly continue to exist even if the strength of the four known forces was different.  It is true that if the forces had slighty different strengths ( but nowhere near as tiny as the fine-scale variation asserted by the writer) then life as we know it would probably not have evolved.  This is more likely an example of life being fine-tuned for the universe in which it evolved, rather than the other way around.
  4. My ASU colleague Paul Davies may have said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming”, but his statement should not be misinterpreted.  The appearance of design of life on Earth is also overwhelming, but we now understand, thanks to Charles Darwin that the appearance of design is not the same as design, it is in fact a remnant of the remarkable efficiency of natural selection.

Religious arguments for the existence of God thinly veiled as scientific arguments do a disservice to both science and religion, and by allowing a Christian apologist to masquerade as a scientist WSJ did a disservice to its readers.


Lawrence M. Krauss is Professor in the School of Earth and Space Exploration and Directors of the Origins Project at Arizona State University, and the author most recently A Universe from Nothing: Why there is something rather than nothing.

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334 COMMENTS

  1. If all goes well, this incident will expose the dishonesty of the Christians. They have nothing to support their clam, just a gut feeling, so they resort to straw man arguments.

  2. @OP link – “Science Increasingly makes the case for God”, written not by a scientist but a religious writer with an agenda.

    Not really surprising, when faith-thinking provides the badge-labels: “science”, “logic”, “proof” etc, to be stuck onto any confused incredulity which a scientifically illiterate author has dreamed up.

    It seems you need to subscribe or log-in to read the full article, so it is probably not worth the effort.

  3. One piece claimed to be science and skewed facts to fit a narrative. This one corrected the mistakes and prefers to live by facts seated in reality. It’s weird how scientists write about science with a focus on the facts being accurate isn’t it?

  4. Ahmed Dec 31, 2014 at 5:04 pm

    Your responding written by a scientist but with an athesim agenda, what is the difference!

    The difference is that he is a professor of science at a university and actually knows what science is, and what scientific evidence is, so unlike the other author is not simply making it up as he goes along according to how he feels , with no knowledge of the subject! Ignorant babblings about science, simply illustrate the ignorance and lack of education, of those making such nonsensical claims.

  5. When I saw that opinion piece plastered across Facebook, I answered what I thought was the most obvious problem: How does an astronomer’s questioning of abiogenesis point to god? It doesn’t. If my mechanic tells me he doesn’t think my information is retrievable after my laptop computer crashes, I’m likely to ask someone whose field is IT.

  6. Carl Dec 31, 2014 at 5:33 pm

    How does an astronomer’s questioning of abiogenesis point to god?

    “God-did-it-by magic”, is the universal gap-filler for the know-it-all-ignorant!

  7. sometimes i wonder why people like professor krauss waste their time on things like this but then i realised the vast majority of people are gullible and will take the first thing they read anywhere as fact. most people dont do their own investigating. they just want to sit back and watch tv shows like fox news and be spoon fed piety. its a terrible thing. we need people like mr krauss to point out the stupid people and show everyone that most of the criticisms of science are ludicrous. i salute you professor krauss. maybe someday science will stop being defamed by lying morons. a man can dream cant he?

  8. I suspect, unfortunately, more of the people who have read the original opinion piece have walked away satisfied than have or will read the response to it, which is undoubtedly not as prominently displayed by the publication and thus not as readily encountered or consumed.

  9. The Mismatch Between God and Science:

    I agree entirely with Krauss’ premise. Seemingly since time immemorial, many religious folk have mistakenly attempted to mix church and science. Similar to man’s many failed attempts down through the millennia to wed church and state, the match always seems to end up in a divorce of sorts, or a mutually agreed parting of the ways.

    If such a thing as a “God-dimension” outside of time and space did exist, attempting to use the science of our universe of time and space to prove the existence of a “God-dimension” outside of time and space would be akin to the poor two dimensional square of Abbot’s Flatland, attempting to use the things of his small and limited two dimensional world to prove to his fellow Flatlanders that a third dimension must exist. Ultimately and understandably, all of the poor square’s efforts in Flatland fell upon deaf ears.

    The reason that both Einstein and Plato both held that our current understanding of things is probably as the understanding of a young unlettered child in a vast and intelligently laid out library, or as one always chained to the wall of a cave attempting to theorize about the sun, is because they both stood in humility before what they both sensed was the grand, unfathomable, yet eminently more beautiful and wonderful than we could ever imagine, dimension beyond the narrow time and space that we are deluded into believing is all there is.

  10. I am a huge fan of Dr. Krauss! Wish the WSJ had accepted his letter-to-the-editor! I bet he could add quite a bit more to his letter. Unfortunately, every time that I try to read the WSJ article being referenced I fizzle out because I just cannot deal with another such article.

  11. I agree with Lawrence Krauss. The author of the article referred to does have an agenda and interprets scientific revelations through the prism of faith; not science. However, the author has good company. No less a figure than the great theoretical physicist, Steven Hawking, declares that the mechanism behind the origin of the universe is becoming so well known that God is no longer necessary. For example, in an interview with El Mundo he stated that, “Before we understand science, it is natural to believe that God created the universe. But now science offers a more convincing explanation. What I meant by ‘we would know the mind of God’, is we would know everything that God would know, if there were a God, which there isn’t. I’m an atheist.”

    Hawking certainly has the right to his own world view, which I respect, as I respect him both personally and professionally. However he is playing the same game as the author criticized by Krauss: mixing his own belief (agenda) in the absence of a purposeful creator with supposed incontrovertible scientific proof for such a view.

    What’s the difference?

  12. The “evidence” is not presented evenly by the two sides. While many religious persons will state that they “know” god exists, atheists are most likely to use wording such as “even though we cannot disprove a negative” or “there is no evidence to suggest a god exists”. This double standard starts out in the churches where you will not hear any example of opposition to the god idea.
    God is stated as a fact in religious institutions and skeptics are often portrayed as evil. While atheists will often bring up the best arguments for a god so that they can strengthen their message.
    So the next time a theist claims to have evidence of god’s existence, you might want to say “OK then, I have indisputable proof that he doesn’t exist.”

  13. When its comes to GOD existing its all about our feel, the science is very far from approving or disapproving GOD!

  14. When its comes to GOD existing its all about our feel, the science is very far from approving or disapproving GOD!

  15. When its comes to GOD existing its all about our feel, the science is very far from approving or disapproving GOD!
    Since its all about GOD, there is no big difference, both of them are using science for their agenda.

  16. Ahmed. You’ve made the same comment 4 times about proof of god and you have said that both sides are equal. Thus, you fail to understand Krauss’s point. Science and god are not equal. Science relies on evidence. God relies on faith. The definition of FAITH, is to hold a belief in the absence of evidence, or contrary to the evidence. Since there is no evidence for god, and a high probability of evidence that he does not exist, then your position is held of faith alone. Faith and evidence are not equivalent. So, both sides are not equal. One is evidence based. The other is faith based.

    It doesn’t matter how many times you recite an argument, it still fails. (A bit like praying)

  17. Electron Microscopes and Pinhead Angels:

    You are entirely correct about science relying entirely on material evidence, and the majority of “theists” relying entirely on faith. Still, science is entirely limited to the material, and by definition is necessarily incapable of operating in any immaterial realms (if any such realms were to exist). The shortcoming of most theists is that down through the millennia their “faith” has often ended up conjuring up various fantasies, gods, demi-gods, and angels crowded together onto pin-heads, being as their faiths typically lack any kind of “reality-checking” at all. There is no electron microscope so powerful as to be capable of peering beyond the material world. There is no theism free of “reality-checking” that amounts to more than an infinite number of “pin-head angels”.

    People who hang out with electron microscopes often tend to develop blinders when another degreed and respected researcher gives the immaterial world their best shot as with Dr. Raymond Moody’s work. Moody attempts to blend science and a study involving his “willful suspension of disbelief” while studying near-death-experiences. His results are quite interesting, and often poo-poo-ed purely on “stylistic” (read “faith based”) grounds, with nobody yet able to provide any irrefutable alternative explanations for some of the astounding accounts he has described.

    I believe that if Plato or Einstein were to have studied Moody’s works, neither one of them would have been so brazen as to poo-poo his work outright as so many “faith-based-atheists” have. Instead they would have probably both been humble enough to have simply said, “perhaps”.

  18. Hi Ahmed,

    When its comes to GOD existing its all about our [feelings]

    Then why did the earlier religious writer in the WSJ focus on science?

    … science is very far from [proving] or disapproving GOD!

    I agree, science has nothing to say about a god or gods. In order for scientists to be interested in the supernatural there would have to be some facts about it that they could study. There is no verifiable information on the supernatural, so scientists ignore it.

    Scientists only get involved when fraudulent claims are made to cheat the public. That is what has happened here; a religious person has attempted to use science to make supernatural claims, and a scientist has answered by saying that science cannot be used in this way.

    Since its all about GOD, there is no big difference, both of them are using science for their agenda.

    That’s true. One has the agenda of lying to people to make a living by trying to make people follow his or her religion. The scientist’s agenda is to shout: “Hey, look the other person is making up a new. fairy story, and that’s nothing to do with science”.

    Peace.

  19. Scott Jan 1, 2015 at 5:21 am

    People who hang out with electron microscopes often tend to develop blinders when another degreed and respected researcher gives the immaterial world their best shot as with Dr. Raymond Moody’s work.

    Not really! Its just that they have read the basic medical texts which explain the symptoms subjectively misinterpreted by super-naturalists who are pre-occupied with looking at para-normal stories through their faith-interpretation-blinkers.

    Moody attempts to blend science and a study involving his “willful suspension of disbelief” while studying near-death-experiences.

    “wilful suspension of disbelief”, and failure to look at basic medical explanations, explains the bypassing of critical examination of these claims pretty clearly.

    His results are quite interesting, and often poo-poo-ed purely on “stylistic” (read “faith based”) grounds, with nobody yet able to provide any irrefutable alternative explanations for some of the astounding accounts he has described.

    This claim: “nobody is yet able to provide any irrefutable alternative explanations” is common in ID, creationism and quackery. Usually it just means the author of the comments is too lazy, ignorant, or bigoted, to look at explanations in standard medical texts.

    I believe that if Plato or Einstein were to have studied Moody’s works, neither one of them would have been so brazen as to poo-poo his work outright as so many “faith-based-atheists” have.

    Laughable psychological projection of assumptions as a badge of pseudo authority!

    Instead they would have probably both been humble enough to have simply said, “perhaps”.

    or .. . . . . .. . .”Perhaps we should ask some medically qualified people about oxygen starvation of the brain, hallucinogenic effects of medications, effects of shock, delusional thinking generated by brain infections, etc.” – Or actually have read Moody’s statement that, he doesn’t see his body of work as definitive scientific evidence that life after death truly exists.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/12/raymond-moody-man-behind-_n_1421903.html
    It also ignited an ongoing crusade among some religious people and New Agers who felt “Life After Life” was proof that an afterlife existed and wanted his public endorsement for their beliefs — something Moody has refused to do. In spite of all the stories he’s heard and research he’s done, he doesn’t see his body of work as definitive scientific evidence that life after death truly exists.

    “Religion has co-opted his field of study, and they built fences around near-death experiences he doesn’t think should exist,” said Paul Perry, Moody’s friend and “Paranormal” co-author. “The same is true of New Agers. … It’s frustrating for Raymond to deal with who he considers fanatics.”

    Nevertheless, Moody said he understands why people would take comfort in his research, and why they would associate his findings with God or their religious beliefs. Moody himself frequently speaks to religious and New Age groups.

  20. Alan,
    You are correct that many religionists have attempted to co-opt Moody’s work and to use it to prove the existence of their various religious fantasies. You are also correct that Moody himself is not claiming his work to be definitive proof of an afterlife. I’m only saying that a truly open mind, as Moody’s mind seems to me to be, allows for the consideration of all possibilities, and not only of his or her preconceived ideas of what “should or should not be”.

  21. It’s all good if Krauss is just making a valid argument to an honest sincere debate. If there are prejudices held against the other parties then it is 2 sides of the same coin.

  22. Ahmed Jan 1, 2015 at 12:55 am

    When its comes to GOD existing its all about our feel, the science is very far from approving or disapproving GOD!

    Science is about impartially investigating the neurological features generating delusions of gods, and providing evidence of the brain functions and social structures which generate such illusions during mental development. “Feelings” are very much about hormonal interactions with brain activities.

    It is supported by evidence, that damage to certain areas of the brain increases feelings of spiritual attachments to gods.

  23. IamSparta Jan 1, 2015 at 6:30 am

    It’s all good if Krauss is just making a valid argument to an honest sincere debate. If there are prejudices held against the other parties then it is 2 sides of the same coin.

    It is a false equivalence to attribute “prejudices” to scientists who are previously aware of refutations of flawed or illogical claims made by the ignorant, posing as authorities.

    Personal whimsical opinions of spouting ignoramuses, are not equivalent to expert opinions of scientists who have examined the evidence in detail.

  24. When its comes to GOD existing its all about our feel

    Existence or nonexistence questions are not about feelings. This is a lie that has been perpetuated by charlatans and snake-oil salesmen in order to appeal to human ignorance and narcissism. In no other aspect of our daily lives do we act as though reality is subject to our beliefs. If something is poisonous, it doesn’t matter what you believe, ingesting it could be lethal. If I believe that I have an invisible pet dragon in my garage, does that make it so?

    You are no different than the billions of humans who have lived before you, each believing in an unfathomable number of gods that each of which you reject in favor of your own. If “GOD”, as you put it, existing is a matter of our beliefs and feelings, your god is indistinguishable from the infinite wasteland of gods that you reject. The reason you believe in the particular god that you do is only a consequence of where and when you were born, and before the human race is extinct, your god will be just another in the pantheon of forgotten pagan idols we call “mythology”.

    the science is very far from approving or disapproving GOD!

    Science can never prove something doesn’t exist. However, it can indicate that certain claims are unlikely. Science has proven to us that many of the claims of the Qur’an, the Talmud, the Hadith, the Bible, and various other scriptures are simply untrue. Much of these scriptures aren’t meant to be scientific or historical claims, that’s a given, but within these scriptures are peppered quite a large number of scientific or historical claims in combination with supernatural claims. Many of these books attempt to assert their validity through claims to supernatural origins, and the utter failure of many of these scriptures to stand up to modern investigation continues to indicate that yes, all of these scriptures were products of their time and place. None of them introduce wholly novel or alien concepts, and none of them appear to indicate the sudden and wild departure from cultural and political norms that the scriptures laud themselves and their histories for. Often, we find instead quite a lot of fibbing and stretching of the truth for political purpose. Science hasn’t disproved god/gods, nor can it, but it has given us the ability to systematically expose the liars and frauds claiming supernatural powers and insights that often prey upon people by means of the same gullibility that religion seems to so enjoy cultivating in the youth.

    Since its all about GOD, there is no big difference, both of them are using science for their agenda.

    Not even close. This isn’t actually about god/gods at all. This is about intellectual honesty. Lawrence Krauss responded to Eric Metaxes’ article because Eric badly misrepresented science. He used unsourced, false claims that have been thoroughly debunked multiple times, and his entire article is based on a number of logical fallacies. Eric Metaxes argues that the universe must either have supernatural origins or natural origins –this is an unfounded claim. Supernatural origins have not been fully explained, and therefore his dichotomy is false. Further, he commits the fallacy of the undistributed middle by jumping to the conclusion that Supernatural origins need necessarily imply creation by an intelligent entity. Then, he further compounds that problem by not defining the properties of his god. This results in a null conclusion, in which each of the supporting premises of his position must by logic, be excluded. Therefore, his conclusion can be rejected outright.

    Of course, this is a hard position to argue with the religious, because modern monotheists refuse to define their god adequately, often claiming that to do so is impossible. If, as you argue, science can’t prove or disprove god/gods, then you should be in agreement with Professor Krauss. Krauss advanced only a single item that was not a correction to the outright lies or misrepresentations of science (therefore being not science) by Eric Metaxes. He accused Eric of being a Christian apologist masquerading as a scientist, and argued that it sullied the reputation of the Wall Street Journal and did a disservice to its readers.

    Eric Metaxes fraudulent claims are easily disputed by anyone with an undergraduate understanding of cosmology, and his flawed argumentation on the philosophy of god is a common rhetorical argument presented in three parts: 1) the God of the Gaps, and 2) the Argument from Fine-Tuning, and 3) the Argument from Complexity.

    A basic 3-credit hour course on an introduction to western philosophy will explain why these three arguments are particularly bad.

    both of them are using science for their agenda

    You don’t have to be an atheist to agree with Krauss. The Rabbi Geoffrey A. Mitelmann wrote a critical response to Metaxe’s op ed. That’s right, a Rabbi and Krauss took this guy to task for his egregious flimflammery. Believe it or not, some people value truth and clarity. Some people want to peer out into the endless glory that is the universe and find majesty in the intricate dance of the cosmos. Some peoples’ agenda is to leave the world with a little more awareness about who they are and where they come from than what they came into the world with. It’s hard to achieve that goal when you have delusional narcissistic purveyors of grand hogwash insisting that the dark ages were the ultimate period of human development and brainwashing children to revile intellect and curiosity.

    Krauss having an agenda and Metaxes having an agenda don’t make the two persons equivalent. Metaxes lied, Krauss corrected his lies. What kind of moral god do you worship where you would condemn an honest act that doesn’t conform to your beliefs as the same as a dishonest act that does conform to your beliefs?

  25. Athieists have an honest agenda, to discover and unkover knowledge, christianss have a dishonest one, to obfuscate facsts and promote one world view , to discourage questioning and to stop progress towards knowledge by inserting a one size fits all pseudoanswer.

  26. How does an astronomer’s questioning of abiogenesis point to god?

    And it can’t, by definition. There simply cannot be a scientific proof of the existence of a supernatural entity. In order for a thing to exist, it must by definition have locality and temporality. Time and space are part of our universe. Nothing can “exist” outside of our universe. Our universe itself has neither size nor duration, because size and duration are external properties. Our means of describing what the universe is as a discrete object is inadequate because we have no frame of reference to a space that isn’t space and a time that isn’t time.

    Therefore, by what we understand existence to be, a supernatural entity that predates the existence of the universe simply cannot be in any meaningful sense. Not just scientifically, but philosophically. In order to be said to have being, a thing must first have four teleological causes: The material cause, the efficient cause, the formal cause, and the final cause. An unmoved mover lacks formal cause because it is uncreated. It lacks material cause because it is immaterial by nature. It lacks formal cause because it is unbounded and without locality or temporality in which to rearrange itself. It also lacks final cause because only that which is created by an intelligent agent or a quasi-intelligent process can obtain final cause.

    Therefore, philosophically, god cannot be said to exist as a matter of teleology, nor can it be said to exist in an empirical sense –at least in any coherent manner that we are familiar with.

    We can only know something based upon its nature in relation to ourselves. Because God lacks all four properties by which it would be granted the capacity for causal change, it is by definition unknowable and cannot be said to exist in any meaningful fashion. If it has any one of these four properties, an infinite regress occurs. God is proposed as a means of preventing infinite regress, therefore if God does not solve the infinite regress problem, it has no philosophical or logical purpose and must be rejected as a necessary solution. To emphasize:

    1) If God has material cause: where does matter come from? Infinite regress of efficient cause.

    2) If God has a formal cause: where does spacetime come from? Infinite regress of efficient cause.

    3) If God has an efficient cause: infinite regress of efficient cause.

    4) If God has a final cause: what dictated God’s purpose? Infinite regress of efficient cause.

    The entire notion is absurd and outside of the realm of science. Science and philosophy will more than likely never answer these questions because a creator god, as I argued above is an infinite regress or maybe just a malformed concept.

  27. The problem of science and religion isn’t a problem that they are mutually incompatible, it’s that religion proclaims that there is a transcendent reality. Transcendent realities simply defy logic. Any attempts to explain them fail utterly. They cannot be experienced. They cannot be understood. Efforts to do so are by definition futile.

    The allegory of the cave falls apart because the outside world was only “not yet” experienced by the prisoners in the cave rather than “completely inaccessible to” the prisoners in the cave. If we can come to know it, it’s not transcendent. By definition, religions are either making verifiable claims about a non-transcendent reality, and therefore they are subject to logical and scientific scrutiny (albeit, possibly under varying or undiscovered laws of physics and modes of thought), any number of other conclusions, or they are making claims that they cannot know are true.

    Science is based around the idea of making predictions, not claims. Modern and ancient religion makes claims and attempts to back them up with authority, predictions, allegory, and sometimes outright lies. The problem isn’t incompatibility. The problem is that Religion is incompatible with science. Science doesn’t preclude the concept of perpetuation of social rituals or allegorical teachings. It just demands that religion knock it off with the bullshit.

  28. Good point.
    We all need to be careful never to state that there is no god/god(s), because that claim can never be proven.
    However, use of the term “atheist” does (rather strongly) suggest that we are pretty much convinced that the statement is true (whether we say it or not).

  29. Looks like a desperate, disingenuous and pathetic effort to generate outrage clicks and advertising revenue.

    WSJ must be in a desperate state to go this route and any credibility it may have had is now fast dissolving.

  30. Lawrence;

    Ironically it was your book, A Universe From Nothing, that showed me what I’ve come to consider the most probable description of god and reality. Richard’s thoughts are of course equally powerful.

    Whether it’s called god or the scientific method or green cheese is a matter of personal preference but reality’s operating system is apparently limitless (but not mathematically infinite) and transcends spacetime. All that is (including the ability of human minds to create values) springs from it but the (god) process is indifferent to humankind’s thoughts, beliefs or values.

    If you intellectuals find it rewarding to advocate that nothing is god that’s the right path for you.

    I haven’t posted on richarddawkins.net for months now and have no plans to post further. I’m posting this only because I (and probably everyone else in their database) just received an email from Robyn Blumner, Executive Director of the Foundation, requesting a donation to the Openly Secular project. I appreciate what I’ve learned from all you secular activist “guys” (and gals) even though ironically you led me to the truth (as best it can yet be comprehended) about god. It sure ain’t about what (most?) religions call god and ain’t exactly comforting, but is what apparently exists!

    Imagine that, a limitless god found through the scientific process, just as rewarding as nothing. Truth is indeed stranger than anything else that can be imagined! Happy New Year!

  31. Scott Jan 1, 2015 at 6:26 am

    I’m only saying that a truly open mind, as Moody’s mind seems to me to be, allows for the consideration of all possibilities, and not only of his or her preconceived ideas of what “should or should not be”.

    Moody’s mind is doubtless open to the financial rewards of selling books and conducting lecture tours to a large gullible fan base!

    There is zilch evidence for afterlives or the supernatural, regardless of gapologist claims and negative proof fallacies.

  32. Ahmed – here’s an analogy for you to consider. In ancient history there were widely held rumours of a horse-like creature with a single horn at the centre of its head which we call today a unicorn. No physical evidence for such a creature has ever been found, and consequently it is rightly termed a ‘mythical’ creature. On the other hand we know very well that there are striped horses living in Africa called zebras because these have been filmed for the all world to see. One version is therefore mythical and ‘created’ by man’s imagination while the other is visibly very real in evidential terms.

    What kind of ‘evidence’ would you propose/suggest for god’s existence in order for it NOT to fall into the first man-made imagination category?

  33. toroid :

    reality’s operating system is apparently limitless (but not mathematically infinite) and transcends spacetime.

    Oh dear ! Has toroid just sprung a “deepity’ upon us ?

    Dear toroid, the universe works just fine without any “(god) process” needed.

  34. How strange that the Christian apologist finds evidence for this supernatural God in the so-called ‘fine tuning’ of nature’s constants. “If this’ and “if that’ is typical religious waffle designed to pin the tail on the donkey but without the blindfold. Hindsight is such a wonderful thing !

    I would have thought that Metaxas’ God would have revealed itself on a far grander scale than being born in a stable, and waiting 2000 years for nature’s constants to be discovered ! As always, religion has nothing to offer in the way of real knowledge. All it can offer is intellectual parasitism.

  35. The “apparent design” argument can be illustrated very well using the example of a snowflake. Magnified, it looks designed. Such intricate patterns, beautiful symmetry etc. It looks like a superior example of what human jewellers can do – but does that mean that there are invisible fairy jewellers in the sky snipping them out of ice sheets with tiny silver scissors?

  36. You’ve repeated that several times already. L.Krauss isn’t writing about God but about science – correcting some falsehoods written by the original author. As for proving/disproving god – you’re right, but then again science can’t disprove fairies either, or invisible pink unicorns.

  37. It amuses me no end, some of the comments made here from religious apologists. Their understanding or interpretation and the statements they make, thereof, of science and the facts that science ascertains, is somewhat skewered. Firstly, its important to understand that science ( in a effective framework ) is exercised without prejudice. It’s objective is to establish the facts through observation and analysis of the data it has before it. To explore credible evidence of a suspicion, a theory or premise. A classic example is heliocentrism as established by Copernicus and progressed by Galileo in the 15th and 16th centuries. If the Papacy of Rome had its way, we would still believe that the earth and not the sun was at the center of our solar system. One can’t make their beliefs alter scientific facts. As human beings, we require oxygen to survive. Fact. Established by science. How else would we know? Secondly, theory, used in a scientific context and defined by science, does not necessarily constitute definitive fact. It is subject to change once more evidence unfolds. ‘It is work in progress’. What it doesn’t do, is to make claims, ascertain facts or try and make inference to one’s belief. Still more….

  38. Hello Ahmed.

    It is impossible to prove that something does not exist.

    The best that can be done is to search for and examine every piece of evidence.

    If, after long and exhaustive efforts, not a scintilla of evidence is found, then logic will dictate that the best hypothesis available is that the entity, what ever it is thought or believed to be does not exist.

    However, the scientific method does not provide for the case to be closed; that can only occur when positive evidence for something is established; but even then, in science, the matter is never fully settled, and the scientific mind never stops the quest for evidence; even to disprove established theories.

    So, relax Ahmed, if any evidence is found for god it will be via scientific investigations, and rest assured, you’ll hear about it soon enough.

    Meanwhile, you just carry on believing what ever you like, it doesn’t make a jot or tittle of difference.

  39. Ok so I will ask the obvious question. Scientists, because they are factual, are immune too prejudices? Can no one see the very blatant disregard and disrespect you show too the whimsical that you so arrogantly demand? Look, here is the deal. No one can dispute the facts, but outside of the laws of physics there is very little black and white, especially when it comes to our individual perspectives. We can not move forward until we can learn to respect those around us. Don’t make the leap that I would some how mean we should tolerate the inexplicable horror that some do in the name of religion. Spend less time on your pedestals and more time down here with the rest of us Krauss. No one can refute the facts, but show some sort of decency torwards the less knowledgeable. Its fine to poke fun and challenge others notions, but that is not the agenda, too change peoples mind or divide the human race. That is 2 sides of the same coin…hate and no empathy for others.

    disclaimer. I’m the one that both Atheists’ and Christians hate. The dreaded and foolish Agnostic. And this agnostic is saying that we must work together. This shouldn’t be some sort of intellectual genocide…that obviously lies just below a few atheists message. And I will make sure I challenge this.

  40. No, no no. You are making the same false equivalency mistake that others here have pointed out. And I question your reading comprehension if you think that statement from Hawkins is saying the science proves there is no god. What he is saying that the the DEFAULT ASSUMPTION that there must be a creator god becomes less and less a necessary explanation the more we understand about the universe. That this the complete opposite of the huge argument from ignorance embodied in the original WSJ piece.

    Let me ask you a question. What is your belief position on the ancient alien theory? Do you believe it or not believe it. You can’t scientifically prove that sentient beings didn’t come here and the plant human beings. So does that mean you have to be agnostic towards the ancient alien theory? My problem is when people think the God question deserves special pleading: you are not justified in stating that god’s existence is unlikely because you can 100% disprove it, even though people go around stating other things don’t exist without being able to 100% disprove them.

    And your kind of “both sides are wrong” thinking embodies the problem we have in this country right now of assuming that all opinions are equally valid. That’s why scientifically illiterate climate change deniers get as much air time as scientists who understand the evidence for AGW.

  41. Firstly, its important to understand that science ( in a effective
    framework ) is exercised without prejudice

    Science is a method not a worldview. Science is a tool. A tool we use to analyze, research, develop and discover and people can absolutely exercise, or use that tool with prejudice, no matter how intelligent they might be. Science stems from the same human emotion to understand our place in this universe. Science is not a worldview and how others build their worldviews based on the science is an individual journey. Some obviously hold so close too the scientific facts that it most definitely mimics a worldview…or dare I say religion.

  42. I will respond to you the same way. What is your motive if it is only to speak in a very condescending manner. Healthy debate is a powerful tool but less not miss the forest for the trees. The answers are not in the debate. The answers will be found when we can work together. A respect for others is what needs to happen. From both sides.

  43. The difference is he’s responding with facts rather than agenda-driven opinions. How surprising you failed to notice this.

  44. IamSparta Jan 1, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    Ok so I will ask the obvious question. Scientists, because they are factual, are immune too prejudices?

    Individual scientists are not immune to personal biases and prejudices, which is why scientific methodology requires independent repeat testing and peer-review.

    Can no one see the very blatant disregard and disrespect you show too the whimsical that you so arrogantly demand?

    The whimisical, posing falsely as authorities propagating long refuted falsehoods are not deserving of respect for their positions. Respect needs to be earned by work and integrity!

    No one can dispute the facts, but outside of the laws of physics there is very little black and white, especially when it comes to our individual perspectives.

    There is no part of the physical universe which is “outside of the laws of physics”. “Outside of the laws of physics”, is a delusional concept, confined to the minds of the whimsical! Even the functioning of minds of the whimsical which generates those delusions, is subject to the laws of physics.

    Science may not know everything, but it is a gross misconception to think it knows nothing and therefore ANY contradictory speculation has credibility.
    Personal ignorance is no basis on which to challenge evidenced science, so those who engage in such dishonest posturing, are debunked and mocked by competent scientists.

  45. IamSparta Jan 1, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    The answers are not in the debate.

    Scientific answers are a mapping of models to the physical universe as accurately as can be achieved with available skills and technologies. General public debates are not part of this investigative process.

    The answers will be found when we can work together.

    That is not how scientific answers are discovered, but is a feature of rather messy attempts at politics and law.

    A respect for others is what needs to happen.

    Anyone making false, dishonest, or deluded claims, does not merit respect for their views, although they may be offered a polite discourse, if they are prepared to engage in honest discussion.

    From both sides.

    There are usually many more than two sides to an issue. Those who present issues as “two sides”, can usually only see their own blinkered view and “THE wrong ONE”!

  46. Laurence Krauss may be an atheist, but he is not espousing an atheist agenda in his reply. He is simply correcting factual errors in the OpEd he’s responding to. He’s identifying specific claims made about science by the OpEd which are spurious or false and correcting them by stating what science actually says.

    The author of the original piece, however, was writing a piece that was specifically espousing a Christian agenda. Intentionally or through ignorance, the author misrepresented what science said, distorted the truth and told lies. All the lies he wrote were ones which designed specifically to promote his faith-based world view.

  47. Ahmed Jan 1, 2015 at 1:00 am

    There is no doubt about God existing in atheism, if so they should call themselves agnostics , right?

    Did you have a particular god in mind? The Hindus have 330million gods and then there are all the others past and present.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities

    Are you a believer in all of them, are you an agnostic about them, or are you prepared to say some of these do not exist?

  48. IamSparta Jan 1, 2015 at 2:21 pm

    Firstly, its important to understand that science ( in a effective
    framework ) is exercised without prejudice

    Science is a method not a worldview.

    Science is a method for providing an evidenced basis for a world view.

    Science is a tool. A tool we use to analyze, research, develop and discover and people can absolutely exercise, or use that tool with prejudice, no matter how intelligent they might be.

    But the errors or dishonesty those who do so, will be exposed by other scientists.

    Science stems from the same human emotion to understand our place in this universe.

    While that may be the motivation for enthusiastic enquiry, scientific methodology goes to great pains to eliminate emotional and biases from its conclusions.

    Science is not a worldview and how others build their worldviews based on the science is an individual journey.

    Individual journeys only have accuracy and integrity, if they keep to an evidenced based reasoning provided by science, which honestly recognises ambitions and objectives.

    Some obviously hold so close too the scientific facts

    There is a way to depart from scientific facts which is not a confused fumble-brained, deluded, denial of reality???

    Pleeeeeese!!!

    that it most definitely mimics a worldview…or dare I say religion.

    That I am afraid is a totally confused irrational statement!
    Science is evidenced based reasoning mapping a mental model to physical reality”.
    Religion is the acceptance without evidence or proof on faith.
    Science is the very opposite of a religious thinking process!
    The two thinking processes are incompatible, with only those who fail to understand the differences, thinking they can be fudged together.

  49. It was an Op/Ed piece.
    No endorsement or promotion by WSJ should be inferred.
    The (business) decision to include it was most likely based on potential to increase profits by attracting more eyes to the paper or website, don’t you think?

  50. Scientific answers are a mapping of models to the physical universe as
    accurately as can be achieved with available skills and technologies.
    General public debates are not part of this investigative process

    Try to understand. I agree with Krauss challenging the the false claims. This is not the problem. The problem is that the facts, the science, is not a philosophy. It is not a worldview. Challenging ones false and twisted notions is one thing but the debate over the facts is not where the answers will be. No one cares that moon is not made out of cheese. People are trying to find their way in this world..in this existence. Who are you to disrespect that. I’m sorry but you are way off track thinking that others deserve to be condemned, disrespect and casted out of the human race. And you are even farther if you and Christians think any of this had to do with scientific facts. Sure it is fine to point out the twisted facts of others, but understand that they are doing this to find their own meaning in this world and that should be respected.

    That is not how scientific answers are discovered, but is a feature of
    rather messy attempts at politics and law

    I work for the government and understand politics and law. I don’t like that mankind is very legalistic and decidedly tell others what is right or wrong. I also don’t like someone telling me what I should or should not believe in because of your facts. Hmmm 2 sides of the same coin. Krauss and correct the editorial piece, sure. I just hope that we could all work together and harmonize rather than, tear down, destroy, condemn one another. Even you. You are entitled to your belief that stubborn and willing ignorance should be given disrespect. Not very helpful and counter intuitive perhaps but yeah you can have that.

    Anyone making false, dishonest, or deluded claims, does not merit
    respect for their views

    this is very unfortunate, but you too are only clamoring to your view to build upon your meaning in this world. If only others would respect that as well.

    There are usually many more than two sides to an issue. Those who
    present issues as “two sides”, can usually only see their own
    blinkered view and “THE wrong ONE”!

    belief is an emotion and can not be wrong. It is only suited to that individual. Your facts may constitute what is, but it does not constitute how we must feel.

    all things considered, I do not agree with Christians trying to us science to prove God. They too have missed the forest for the trees.

  51. While it’s technically correct that science cannot completely disprove the existence of some super-intelligence which was responsible for the creation of the observable universe, this is simply a quirk of logic. It’s often impossible to prove a negative statement – as Bertrand Russell pointed out, however, this inability to prove the lack of existence of such a deity is not proof of such a deity’s existence. Russell pointed out that he could claim there was a teapot floating in the space between Earth and Mars that was too small to be observed with even our most powerful telescopes and, as with the existence of a creator super-intelligence, nobody could disprove that. That’s no reason to believe that such a teapot must exist, however.

    Also, while science cannot disprove such a super-intelligent being – it (along with other academic disciplines such as history and anthropology) CAN disprove the existence of specific claims about specific gods (as many such specific claims are falsifiable) and in doing so can effectively disprove the existence of specific gods. The god(s) of the Abrahamic religions seem especially vulnerable to this kind of disproof – with Islam and fundamentalist versions of Christianity and Judaism being especially open to it since they often claim that their scriptures are revealed, literal truth direct from Allah/Yahweh/God and thus if large, key, chunks of these scriptures can be falsified then the entire basis for belief in their god(s) is fatally compromised.

    We know for certain, for example, that humans evolved through a process of evolution by natural selection. We evolved directly from hominids who became recognisably modern humans between 200,000 and 60,000 years ago – likely in East Africa. We know from cosmology and geology that the earth is 4.54± 0.05 billion years old (meaning there was almost 4.54 billion years between he formation of the Earth and the emergence of humanity) and the age of the universe is 13.798±0.037 billion years.

    Obviously, these figures make an absolute nonsense of the scriptural accounts of creation. Textual analysis and historical comparison makes it clear that the scriptural accounts of creation aren’t original to Abrahamic faiths. Obviously the Quaranic & Bibilical account is based on the account in the Hebrew bible – but it’s clear that the account in the Hebrew bible was based on other, earlier creation myths which were ascribed to gods other than the god of Noah.

    Speaking of Noah, the flood story which is also shared across all three faiths can be comfortably disproved by science. Such a dramatic flood (in fact any such worldwide disaster) would have left a record in the geological features of the world – no such record exists. It would also be evident in fossil records and in the rings of the few trees that still exist from that time. Again, no such records exist. Besides that, it is literally impossible for any single boat – especially one of the dimensions described in scripture – to preserve the level of biodiversity needed to repopulate the world’s fauna. Also, the level of speciation we observe today simply could not have evolved from the amount of animals saved in the story in the less than 5,000 years since Noah supposedly lived.

    Historical and scientific studies also disprove many aspects of other stories and figures from the bible – the story of Moses is false, the account of Sodom and Gomorrah is false, much of the account of the life of Jesus of Nazareth is false (the life of Jesus is also an ESPECIALLY egregious example of a story lifted directly from older mythologies), details in the account of the life of the Prophet Muhammed (although, unlike Jesus, Muhammed at least certainly WAS a historical figure who existed).

    So although it cannot say that some form of “god” exists; Science and history can certainly say that any literal reading of the Quran and Hadith, Torah and Talmud or the Old and New Testaments is false, and that the gods assumed to exist as a result of such a reading of those scriptures does not exist.

  52. Doug Jan 1, 2015 at 9:14 am

    We all need to be careful never to state that there is no god/god(s), because that claim can never be proven.

    Actually god-claims come in roughly two categories;- those that make supernatural claims about the physical world – which can be refuted by science, – and those that are cunningly designed to be too vague, undefined, and wrapped up in meaningless obfuscating language, so there is nothing to pin down and refute.

    There are however implications to be drawn from absence of evidence!

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/victor-stenger/the-evidence-against-god_b_682169.htmlAbsence of Evidence Is Evidence of Absence.

  53. As an atheist I strongly object to that characterisation of atheism. There is NO requirement for being an atheist beyond not believing in gods. Scientists may have an agenda for discovering and uncovering knowledge – as may any individual – however such an agenda is NOT a characteristic of atheist and “atheist” and “scientist” are not synonyms – nor are “atheist” and “rationalist”.

    You get honest and dishonest atheists, you get atheists who obfuscate and lie in an attempt to attack people of faith, you get atheists who are completely logical and honest in such dealings and you get atheists who simply don’t care enough to enter into dialogues about faith. You also get many atheists who believe absolute nonsense about other non-religious based topics (atheists who are also conspiracy theorists, for example).

    There is absolutely no inherent defining features of atheists other than a lack of belief in gods.

  54. This was an especially important one to challenge. Krauss doesn’t go around writing letters challenging such misrepresentations in Christian Weekly or the Creationist Gazette. However, this article was published uncritically in the Wall Street Journal – and thus people who read it were more likely to assume it was without religious bias.

  55. IamSparta Jan 1, 2015 at 4:35 pm >

    Challenging ones false and twisted notions is one thing but the debate over the facts is not where the answers will be.

    Without a factual or evidenced basis, pseudo-answers will simply be damaging fantasy which will cause real problems for real people!

    In the real world some things work and some things don’t. Science explains how things work. Contradictory nonsense just messes up decisions on things which matter.

    Nasa lost two space shuttles because of whimsical administrators who thought they knew better than engineers!

    I don’t like that mankind is very legalistic and decidedly tell others what is right or wrong. I also don’t like someone telling me what I should or should not believe in because of your facts. Hmmm 2 sides of the same coin.

    The laws of physics don’t care if people like reality or not.

    Scientists tell people what is real, and how things work, not what they would like to hear to stroke their emotions!
    Those who recognise the physics can predict outcomes. Those besotted with emotions will just fumble around as usual causing problems for themselves and others.

  56. @alan4discussion

    Without a factual or evidenced basis, pseudo-answers will simply be
    damaging fantasy which will cause real problems for real people!

    In the real world some things work and some things don’t. Science
    explains how things work. Contradictory nonsense just messes up
    decisions on things which matter.

    I do wholeheartedly agree with this statement. I think that with Christians using science to prove the existence of God is counterproductive to their world view and I think that some Atheists perhaps do not separate from the facts emotionally sometimes. (and I think it is important to note that most atheists are not actual scientists and they sometimes err on relying on the facts to try and prove their side. Both counter productive) And the things that matter do not get the attention that they deserve. Good discussion

  57. Hello, Mr. 4discussion.

    I appreciate your input on this tangent, but I’m not persuaded.
    Implications CAN BE drawn from just about anything, but we both know that doesn’t necessarily make statements based on those implications true.

    I would never use “absence of evidence IS evidence of absence” as an operating principle, but I would be willing to replace IS NOT with MAY BE.

  58. Stop wielding the word agenda like it’s an accusation of misconduct. Everyone has an agenda. It’s what that agenda is, and what we do to achieve it, that makes us suspect.

    Eric Metaxas is spreading misinformation masquerading as science to support a disingenuous apologist agenda. Lawrence Krauss is merely – and correctly – pointing out logical and factual errors in Metaxas’s article to support a fact-based agenda. Krauss is concerned with disseminating the truth, Metaxas is concerned with obscuring it. That is difference between a scientist and a religious apologist.

  59. Unfortunately, Albert Einstein would have probably disagreed with Krauss and agreed with the Wall Street Journal. While Einstein did not believe at all in the traditional Judeo-Christian God, he did believe that there must be some sort of a “God” behind what he found to be an “intelligently designed” universe. But then of course, that was only Einstein.

  60. The thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of reported experiences of Near Death, including several former atheists, are worthy of consideration, and “have” indeed been experienced by these thousands. Many such individuals returned with information that could not have been acquired by any commonly accepted “scientific means”. Choosing to simply ignore this evidence because it might not fit snugly into one’s “world view” to me smacks more of religious fundamentalism in the guise of “scientific atheism” than the honest open-mindedness that many of the greatest minds of science retained through to the ends of their lives.

  61. I would be happy to point you towards more than one former atheist who would strongly disagree with you after their near death experiences. Could you point me towards a single theist who became an atheist after a near death experience?

  62. Hey Mr. DArcy;

    Glad you know how the universe works. Where did you get that info?

    In truth I don’t know how reality works. (If reality is limited to just “the universe” it’s unlikely a cheesy green process runs it. But what do you “know”? RU a member of the “God is a Silly Name for Green Cheese” club?

    (I was gonna’ give you credit for creating the snarkily clever pun “deepity” until I ran across Cairsley’s post on the “…thoughts can’t be profound unless they’re true” thread a couple days ago in which you stated you “got lost”.)

    I’m self-educated, not an intellect, so I can’t knowledgeably discuss details about “cardinalities”, a word I just learned. But readers who understand the rules of infinite sets may be able to explain what I barely comprehend. For me the difference between “limitless” and “infinite” strongly suggests that the incompletely understood yet unerringly verifiable process described by the Copenhagen interpretation of QM is probable while Everett’s many-worlds is a science-fiction deepity.

    I could be wrong. (Could you?)

  63. In a response to Eric Metaxas’ Wall Street Journal op-ed (“Science Increasingly Makes a Case for God”, 12/25/14), Lawrence Krauss shows a surprising lack of logic and statistics, especially for a scientist. His use of language is garbled and at times incoherent. He finds himself caught in several outright falsehoods, in addition to engaging in multiple instances of hypocrisy. And he shows little understanding of the concept of a public forum where civilized people can express personal views, as he argues against the concept of freedom of speech.

    Krauss is the author of several books, and is thus not unfamiliar with the act of writing. While the literary structure of a “letter to the editor” is more informal than that of a published book, the form does not absolve an author’s responsibility to state the facts, or opinions, as best he knows them.

    Even if one takes this informal format into account, it is nevertheless puzzling, in an empirical sense, why Krauss employs such an economy of language. What Metaxas has stated in 846 words, Krauss attempts to repudiate in just 374. What Krauss does accomplish with such brevity is indeed noteworthy, but not in the way he intended.
    Krauss begins his spartan diatribe with apparent dismay that Metaxas’ piece was written “not by a scientist but by a religious writer with an agenda.” Here Krauss has stumbled with his very first sentence. Krauss correctly refers to the article as “oped” [sic]. The “op” of “op-ed” is, of course, a contraction of “opinion.” An op-ed piece is not a treatise. It is not a theorem. Nor is it a proof, nor a peer-reviewed journal article. It is one person’s opinion. What, then, is Krauss’ beef with Metaxas’ qualifications? Either his statements have merit, or they do not. One does not need a degree in organic chemistry to be a chef – even a very good one – or to write and give opinions about cooking.

    In the same inaugural sentence, Krauss displays a fundamental ignorance of the basic history of his own discipline by taking issue with Metaxas being a “religious” writer – as if this were some sort of hindrance to his ability to expound on science. To be more specific, Metaxas has written on Christianity, a religion embraced by numerous other scientists at the top of their field. Within Krauss’ own disciplines of physics and cosmology, a brief list of Christians in the 20th century would include Arthur Compton, Arthur Eddington, Werner Heisenberg, Georges Lemaître, Guglielmo Marconi, Lise Meitner, E.A. Milne, Max Planck, William Pollard, Ernest Rutherford, and Ernest Walton.

    Even more, Krauss feels compelled to add nearly a full percent of his linguistic arsenal with the prepositional phrase “with an agenda.” What is Krauss’ point here? As an atheist activist, Krauss knows full well that written words typically carry with them an agenda. The fact that he himself is engaged in a response shows his own agenda. How does one criticize another while being guilty of the same thing? There is a word for this, and it’s called “hypocrisy.”

    One can forgive inauspicious beginnings; even Babe Ruth struck out in his first major league at-bat. But Krauss’ woes continue with his second sentence: “The piece was rife with inappropriate scientific misrepresentations.” Of all the words Krauss could have chosen for the sixth word in this eight-word sentence, he chose “inappropriate.” He had many other options. He did not use “wrong.” Nor did he use “incorrect,” nor “fallacious,” nor “false,” nor “mistaken,” nor “untrue.” I cannot presume to know exactly what Krauss was trying to say when he wrote this particular sentence, but I can objectively say that it was either bad English, or willful obfuscation, or nonsense.
    What exactly is an “inappropriate scientific misrepresentation”? Such verbiage implies that there is such a thing as an “appropriate scientific misrepresentation,” which strikes me as not what someone like Krauss would want to imply. The phrasing functions as a sort of double negative. If so, then “inappropriate scientific misrepresentation” is tantamount to “appropriate scientific representation” and hence the sentence would read “The piece was rife with appropriate scientific representation.” While I again cannot presume to know definitively just what Krauss was trying to say here, I can reasonably hypothesize that it was not this.

    Perhaps then Krauss was attempting to “slip in” the word “inappropriate” as a sort of synonym for any of the aforementioned synonyms for “incorrect,” all the while knowing that it does not mean that at all – in other words, getting someone to believe something that was not actually said. In this case, he could “trick” the non-careful reader into believing something that he didn’t really say, and thus maintain his own innocence of being truthful. I don’t know.

    If neither of these is true, there exists a third option – nonsense – because “inappropriate” is both unexpected and (curiously) undefined. To whom are the misrepresentations “inappropriate,” or to what standard? Krauss’ subjective one?

    Each of these three options are compounded, or made worse, by Krauss’ use of “rife.” Either Metaxas unleashes not just a few but a plethora of appropriate scientific representations (option one); or else Krauss is that much more willingly obfuscatory (option two); or he is speaking even more unintelligible gibberish (option three). One cannot say, given the text. Further, what are the “misrepresentations” of which Krauss speaks? As we shall see, he fails to point out a single one.

    The aforementioned issues notwithstanding, Krauss plods ahead, quantifying Metaxas’ “rife” issues into four short bullets. As we are dealing with such a terse “refutation,” I’ll proceed bit by bit.

    Bullet: Unless one is channeling John Irving’s Owen Meany for comedic effect, ALL CAPS ARE NOT NECESSARY. Krauss’ use of “DO NOT” adds nothing to his argument. This is all the more true by the fact that at no point in Metaxas’ article is he making the explicit claim that we do in fact know all the factors that allow the evolution of life in the Universe.

    The second sentence of the first bullet is especially problematic, and is central to Metaxas’ claims. As Kate Land, an Oxford cosmologist, notes: “The main problem with cosmology is our sample size—that of just one universe” (Cho, A., “A Singular Conundrum: How Odd Is Our Universe?” Science 317:1848, 28 Sep 2007). The same applies to Earth: it is the only known planet with any life forms whatsoever. Krauss claims that “we know the many factors that were important here on Earth, but we do not know what set of other factors might allow a different evolutionary history elsewhere.” Both of these clauses are true; but the second one also implies that there is an evolutionary history of life forms elsewhere that we can in fact know, which is rank speculation. There is not a shred of empirical evidence to support it. Not one. For Krauss to believe, hope, or “have faith in” the discovery that there is life elsewhere in the universe is not so different from the accusation of faith that he and his ilk are forever levelling at Christians. Krauss’ earlier issue with Metaxas not being a scientist is again problematic here, as cosmology is not science per se. That is not to say that cosmology is not a worthwhile undertaking. As Princeton’s James Gunn, the co-founder of the Sloan Digital Sky Survey, adds: “Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science…A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can’t do that in cosmology” (Ibid., 1850).

    Bullet 2: There are three issues here. In the first clause of the first sentence, Krauss is not disagreeing with Metaxas, who cited a theoretical number of planets in the universe (an octillion). Whether this theoretical number was at the time of the Time article or now is unclear but not relevant to Metaxas’ point. Krauss speaks of an increasing number of planets (and stars) that have been discovered, which is not the same thing. With the advent of superior (including space-based) telescopes, what reasonably intelligent person would disagree that we have discovered more planets today than when the Time article appeared? The second issue is that Krauss introduces the finding of more forms of life in “extreme environments” here on Earth into the equation, but the point is not even addressed by Metaxas, who is speaking of life on other planets. The third issue is even more troubling, because Krauss posits more planets alone as increasing the odds for life. But this is at odds with the math of how the odds would be defined, were there any empirical evidence of life-harboring planets in the sample set: the number of total planets would be the number in the denominator, while the number of planets supporting life would be the number in the numerator. Today, the numerator is absolutely, incontrovertibly a single integer – one. The denominator, if increasing (with the increased number of planets per Krauss’ suggestion) means precisely the opposite of what Krauss states: the larger the denominator, with the numerator remaining constant, the more unlikely it is that life exists elsewhere, empirically (scientifically) speaking. Now if life were to be found elsewhere, those odds would increase. Until then, they either remain as astronomically long as they presently are, or else they increase with every newly discovered, devoid-of-life planet.

    Bullet 3: This three-sentence assemblage can be quickly dismissed. The first sentence is mere speculation – and quite stretched speculation at that. There is no empirical evidence to support it. On the contrary, all relevant scientific evidence that exists today directly supports the opposite conclusion. In the second sentence, Krauss begins by agreeing with Metaxas, but feels compelled to “debate” how small the fine-tuning must be, without any support. The last phrase of the second sentence is grammatically incorrect: it needs a “have” before “evolved.” The third sentence is again nonsensical, beginning with the vague antecedent of “this.” To what does “this” refer? Krauss has just finished stating that “life as we know it would probably not [sic] evolved.” If that phrase is in fact the antecedent to which “this” refers – what else could it be? – then once again we have nonsensical language. An unevolved life, or the absence of life, would be “the example of life being fine-tuned by the universe.” What? It is a combination of bad logic and bad English.

    Bullet 4: Krauss begins with the assertion that one should not misinterpret the plain six-sentence phrase that his colleague Paul Davies “may have said” (and in fact did write in his book The Cosmic Blueprint): “the appearance of design is overwhelming.” Krauss appears to concede not only that, but additionally that “the appearance of design of life on earth is also overwhelming” except that Darwin says that appearance is not the same as reality. As weak and undeveloped as this statement is, it is Krauss’ strongest of the bunch. Additional development may have been interesting. But as fond as Krauss is of possibilities, we must instead rely on the empirical method and focus on what he has put forward.

    Krauss inexplicably manages to cram more than one falsehood into his concluding statement, tying them together with not one but two hypocritical bows. Krauss calls Metaxas’ article a “religious argument for the existence of God thinly veiled as a scientific argument.” This statement is at best deplorable English and at worst simply wrong. A “religious argument for the existence of God” is a redundant statement – unless the arguer is using religion itself (or some aspect of it) as one of his arguments, which Metaxas does not do. And there is absolutely nothing “thinly veiled” about Metaxas’ argument. Again, one is left to wonder what exactly Krauss is attempting to say, as Metaxas unabashedly announces his intention in the title. There is nothing “thinly veiled” about it. Thus using any reasonable standard of English syntax, the first twelve words of Krauss’ concluding statement are nonsensical and factually incorrect. Krauss subsequently claims that Metaxas’ article has done a disservice to both science and religion. How so? By what standard has Metaxas done a disservice to either science or religion? Krauss has failed to show a single instance, however small, where Metaxas was in error in terms of science; and what qualification does Krauss have to speak about “religion” considering he has not afforded a similar courtesy to Metaxas’ right to speak about science? Even if Kraus was able (or willing) to extract himself yet again from this hypocritical position, what disservice has Metaxas conceivably done to “religion?” The statement is an outright fabrication. Krauss ends his incoherent ramble by claiming two things: first, that the WSJ allowed a Christian apologist to masquerade as a scientist; and second, that by doing so it did a disservice to its readers. Both, again, are false. As to Krauss’ first claim: Metaxas is instantly recognized as a Christian apologist. It is readily apparent in the title, opening paragraph, and overall theme of the entire article. The final paragraph uses the word “miracle” no less than three times in two sentences, and refers to a (capitalized) “Someone” as the creator of the universe. An editorial insertion hammers home the fact that Metaxas’ most recent book is titled “Miracles.” His position is patently obvious. There is no masquerading whatsoever. Krauss’ second claim here – that the WSJ “did a disservice to its readers” by publishing the article – is also incorrect. What exactly is the disservice? Metaxas wrote an op-ed piece. It is clearly opinion, something that would be instantly recognizable to the vast majority of the WSJ’s readership. Again, what is the disservice? One can only assume that Krauss’ own agenda is to stifle opinion that disagrees with his own – however unable he is to articulate his own views clearly.

  64. “What Metaxas has stated in 846 words, Krauss attempts to repudiate in just 374. What Krauss does accomplish with such brevity is indeed noteworthy, but not in the way he intended.”

    Richard, your 2298 word glossolalic contribution was a tedious ad hominem against Krauss which failed to furnish a scrap of evidence for the baby Jesus, the particular god you seem to prefer.

  65. Attempting to persuade a staunch atheist that a little more open-mindedness on the subject might be a healthy exercise for him or her, seems to me to be a general waste of both their and my time. I might be just a little bit better off attempting to persuade a staunch religious fundamentalist to open his or her mind a little on the subject instead!

  66. Scott, if you were able to supply a logical argument or some evidence to support your magical spirit world then I would be delighted to consider it. Most atheists would.
    Do you have any?

  67. This seems to be a very one-sided discussion, since the original article is behind a paywall and we in the UK have to spend twelve quid to read it. Has anybody here actually read the whole thing?

  68. I’ve condensed your word salad down to four words. “I believe in God.”

    I can’t get back the wasted 12 minutes of my life it took me to read this diatribe, but having made the journey, I found no destination. It reminds me of propaganda. As you read each bit, it sounds reasonable, until you try to join the dots. An octillion of words has done nothing to displace Krauss.

    Next.

  69. I have gone through this polemic several times now, and I am still trying to work out what is being said.

    For someone who takes special care to skewer what he perceives to be bad English, constructions such as “not un-” are themselves sufficient to get the grammar cops chasing him down the ivy clad corridors.

    Then follows an irrelevant dissection of what is, or is not, an “oped.” or “op-ed.” Who knows, this may just be Google auto correct at work. Next are involved a long list of a variety of people, including a baseball player, demonstrating what I am not sure, some further name dropping, or maybe just quoting out of context, and a more complete than he may realise list of scientists with religious leanings of various intensities.

    The discussion about the use of the word “inappropriate” is probably itself inappropriate. Repeated use of the word “miracle” is roundly condemned, so what? Maybe the Thesaurus was not immediately available.

    Richard, if it has taken you 2298 words to so tediously pick apart his 374 words, and my thanks to you and Len Walsh for counting, all I can say is thanks to whatever powers that be, that Krauss did not write more.

    Come on Richard, just what exactly are you trying to say, ten words or less.

  70. Twelve quid? That seems a bit rough even for the WSJ. Murdoch is obviously bleeding the sceptred isle as effectively as possible.

    It really is not much more than a filler to plug in on a day with not much news, but you want to hold space in the paper in case something breaks.

    But, the reply, and the reply to the reply, and coming soon, the reply to the reply to the reply. Now that is the sort of stuff that would cure insomnia in a heartbeat.

  71. Scott Jan 1, 2015 at 8:41 pm

    While Einstein did not believe at all in the traditional Judeo-Christian God, he did believe that there must be some sort of a “God” behind what he found to be an “intelligently designed” universe. But then of course, that was only Einstein.

    Or more accurately the misinterpretation of Einstein as viewed through faith-blinkers!

  72. It’s not an ad hominem, which is why the tedium was necessary (for me). The purpose of my response was a critique of Krauss’ response, not an apology for Christianity.

  73. At no point was I attempting to persuade a staunch atheist to have a little more open-mindedness. Rather, I was critiquing a response.

  74. Thank you David for the “sounds reasonable” part. For some reason people here seem to think I was trying to “displace” Krauss or change his position on atheism. What I wrote was a critique of his response.

  75. Richard Jan 1, 2015 at 11:26 pm

    Metaxas’ most recent book is titled “Miracles.” His position is patently obvious. There is no masquerading whatsoever. Krauss’ second claim here – that the WSJ “did a disservice to its readers” by publishing the article – is also incorrect.

    If the WSJ published crap which claimed to be company financial reports, that would also be a disservice to its readers. Is that so difficult to understand

    What exactly is the disservice?

    To anyone with an understanding of science pseudo-science claims of non- existent and illogical “proofs” pretending to be science, is a disservice to readers!

    Metaxas wrote an op-ed piece. It is clearly opinion, something that would be instantly recognizable to the vast majority of the WSJ’s readership. Again, what is the disservice?

    Repeating the question, does not make the answer any less obvious!

    One can only assume that Krauss’ own agenda is to stifle opinion that disagrees with his own

    Ah! Assumption – the root basis of faith-thinking!

    – however unable he is to articulate his own views clearly.

    When refuting a flawed claim of a conclusion being allegedly arrived at scientifically, no alternative view is required. It is sufficient to point out non sequiteurs, irrational thinking, and flawed processes.

  76. Alan,

    Addressing each point:

    1.Your hypothetical “crap” is posited as truth with no explanation. While you fail to state what part of Metaxas’ article is crap, the fact that this is an opinion piece absolves the WSJ from doing a disservice to its readers. Your “if” statement is a straw man. While it is outside the scope of this discussion to discuss it, I’ll address it since you brought it up. I would agree with you that the WSJ would be doing a disservice to its readers “if” it published “crap which claimed to be company financial reports.” But that isn’t relevant here. As Krauss himself mentions, Metaxas’ piece is an op-ed one.
    2.Can you offer one pseudo-science claim from Metaxas’ article? He does not claim to offer any “proofs.”
    3.?
    4.On the contrary. Krauss himself exhibits extreme faith and a complete lack of any empirical science in his first and third bullets, which I clearly pointed out. My use of “assume” was intended as charitable. I’ll put it more bluntly: Krauss’, yours, or anyone else’s belief that Metaxas did a disservice to its readers is engaged in stifling opinion that disagrees with their own. It is an op-ed piece, and in the country in which the WSJ is based, there is a strong tradition of freedom of speech. Philosophically (and even scientifically), there is also a strong tradition of positing ideas. This serves to broaden people’s horizons, generally speaking.
    5.What you say is what I most certainly did do in my critique.

  77. Richard Jan 2, 2015 at 7:05 am

    It is very simple to understand. Science does not support any claims to any supernatural existence, therefore the claim is not science and the claim it is science, is both false and incompetent! – Or in the vernacular “crap”!

    I would agree with you that the WSJ would be doing a disservice to its readers “if” it published “crap which claimed to be company financial reports.”

    But you can’t agree when it publishes crap which claims to science?

    But that isn’t relevant here.

    Or so you assert!
    I thought it was inherent in the title!

    “Science Increasingly makes the case for magic”,

    Laughable!!!

  78. The problem with reports of near-death experiences is that they offer no objective, publicly testable evidence of the contents of those reports. Neurology offers explanations of such experiences in terms of brain functions, but accounts of looking down on their own bodies, of being drawn up a luminous tunnel towards a great, unearthly light, of meeting deceased relatives in a setting of profound peace and love, and so on, are all drawn from the data stored in the brains of those at death’s door. Under abnormal or distressing conditions, our brains can cause us to have quite unusual experiences that refer to no reality outside ourselves. Hence near-death experiences simply do not constitute evidence of the objective reality of whatever people claim to have perceived during them.

  79. Richard Jan 2, 2015 at 7:05 am

    I’ll put it more bluntly: Krauss’, yours, or anyone else’s belief that Metaxas did a disservice to its readers is engaged in stifling opinion that disagrees with their own.

    They were not “stifled”. They were decisively demolished, refuted, and exposed as dishonest claims.

    You are simply asserting a false equivalence!
    Expert opinions of what is science, and what is scientific evidence, are not equivalent to the ill-informed personal opinions of any Tom, Dick or Harry!

  80. Scott Jan 1, 2015 at 8:59 pm

    The thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of reported experiences of Near Death, including several former atheists, are worthy of consideration, and “have” indeed been experienced by these thousands.

    As have other delusions, and psychedelic experiences resulting from medication, oxygen starvation, shock, brain injuries, and brain infections.

    Many such individuals returned with information that could not have been acquired by any commonly accepted “scientific means”.

    . . . . according to the various cherry-picked and revamped stories!

    Choosing to simply ignore this evidence because it might not fit snugly into one’s “world view” to me smacks more of religious fundamentalism

    I agree – and find it remarkable that those who claim this is “evidence”, have usually made no effort to look at medical records of the causes of these sorts of hysteria and delusions.

    in the guise of “scientific atheism” than the honest open-mindedness

    A scientific open mind is not like a slop-bucket with no lid into which any whimsical ideas can be poured.
    Unlike “faith-thinking”, scientific minds look for evidenced investigation processes in support of ideas.

    that many of the greatest minds of science retained through to the ends of their lives.

    . . . and with an objective evidence supported selectivity, which many faith-thinkers never achieved in the first-place!

  81. Cairsley Jan 2, 2015 at 7:53 am

    The problem with reports of near-death experiences is that they offer no objective, publicly testable evidence

    With such “reliable testimony” as their star Dr. Alexander, which can be summarised as follows:

    “While I was unconscious for days in a coma, delirious with a brain infection, and under anaesthetic and medication, I had these experiences about which I am giving coherent testimony about, and assure you I am a reliable witness”!

    Try that one in a court of law!!!!

    “I will now make lots of money selling books about it to after-life believers!”

  82. What we have here is like 4 guys watching the clouds on the horizon on a lazy summer evening, and discussing what they see. The first guy, who is a bit of a “hard core believer”, sees the face of Jesus and exclaims “Hallelujah!! Do you see that?”. The second guy, “who is an athiest sees nothing unusual exclaims, “I always knew you were crazy dude!” The third guy, who is a more “typical believer”, sees a georgous sunset and exclaims, “Surely the work of a divine hand. I may not see Jesus up there, but I do sense that there must be more than mere chance in the beauty of this sunset.” The athiest retorts, “The earth’s atmosphere is simply filled with a higher particulate ratio this evening and all you are seeing is the accumulatin of auto exhaust over LA my friend.” A fourth guy, who is an agnostic says to all three, “Who am I to know which of the three of you is right? Maybe all three, maybe none of you, but as for me, I will keep my mind open to all possibilities until I might be in a better position to truly know with any level of certainty what is really happening this evening over there in the sky.”

  83. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 8:50 am

    The second guy, “who is an athiest

    and if also a scientist

    sees nothing unusual exclaims,

    “Ah! The workings of meteorology and climatology”!

    A fourth guy, who is an agnostic says to all three, “Who am I to know which of the three of you is right? Maybe all three, maybe none of you, but as for me, I will keep my mind open to all possibilities until I might be in a better position to truly know with any level of certainty what is really happening this evening over there in the sky.”

    Science investigates and provides knowledge, – ignorance provides bliss and dogmatism or indecision! Not knowing readily available textbook information, and making no attempt to investigate, is not a position of merit!

  84. Scott Jan 1, 2015 at 9:05 pm

    I would be happy to point you towards more than one former atheist who would strongly disagree with you after their near death experiences.

    I have no doubt that atheists can be the subject of mental illness, delusions, or drug induced hallucinations, but their personal subjective opinions and interpreting of their deluded states, have nothing to do with the scientific understanding of their medical conditions.

    Could you point me towards a single theist who became an atheist after a near death experience?

    This is not how scientific research is carried out!

    Scientific research can certainly point you to people who became more “linked to an imagined higher power” after brain-damage!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/04/120419091223.htm
    In the most recent study, Johnstone studied 20 people with traumatic brain injuries affecting the right parietal lobe, the area of the brain situated a few inches above the right ear. He surveyed participants on characteristics of spirituality, such as how close they felt to a higher power and if they felt their lives were part of a divine plan. He found that the participants with more significant injury to their right parietal lobe showed an increased feeling of closeness to a higher power.

  85. Richard,
    Thank you for all that. It was a lot to read, but well worth the effort. I share some of your impressions and observations and agree with many of your criticisms/objections to Krauss’ response, but would never have been able to put it all into words as well as you did. Something had to be said in response to Metaxas’ opinion piece, and it’s commendable that Krauss rose to the challenge, but as your “diatribe” illustrates, he certainly could have done a better job. (This is generally true of any attempt to communicate complex information.)

  86. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 8:50 am

    “Who am I to know which of the three of you is right? Maybe all three, maybe none of you, but as for me, I will keep my mind open to all possibilities

    Fence sitting and talking fudge from a viewpoint of ignorance, while disputing information from better informed people, is not equivalent to “having an open mind”!
    It is just credulity based on a failure to study the subject and weed out the nonsense! !
    Having no idea what you are talking about while posing as “having an open mind”, is simply ignorance with attitude, as far as science is concerned.

  87. There is a link to a copy of the op/ed (at least part of it, if not all) included elsewhere in these posts (search for “biznews”).

  88. Moderators’ message

    We have removed a number of posts that contributed little more than yet another personal spat between two regular users of the site.

    Please note that the rule about not making personal or insulting remarks to or about other users applies even to users you may not like.

    The mods

  89. Einstein, Plato, and Darwin must’ve all been fudge eating ignorant fence sitters then, the bloody blighters! Spineless people, unwilling to declare with certainty that God does not exist! What must the world be coming to!! The foolish mental-mush-heads, claiming to be scientists!!!

  90. I could be wrong. (Could you?)

    Yes of course I could be wrong, but my point is that the universe works without any need to invoke the supernatural. Yes even QM needs no God ! Mysterious though it is.

  91. I do not know what all the fuss is about.
    The answer is obvious. Thanks to the work of philosophers and scientists for the last few centuries it has become clear to me. No God required.
    There are an infinite number of possible universes in space time. They are coming into existence and have been literally for ever. The vast majority would be so unstable ( Laws of physics, quantum physics and all that) that they would vanish in an instant. Others would last a little longer and some would be so stable they could last billions of years. They would all have different properties. In some the nuclear forces would be so weak that atoms could not form from the initial plasma. In others so strong that they would instantly collapse into a singularity. But some would have the conditions that would allow matter as we know it to persist and in the right proportions that could allow for complex chemical processes. Some of those would also be hospitable to life. It is the nature of infinity that this scenario is inevitable. We exist in such a universe. We could not exist in any other. Infact I would conjecture that as the vast majority of emergent universes would vanish in an instant just as we know that virtual particles do ( as described by quantum physics ) of those that persist the conditions for life would be probable. It is likely that there are an almost infinite number of living universes. It may well be each of us from the smallest living microbe to humans and beyond are manifestations of those universes. We are each a universe. After all, all that we experience as the world around us, is infact a reconstruction in our minds made up from sensory information filtered by our bodies though our eyes our hearing our sense of touch and our perception of time. There is no need to invent a creator or God designer to explain any of this. Besides in that case who or what created the creator?I think a more interesting question would be “Is our Universe conscious” If it is, are we or, am I a part of that consciousness? I suspect the answer is yes and that consciousness is an emergent property of life. Our universe exists within meta universe where time behaves in non serial ways and where what might appear as the beginning of “time” from one POV could appear to be the end from another. It is also likely that our universe is entangled with other identical ones.
    Is the single photon two slit experiment proof of this?
    I somehow doubt that Eric Metaxas would have a clue of what I am writing about. Probably too sciency for him.
    I have to give due credit to my African Grey Parrot Misty for telepathically inducing some of these ideas into my consciousness

  92. Moderators,

    There was an earlier response to me from a Katy I believe that now appears to be gone. Was it deleted as well? Thanks in advance.

  93. The vast majority would be so unstable ( Laws of physics, quantum
    physics and all that) that they would vanish in an instant. Others
    would last a little longer and some would be so stable they could last
    billions of years.

    Steve, I make this point only to illustrate the bias of human conception. “Billions of years” may actually be an incredibly short blink of the cosmic eye in comparison to the other universes flashing or lingering in and out of existence.

    From the perspective of an impossibly distant future, say 10^30 seconds, when the black holes have evaporated, and proton decay has snuffed out almost everything else, our universe would appear to that far distant observer to be a furiously hot and chaotic place of condensing stars, and complex chemistry. Chemistry so complex that it even wonders what is going on around it.

  94. And as they were watching the sunset a large earthquake happened. The “hard core believer” described it as God’s vengeance for sin on Earth, the atheist guy says that it was caused by tectonic plates moving. The more “typical believer” is pissed off that his TV can’t reach the Christian channels owing to the damaged power lines. And the agnostic merely shrugs at the three of them and translates his ignorance into Greek. His belly is full, he has a nice home, – why bother making important decisions about reality ?

  95. Scott :

    Einstein, Plato, and Darwin must’ve all been fudge eating ignorant fence sitters then, the bloody blighters! Spineless people, unwilling to declare with certainty that God does not exist! What must the world be coming to!! The foolish mental-mush-heads, claiming to be scientists!!!

    Darwin certainly lost his Christianity as a result of his discoveries about the natural world. Yes he sat on the fence, but probably only because his wife was a devout Christian. Indeed the very first edition of Origin was changed in later editions to make it a bit more Christian “friendly”.

    Einstein never believed in the personal God of the religious. It was quite clear that he used the word “God” in a poetic sense, much as does atheist Steven Hawking. Newton is also claimed by the Christians, but his version of Christianity is vastly different of that of the Pope or the Archbishop of Canterbury. In a different time he would have been burned at the stake, – by Christians.

    As for Plato, did he sit on a fence ? I thought he sat in a cave watching shadows?

  96. Thanks Richard. That wasn’t so hard, was it? I admit to being not as offended by the illogicalities, if in fact that is what they are. It is difficult probably to respond to what you consider rubbish, and opportunistic rubbish at that, without transgressing the laws of logic somewhat.

    After all, the original protagonist in this feels no such constraint.

    As to the poor writing, which is not really all that poor, fer chrissakes, it’s a letter to the bloody editor, not Shakespeare. In this age of bowdlerised English, there is much worse. Not even you, or I, are above criticism in this regard.

    I would prefer to see past the messenger to the message, which is that the wholesale and deliberate misinterpretation of data to attempt to champion a point of view for which there is absolutely no hard evidence, is, at best, intellectual dishonesty.

    It’s not an ad hominem, which is why the tedium was necessary (for
    me).

    I am at a loss to understand how tedium prevents Ad Hominems. In fact, I cannot understand why tedium could ever be a necessary component of anything, except perhaps and occasionally cricket. And this may be a little unfair, but could the ever pernicious “auto spell” have changed “Te Deum,” to “tedium” without your noticing?

  97. J C Sheepdog:

    I am at a loss to understand how tedium prevents Ad Hominems. I cannot understand why tedium could ever be a necessary component of anything, except perhaps and occasionally cricket.

    Hah, cricket ! The ultimate rain dance, at least in England ! Two guys in white coats walk out onto the field and each drives in three wooden poles 22 yards apart. They both then delicately balance two horizontal shorter poles across the three longer ones. The other 22 guys, (Well 13 on the field), also dressed in white, some with protective clothing enter the field ready to do battle. God clears his throat and expresses his disgust at such frippery, the clouds appear, and the rain starts relentlessly.

    Te Deum indeed !

  98. David R Allen Jan 2, 2015 at 6:04 pm

    Cricket. A game that lasts five days, and can end in a draw… Tell that to the Americans. They wouldn’t believe it.

    They would probably be as stumped as a theist trying to work out a scientific god formula!!

    (Has Tony Abbot made the connection between the Aussie love of cricket and the increased floods yet? 😎 )

  99. benjamin Jan 2, 2015 at 6:23 pm

    Iain, I toyally agree with you, I have known “atheists” who practice Astrology!

    Then there are all the Buddhists who believe in reincarnations but no gods, so are technically atheists!

  100. You’re saying that Darwin, the man who boldly proclaimed to all the world, a new science, knowing that it would uproot and overturn a good part of the then current knowledge, understanding, and beliefs of his day, was so timid and spineless as to be fearful that he might give his wife a little indigestion, that he allowed his so-called timidity, to cause him to prevaricate about his scientific beliefs about God? Your little theory, posthumusly attempting to stuff words into Darwin’s mouth that he never uttered while alive, seems to me to have some things in common with the Christian attempt to do exactly the same thing with poor Darwin, Attempting to make a Christian of him through a supposed “deathbed conversion”. Both posthumus attempts smack of being merely desperate attempts at jury rigging.

    So Einstein too, was lying when he said he saw the fingerprints of an intelligent designer in the universe? Plato held that it was essential that man believe in the existence of “the gods”, but then again I suppose he was a “caveman” so we mustn’t listen to him.

  101. Has Tony Abbot made the connection between the Aussie love of cricket and the increased floods yet…

    No. A good right wing Catholic like Abbot knows that god won’t let him down. Either that or god has Macular Degeneration and is having trouble aiming the rains. Just to the left of the floods the farmers are going through their 3rd “Once in a Hundred Year drought” in the last twenty years. So I figure god is trying to send the rain, but is missing his target. Might be too many sips of the sacramental wine.

  102. No need for “Near Death” for similar hallucinogenic experiences to occur. A bunch of interesting plants & chemicals can do a similar “revelation” job.

    And often do.

    Even sheer mental focus can create hallucination through self-hypnosis, pain or self-flagellation, “transcendental” experiences etc. Our minds are very malleable, as long as we allow them to be so.

    There has never been an iota of empirical, verified evidence to support the notion of any deistic or spiritual involvement in “near-death”.

  103. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 6:58 pm

    he might give his wife a little indigestion, that he allowed his so-called timidity, to cause him to prevaricate about his scientific beliefs about God?

    You really should study history instead of trying to make stuff up according to how you feel about it!
    Darwin procrastinated for years until he was prodded into publishing his work by Wallace!

  104. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 1:53 pm

    Sticking a few famous scientists names on to your fudged ideas, does not make them science. This is simply trying a fallacy of false authority by association.

  105. What does his procrastination have to do with his refusal to declare himself an atheist? He nonetheless published, and he was never known elsewhere to be “dishonest” about his views. You seem to say his refusal to supposedly “admit” he was an atheist, which would have amounted to dishonesty in his case, was the one instance in which he was essentially dishonest? (I suppose you have this on “higher authority”, no?) I don’t blame him for procrastinating, but I would blame him if he lied to us about something such as a supposed inward “certainty about atheism”, that you are apparently attempting to foist upon him posthumusly.

  106. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    What does his procrastination have to do with his refusal to declare himself an atheist?

    Darwin was a deist -style agnostic, who had moved away from theism throughout his life, despite the pressures of Victorian culture and his wife’s strong beliefs. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Darwin#Religious_views

    I’m sorry, but your historical wisdom eludes me.

    As do the rest of the historical records where you make up fictitious substitute versions according to your own agenda. Charles Darwin- “Ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge”.

  107. I’m not the one making up the claim that in his heart Darwin was really an atheist. I’m glad that you finally acknowledged that he was a Deist, not an atheist. So there, you are apparently claiming that he was a fence sitter, a fudge eater, an ignoramus in his inability to acknowledge that science proves there is no god, and to agree with you, no?

  108. Straw man arguments” Krauss is pretty good at them. His point 4 for example, what has Darwinian evolution via natural selection got to do with the fine tuning of physical constants that allow life to exist in the first place which is the whole point of Metaxas’ article? The design in these is real not apparent. You need self-replicating complex biological entities and a survivable environment for natural selection to be able to operate in the first place! Where is the cosmological equivalent of natural selection after you have the raw materials of the universe appearing from apparently nothing? That’s what Krauss needs to point to. Waiting, waiting….

  109. Mr DArcy:

    I can easily believe Dennett could have coined “deepity”. A short time ago I wrote: “I started reading Dennett’s Darwin’s Dangerous Idea… Damned Dennett is the toughest writer I’ve ever dealt with. He’s hard to follow but in my own non-intellectual way I always end up agreeing with 90%+ of his conclusions!”

    I live without thinking much of things supernatural. QM is a deep construct developed from the scientific method and reality may never be completely unraveled. Neither is (required to be) based on supernatural underpinnings.

    Dawkins makes it clear in chapter 1 of The God Delusion that he focuses only on “supernatural gods” in the book and earlier in the chapter (referring to a book by Steven Weinberg) states that “if the word God is not to become completely useless, it should be used in the way people have generally understood it: to denote a supernatural creator that is ‘appropriate for us to worship’; a Dawkins non-scientific opinion with which I totally disagree.

    “Green cheese” (or “god”) is IMHO the most appropriate word to describe reality’s “operating system”; a limitless god, major elements of which have been observed through scientific processes, (yet) just as rewarding as nothing” if hubris opens doors to unrelated supernatural beliefs to explain human values and then claims a rather creepy grand prize of human personal immortality.

    Reality’s operating system is perhaps as strange as anything humans have ever contemplated but Dawkins, Krauss, Dennett, Einstein, Bohr, Heisenberg and thousands of others have all observed and/or explained elements of it. What else could they do, not think?

    Although there’s no future reward for believing that god is a logical designation for reality’s operating system, the reward is that now, for the first time in the 10,000± years of recorded history, homo sapiens have a handle on how it all fits together, although (of course) an unknown number of details are missing.

  110. How is this any different than Stephen Hawking claiming there is no God, based on the proposed mechanism of the origin of the universe, as reported earlier in the WSJ and in El Mundo? (See my original comment below.)
    Is he being dishonest by his claim that no God exists, thinly veiled as a scientific argument? Does this expose the dishonesty of the atheists? To the latter question I think not since I refuse to stereotype them.

  111. His point 4 for example, what has Darwinian evolution via natural selection got to do with the fine tuning of physical constants that allow life to exist in the first place which is the whole point of Metaxas’ article?

    Nothing.

    And this is why Metaxas is wrong and you are wrong. The physical constants predate everything we can comprehend. It just happens by chance that this universe, out of the billions that exist, has constants that later allowed chemical reactions to happen that resulted in life. (Life = Self replicating chemistry)

    This is the mistake / error / deceit / myth thinking that is made over and over again by Steve, Metaxas, and sundry other apologists for a supernatural explanation. Its just wrong. So obviously wrong that I wonder why anyone who claims to be rational can still make it. It’s the anthropic principle at work. Nothing more.

    The universe is WYSIWYG. It doesn’t care what you think.

  112. Science may not be able to prove there is a God but it cannot prove that the theory of evolution or the big bang theory is fact either. These are all one and the same when it comes to being able to prove.

    For me its about what life looks like. Its too complex and perfect to have been an accident; I see design.

    also, “Naturalistic evolution has clear consequences that Charles Darwin understood perfectly. 1) No gods worth having exist; 2) no life after death exists; 3) no ultimate foundation for ethics exists; 4) no ultimate meaning in life exists; and 5) human free will is nonexistent” (Provine, W, 1998, emp. added) this was a keynote speaker for the second annual Darwin day….This is not the reality I know and there are too many question that evolution cannot answer. If this is the case Hitler was justified in his quest…I mean he was just trying to make a super race.

    Humans are innately moral beings. Why? Wheres the survival of the fittest? Because around me i see Christians and atheists alike laying down their lives for their fellow man…often weaker fellow man…often people they dont even know.

    And….I refuse to believe that I was born for no purpose only to pass on my genetic info and then I go into the ground and rot no longer to exist. And if i’m wrong i don’t lose anything anyways, but if Im right I gain so much.

    So I will stick with my God because I am satisfied with the evidence that exists and I use faith to fill in the blanks…just like you do in your God-less world 😉

  113. Text book response Natasha. You have successfully demonstrated in a few paragraphs all of the features of an evolved brain that produces this kind of reasoning. It’s actually a survival advantage for your genes to think this way. To create gods.

    It’s also lazy. If you really want to use your brilliant brain to its fullest extent, you have to suspend all previously held ideas and ideologies, and just follow the evidence. If your view doesn’t accord with the evidence, then your view is less valid than someone whose view does.

    To illustrate, I have chosen your first paragraph.

    Science may not be able to prove there is a God but it cannot prove that the theory of evolution or the big bang theory is fact either. These are all one and the same when it comes to being able to prove.

    You need to do some personal home work on the terms prove and proof, and also give me 500 words on the theory of probability. I agree that you cannot PROVE evolution, or the big bang. Proof means a fact. There are no facts in the universe, only probabilities. (refer to your 500 word essay on probability) When evolution is examined, it passes all tests. A good theory explains and predicts. Evolution scores very highly on probability. Your wisdom teeth are proof of evolution. The evidence is so high in fact, that for everyday use, it is considered “fact”. The same goes for the big bang.

    Now lets test the probability of god. No evidence. No predictive theory. No history. In fact, there is almost zero probability that god exists in that the universe has no facts. (See above on probability theory) You cannot type anything in here that gives any weight to the existence of god. Evolution and the Big Bang however? Entire libraries of proof. So when you say, “These are all one and the same when it comes to being able to prove” you are actually in error. You can choose to correct your error, or you can choose to continue to make this error for the rest of your life. Your call.

    Now as for this statement….

    .I refuse to believe that I was born for no purpose only to pass on my genetic info

    Again, you demonstrate to a high degree of probability, the methodology of how humans create religions. Well said. We desperately want to mean something. We cannot cope with “Is this all there is” We want to feel important. We want to be centre of the universe, and we were until Copernicus and Galileo dispensed with that highly improbable notion. Your statement was said by homo sapiens thousands of years ago, so they invented gods to give themselves meaning.

    So thank you Natasha for the highly probable text book demonstration of how homo sapiens crave for a god to explain the world they live in, and the laziness of not finding out for yourself.

  114. Bravo David R. I was in the process of composing a reply to Natasha when I read your comment. I hadn’t thought of employing the probability angle, so hats off to you for using this method of illustration.

  115. Scott Jan 2, 2015 at 8:10 pm

    I’m not the one making up the claim that in his heart Darwin was really an atheist.

    No! You are the one who is pretending that Darwin and others (Greek, Jew,) supported your personal god-delusion. Darwin was reluctant to publish his scientific work because he was conscientious in checking it, and he knew it was going to vigorously attacked by bigoted know-it-all creationist fundamentalists. – Who like the author in the OP pretended their nonsense was evidence or science.

    I’m glad that you finally acknowledged that he was a Deist, not an atheist.

    He was an agnostic with a very large amount of his childhood Christian indoctrination recognised as nonsense and dumped. It seems he was hesitant about publicly declaring the final step in a very bigoted society.
    He was probably too busy fighting off fundamentalist religious stupidity about science , to argue about gods.

    So there, you are apparently claiming that he was a fence sitter, a fudge eater, an ignoramus in his inability to acknowledge that science proves there is no god, and to agree with you, no?

    There you go making up deluded nonsense, and illustrating your illogical thinking, by again quoting the negative proof fallacy!!! http://logical-critical-thinking.com/logical-fallacy/negative-proof-fallacy/

    The Hindus have 330million gods! How many of them have YOU DISproved?????

    in his inability to acknowledge that science proves there is no god

    Apart from theist miracle claims already refuted by science, there is no evidence or theory of any of the vaguer gods for science to refute.
    The onus of proof is on those claiming existence of their gods.
    There are no “default gods”!
    The only scientific evidence on gods, is the neuroscience of god-delusions in believers’ brains.

  116. Natasha Jan 3, 2015 at 12:06 am

    Science may not be able to prove there is a God but it cannot prove that the theory of evolution or the big bang theory is fact either.

    This is simply an assertion of a false equivalence. There is no evidence for gods, but there is an abundance of evidenced from thousands of scientific studies confirming many aspects of the Big-Bang and Biological Evolution to very high levels of probability.

    These are all one and the same when it comes to being able to prove.

    Nope! “Prove” is a mathematical term which is not used in regard to the probabilities of heavily evidenced scientific theories.

    As I point out in this earlier comment – The only scientific evidence on gods, is the neuroscience of god-delusions in believers’ brains.

    And….I refuse to believe that I was born for no purpose only to pass on my genetic info and then I go into the ground and rot no longer to exist.

    We choose our own purposes and objectives, and hopefully pass on the planet and infrastructure in good order to future generations.

    And if i’m wrong i don’t lose anything anyways, but if Im right I gain so much.

    Unless you waste your life putting your efforts into priest designated objectives to the detriment or neglect of your family and humanity.

    If you are looking for an “afterlife”, the statistical probability of choosing the wrong god from the thousands of them claimed, gives you very poor odds, but then “faith-thinking” always was grasping in the dark!

  117. Doug Jan 1, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    I appreciate your input on this tangent, but I’m not persuaded.

    I thought the point on the link about the absence of elephants in Yellowstone was very clear.
    It said “absence of evidence, is EVIDENCE of absence”. – NOT “conclusive proof” of absence!

    @link:- I can think of many cases where absence of evidence provides robust evidence of absence. The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not. Elephants have never been seen roaming Yellowstone National Park. If they were, they would not have escaped notice. No matter how secretive, the presence of such huge animals would have been marked by ample physical signs — droppings, crushed vegetation, bones of dead elephants. So we can safely conclude from the absence of evidence that elephants are absent from the park.

    There is a clear analogy with the absence of evidence for “all-powerful-gods” messing about with supernatural miracles!

  118. Hi Steve,

    Sorry to be a dimwit, but I had difficulty extracting your meaning. When you say:

    Straw Man arguments

    … you appear to mean that Krauss is setting up straw men?

    The original story is behind a paywall, but I did find this breakdown at Biz News.

    It seems to me to be the opposite, Krauss is responding to Eric Metaxas’ straw men.

    … what has … evolution via natural selection got to do with the [physics] that allow life to exist … ?

    The first (biological life) is a product of the second (physics) – via chemistry.

    Or perhaps you meant:

    … what has Darwinian evolution … got to do with the fine tuning of physical constants

    Nothing, because there is no fine tuning. This is one of Krauss’s main points (His point 3). In addition Charles Darwin made no direct connection between his theory of evolution via natural selection and the underlying sciences, because it was not necessary for the truth of his theory to be repeatedly tested and recognised by reference to chemistry or physics. Because evolution is true, we found, hundreds of years later, that evolution and natural selection are found in body chemistry – in genes – but this is merely additional confirmation to add to millions of other evidential facts.

    I hope I got this right, you appear to be saying:

    Darwinian evolution via natural selection [has nothing] to do with the … [physics] constants that allow life [as we know it] to exist … which is the whole point of Metaxas’ article.

    According to Biz News the article is about this:

    Eric Mataxas’ article published in the Wall Street Journal last week suggests science is changing from doubting the concept of an intelligent design behind the universe, to endorsing it.

    Professor Krauss, as a preeminent scientist in this field, is simply saying that Metaxas is wrong.

    The design in these [physical constants] is real not apparent.

    On what evidence do you base this theory? Krauss, who works in exactly this field and who is in constant communication with other scientists working on cosmology, astronomy, partical physics, etc., etc., says that fine tuning is not apparent, and therefore not real. If you want to tell him he’s wrong he’ll ask you for the evidence that counters the many millions of pieces of evidence collected and collated by those scientists or, a scientific theory that explains that evidence better than, say, Earnest Rutherford, Albert Einstein, Max Planck and Niels Bohr.

    You need self-replicating complex biological entities and a survivable environment for natural selection to be able to operate …

    Self-replicating chemistry, and an environment conducive to that replication is certainly a requirement of natural selection. But the chemistry can be very simple, they don’t have to be complex.

    In addition, extra-terrestrial complex organic molecules, are relatively common both in interstellar space and in our own solar system. It may be that the physics of our Universe makes the self-organisation we observe in chemistry more likely than in other universes – but as Krauss points out:

    We currently DO NOT know the factors that allow the evolution of life in the Universe (etc.)

    Perhaps I don’t really understand your point?

    Where is the cosmological equivalent of natural selection … ?

    Why does there have to be one? To respond to your question would require that we first understand what you mean by natural selection in a cosmological sense. Are you saying that Univereses compete for resources in a Super Universe? Given what we know, that seems extremely unlikely.

    … after you have the raw materials of the universe appearing from apparently nothing?

    Sorry Steve, you just completely lost me there. A-Universe-from-nothing is a common shorthand description used by ordinary folk like you and me, but it doesn’t really describe the beginning of the Universe from quantum fluctuation, through inflation, to star formation.

    Krauss has been particularly vocal about what we mean by nothing and how we often use it in confusing and contradictory ways. I suggest you read his book A Universe from Nothing.

    That’s what Krauss needs to point to.

    When it come to engaging with the public Professor Krauss is one of the hardest working scientists around. With the best will in the World I don’t think we should expect him to post here. Krauss writes books, and makes videos (many available on YouTube) to help the public understand his work, and the work of fellow scientists, I can highly recommend them all.

    Waiting, waiting …

    I hope my post helps.

    Peace.

  119. Hi rodan,

    How is [Krauss’s letter] any different than Stephen Hawking claiming there is no God, based on the proposed mechanism of the origin of the universe

    Krauss is not presenting a theory for the origin of the Universe, Krauss is responding to a WSJ article by Eric Metaxas who made false claims about the current conclusions of science.

    Is he [Krauss] being dishonest by his claim that no God exists, thinly veiled as a scientific argument?

    No.

    Does this expose the dishonesty of the atheists?

    This has nothing to do with atheists.

    To the latter question I think not since I refuse to stereotype them.

    Please don’t patronise.

    Peace.

  120. Hi Ipasa,

    In my view a newspaper that uses a Pay Wall is doing exactly what a newspaper doesn’t do.

    The WSJ is not a newspaper it is a money-making machine, and a propagandist for the political interests of its publisher.

    Peace.

  121. Brain, like all devices ,has specifications and limits within which it is expected to function reliably (in the usual way).A dying brain is working outside of specifications and so it produces (can produce) artefacts.Even under ordinary conditions our neural machinery can inform us erroneously as is the case with optical illusions for instance.The revolving figure that is clearly perceived to spin clockwise and then suddenly reverses sense and is then clearly understood to turn the other way only to switch back again after some time, is a popular exemple of such ambiguity of perception.
    [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spinning_Dancer]

    What is worth notting here is the absolute certainty of the observer as to what he/she sees.

  122. Steve – This is the Fuss to me: I would love to understand how the universes come into existence. It is a tall claim and until you have a very clear verifiable evidence for it, it is just an opinion. I read something about a wave of emptiness released some amount of energy that started it all. To me that is equivalent to saying God arose from the same emptiness based on some other shiver of emptiness.

    Also, given how little we understand so far about the earth or even our own bodies, much less about the whole universe, how can you reach any conclusion yet? Compare what we know now based on 300 years of modern science to what we will know 10,000 years from now.. I suspect alot of our knowledge will be shown to be inaccurate. We simply do not know what we do not know. There maybe zillions of energy types for which we simply do not have the detection methods.

    I also read somewhere that the physical universe that is currently understood is only 10% and the rest is dark matter. If we don’t know even 50% of something how can we be so bold to make any assertion besides we are still researching.

    Thirdly, given all the different possibilities, what are the chance for a universe to emerge that has the right properties and then everything is in place for organic life to emerge?

    Yet, one more – I understand that evolutionary forces acted on isolated populations yet it puzzles me that the precursors to humans were not in isolation from other mammals in terms of dangers and environmental benefits, how is that we are the only species that emerged with these large brains that make it possible for only mankind to become the dominant species and in a sense be the masters of this current world? Any other lifeform exists only because mankind has not yet destroyed it. I would have suspected that some species somewhere else besides Africa/ME faced similar pressures that they too would have developed similar intellect capacity.

    Yes, I know of the God of Gaps.. but I see a huge gap in claims and our knowledge..

  123. Hi Richard,

    I largely agree with your appraisal of Krauss’s style. You may not be aware the letters to newspapers are routinely edited by the paper – without reference to the Author – and in many cases the Author’s meaning is changed. This has happened to me twice, and was so annoying I stopped writing to newspapers. Newspapers often focus on the peripheral issues anyway, the real stories seem to be judged too hard to summarise, too hard to explain, or too hard to critique. Better not to read them.

    Krauss may, at least in part, have been trying to keep to a typical WSJ letter size. That does not excuse some of his loose language, but I think you go too far in assigning motivations to Krauss that are not supported by a wider reading of his published material.

    … [Krauss] argues against the concept of freedom of speech.

    I didn’t find this, not even as a secondary meaning. Krauss certainly takes umbrage at the fact that the WSJ allowed a non-scientist to misrepresent science. This is his life’s work were talking about and it therefore seems appropriate to expect him to be a little reactionary. You don’t give him any credit for this which seems a bit … mean … frankly.

    You owe Krauss an apology for this. He didn’t oppose free speech.

    By-the-by, free speech is not a concept, it’s a principle of democracy and a free citizenry.

    An op-ed piece is not a treatise. It is not a theorem. Nor is it a proof, nor a peer-reviewed journal article. It is one person’s opinion.

    If an opinion offered in writing is not a treatise, then I don’t know what is. The Boston Globe tells us all we need to know. An op-ed is a column traditionally placed opposite the editorial, is usually written by a columnist, and offers a different opinion. Metaxas appears to have written an op-ed piece to me.

    What … is Krauss’ beef with Metaxas’ qualifications?

    Where did Krauss call Metaxas’ qualifications into question?

    Either [Metaxas’] statements have merit, or they do not.

    I don’t understand this point Richard. In what way was Krauss not clear to you that he is complaining that science was misrepresented by Metaxas?

    [Krauss’s] basic history of his own discipline [is visible] by taking issue with Metaxas being a “religious” writer – as if this were some sort of hindrance to his ability to expound on science.

    When Len Walsh described your post as an ad hominem you denied it. Yet here it is.

    Krauss is complaining that a piece called Science Increasingly makes the case for God is a religious tract. His basic problem is not with the Author, but with the WSJ. They gave a forum to a Snake Oil Salesman. There is nothing wrong with the WSJ asking Metaxas to give his view – but there is everything wrong with the WSJ using Metaxas to hoodwink the public on what science is, and what scientists are saying about their discoveries.

    Metaxas has written on Christianity, a religion embraced by numerous other scientists at the top of their field.

    Irrelevant. The case at issue is that the science is decided by consensus and the vast majority of scientists are happy that their current theories have no need for a god or gods. On that basis the WSJ appear to have colluded with Metaxas to commit a fraud. We could put a better gloss on it than that. Let’s say that falling budgets caused an uncharacteristic failure by the WSJ to properly consider all the angles and fact check Eric Metaxas’ contribution. Maybe.

    Krauss knows full well that written words typically carry with them an agenda. The fact that he himself is engaged in a response shows his own agenda.

    Yes; Lawrence Krauss’s agenda is to point out truth versus lies. I really don’t understand your view of this Richard, it seems crystal clear to me.

    How does one criticisize another while being guilty of the same thing? There is a word for this, and it’s called “hypocrisy.”

    Ad hominem, even if your point was carried … which it wasn’t …

    The aforementioned issues notwithstanding, Krauss plods ahead, quantifying Metaxas’ “rife” issues into four short bullets.

    Yes, Lawrence Krauss would probably agree that his language could have been better – but time is of the essence when we’re talking daily newspapers.

    … at no point in Metaxas’ article is he making the explicit claim that we do in fact know all the factors that allow the evolution of life in the Universe.

    Err … “Today there are more than 200 known parameters necessary for a planet to support life—every single one of which must be perfectly met, or the whole thing falls apart.” (from the original article) So he’s claiming that there are 200 (nice round figure) but he doesn’t tell us what they are. I can see how that would rub a Scientist up the wrong way, can’t you?

    As Kate Land, an Oxford cosmologist, notes: “The main problem with cosmology is our sample size—that of just one universe”

    Okay.

    The same applies to Earth: it is the only known planet with any life forms whatsoever.

    Hold on to your hat: New discoveries are always being made.

    A basic thing that separates science from a other disciplines is that scientists study facts in order to construct models. If the models are any good, we can make predictions using them. Chemistry, discoveries of complex self-replicating elements, and the universality of science tell us that we will find life of some kind – if we keep looking.

    This brings me to your point:

    [quoting Krauss]: “We know the many factors [that support the evolution of the life forms we observe] that were important here on Earth, but we do not know what set of other factors might allow a different evolutionary history elsewhere.” Both of these clauses are true; but the second one also implies that there is an evolutionary history of life forms elsewhere that we can in fact know, which is rank speculation.

    Rank? What was that you were saying about adding unnecessary words? Oh yes:

    Perhaps then Krauss was attempting to “slip in” the word “inappropriate” … all the while … getting someone to believe something that was not actually said.

    Setting that aside …

    What we know of chemistry and biology shows us that we can expect to find life in other places in the Universe. It may look like nothing on Earth. That’s all Krauss said. Speculation? Well, that’s a bit strong, it smacks of a highly opinionated and misinformed view in my book. A prediction based on current scientific knowledge seems a better way to put it.

    And we’re finding more interesting planets all the time too. Not that planets are necessary for life.

    [quoting Princeton’s James Gunn]: “Cosmology may look like a science, but it isn’t a science…A basic tenet of science is that you can do repeatable experiments, and you can’t do that in cosmology”

    If James Gunn really said that then I am very disappointed and both he and Princeton have fallen in my estimation of them. Science begins with observation. I, along with most people I imagine, learned this at school at a young age. Experiments are special situations where scientists attempt to make observations under certain conditions, usually to eliminate some variable, but the end result is still observation. If Gunn is saying that cosmologists don’t make observations, then I have to wonder what they get up to … in all those observatories!

    Regarding your paragraph headed Bullet 2 Eric Metaxas’ original column was based on Carl Sagan’s view of what constitutes life, a 1960s view. Lawrence Krauss’s letter is not very clear, as previously agreed, but with a little effort we see that Lawrence is attempting to show where Eric is not up-to-date

    You offered three options to explain why Krauss’s criticism of Metaxas is wrong. I hope my summary does you justice:

    One: Metaxas unleashes not just a few but a plethora of appropriate scientific representations

    Unleashes? A necessary word?

    Eric offers some unattributed numbers which he claims come from scientists, Lawrence, as a real scientist who’s area of expertise this is, offers a correction.

    Two: Krauss is that much more willingly obfuscatory

    Given the available evidence – that Lawrence is one of the foremost communicators alive of science to the public – I find it very hard to believe that he wishes to be anything but clear. How on earth could you think that such a conclusion is even possible?

    Three: [Krauss] … is speaking even more unintelligible gibberish (option three).

    I don’t see how 3 and 2 are different, except that 2 is intentional while 3 is potentially unintentional?

    One cannot say, given the text.

    I can say, given the text. Lawrence is bending over backwards to use the same style and approach as Eric, and Eric’s original column appears to begin with a strange kind of view of science – from 30,000 ft. as people sometimes say.

    Krauss posits more planets alone as increasing the odds for life. But this is at odds with the math of how the odds would be defined, were there any empirical evidence of life-harboring planets … [etc.]

    As you noted earlier Richard, we have a set of one. Science has moved on since Carl Sagan (Eric’s source for how we recognise life) and planets are no longer a requirement. For the sake of argument let’s say planets are relevant. So far we have searched two (Earth and Mars), and we haven’t done either properly. Eric says there are: “roughly [an] octillion—1 followed by 27 zeros—planets in the universe”. Hardly a representative sample, is it.

    Eric also ignores / doesn’t know the fact that our definition of life is different to the ’60s, but let’s set that aside.

    Given the vastness and diversity of the Universe what do we do about our two statistics (1:2 & 1:octillion)? My view would be to say it is far, far, to early to be making any conclusions – though I am forced to add that the science we have strongly suggests two things: If it happened once, then everything is in place (the physics, the chemistry) for it to happen again, and again, and that the numbers that we have (including the number of planets) mean that the Universe is so vast that improbable things probably happen all the time. Yet for Eric, all the data are in. I find that sad, small and petty.

    Krauss : The Universe would certainly continue to exist even if the strength of the four known forces was different.

    … all relevant scientific evidence that exists today directly supports the opposite conclusion.

    Right … Richard versus the Professor … hmmm. If I was to ask Lawrence he would say, probably in a nice way because he comes across as a nice guy: Read the science!

    Okay, I may be wrong about the being nice thing. You just trampled all over his garden. You know, he might just be rude, I’m just guessing, it’s his life, he spends his most productive hours on exactly these points, wow man, you need to get some evidence.

    Krauss: It is true that if the forces had slightly different strengths (but nowhere near as tiny as the fine-scale variation asserted by [Eric]) then life as we know it would probably not have evolved.

    Krauss begins by agreeing with Metaxas, but feels compelled to “debate” how small the fine-tuning must be, without any support.

    How is your response connected to the original? Lawrence is simply pointing out that universes (according to the latest thinking in physics) can exist in many different forms, and that many of those forms would look, smell, sound, act very differently to life on Earth. How we interpret what life is, has changed since Sagan’s day and Lawrence is pointing out that Eric is either mistaken, or foolish, or misled, or mischievous, or a crook. Whatever Eric wrote it isn’t science based.

    Krauss: This is more likely an example of life being fine-tuned for the universe in which it evolved, rather than the other way around.

    To what does “this” refer?

    I have to say I agree. It could be that the only reason the WSJ didn’t print this letter is because it really is badly written. Still, given the prominence the WSJ put on Eric’s piece, I would have asked Lawrence to write it again. Holiday season, skeleton staff with minions doing the sub-editing I expect.

    Basically, Lawrence is saying that Eric’s column was so far removed from real science that he got it upside down. Eric talks about fine tuning. But, as physicists are currently concluding that the evidence of astronomy and particle physics means they are increasingly persuaded by many universe hypotheses fine tuning is a nonsensical idea. Rather, and this also works just as well at the philosophical level, it makes more sense to say that we see the appearance of fine tuning because we evolved to live in this Universe as it is (a.k.a the anthropic principle).

    Krauss: Paul Davies (of ASU) may have said that “the appearance of design is overwhelming”, but his statement should not be misinterpreted

    Krauss appears to concede … that “the appearance of design of life on earth is also overwhelming” except that Darwin says that appearance is not the same as reality.

    Yes, appearances can be deceptive. That’s all that Lawrence, and Paul, are saying.

    As weak and undeveloped as this statement is …

    It’s time to go to the mattresses … sorry, books … and research papers …

    Krauss calls Metaxas’ article a “religious argument for the existence of God thinly veiled as a scientific argument.” This statement is … simply wrong.

    Err, from Eric’s original: “Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing that a life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being … ”

    Sounds religious to me.

    And there is absolutely nothing “thinly veiled” about Metaxas’ argument.

    I agree, if anything Eric is quite up-front about the fact that he’s pushing a religious view. Mark up a point for Richard.

    Krauss subsequently claims that Metaxas’ article has done a disservice to both science and religion. How so?

    To science; by not presenting true science.

    To religion; by pretending that religion requires science.

    You should have added that Lawrence is clearly upset because the WSJ and Eric, together, are punting a view of science that is not connected to actual science. They are peddling falsehood. I can’t speak for Eric, but the WSJ has plenty of form. Lawrence should just stop reading the WSJ, except that doesn’t fix the problem of the disservice done to you and me and all those WSJ readers, does it.

    Krauss has failed to show a single instance, however small, where Metaxas was in error in terms of science.

    Ooh, difficult one. First, not true; Lawrence clearly had the agenda of setting the record straight and he did so. Second, the hard part; Lawrence made a hash of it as you, Richard, have detailed to the Nth degree. Perhaps I’m only able to see through the smokescreen of bad grammar, typos and poor structure because I’m familiar with Lawrence’s usual delivery.

    … what qualification does Krauss have to speak about “religion”

    He’s a human being, like you, and me.

    Krauss ends his [ahem: letter] by claiming two things: first, that the WSJ allowed a Christian apologist to masquerade as a scientist

    I don’t know why you come to a different conclusion, because that’s exactly how it looks to me. Jus’ sayin’ – although it might be better to phrase it as: The WSJ allowed Eric to play at being a scientist and it all went horribly wrong.

    … second, that by doing so it did a disservice to its readers.

    As above, Eric did not present science but a rather sad, outdated, incoherent, little, incorrect parody of science – then claimed that we could make conclusions from it. Guilty as charged Your Honor!

    Metaxas refers to “Someone” as the creator of the universe. An editorial insertion hammers home the fact that Metaxas’ most recent book is titled “Miracles.”

    Yeah, not religious. Nothing to see here, walk on.

    [That] the WSJ “did a disservice to its readers” by publishing the article – is also incorrect.

    You’re entitled to your opinion Richard. You’re wrong, as above. However, I believe it would be ungracious of me not to concede that I can only say that because I understand Lawrence’s letter. Maybe next time he’ll ask me to write it for him …

    Just on the off chance: If you read this Lawrence, I’m a Pro Writer and would be happy to help. I’m not available for children’s parties.

    Peace.

  124. Stephen,

    Thank you for your crystal-clear, step-by-step explanation of Krauss’ argument. Unfortunately, no amount of reasoning will convince those that find an old book as an infallible reference for everything. Science is useful only if it can be made to point in the direction of their pre-conceived worldview, but declared wrong if it doesn’t.

  125. Thanks for that one, Alan.

    Anybody who makes the argument for any god(s) needs to present the evidence. Otherwise, they are just like children throwing a tantrum and screaming “Prove to me that dragons don’t exist!”.

    Science is yet to find evidence for the existence of any gods. Had some been found, rest assured that it would be a really BIG thing. But wishing so doesn’t make it so.

  126. Natasha:

    For me its about what life looks like. Its too complex and perfect to have been an accident; I see design.

    So who designed the designer, and where did the designer gets his materials and energy from ? Also how did the designer’s brain evolve, and at what design school did he study ? I say “he” only because the various holy books of the Abrahamic religions would never have allowed a “she”.

    Preumably by Natasha’s reasoning, even the Ebola virus is “too complex and perfect” to have evolved naturally ?

  127. Science is agnostic (meaning it would go either way the evidence points to). The fact is that it has not found any evidence for the existence of any gods (let alone a specific one). The point of Krauss’ response does not obey to the fact that he happens to be an atheist (probably based on his experience as a scientist), but rather by the fact that science is being twisted in Metaxa’s article to make it spuriously support a religious agenda.

    In other words, if religious people want to believe, that is fine. But wanting to try to make science say something it doesn’t is dishonest and should be called out.

  128. Had the WSJ checked their op-ed author’s scientific sources, they should have not published it, just on account that science is yet to produce any evidence for the existence of any supernatural creator(s) and therefore the core assertion in the piece was wrong. The lack of this basic journalistic fact-checking is what made Krauss’ reply necessary.

  129. Science and religion ARE incompatible. Science looks for answers to an ever-growing stream of questions, whereas religion thinks it already has all of them.

  130. There is no doubt from Darwin’s own words, that he lost his Christian faith on the voyage of the Beagle. As to whether he ever became an atheist, I doubt. He was a “respectable” Victorian man, surrounded by many such others, including his wife. I have no doubt that Darwin was a perfectly honest and upright citizen, and perhaps the revolutionary nature of his ideas upset him. He spent years checking facts and the latest discoveries before, as Alan has stated, he was goaded into publishing the Origin by Wallace, who had come to more or less the same conclusions. To the extent that he held back publishing, yes he was a “fence sitter”. To the extent that his ideas were almost immediately accepted as revolutionary and true, he was no fence sitter nor a fudge eater.

    What matters is not Darwin’s religious ideas, or lack of them, but the important scientific legacy that he left the rest of us. For years Darwin has been on the back of the British 10 pound note, much to the horror of some !

  131. reality’s “operating system” = physics. And that shall remain the objective (i.e., provable) truth until someone produces evidence to the contrary.

  132. “God is everything. Everything is unknowable”. Ergo, God is unknowable. Why then waste your life pursuing something that you will never know nothing of? By extension, how is getting to know what is knowable in your life a waste of time?

    I would submit to you that anything unknowable is non-existent.

  133. These are the most significant words of Einstein on the matter: “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.” Dawkins himself counts himself as a “strong agnostic” and his position is utterly rational, given the impossibility of proving a negative (i.e, that gods do not exist). Einstein explains very neatly why there are “professional atheists” with a “crusading spirit”, and prefers to call himself an agnostic (I suspect in the same sense used by Dawkins), although he is intelligent enough to realize that believe in a personal god is childish.

  134. You will not convince any thinking person with irrational arguments. On the other hand, providing evidence would truly create a splash, especially among those who do not currently believe given the lack of proof for such extraordinary claims.

  135. Wasn’t trying to patronise anyone, although I admit it could be taken that way. I was responding to the claim by Roedy about “the dishonesty of Christians”, which I took at being stereotypical.
    Have no problem with Krauss’s letter and am not accusing him of being dishonest. It is with Stephen Hawking who flatly claims God doesn’t exist based on his interpretation of the proposed mechanism for the origin of the unviserse(s). I see no difference between this claim and the one in the article by Eric Metaxas: both based on faith. If Hawking would include the words, “the mechanism indicates to me …” or “I believe that …”, I would have no problem as science and faith would not be comingled.

  136. Even agnostics come in degrees. And a rational one (perhaps a scientist), while keeping his options open, would have to say that the case for a deity is not a good one from the point of view of evidence.

  137. Science is not about conclusions, but about models that produce predictions. And that is the beauty of the scientific method: it self-corrects when new evidence (or new interpretations of old evidence) becomes available. While we may understand 10% (or 5%, or 1%, or 0.1%) of what we have investigated, the results are very encouraging and endorse science as a tool for knowledge of reality. Positing a god without producing evidence is not scientific and can be scientifically dismissed as mere speculation.

    The whole point of this article is to keep faith and knowledge separate, because they are.

  138. Why is it so difficult to believe that Darwin would attempt to be as considerate as possible to his wife?

    As for Einstein, these are his exact words: “I have repeatedly said that in my opinion the idea of a personal god is a childlike one. You may call me an agnostic, but I do not share the crusading spirit of the professional atheist whose fervor is mostly due to a painful act of liberation from the fetters of religious indoctrination received in youth.” He did not claim to be an atheist, but he did not believe in any sort of intelligent design, either. And he minces no words in finding the idea of a personal god “childish”.

  139. Jorge Jan 3, 2015 at 4:12 pm

    Even agnostics come in degrees. And a rational one (perhaps a scientist), while keeping his options open, would have to say that the case for a deity is not a good one from the point of view of evidence.

    The degree of scepticism/ agnosticism/ atheism can also separately be related to the specification of the gods being postulated!

    Most of us, including many theists, are atheistic to the giant turtle creation god! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Turtles_all_the_way_down

    Theists are usually atheistic towards other peoples’ gods anyway.

    You may have noticed my reference in another comment, to millions of Hindu gods, in response to god claims based on the negative proof fallacy.

  140. So “science cannot prove that the theory of evolution is a fact”? With all due respect, you need to fully understand what a fact is. It was science that produced the cogent, even elegant explanation of how the diversity of life came to be. If you want to refute that, you would have to come up with some evidence of why it does not work (or, to you your words, why “it cannot be proved”).

    If you want to stick to your god, that is alright, too. But don’t do a disservice to yourself by equating faith with knowledge or personal belief and evidence.

  141. Hello again, Mr. 4discussion,

    [Note: I am responding here because I cannot respond directly to your response to my response to rodan’s post.]

    I thought the point on the link about the absence of elephants in
    Yellowstone was very clear. It said ‘absence of evidence, is EVIDENCE
    of absence’. – NOT ‘conclusive proof’ of absence!

    Yes, I noticed that, too. It also said (emphasis mine):

    So we can safely conclude from the absence of evidence…

    I think it’s fair to conclude (as I did) that when one says “we can safely conclude”, one is interpreting evidence (in the form of absence of evidence) as “conclusive proof”. (I realize these were not your words, but I assume you endorse them.)

    My initial response to you in this tangent was primarily to your comment:

    There are however implications to be drawn from absence of evidence!

    And what are implications? Are they not conclusions?

    There is a clear analogy with the absence of evidence for
    “all-powerful-gods” messing about with supernatural miracles!

    I get the analogy.
    In the portion of the article you have quoted, the author states (emphasis mine):

    The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not.

    When talking about elephants, anyone familiar with them ought to be able to agree quickly and easily on what sort of evidence there “should” be. (Those not familiar with them have no say and would be wise to keep their opinions to themselves.)

    What sort of evidence (which we deem to be absent) “should” be present to conclude the existence of any god/gods? On what do we base that expectation? (I’m guessing it’s not direct experience, so perhaps it’s based on a documentary, or an encyclopedia entry?)

    Perhaps the evidence is not actually absent; perhaps it’s present all around us, but we just don’t recognize it as evidence. (That’s not necessarily my belief, and perhaps it makes no practical difference, but I do find it intriguing.)

    Again, I’m willing to admit absence of evidence may be evidence of absence, and in most cases I think it’s reasonable to conclude actual absence – but I think it’s dangerous to propagate that modified (corrupted, in a sense) version of the statement, as it can promote the idea that absence of evidence should “always” be interpreted as evidence of absence. It shouldn’t be.

  142. The thread doesn’t provide a link to reply to your post, so this must suffice:

    from Jorge Jan 3, 2015 at 2:56 pm:

    “reality’s “operating system” = physics. And that shall remain the objective (i.e., provable) truth until someone produces evidence to the contrary.”

    Speculation from eminent scientists in their fields (including Krauss) goes beyond what can be observed and measured. The multiverse is speculation; not (at this time) physics but future investigations may find evidence that reality transcends the universe. Many unproven gaps exist which have not been disproved.

    (My bigotries are on display, which isn’t helpful. Time to leave; bye now.)

  143. Krauss’ point 1 argument “…The mistake made by the author is akin to saying that if one looks at all the factors in my life that led directly to my sitting at my computer to write this, one would obtain a probability so small as to conclude that it is impossible that anyone else could ever sit down to compose a letter to the WSJ” is a completely spurious comparison to the SETI situation that Krauss is alluding to. It would only make sense if Krauss or someone else had made an exhaustive search for a person capable of composing a letter to the WSJ (other than Krauss) and none were found. Conclusion: Krauss is special/unique OR our inhabited planet is special/unique! Given the ad hominem (“written not by a scientist but a religious writer with an agenda”) combined with the poorly argued and poorly expressed points in this response by Krauss, I agree with the WSJ decision that it did not deserve to be published.

  144. I find this letter to the editor by Mr. Krauss quite wanting because it fails to respond or even touch upon the big elephant in the room and probably the most important point Mr. Metaxas makes:

    “Doesn’t assuming that an intelligence created these perfect conditions require far less faith than believing than life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?”

    To this I would add the improbability of beating the odds, not just of life, but once you have life, of having intelligent life. Such odds are pretty much nil.

    John Barrow and Frank Tipler, in their impressive and comprehensive study “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” (Clarendon Press, 1986) established that for life to evolve into human (intelligent) beings about 10 different events must have occurred. The occurrence of each step on its own has such tiny probability of occurring that it has been shown that the probability that the sun would cease to be a main sequence star and incinerate Earth is actually higher. As a result, the probability that life would evolve into human (intelligent) beings merely by random chance can be said to be virtually non-existent (zero).

    A flawed typical answer to this that I hear from those who embrace random chance is the “lottery argument”. They say that the probability of any one individual winning the lottery is low yet every couple of weeks someone wins it. This is a flawed argument because winning the lottery happens because thousands if not millions of people buy the lottery, so given the millions of tickets sold, the probability of someone winning the lottery is high. By the same token, given that the probability for life to evolve into intelligent life merely by random chance is virtually zero, you would have to have gazillion upon gazillion upon gazillion of planets with life (i.e., lots of lottery tickets) (a lot more than the number of planets we estimate are in the universe, which is in the octillion range) to the point that it would be very easy to find such planets with life. We have already looked for thousands of planets with the conditions to allow life and so far NONE has it. So far we have found none.

    The statistics just don’t match.. Where are the gazillions upon gazillions of planets with life so that we can beat the odds and be able to have at least one (i.e., Earth) where life evolved into intelligent beings?

    So the question remains:

    Why would it be acceptable to believe that such event (human evolution), which no one here is questioning that it has occurred, happened merely by random chance when the probability of it happening by random chance is for all practical purposes zero and yet there are not enough planets with life to beat such odds, but it is not acceptable to believe that they occurred by intelligent design?

  145. I don’t even know if it’s scone or scone, or tomato or tomato. Granted that’s more to do with pronunciation.

    Hedge your bets and go with hear here or here hear. That would be my advise.

  146. “Nothing, because there is no fine tuning. This is one of Krauss’s main points (His point 3).”

    In Point 3 Krauss notes “It is true that if the forces had slighty different strengths ( but nowhere near as tiny as the fine-scale variation asserted by the writer) then life as we know it would probably not have evolved.”
    Sounds like fine tuning to me, he just quibbles over the degree of fine-ness.

  147. The mistake made by the author is akin to saying that if one looks at all the factors in my life that led directly to my sitting at my computer to write this, one would obtain a probability so small as to conclude that it is impossible that anyone else could ever sit down to compose a letter to the WSJ.

    Well, I wonder if any of the theists will pick up on Dr. Dawkin’s invocation of ID in his very first argument.

    You see, we’re not surprised at the factors involved in ultimately seeing Dr. Dawkins seated at this computer writing to the WSJ. It would be silly for us to respond so. He is a living, sentient, intelligent being who observes and interacts with his environment.

    But what if Dr. Dawkins was blind, mute, deaf, and deprived of all his other senses — trapped in a body with no ability to observe or interact with the world around him? How surprised would we be that he could independently learn of this topic and respond to it without any outside intervention at all? That would be truly miraculous.

    You see, none of is us amazed that complex tasks are completed with intelligent intervention. Attempting them in an equation entirely devoid of intelligence is the challenging proposition.

  148. In Point 3 Krauss notes “It is true that if the forces had slighty different strengths ( but nowhere near as tiny as the fine-scale variation asserted by the writer) then life as we know it would probably not have evolved.”
    Sounds like fine tuning to me, he just quibbles over the degree of fine-ness.

    Distilled down, this is your argument for god. God set the fine scale variation so that 13.8 billions years later, we could evolve and Jesus could visit so we could kill him and save the universe. So if someone were to dispose of this error in your thinking, would you dispose of god….

    Or would you cling to god, out of irrational faith, regardless of the dissection of your argument.

  149. intolerant atheist-heads who trot out arguments they weren’t clever enough to come up with themselves but can recite verbatim

    Laurence Krauss has certainly provoked numerous scientifically-illiterate creationists to play as few other threads ever manage to do. The deficit they share in common is statistical knowledge, specifically misunderstanding probability. When their irrational beliefs are inevitably criticised their persecution complex kicks in.

    We’ve witnessed style and grammar police attacking Krauss and now the bar is being raised again.
    Atheists can be criticized for quoting scientists or their supporters. We must create novel arguments or they won’t accept them.

    Well done Laurence.

    Murdoch news publications worldwide, along with Religious Right and ID sites, are indeed proclaiming that “new scientific discoveries actually provide compelling support for faith”(Discovery Institute) which is deliberately deceitful.

    The Gospel Herald headline reads “Atheist Scientists Turning to God as Science Increasingly Proves His Intelligent Design…only goes to further prove intelligent design as opposed to the amazingly improbable chance that a life-sustaining planet would form from nothing on its own.”

    Probability confuses them, sometimes hysterically.

  150. Alan,

    It is a bit tragic that you cannot see IamSpartan’s point here. You say for instance..

    But the errors or dishonesty those who do so, will be exposed by other scientists.

    Are you serious? Do you really think that scientists are infallible individuals that will never fail to expose errors and dishonesty?

    Do you remember who were the science guys at the time of Galileo and how he was treated by them? They would not even consider his position. I can tell you that today you can find the same attitude in the scientific community. Scientists that are very blinded by their own biased.. Any deviation from their already established schemes will be met with disdain, ridicule and close-mindedness.

    Notice that I am not even talking about creationism, or God or Evolution as the only topics.. I can name you other topics as well, such as climate change (which is closely related to my expertise).. I have known respectable scientists trying to simply publish data that somewhat denies man-made climate change and they were met with a tremendous opposition in most peer-reviewed journals. Most of the time they ended up simply giving up. Others end up publishing in other journals, which are outright dismissed by most scientists without any consideration. They just don’t want to hear it!

    IamSpartan makes a really good point when he said..

    “that it most definitely mimics a worldview…or dare I say religion”

    It is almost their religion.. and they defend it like many religion fundamentalists do..

    The fact that you might be in denial and do not want to accept it, and consider it such position “irrational” does not change the facts..

  151. Are you serious? Do you really think that scientists are infallible individuals that will never fail to expose errors and dishonesty?

    You fell at the first hurdle. Alan can answer for himself, but it is not the human scientists, but the scientific method that is self correcting. It’s independent of the occasional rouge human. The rest of your arguments fails now.

    The bulk of your diatribe is mostly paranoid delusions of conspiracy, that are in fact explained by science here…

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn25260-flight-mh370-the-allure-of-the-conspiracy-theory.html#.VKjabMmLWIA

    Very similar to religion.

  152. Katy, this isn’t about atheism.

    Laurence is complaining about another scientifically illiterate evangelist misrepresenting the scientific facts. Natasha didn’t seem to grasp that.

    Smooth talking preachers beguile believers the more they talk, which is why Murdoch media actively promote them. They behave similarly towards discrediting climate scientists globally.

    Kudos to Laurence for trying to fight back.

  153. Hey guys!

    Thanks for your well thought out responses. Definitely lots of food for thought. I do not think I know anything honestly I know very little and like I said I fill in my blanks with faith. I do not feel like I am missing out on anything or sacrificing anything to follow God. On the contrary I am happier and my life feels more fulfilled, I mean the true Biblical principals are good things to live by (and I am not talking about the second hand info) . There is evidence and on top of that there is my life experience which I cannot reproduce or make any one understand, and that is enough for me.

    As for the libraries or text books filled with info about the big bang theory and evolution I know they exist and and know what they say I went to public school and public university as well. Just because they are there does not mean they present 100% truth. There are countless and I mean countless quandary’s that are discovered daily and never published because they don’t fit into the current theory of the day. I mean there were libraries of text books around in every generation about all kinds of theories convincing men of these things and many were proven wrong and are being proven wrong.

    If I were to ask of all the books and seminars that are out there on all the topics that exist, how much do you think humans understand of all the knowledge in the entire universe? Honestly we probably don’t even hit the 1% mark. So in the 99% we don’t know God might exist. Saying He or an intelligent designer does not exist is silly. You are better taking the agnostic route it is more honest for a faithless person…….

    Also there are lots of books and libraries filled with evidences for an intelligent designer if you open your eyes and mind and look for them, saying the only evidence is “the neuroscience of god-delusions in believers’ brains.” is simply not true. Society is so brainwashed with mainstream programs and thoughts that they are embarrassed to even entertain the idea of an intelligent designer let alone examine the evidence.

    Have you even looked at the other side with an open mind? Or yelled out to the “fairy God” to revel Himself to you? Because If you have an honest heart you’d see it’s not so black and white and you might learn something new.

  154. Caesar, “the inconceivable odds” elude only those who don’t understand Statistics and especially Probability.

    Humans didn’t evolve “merely by random chance” as you mistakenly claim.

    Metaxas employs the same ‘Argument from Ignorance’ you have just attempted. Personal incredulity by those who won’t learn about statistics is not an argument for the Jesus/Ghost/old white bigot with a beard version of god.

    The ‘elephant’ in this particular room is scientific illiteracy.

  155. Natasha, that sounded beautiful as I was skimming through to see if you had bothered to address the topic: Laurence Krauss’ letter to the editor of the Wall Street Journal.

    Just wondering, did you read it? If so, what is your opinion of his complaints?

  156. @Natasha

    Your are welcome any time Natasha and all kudos to be brave enough to enter the lions den. Despite Kath Cordeth’s condemnation of me, I take the view that if you are prepared to post an opinion in here, then you are adult enough to read the responses. It may be that by the very fact that you have even taken the time to create a Log In ID, that there may be an inquiring mind in there that hides a sliver of doubt. Well you’ve come to the right place. Doubt is the touchstone of the people in here. We doubt everything. That’s the basis of being a skeptic. No proof!! No belief. Evidence changes? I change.

    May I recommend a book on Evolution, written for the general Public. Secure a copy of The Greatest Show on Earth, which explains in layman’s terms, the science of evolution. After you have read that, come back and tell us what you think. (You may have to hide it from family and friends)

    p.s. Have you contemplated your wisdom teeth. If god designed them, then in America he would be subject to a legal class action by every homo sapiens on the planet. They serve no purpose. Before dentistry and medicine, they could kill you in unspeakable agony. So god is either a very bad designer or there is another explanation. A scientific theory is able to explain observations. If earlier in our evolution, our jaws were longer and more protruding, just like the fossil record, and our diet required us to grind more vegetable material, like the great apes, then wisdom teeth are a perfect adaption. But times change, and our diet changed. We don’t need wisdom teeth any longer but our evolutionary genes still grow them, much to my discomfort and to the great profit of my dentist. So when you compare explanations, a bad designer like god giving us wisdom teeth, or a perfectly reasonable explanation that they are a relic of our evolutionary past, which has the most credibility. The answer becomes obvious. Read The Greatest Show on Earth. You will love it.

    pps. Stick around and join the debates. Some brilliant minds lurk in here.

  157. Caesar, David is correct.

    TCSDs or True Climate Science Deniers are frequently Creationists. They’re very similar clinically. They’re not all ID specialists either. Many, such as the Australian PM and half of his cabinet and advisors, are Catholic cultists while the others are merely Xians.

    None of them have any appreciation of statistics, unfortunately for us. Where I live it was 42C (about 110F) yesterday and bushfires were raging out of control. Our PM says to ‘Pray and Run’ because they’re natural and presumably what Yahweh wants. He won’t fund fire bombing aircraft because he’s frightened refugees will inundate us, so Border Protection get billions.

    But tell me Caesar, what did you think of the complaint by Laurence Krauss?

  158. In addition to the errors Krauss cites, the WSJ article makes a more fundamental error: it confuses conditional and unconditional probabilities. Even if the probability of intelligent life anywhere in the universe is tiny (which is arguable as Krauss explains), the conditional probability of intelligent life in the universe, given that we are here to think about it, is precisely 100%, and therefore we cannot conclude anything about God (or anything else) from the fact of our existence.

  159. @Caesar

    I have known respectable scientists trying to simply publish data that somewhat denies man-made climate change and they were met with a tremendous opposition in most peer-reviewed journals. Most of the time they ended up simply giving up.

    I’m sincerely hoping you are going to fill in these details. I hope it wasn’t merely a rhetorical flourish.

    As you mentioned it, what is your area of expertise?

  160. The conflict that exists between science and religion is much the same as that which exists between science and charlatanism. The foundations of both religion and charlatanism are dependent upon maintaining uneducated masses. Many forms of charlatanism can easily be debunked but those based on religion are more difficult to deal with. After all how does science which can only act upon testable evidence disprove the existence of that which is faith based. That is the thread that religion hangs onto while at the same time trying to misrepresent science in order to deceive their followers. This effort to misrepresent scientific fact can only be indicative of a lack of faith, rather than strength, and an obvious fear that science will prevail. Science has provided answers to everything that is tangible. It is plainly deceitful for faith-based religions to avoid scrutiny of their beliefs when the scientific method has proven to be the only method that can determine the validity of anything.

  161. Natasha Jan 4, 2015 at 1:44 am

    Thanks for your well thought out responses. Definitely lots of food for thought. I do not think I know anything honestly I know very little and like I said I fill in my blanks with faith.

    That is the common basis for misconceptions based on cosy illusions.

    I do not feel like I am missing out on anything or sacrificing anything to follow God. On the contrary I am happier and my life feels more fulfilled,

    What is not seen is not missed – at least until the material world intrudes.
    Reality can be quite harsh!

    I mean the true Biblical principals are good things to live by

    I have to wonder if you have actually read the Bible, considered its self-contradictions, or spent any time on studying its history (That is the origins of the stories and history of it being written with regard to who wrote it and when?)

    (and I am not talking about the second hand info) .

    It does rather sound as if you are talking about some fuzzy feeling about it rather than the actual text or a historical understanding!

    Do you know how many New Testament “Gospels” were written http://gnosis.org/naghamm/nhl.html, who wrote the 4 attributed to disciples, arguments of Athanasius of Alexandria, and Arius, the editing which was done in the AD300s, or the pre-OT history of “El”, “Yahweh”, “Asherah” and “Jehova” as Canaanite gods?

    There is evidence and on top of that there is my life experience which I cannot reproduce or make any one understand, and that is enough for me.

    That is the unfortunate mind-closing effect of indoctrination! It spoons-feeds fake answers and discourages further investigations and enquiries. Most of the so-called evidence can be shown to have been made up later.

    As for the libraries or text books filled with info about the big bang theory and evolution I know they exist and and know what they say I went to public school and public university as well. Just because they are there does not mean they present 100% truth.

    Science (unlike faith) does not claim 100% truth. It does in many instances provided 99.99999999999999999% probabilities checked independently thousands of time. That is how it can make predictions which enable it to programme robot devices to land and work on Mars moths or years ahead of the last human Touching them.
    If you think that the tens of thousands of independent studies plotting the evolution of numerous species, leaves any doubt that evolution is happening, then you clearly do not understand what the published material says.

    It is a common misconception of faith-thinking, that because science does not know everything it knows nothing! A whole world of technology demonstrates that scientists and engineers have knowledge very accurately matched to the underlying reality.
    Personal ignorance of this in no way refutes its accuracy.

    Also there are lots of books and libraries filled with evidences for an intelligent designer if you open your eyes and mind and look for them,

    I have read some of them. They are written by scientific illiterates whose illogic is usually based of negative proof fallacies. Intelligent design was invented in recent decades by Young Earth Creationists to con the uneducated and try to insert their pseudo-science dogmas in to school science classes. Judges have regularly thrown their nonsensical claims out of court!

    saying the only evidence is “the neuroscience of god-delusions in believers’ brains.” is simply not true.

    Actually that evidence is confirmed to exist – so unless you have some scientific evidence of the existence of your particular god which other believers have been unable to find and present the statement is correct. (Wanting to believe it is not evidence of anything outside your head.)

    Society is so brainwashed with mainstream programs and thoughts that they are embarrassed to even entertain the idea of an intelligent designer let alone examine the evidence.

    You seem confused. Those of us who have examined the so called “evidence” presented by advocates of “intelligent design”, are only impressed by the utterly embarrassing scientific incompetence, illogical circular thinking, and delusional adherence to clueless biblical preconceptions in the face of conclusive evidence refuting the ID claims.

    Have you even looked at the other side with an open mind?

    Yep! The claims are laughably incompetent! I have also looked at the similar “other side” of global geography presented by Flat Earthists!

    Or yelled out to the “fairy God” to revel Himself to you? Because If you have an honest heart you’d see it’s not so black and white and you might learn something new.

    The false dichotomy of black and white thinking is in the mind of the faith-thinker, who can only conceive of their own view and “THE wrong ONE” opposing the one they cling to!
    Scientists sort though thousands of views sorting out those which can be repeatedly confirmed by practical experiments and those which fail and are rejected on test, but creationist believers have no concept of the big pictures of science and history beyond their limited and often mistaken notions about their one book.

  162. Welcome back, Katy.
    Since the post I meant to praise was removed, I’ll have to go with “there, there” (or is it “their, their”, or “they’re…”…. oh, forget it).

  163. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 12:55 am

    Alan,

    It is a bit tragic that you cannot see IamSpartan’s point here. You say for instance..

    But the errors or dishonesty those who do so, will be exposed by other scientists.

    Are you serious? Do you really think that scientists are infallible individuals that will never fail to expose errors and dishonesty?

    Who is talking about individuals? Peer review is about collective responsibility of, and critical examination by, whole professions! Individual errors or dishonesty are exposed.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30534674
    .A Japanese stem cell scientist at the heart of a scandal over false claims and fabricated research has resigned.

    Dr Haruko Obokata published supposedly groundbreaking research showing stem cells could be made quickly and cheaply.

    There were irregularities in data, no other group in the world could repeat her findings and her own university concluded it could not be done.

    Do you remember who were the science guys at the time of Galileo and how he was treated by them?

    The term “scientist” had not even been invented at that time. You seem to be confusing the Catholic Church with scientists.

    They would not even consider his position. I can tell you that today you can find the same attitude in the scientific community.

    Really????

    Scientists that are very blinded by their own biased.. Any deviation from their already established schemes will be met with disdain, ridicule and close-mindedness.

    Those making such claims are usually just indulging in psychological projection!

    Notice that I am not even talking about creationism, or God or Evolution as the only topics.. I can name you other topics as well, such as climate change (which is closely related to my expertise).. I have known respectable scientists trying to simply publish data that somewhat denies man-made climate change and they were met with a tremendous opposition in most peer-reviewed journals.

    That is how peer-review journals maintain their reputations. – They weed out low grade error ridden papers, and then have experts spend their valuable time reviewing the studies of merit. There is massively overwhelming evidence for man-made climate change.

    Most of the time they ended up simply giving up.

    While I can appreciate frustration of those seeking status and publication for their work, its a bit like student work being failed by examiners who actually DO know more than the students. .

    Others end up publishing in other journals, which are outright dismissed by most scientists without any consideration. They just don’t want to hear it!

    There are some low-grade comics posing as journals and industry stooge journals around – well funded by carbon industry denialists, sometimes publishing material well outside their areas of expertise.
    There is even the “Answers Research Journal” offering “Cutting-edge creation research.”

    It is almost their religion.. and they defend it like many religion fundamentalists do..

    That’s just ignorance of science and scientific methodology.

    The fact that you might be in denial and do not want to accept it, and consider it such position “irrational” does not change the facts..

    True, – but scientists are quick to spot made-up “FACTS” and cherry-picked concocted propaganda from those in denial, which are inconsistent with the rest of the experimentally supported evidence.
    All opinions are not equal – some are expert opinions based on understanding evidence.

  164. @Natasha

    This maxim plainly applies to yourself:

    Ignorance is bliss: Not knowing something is often more comfortable than knowing it.

  165. Hi Natasha.
    As for the libraries or text books filled with info about the big bang theory and evolution I know they exist and and know what they say

    The books lining the science shelves at the library are not filled with idle musings or wishful thinking. They are filled with conclusions drawn from evidence and research. You might recall the recent Rosetta Project. If that doesn’t fill you with amazement at the capabilities of science and technology you’d be very hard to impress!

    I have yet another book recommendation for you. Richard Dawkin’s Magic of Reality is aimed at a youth market but I think the material presented within its covers is a useful (and painless) way to refresh your memory on basic concepts of science. I can recommend the interactive version and it will only take an hour or so of your time to read. In each chapter the principle is demonstrated alongside various myths from other cultures and from other points in time. On reading, it becomes readily apparent that science gives us the better interpretation of phenomena.

    Good luck on your quest. I hope the information and advice that has been sent your way sows the seed of doubt and leads you to seek out more answers. It’s a fabulous journey!

  166. Caesar Jan 3, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    . . . . . . . . life-sustaining Earth just happened to beat the inconceivable odds to come into being?”

    Creationist’s inabilities to conceive of probabilities is of no consequence to the physics of the universe.

    Our Milkyway galaxy contains 200 billion stars! Is it really surprising that one of them has a planet on which the widely available organic chemicals achieved the self replication of abiogenesis and went on to evolve into more complex organisms?

    So the question remains:

    Why would it be acceptable to believe that such event (human evolution), which no one here is questioning that it has occurred, happened merely by random chance when the probability of it happening by random chance is for all practical purposes zero

    Evolution does not work by random chance. It works by non-random natural selection picking and replicating successful individual chances from millions of random mutations.
    Do you have any idea how many gazillions of single cells can live in the oceans over a period of millions/billions of years?

    http://www.serc.si.edu/labs/phytoplankton/primer/phyto.aspx
    The phytoplankton you will view on this page are very small. This cube is about one cubic centimeter, which can contain hundreds of thousands of phytoplankton during a bloom.

    The current range for the volume of the world’s ocean is from 1.3 to 1.5 billion cubic kilometers.

    and yet there are not enough planets with life to beat such odds, but it is not acceptable to believe that they occurred by intelligent design?

    Who knows how many planets there are? Extrapolating from the exoplanets discovered so far, they are extremely numerous, and may well be a normal feature accompanying star formation.

    Incredulity over statistical probability, does not default to “god-did-it-by magic” by way of a negative proof fallacy.

  167. Actually IMO, Krauss makes a very valid point. The odds against that particular cloud drifting across the sky as the dog barked next door at 3pm GMT, whilst the 41 Bus stopped outside the post office in Crouch End , London, with 27 passenegers on board , 9 of whom got off, whilst 7 got on and a piece of paper blew across the road, are indeed astronomical ! BUT IT HAPPENED ! Very very unlikely things happen all the time, even on Earth, let alone the universe, which is both very big and very old. We have to try to understand reality using science. The invention of clever designers who puff reality into existence, using a holy magic wand, does not help in this quest. If Natasha is still there, I repeat my question : Who designed the designer ?

  168. Katy Cordeth:

    That would be my advise.

    I hope you are not a lawyer. In law ambiguity can be taken to the best advantage. Years ago the sign in the supermarket read above the baskets provided “Please take one”. Sure enough someone took one, and another and another. When the supermarket came to prosecute the said ‘offender’ the defence was that s/he was asked to take one. Sure enough s/he got off.

    Whilst in pedant mode, “here here” is obviously the correct version of agreement with a view. I never read the now removed statement with which Doug agrees so heartily. There are just so many bloody things I don’t know about. A day without finding out something new is a day wasted. And no, not just the football results.

  169. Hi Mr DArcy.
    I’m pretty sure it’s hear, hear as in hear him, hear him . Not beyond doubt mind you, but a degree of confidence of say 80%.

  170. Human beings are biased.. that is in their human nature, and they will give more opposition and biased scrutiny to those who are expressing competing or opposing views and very little opposition and scrutiny to those with the same views. Not matter whether those trying to publish data fully used the scientific method to obtain that data or not.

    As a scientist, I know this very well because I have experienced it first hand. I have tried to publish in peer-reviewed journals where the editor had a competing views and I was met by irrational opposition. My expertise is in bioenergy, biofuels and environmental engineering – I have a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering. One time we tried to publish an article about a new model for enzymatic hydrolysis of cellulosic biomass and it was a competing model for one of the editors in the most reputable and worth-publishing peer-review journals (he had his own model he had come out years earlier) that we wanted to publish.. ALL the other editors were ok with our model, but just that ONE editor (despite being my friend) would just not let it through. I spent a good whole year going back and forth with this editor. At the end I just gave up and we did not publish the results of our model and the data validating such model. As a result of now being able to publish, the scientific community in this area has not adopted our model.

    Later, there was NO sorting among the consensus of scientists that allowed our model to be published given that we were showing good agreement with empirical data, but rather the “power” of this one editor who was an authority in this field was enough to keep us from being published.

    We are still using this model in our lab and pilot plants and it works just fine and many folks in industry are also using it, but the scientific community is NOT.

    I saw the very same situation with this other scientist that tried to simply publish data (not opinions) that sort of (not fully) opposed man-made climate change. He was also met with what I considered to be irrational opposition (I will not get into the details of this to keep the confidentiality of the scientist and also because I do not want to have this discussing deviating into an argument about climate change).

    So, in conclusion, if you think there is NO “mafia” or “cartels” in the scientific community, you simply do not KNOW the scientific community. Imagine the power of just one editor keeping us from publishing a model that was accepted by other scientists/editors, now imagine how much stronger it will be many editors with opposing views in a much more politically loaded topic such as evolution or climate change. They will close their mind as soon as they even read the title and/or even by simply learning who the author is without even considering the merits of the research/data itself.

    (BTW indeed in the time of Galileo the scientists were clergy of the Catholic Church, but they were the scientists of the time, nonetheless — the best that the World had at the time — they taught at universities and other schools and a lot of the sciences, such as medicine, advanced because of them – They were biased, of course, but it is no different from today — to say that they were not scientists would be the same to have more advanced and knowledgeable scientists a few centuries from now claiming that today’s scientists are not really scientists because of how primitive and biased they were) —

    Also, please do not say that they were not scientists because they did not use the scientific method.. otherwise we could say that many of the sciences today where the scientific method cannot be fully applied (such as cosmology, theoretical physics, paleontology, etc) are not really sciences and those working in those fields are not scientists. That would not make sense, right?

  171. I am not a pedant. It’s just how it was always written in England where I grew up and live. I bow to superior knowledge. “Here here” as in agreement with what has been said. ‘I’m with you, I’m here’.

    This is definitely my final word on that particular subject !

  172. We are still using this model in our lab and pilot plants and it works just fine and many folks in industry are also using it, but the scientific community is NOT.

    This must be frustrating. But is the prevailing model used by the scientific community deficient in some way? Does your model contain scientific insight?

    Engineers, even biochemical ones can create empirical models that service their needs without it impacting scientific understanding. I spent two man-years (myself and a Phd assistant) developing a truly comprehensive model of all physical processes within discharge lamps, some 25 different processes in all, and devising tests to disentangle all the mooted parameters and relevant constants. We didn’t consider publishing it, because modelling isn’t science per se, though a few of our experiments were novel.

    Pity you couldn’t comment on climate data, though.

  173. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 4:23 pm

    Human beings are biased.. that is in their human nature, and they will give more opposition and biased scrutiny to those who are expressing competing or opposing views and very little opposition and scrutiny to those with the same views.

    There may well be individual anecdotal examples of individual editors or commercial interests producing the human flaws of unjustified bias.

    Also, please do not say that they were not scientists because they did not use the scientific method..

    People who do not use scientific methods are not scientists. There were all sorts of claims made in the past – some scientific, some quackery and alchemy.

    otherwise we could say that many of the sciences today where the scientific method cannot be fully applied (such as cosmology, theoretical physics, paleontology, etc) are not really sciences and those working in those fields are not scientists.

    This is simply wrong!
    Where limited conclusions can be drawn from lack of access to facilities or information, science classifies information according to status;- Fact, theory, hypothesis, speculation, etc.

    I saw the very same situation with this other scientist that tried to simply publish data (not opinions) that sort of (not fully) opposed man-made climate change.

    You made this vague assertion without details, but I gave you a clear-cut example of the peer-review process exposing a flawed and dishonest paper. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-30534674

    I don’t think anyone suggested the peer-review process was perfect, but to claim it is not basically functional, is just silly – especially at post publication level where experiments are being duplicated and confirmed or refuted!

  174. Peer review may well have its faults, as you indicate. What else would you propose ?

    I’m surprised to see you describe the Catholic clergy at the time of Galileo as the ‘scientists of the time’. Really ? Were they open to new evidence in the form of sunspots, or the moons of Jupiter, or that the Earth orbited the sun. NO !

    They were reactionary clergymen, who knew no better than to threaten Galieo with his life.

  175. Alan,

    Evolution does not work by random chance. It works by non-random natural selection picking and replicating successful individual chances from millions of random mutations.

    It is understood that evolution occurs by natural selection and not by “random chance” at that level, but to get to natural selection, at the primordial level, you had to have had “random chance”. So for clarity, I will refer as “random chance” to the the non-intelligently designed natural selection process in opposition to intelligent design (ID).

    In any case, you still fail to address the main issue that to have even ONE planet (that we know of) given the massive study performed by Barrow and Tipler in the treatise I cited above on the probabilities needed for life to evolve into intelligent life, we should have GAZILLIONS of planets in our galaxy and the universe where life should exist so as to beat those odds. YET we have found NONE.. The only planet where we found life is the same planet where life evolved into intelligent life.. Now, I am not saying that we will never find other planets where there is life, but what I am saying is that to be able to beat the established odds (see work by Barrow and Tipler) given our state of our technology in searching for life in other planets we should have already found LOTS AND LOTS of planets with life in them so that scientifically sound statistics would match the “random chance” theory that you maintain.. yet we have found NONE. Again, the statistics just don’t match you position.

    Our Milkyway galaxy contains 200 billion stars! Is it really surprising that one of them has a planet on which the widely available organic chemicals achieved the self replication of abiogenesis and went on to evolve into more complex organisms?

    YES, it is surprising, because, as I said, among those 200 billions stars, we SHOULD have already been able to FIND many more planets where at least SOME form of life exist to beat the odds of going from simple life to complex organisms and much more to intelligent life. Again, the odds established by Barrow and Tipler in their study were very low.. If you have intelligent life in ONE plant (earth), you must have life in gazillions of planets.

    Incredulity over statistical probability, does not default to “god-did-it-by magic” by way of a negative proof fallacy.

    Not it does not, but it puts them at the same level… They both would be just as far-fetched and so when it comes to the study of origins they should either both be considered or none of them should be considered.

    Again, why should I have to believe and maintain and call science to the far-fetched theory that life IN ONE planet beat such inconceivable odds (as established by Barrow and Tipler massive study) in evolving into intelligent life in that single same planet and at the same time reject and not consider intelligent design (without going further to define who the designer is — I don’t want to call it God, but simply an undefined intelligent designer)???? Again, they both seem as inconceivable.. It makes no sense.

    When it comes to intelligent design, scientifically speaking, I could consider the theory put forth by famous Theoretical Physicist Michio Kaku.

  176. Mr. DArcy,

    What you say is correct but for those unlikely things to happen, you have to have other things that would beget such unlikely thing, happening gazillions of times at other levels.. that is the only way to beat the odds, otherwise you are just arriving at the definition of a miracle (a supernatural event – yes.. really!)..

    So for instance, to put in clearer terms, the odds for an individual to win the lottery are very low, however, someone wins the lottery every couple of weeks. What is what allowed this to happened without it being a miracle? well, the fact that thousands if not millions of lottery tickets were sold. So even though the chances that any one individual would win the lottery is low, the probability that someone would win the lottery is fairly high because thousands if not millions of lottery tickets are out there.

    The situation here is similar.. there are MANY different requisites for life to come about.. a lot more requisites are needed for life to have evolved into intelligent life.. such events have very low odds of happening (see study by Barrow and Tipler “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” (Clarendon Press, 1986)) to the point that to beat such odds there would need to be life existing in gazillion upon gazillion of planets (lots of lottery tickets) and as such, given our state of our technology, it would be VERY easy to find life in other planets. YET so far we have found NONE.. The statistics just don’t match.. and if you believe that life only came about on earth only and in this very same planet life evolved into intelligent life beating all odds, you are just describing one of the clearest Miracles (supernatural event) one could ever come out with..

  177. Caesar,

    If you are having problems with the daunting statistics and timescales of evolution go read Andreas Wagner. He’ll shift your thinking by very many orders of magnitude.

    Quoting Kaku here is certainly a breach of etiquette, which many are quite reasonably hoping to get firmed up into a crime. 🙂

  178. As to who designed the designer question, well, that is irrelevant.. For instance, it is not necessary to KNOW how the conditions prior and for the Big Bang came to be to maintain the theory that the big bang actually occurred (even Krauss in his book recognizes that NOT ALL is known in science and considering that matter came from nothing is absolutely necessary even though little is understood about that in his circles). In addition, If one is not considering intelligent design as being a MORE valid theory that would replace the “random chance” theory this question is even more irrelevant.. The point here is that given that the statistics do not match for the non-intelligently designed “random chance” theory, they both seem to be as far-fetched, so why consider only one far-fetched theory and reject the other?? To be objective, either both are considered or none of them should be considered..

  179. Et tu Caesar ? Lend me your ears, for you are an honourable man.

    The argument from incredulity just doesn’t work. We are here. We are 100% proof that at least this universe produced intelligent life, even if only on this tiny planet.

    It really is up to to the god pushers to show that only God could have done it. But then they will also have to show their workings out of the mechanism. I’m afraid the “intelligent designer” just pushes the problem back a few stages. Instead of answering the question as to the origins of the universe and life, the “designer” theory just raises more questions as to the origins of the “designer”.

  180. Phil..

    If you are having problems with the daunting statistics and timescales of evolution go read Andreas Wagner. He’ll shift your thinking by very many orders of magnitude.

    Wagner’s focus is the establishment of evolution occuring once natural selection comes into being after you have already MET ALL the events that Tipler and Barrow say that are necessary for evolution to intelligent life to occur.. so obviously, after all the events are met already, which leads to natural selection, evolution would move forward.

    The point here is BEFORE the events are met, the odds of such events being met as established by Tipler and Barrow are VERY LOW.. so to beat such odds, life in other planets should be VERY ubiquitous.. YET we see that it is difficult to find it (in fact so far we have found NONE). Those statistics DO NOT match and throw a huge wrench into the theory of non-intelligently designed “random chance” to the point of making it far-fetched.

    Quoting Kaku here is certainly a breach of etiquette, which many are quite reasonably hoping to get firmed up into a crime. 🙂

    Don’t just spurt out that I am misquoting Kaku.. I am just saying that his position about intelligent design seems to be adequate from a scientific view point.. Did you even see the videos?

  181. Darcy,

    See my response to you below.. If you believe that we are just here and that we beat the inconceivable odds to the point of being the ONLY planet where life exists and then not only that the ONLY planet where life evolved into intelligent life, then you just described the definition of a supernatural event (i.e., a miracle) because it defies by far the laws of probabilities (see my example of the lottery in my response below). To believe in it is in NO WAY different than believing that “God did it” because it is just as far-fetched (and if you consider some folks position as to what the intelligent designer might be, such as Michio Kaku, then it is even more far-fetched than believing in intelligent design).

  182. For all of your numbers game, the reality of this universe exists, and intelligent life, at least on Earth exists. 100 % certainty. How do you explain this ? Or are you merely happy to give some undefined deity the credit and question no more ? It would seem so.

    As to the irrelevance of any proposed ‘designer’, as opposed to a naturalistic explanation, I would have thought it extremely relevant. Those who propose ‘design’ should have some evidence to back up their view.

  183. Natasha:

    If you have an honest heart you’d see it’s not so black and white and you might learn something new.

    If Natasha sticks around here, she might also find ‘something new”. !

  184. Phil,

    But is the prevailing model used by the scientific community deficient in some way? Does your model contain scientific insight?

    Our model is far superior than other methods used by scientific community because it takes into account many variables using the neural network methodology. It sure it is a shame that there is such “cartel” in the scientific community that did not let it go through. And this was not a very controversial or politicized issue.. imagine how much worse the scientific community is when the issues at play are politicized (such as origins and climate change).

  185. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    we should have GAZILLIONS of planets in our galaxy and the universe where life should exist so as to beat those odds. YET we have found NONE..

    There may well be gazillions of planets in the universe, but as at present we can only detect large planets in close orbits around their stars, so we do not know!
    However, the accretion disks we have studied would suggest that planetary formation is a normal part of star formation in high metalicity areas.

    given our state of our technology in searching for life in other planets we should have already found LOTS AND LOTS of planets with life in them

    This is simply nonsense as anyone who has studied the search for exoplanets knows! We have not even found significant a number of Earth size planets yet within the goldilocks zone of our own galaxy!

    There are various models of abiogenesis from geneticists. Here is one which explains the basics.

    The Origin of Life – Abiogenesis – Dr. Jack Szostak –

    SOME form of life exist to beat the odds of going from simple life to complex organisms and much more to intelligent life.

    The progression from simple to more complex life is largely a matter of the length of time life supporting conditions existed for evolution on the planet.
    The Earth life forms of increasing complexity over evolutionary time-scales are clear and well documented. Simple abiogenesis, RNA world, Prokaryotes, Eukaryotes, various symbiotic relationships and merging organisms giving rise to mitochondria, and chloroplasts, with various complex organs evolving as they gave advantages to more complex sensory and mobility systems.

    It is of course a theist ego-centric / geocentric misconception, that human evolution is more significant than that of many of the other life forms in the planetary ecosystem. Human evolution is a relatively recent development, which is probably a consequence of the extinction of the non-avian dinosaurs.

    No it does not, but it puts them at the same level…

    Of course it doesn’t! There is no credible theory of intelligent design to sceptically examine, while evolution has millions of validated scientific studies mapping numerous gradual biological adaptations from simple to more complex life.

    They both would be just as far-fetched and so when it comes to the study of origins they should either both be considered or none of them should be considered.

    This special pleading simply illustrates an ignorance of the subject. There is no evidence of magical interventions in the changing life forms on Earth.

    Again, why should I have to believe and maintain and call science to the far-fetched theory that life IN ONE planet beat such inconceivable odds (as established by Barrow and Tipler massive study)

    I have already explained that the inability of those who cannot grasp the numbers involved in planetary scale life and geological time-scales in evolution, is simply personal incredulity based on ignorance.

    in evolving into intelligent life in that single same planet and at the same time reject and not consider intelligent design (without going further to define who the designer is — I don’t want to call it God, but simply an undefined intelligent designer)????

    Intelligent designers are “Turtles all the way down”! with the infinite regression of who designed the designer, of the designer, of the designer, of the designer, of the designer, of the designer, of the designer, – or did the designer evolve on an alien planet elsewhere? It is simply imposing a psychological need for magical anthropomorphism on physics and biology.

    Again, they both seem as inconceivable.. It makes no sense.

    Of course it doesn’t – unless those involved have studied evolutionary biology and / or evolutionary cosmology.

    Magic fairies are so much simpler as non-explanations.

    BTW: RE my link;- While you are still quoting incredulous probabilities: – Any progress in calculating the number of single cells existing and horizontally exchanging genetic material in Earth’s oceans during a period of 2 billion years or so???

    Tipler and Barrow say that are necessary for evolution to intelligent life to occur.

    Tipler and Barrow can say what they like, but as they are simply making wild speculations without credible data to support them, they can simply be dismissed. Your various seriously flawed claims about planets indicate you are not using credible scientific sources.

  186. Don’t just spurt out that I am misquoting Kaku..

    I’m not suggesting you did. I am just commenting that your choice of Kaku will not win friends and influence people here.

    John Barrow and Frank Tipler, in their impressive and comprehensive study “The Anthropic Cosmological Principle” (Clarendon Press, 1986) established that for life to evolve into human (intelligent) beings about 10 different events must have occurred.

    Sorry, this stuff is nonsense. The evolution of brains (the primary function of which is to create moveable entities) is no biggie. Wagners whole point is the manifold choices of functional biochemicals and alternate process routes.

    What on earth happens pre-abiogenesis that precludes a life to brainy-life transition?

  187. Alan

    This is simply wrong! Where limited conclusions can be drawn from lack of access to facilities or information, science classifies information according to status;- Fact, theory, hypothesis, speculation, etc.

    I was not talking about the scientific status of promulgations.. I was talking about whether someone that does not use the scientific method can be considered a scientist.

    People who do not use scientific methods are not scientists.

    Ok.. so according to your definition here, then cosmologists, theoretical physicists, paleontologists, are NOT scientists because they cannot fully apply the scientific method.. You just demoted Stephen Hawkins, Einstein and Michio Kaku who are (were) theoretical physicists as not being scientists because they cannot fully apply the scientific method.

    I think you definition as to who can be a scientists that you exposed here does not make sense.

    I don’t think anyone suggested the peer-review process was perfect, but to claim it is not basically functional, is just silly –

    I claim that SOMETIMES IS NOT functional because of the “cartel” you find sometimes in the scientific community. It might sound silly to you, but I say this from my own experience in trying to publish in peer-reviewed journals. As with any process where human beings are involved it is politicized and I guess in that, politics ARE silly.. And this is NOT just my own opinion. I do know many other folks involved in the scientific communities that have had the same experience. If you disagree, it might be because you have no direct experience with the scientific community and with trying to get a paper through an editor with an opposing view.

  188. Darcy

    I’m surprised to see you describe the Catholic clergy at the time of Galileo as the ‘scientists of the time’. Really ? Were they open to new evidence in the form of sunspots, or the moons of Jupiter, or that the Earth orbited the sun. NO !

    Hind sight is 20/20.. It is possible that there will be a time centuries from now that many of the theories that are so passionately maintained by the scientists today will be considered non-sense by the scientists of the future. It would be unfair for those scientists of the future to demote the scientists of today just because they are more primitive that the scientists of the future.

    Those same scientists (who happened to be Catholic Church clergymen) advanced many of the sciences we know today..

    Indeed they were close-minded scientists.. but so are many of the scientists we have today.. you would be very naive to say that they are not.

  189. Darcy,

    For you to just parrot what you already said shows that you are simply ignoring or not understanding the point I am making about simply blindly believing “we are here” even though we cannot find life in all the other planets we have searched. AGAIN, to just default to “random chance” theory makes not sense because the statistics do not match. Such default position you are taking is just as far-fetched and crazy as the position of an intelligent designer.. JUST they should present prove.. but so should you.. because both position are just as far-fetched.. get it?

  190. Sorry, Caesar. I don’t understand in an area (biofuels) snowed under with journals (I counted twenty that published 1500 articles in 2008), how you could not find one to publish such good work. You must be terribly unlucky.

  191. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 6:48 pm

    Alan

    This is simply wrong! Where limited conclusions can be drawn from lack of access to facilities or information, science classifies information according to status;- Fact, theory, hypothesis, speculation, etc.

    I was not talking about the scientific status of promulgations.. I was talking about whether someone that does not use the scientific method can be considered a scientist.

    People who do not use scientific methods are not scientists.

    Ok.. so according to your definition here, then cosmologists, theoretical physicists, paleontologists, are NOT scientists because they cannot fully apply the scientific method.. You just demoted Stephen Hawkins, Einstein and Michio Kaku who are (were) theoretical physicists as not being scientists because they cannot fully apply the scientific method.

    This is just strawman nonsense!
    My comment made it perfectly clear that scientists use scientific methodology when it is possible, and quote the limitations when it is not.
    People (Such as ID supporters) who don’t use scientific methods when they should be used and could be used , are clearly NOT scientists.

    I think you[r] definition as to who can be a scientists that you exposed here does not make sense.

    There seems to be a great deal of science where you are unable to understand the sense or the evidence. Perhaps circular “faith-thinking” in place of scientific methodology, is the problem you have with scientific evidence?

    Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 7:05 pm

    Darcy,

    For you to just parrot what you already said shows that you are simply ignoring or not understanding the point I am making about simply blindly believing “we are here” even though we cannot find life in all the other planets we have searched.

    The point you are making is laughable!!! You are either copying drivel or just making it up!!

    WE have not searched ANY exoplanets planets for life yet!

  192. Mr DArcy.
    If Natasha sticks around here, she might also find ‘something new”. !

    I detect a willingness to learn.
    Regarding the hear/here dilemma, I’ll probably have to bow to your cultural trump card (English being the language spoken), but I won’t bow happily. I can see the city elders saying ‘hear him’, hear him ‘ in my mind’s eye.

  193. Alan,

    Ok.. I think here we cannot move forward because you are not willing to accept the massive/extensive study performed by Barrow and Tipler. Without that establishing the odds of life evolving into intelligent life you cannot understand the magnitude of not being able to find another planet with life. In fact, the odds are so low, as I mentioned, that it would be necessary that even planets and moons within our solar system (e.g., Mars, moons of jupiter) to have life.. yet we have not found it.

    You claim that without credible data to support them, they can simply be dismissed. The issue here is that all they have to do is demonstrate that the odds are eeny weeny tiny, which they have demonstrated (if you were to review their treatise).. they don’t have to provide an exact number (e.g., the estimate is that the probability for human evolution to occur on earth 4^-180^(110,000) and 4^-360^(110,000)).. Even if they were completely off by many times and it was 4^-100,000 for all practical purposes that number is STILL zero.. Such inconceivable odds would require that we would find life very easily even within our solar system.

    Finally, I do not appreciate how in your close-mindedness (which you are in denial not to have) you simply dismiss my position by condescendingly assigning me the belief in “magic fairies” or a “magic God”.. It seems that you do not understand or are so close-minded that intelligent design DOES not necessary mean “magic powers”… DID you even see the videos I posted by Michio Kaku?

  194. Phil,

    Sorry, Caesar. I don’t understand in an area (biofuels) snowed under with journals (I counted twenty that published 1500 articles in 2008), how you could not find one to publish such good work. You must be terribly unlucky.

    THere are many more than 20 biofuel peer-reviewed journals, yes, but only about 10 that are reputable enough to make a impact in the scientific community in this area and within those 10 only four that match the scope of our article (other journals would not accept it). The scientist in question was editor of all four..

    We have presented the model in several conferences and symposia however.. but they do not reach the whole scientific community.

    Now, it is possible that in the future our model might become more widespread.. I do believe that.. but the point is that there is an immediate opposition that does a disservice to science progress.

  195. You are either copying drivel or just making it up!!

    None of this makes sense to me. It seems to come from an incomplete understanding of Willian Lane Craig’s wish thinking on Tippler and Barrow. Also a misreading of “many worlds” to be many planets.

    Please correct me here, Caesar.

  196. Without that establishing the odds of life evolving into intelligent life

    What are the barriers to this transition?

    Just found the ten with some more added…

    Cells containing only a few hundred gene products must transition to cells containing several thousand gene products.
    Respiration systems must transition from anaerobic to aerobic.
    Cells must develop nuclei.
    Cells must develop mitochondria.
    Cells must transition from free-floating to colony life.
    Single-celled organisms must transition into multicellular organisms.
    Asexual organisms must transition into sexual organisms.
    Organisms must develop eyes or eye precursors.
    Organisms must evolve differentiated organs and appendages.
    Organisms with ectoskeletons must evolve into organisms with endoskeletons.
    Very-small-bodied organisms must become large-bodied organisms
    Non-animal life must transition into animal life
    Non-vascular plants must transition into vascular plants
    Non-chordate animals must evolve into chordate animals
    Animals must develop a mind, free will, and emotions.
    Advanced animals must develop a spirit, symbolic cognition, and symbolic relational capability—in other words, they must become human.

    1986 understanding is primitive on these matters. There is no longer any case here.

  197. Test.. just wrote a long response to Alan and it got all erased.. that is as much time and patience I have for this day and this discussion.. IN any case, it was repeat (Alan arbitrarily and without basis does not accept or does not understand Barrow and Tipler, so what else is there to say)..

    Phil, who is William Lane Craig?

    I said planets (or moons) with life..

  198. Katy and Nat, our purpose in life is so evident when you realise we are all part of the food chain and that’s where every one of us will eventually end up, in the food chain.

  199. I found the long response.. I thought it had gotten erased but it had gotten posted somewhere else.. Here it is and that is it for me tonight..

    Alan

    This is just strawman nonsense! My comment made it perfectly clear that scientists use scientific methodology when it is possible, and quote the limitations when it is not.

    Ok.. then you will recognize, if you were to review their work, that a lot of the catholic clergy scientists that rejected Galileo’s promulgations also did this.. Even though the scientific method was not invented yet, there were many nuances of it that were used by them in other topics (not just astronomy).. so they also used it when possible, so they can be considered scientists.

    Unless you are the absolute JUDGE and final authority of who is using the scientific method “enough” for you to bestow them the title of scientist or deny it to them.

    People (Such as ID supporters) who don’t use scientific methods when they should be used and could be used , are clearly NOT scientists.

    Again, you become the judge then of when they can get away when not using it and when not.. Perhaps if they were views opposing to yours you would discard all the theories brought forth by Einstein or Hawkins or Kaku as non-scientific because they did not use scientific method when they were promulgated.

    I bet that you would consider scientific the theoretical promulgation by Krauss that indeed matter came from nothing even though he could not use the scientific method to arrive at it even though to many (like me) it is as far-fetched as the believing in an intelligent designer.

    See, Alan, the issue here is YOUR close-mindedness.. “there cannot be an intelligent designer.. period.. but it is fine to believe in other theories that are just as far-fetched”

    WE have not searched ANY exoplanets planets for life yet!

    As I already mentioned in a reply to you below, the point here is that for those who do realized how small the odds are is that we should have already found life in the planets and moons we have already looked at.. but, as I said, you have arbitrarily (by faith?) rejected Barrow’s and Tipler’s work, so I cannot convince you otherwise in as much as I cannot convince a religious fundamentalist that his Christian God makes no sense..

  200. Your scenario of a sequence of events is a realization of a sampling process to give a posteriori data. Models that can be used to explain/predict are a priori and the accepted scientific methodology is to compare models in terms of likelihoods (theory invented by statistician/geneticist RA Fisher earlier last century). So the data is “Krauss sat at his desk and wrote a response to the Metaxas WSJ op-ed”. To start somewhere tractable we can condition on Krauss’ entry into human society so we have Lik(data | born, Model1) where Model 1 is “random” (i.e. a random walk from Krauss’ birth to the data point). Model 2 is say Model1 + Krauss_ID + others_ID where ID is intelligent design (i.e. intelligent or not-so intelligent choices) and a key “others” is his parents especially in his early life. I would add to Model2 to get Model3 the term “God_ID”. The term God_ID might in some people’s thinking totally subsume and therefore make redundant the term “random” but that’s a deep theological/philosophical debate that there is not enough space to go into here. So for the data I suggest Krauss would prefer Model2, since would he think that the feather blown about by random gusts of wind at the end of the Forest Gump movie is a good model for his life? However, he is applying Model1 to an notionally analogous situation where the data point is the current state of life on earth (CSLOE). Model 1 for both data is clearly the poorest in terms of explanation/prediction by a very, very long way. So is it Model2 or Model3? Model2 is a nonsense for CSLOE since neither Krauss or anyone else (apart from Elohim -Father, Son, Holy Spirit) was around for the big bang or however time/space/matter came into existence. Therefore we cannot avoid God_ID in any of our models as the “inference to the best explanation”.

  201. straw man

    Each side is providing arguments for and against the existence of god. It is perfectly ok to martial any arguments you want. It would only be a straw man if Krauss had made a false claim about what Eric Metaxas said.

  202. Thank you, Mr DArcy. I’ll go with your take (but I’m keeping my mind open to other possibilities).
    I’ve always been a stickler for details, but I didn’t know until today that this might mean I’m a “pedant”. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that – apparently I was born this way.)
    Perhaps I should heed the advice (did I spell that correctly?) of those who have said I should not “sweat the details”, as apparently the devil resides in them.

  203. Simple question to believers – What is the purpose of evolution in this presumably God created design? Why did god create a primordial soup of organic molecules that led to complex life as we see it now as opposed to life in some sort of equilibrium. So that we could believe in a silly scientific theory such as natural selection?

    If there is God dictated design, what is the final state of life supposed to look like? If Earth is the one and only God intended bowl of life, why the shelf life? In terms of natural threats, fragile atmosphere, comets and if all else fails the shelf life of the Sun itself, before it turns into a black hole and swallows God’s chosen ones.

    Perhaps God’s messengers would like to shed more light on God’s intentions.

    WSJ should stick to doing a mediocre job of unravelling finance rather than theological demagoguery.

  204. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Alan,

    Ok.. I think here we cannot move forward because you are not willing to accept the massive/extensive study performed by Barrow and Tipler.

    Why should I accept unevidenced crap like that, just because you seem to worship their nonsensical claims. I happen to understand evolution and astronomy.

    Without that establishing the odds of life evolving into intelligent life you cannot understand the magnitude of not being able to find another planet with life.

    The evidence of intelligent life evolving from simple life is clearly demonstrated in the various more complex life-forms on Earth and their simple ancestral history and relatives.

    In fact, the odds are so low, as I mentioned, that it would be necessary that even planets and moons within our solar system (e.g., Mars, moons of jupiter) to have life.. yet we have not found it.

    You have absolutely no idea of the odds in evolution and have picked up on none of the major points I raised!
    I have to doubt if you even recognise the science or the terminology, but simply look at it in uncomprehending denial with incredulity as it goes by you!

    You claim that without credible data to support them, they can simply be dismissed.

    Of course they can be dismissed. They have just made up a bunch of figures with no evidenced basis.

    You just keep making up this nonsense. Nobody knows if there is life on Mars or the moons of the outer Solar System, and nobody knows if there is life on exoplanets. Neither the stellar wobbles around their barycenters, nor the solar variations due to planetary transits, give any indication of the presence or absence of life on exoplanets. Most of them are too small or orbiting too far from their stars, even to be detected at present. Even spectroscopic analysis of the occasional rare back-lit atmosphere only provides speculations about elements.

    When you can give a coherent scientific reply to the issues I have presented, I will take your posts seriously. At present they are just pseudo-science rants, based on ignorance, incredulity and parroting other people’s pseudo-science claims.
    Nothing you have said about life on planets has any credibility whatever.

    BTW: I am a planetary scientist and I do know scientific data from the world’s leading space telescopes, large ground-based telescopes, satellites, and probes, from made-up drivel derived from circular wish-thinking!

  205. One Scientific Proof for God’s Existence:

    One of many proofs for the existence of God is exhibited in the Nucleotide sequence information based language of DNA from which all life is designed. The four-character nucleotide alphabet for DNA prescribes information for the 3.1 billion long nucleotide helix of life for the Human Genome. This code cannot have arisen from the probabilistic mechanism of macroevolution given insufficient time required by this theory. Neither can the 400K-nucleotide genome of the simplest viruses arise from macroevolution. Macroevolution is defined as evolution between species. One example is Mankind arising from hominids (Apes).
    Regardless of Big Science’s Religion of macroevolution, no verified mechanism has ever been demonstrated for the actual origin of life, only a series of “just so” stories or postulates and theories. Darwin’s Theory has been demonstrated unproven as no valid fossil chains of transitional intermediates have ever been found between species. The earth’s early environment was so harsh as to prevent biological molecules (primordial soup) to remain stable long enough to form nucleotides, RNA, DNA, etc. and the basis of life.
    The DNA information is similar to textural information used by human intelligence to communicate ideas using the 26 character English alphabet (or any other language). While mankind uses text and drawings for design, God uses DNA sequences to design life. Mankind was created in God’s image. Some believe that this image refers to the intellectual image. Although mankind’s intellect is infinitely inferior to God’s, it is sufficient to rule the earth, plant and animal world (poorly), have a relationship with God (some) and appreciate and acknowledge God’s creative powers.
    The chemistry, physics, and mathematics behind DNA demonstrate a Creator who has fine-tuned the physical constants to such a degree that the smallest variation in value would negate the formation of life. Information cannot arise from evolution, only from intelligence. Computer code is another example of information generated by intelligence (mankind).
    So, who is this Creator? Is it Buddha, Muhammad, Krishna, or Christ or some other person of religious stature? The reader must explore this for himself by reading the literature from each of the holy books of these religions. If one reads this literature and has the necessary background, he can discern that only the Judeo Christian Religion with its Genesis, Job, etc. creation scenarios is compatible with Modern Science. If the interpretation of these Holy books is valid and understanding of Science is sufficient, one can determine the validity for himself.
    Don’t expect to understand these things without the study of the Molecular Biology of the Cell and assessments of probabilities for macroevolution. For further reading, see:
    1. “Darwin’s Doubt” Stephen C. Meyer 2013
    2. “Signature in the Cell” Stephan C. Meyer 2009
    3. “The Cell’s Design” Fazale Rana 2008
    4. “Darwin’s Black Box Michael J Behe 1996
    5. “The Edge of Evolution” Michael J Behe 2007
    6. “Molecular Biology of the Cell” Bruce Alberts, Et Al
    This list is only a small group of a vast body of literature dealing with this subject. This message is directed at the Origin of Life and does not cover the formation of the universe and Cosmology, which is another topic of discussion.
    These assertions are to say the least, controversial. There are two sides for every story. If you want to have an informed opinion, put in the study and reading.

    Dave Richards

  206. David Jan 5, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    This list is only a small group of a vast body of literature dealing with this subject.

    Oh dear! What a long list of pseudo-science, ignorance and incredulity!

    Fortunately science deals with evidenced biology and geology, not the personal opinions and circular thinking of the ignorant, so the university libraries have proper science books written on work derived from scientific methodology rather than wish-thinking based on supernatural delusions and confused notions from the bronze age.

    If one reads this literature and has the necessary background, he can discern that only the Judeo Christian Religion with its Genesis, Job, etc. creation scenarios is compatible with Modern Science. If the interpretation of these Holy books is valid and understanding of Science is sufficient, one can determine the validity for himself.

    Yep! Those faith-blinkers can interpret anything to be compatible with any wished-for view, regardless of evidence to the contrary, or self-contradictions!

  207. David,

    Have you any suggestions on how God can improve on this thing he made in his own image?

    You can’t escape that easily from cosmology either. Why in the vastness of the universe did he pick this tiny planet and if there are no other forms of life anywhere else, what is the rest of the universe for?

  208. Phil,

    What are the barriers to this transition? Just found the ten with some more added…

    Those are some, but not all.. plus your starting point is the cell.. You have to be further back. The crucial steps of things that must be met are as follows:

    1: The development of the DNA-based genetic code.
    2: The development of aerobic respiration.
    3: The development of glucose fermentation to pyruvic acid
    4: The origin of autotropic photosynthesis (oxygenic photosynthesis).
    5: The origin of mitochondria: (a cell being engulfed by other, which then became the place where energy is generated within the cell in eukaryotes)
    6: The formation of the centriole/kinetosome/undulipodia complex; which is crucial for the reproductive and nerve system in eukaryotes.
    7: The evolution of an eye precursor.
    8: The development of an endoskeleton.
    9: The development of chordates.
    10: The evolution of Homo Sapiens in the chordate lineage.

    You can find these steps in page 561 – 562 of Barrow and Tipler.

    There is nothing primitive about these steps.. They still are crucial and if you go into detail to their book you will see how they established that the odds for theses steps happening are extremely low.. when you multiply all these odds, you got a virtually non-existent chance that life would evolve into intelligent life (humans) as it did on Earth.

    Barrow and Tipler establish that there is a “fine-tuning” in all the steps leading to and within evolution (which is driven by natural selection) to intelligent life.

  209. Caesar Jan 5, 2015 at 2:01 pm

    1: The development of the DNA-based genetic code.
    2: The development of aerobic respiration.
    3: The development of glucose fermentation to pyruvic acid
    4: The origin of autotropic photosynthesis (oxygenic photosynthesis).
    5: The origin of mitochondria: (a cell being engulfed by other, which then became the place where energy is generated within the cell in eukaryotes)
    6: The formation of the centriole/kinetosome/undulipodia complex; which is crucial for the reproductive and nerve system in eukaryotes.
    7: The evolution of an eye precursor.
    8: The development of an endoskeleton.
    9: The development of chordates.
    10: The evolution of Homo Sapiens in the chordate lineage.

    You can find these steps in page 561 – 562 of Barrow and Tipler.

    You will also find them explained in standard biology textbooks, in which genetics has progressed considerably since 1986.

    Personal ignorance is only an argument in favour of education, rather than incredulity, arguments from ignorance, and denial of science.

    Creationists love to see human “intelligent life as the central feature of the universe – their egos demand it. Of course it is simply not so. There is no evidence of “fine tuning” or “purpose” in the universe – just in the god-delusions in the brains of egocentric wish-thinkers.

  210. Why should I accept unevidenced crap like that, just because you seem to worship their nonsensical claims. I happen to understand evolution and astronomy.

    My issue is not that you reject it.. my issue is that you simply call it crap (without any justification) and then reject it.. you are just behaving like a religious fundamentalist on this, rejecting what opposes what they want to believe without giving any reasonable cause whatsoever.. but anyway.. suit yourself.. I think we reach an impasse.. you reject the work by Barrow and Tipler just because.. there is nothing I can tell you or show you that will change your mind.

    The evidence of intelligent life evolving from simple life is clearly demonstrated in the various more complex life-forms on Earth and their simple ancestral history and relatives.

    You see.. you are not even in topic.. I have never asked for any evidence about life evolving into intelligent life (which is what you are giving me here). I DO NOT REJECT EVOLUTION (please understand that).. I can see and there is plenty of evidence that EVOLUTION has OCCURRED here on Earth.. What I said is that given the tiny weeny odds shown for life evolving into intelligent life (which DID happen), if in fact evolution occurred by mere random chance without intelligent intervention, we MUST be able to find LIFE in other planets VERY EASILY to beat such odds… yet we haven’t… So this makes the idea or believe that evolution occurred by mere chance at least as far-fetched as it occurring by design.. get it???

    You have absolutely no idea of the odds in evolution and have picked up on none of the major points I raised!
    I have to doubt if you even recognise the science or the terminology, but simply look at it in uncomprehending denial with incredulity as it goes by you!

    You are talking non-sense, my friend. Firstly I did picked up the major points you raised and I refuted them (maybe you missed them).. secondly, you are clearly going off topic, trying to give me evidence that evolution has occurred, which NO ONE is disputing.. (waste of time or smoke-screen arguments).. thirdly, I do have shown the odds based on the work by Tipler and Barrow, which you reject (without any basis).. so please spare the dogmatic speech, my friend..

    Of course they can be dismissed. They have just made up a bunch of figures with no evidenced basis.

    You clearly have NOT read nor reviewed Barrow and Tipler’s work.. like I said, you are simply spurting out dogmatic speech without even considering their work.. Why? because you are biased.. and you will outright reject anything that will oppose your view.. (just like a lot of scientists

    Nobody knows if there is life on Mars or the moons

    Excuse me??? have we not sent probes and rovers to mars and brought back samples? NO life has been found..

    To beat the odds we should have been found at least signs of life very easily .. yet we didn’t ..

    BTW: I am a planetary scientist and I do know scientific data from the world’s leading space telescopes, large ground-based telescopes, satellites, and probes, from made-up drivel derived from circular wish-thinking!

    YOu are clearly kidding.. good one!

  211. Excuse the intrusion –

    You are clearly kidding…good one!

    Cease the chortle, you know not of which you speak. He is a member of the British Interplanetary Society.

  212. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 7:30 pm

    Alan,

    Such inconceivable odds would require that we would find life very easily even within our solar system.

    As I have already explained, we would not have found it yet even if there were suitable niches, and it was there”!

    Finally, I do not appreciate how in your close-mindedness (which you are in denial not to have)

    You are simply indulging is psychological projection, because my mind is not open like a slop-bucket to the incredulity and pseudo-science you are asserting without evidence as a fan of those who tell you what you want to hear.

    you simply dismiss my position by condescendingly assigning me the belief in “magic fairies” or a “magic God”..

    You have offered no other explanation.

    It seems that you do not understand or are so close-minded that intelligent design DOES not necessary mean “magic powers”…

    I did suggest “an alien creator”, but you have failed to address the problem of an infinite regression of creators or explain how this creator appeared without an earlier creator or magic.

    Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 5:51 pm

    As to who designed the designer question, well, that is irrelevant..

    I see! Whenever you are stuck for an answer just make a silly assertion and duck the issue!

    Simply ignoring issues and claiming others are closed minded for failing to accept your unevidenced and frankly ignorant views, is not a rational form of discussion.

    7: The evolution of an eye precursor.

    From light sensitive nerve cell to eyes of varying degrees of complexity – having evolved (and still evolving) numerous times in numerous species as anyone familiar with biology knows.

    8: The development of an endoskeleton.

    Well known in Molluscs with exoskeleton and endoskeletons.

    9: The development of chordates.

    All the way from worm-like ancestors through fish to amphibians, reptiles, and mammals.

    10: The evolution of Homo Sapiens in the chordate lineage.

    On the primate branch of mammals

    All examples of basic biology and ignorant ID incredulity!

  213. Caesar Jan 5, 2015 at 2:19 pm

    Excuse me??? have we not sent probes and rovers to mars and brought back samples?

    No we have not returned samples on space craft! You really need to learn to do basic research! (NASA interest in 2024 Mars Sample Return Mission)

    To beat the odds we should have been found at least signs of life very easily .. yet we didn’t ..

    In your (ought to be) humble opinion!

    What I said is that given the tiny weeny odds shown for life evolving into intelligent life (which DID happen), if in fact evolution occurred by mere random chance without intelligent intervention,

    Non-random Natural Selection has already been explained to you, but you just don’t get it!

    we MUST be able to find LIFE in other planets VERY EASILY to beat such odds… yet we haven’t…

    I have already explained that we do not have the technology to detect such life and I have explained how that technology works to identify systems with exoplanets, but space science just sails past you as you keep trolling nonsensical assertions.

    So this makes the idea or believe that evolution occurred by mere chance at least as far-fetched as it occurring by design.. get it???

    Yep! It is stick in your brain in a trolling parrot-loop!
    Evolutionary mechanisms do not “happen BY MERE CHANCE” as anyone who has even a basic understanding of biology knows!

    BTW: I am a planetary scientist and I do know scientific data from the world’s leading space telescopes, large ground-based telescopes, satellites, and probes, from made-up drivel derived from circular wish-thinking!

    YOu are clearly kidding.. good one!

    That’ the thing about pseudo-science believers, – they can’t even recognise real science when it is in front of them!

    Nope! I think you are the one who is kidding about being a scientist when pontificating on clueless perceptions of space sciences!

    Perhaps you should look over here to see what a discussion on space sciences looks like:-

    https://richarddawkins.net/2014/12/question-of-the-week-december-31-2014/

  214. Caesar,

    Your rejection of Andreas Wagner is astonishing as too was your reason for that rejection considering its crucial significance to these ten points given by Barrow and Tipler. I hope it wasn’t deliberate deception…

    You need to bring yourself up to date on matters of genetic science before you tout such antique stuff as this.

    I have no interest in this exchange until you commit to catching up with the science 30 years on.

  215. Hi Steve,

    The key part of point 3 is “[life] as we know it”.

    Lawrence is saying that there is nothing in physics that says, if the ratios between forces were different we wouldn’t get life – meaning self-replicating entities.

    Once you have self-replicating entities, many types of universe will have physics ratios that will drive the evolution of those entities.

    I’m part way through a new book on Quantum Mechanics and so far the authors have only said that forces don’t actually exist at the quantum level. Intriguing, but probably trying to run before I can walk so I’ll leave this to one side.

    We exist as we are because the physics is the way it is, which automatically leads to the chemistry we have. That means it is unlikely that we, or other human-like beings, would evolve in a Universe with very different physics.

    Lawrence is keen to point out that human-like life could evolve in a Universe that is marginally different to ours – even more different than Eric supposed in his original article. However, I feel it only fair to say that Lawrence tries to do too much in too few words, and is less than clear.

    The term fine tuning is clearly designed to give the impression of someone twiddling some knobs and flicking some switches somewhere. But there is no mechanism in physics for these knobs and switches to exist, and Lawrence therefore says nothing about such an idea.

    The many-universes hypothesis is gaining ground. I even read a report somewhere about some physicists looking at ways to spot if our Universe is touching another. With the evidence of the predictions that come from our current understanding of physics and the beginnings of our own Universe, it’s our best shot for now.

    Lawrence doesn’t actually say so (tut), but it’s clear from the many-universes idea that if it can happen it will happen. Not all in this Universe, but in one.

    But if everything happens, what does fine tuning mean?

    Peace.

  216. Alan,

    You will also find them explained in standard biology textbooks, in which genetics has progressed considerably since 1986.

    So are you saying that those 10 steps don’t apply anymore? are you saying that we have “progressed” out of them since 1986.

    Personal ignorance is only an argument in favour of education, rather than incredulity, arguments from ignorance, and denial of science.

    Ad hominems and smoke screens. Nothing worth answering.

    Creationists love to see human “intelligent life as the central feature of the universe – their egos demand it. Of course it is simply not so. There is no evidence of “fine tuning” or “purpose” in the universe – just in the god-delusions in the brains of egocentric wish-thinkers.

    More off-topic non-sense.

    Notice that I am not even arguing as a creationist. All I have said is that your position is at least as far-fetched as that of the creationists, so they should either both be rejected or both should be considered, but you have picked one far-fetched position over the other and like a religious fundamentalist will reject anything that opposes it. But don’t feel bad.. your lack of objectivity and open-mindedness is something I have observed among many so-called “scientists” as well..

    In any case, I think that is it.. our discussion has come to an end. I see you immutable position and nothing I can tell you will change your mind.

  217. Phil,

    Your rejection of Andreas Wagner is astonishing as too was your reason for that rejection considering its crucial significance to these ten points given by Barrow and Tipler. I hope it wasn’t deliberate deception…

    Please pay more attention to my contributions.. NOWHERE have I rejected Wagner.. I fully agree with Wagner.. what I said about Wagner is that he takes it from the point where all 10 crucial steps have already been met.. so yes, once those crucial points have already been met then evolution will follow.. no question about it..

    You need to bring yourself up to date on matters of genetic science before you tout such antique stuff as this.

    Tell me where and how I am out of date??

    I have no interest in this exchange until you commit to catching up with the science 30 years on.

    Tell me which of the 10 steps described by Barrow and Tipler do not apply anymore?? tell me which one is “out of date” and needs “catching up”?

    You see Phil, this is a common defensive attitude, of dismissing the arguments or data that do not agree with your views without even considering them.. age, other irrelevant works by the same author, and other things that make you dismiss the premise without analysis to tell us why it lacks merit, are just excuses… it is just judging a book by its cover.

  218. I fully agree with Wagner.. what I said about Wagner is that he takes it from the point where all 10 crucial steps have already been met..

    No he doesn’t!

    This is what is astonishing about your assertion. It shows no understanding of the level at which he is working.

    To pick a point at random. He demonstrates the ease with which eye precursors (light sensitive spots) may be developed because of the plurality of possible photosensitive proteins. He shows that the solution space available to ease evolutionary pressures is enormously bigger than imagined.

    The bluster is wearing thin….

  219. Caesar Jan 5, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    Alan,

    You will also find them explained in standard biology textbooks, in which genetics has progressed considerably since 1986.

    So are you saying that those 10 steps don’t apply anymore? are you saying that we have “progressed” out of them since 1986.

    They were never of any great significance in the first place. Evolution does not progress in big steps. It progresses a very little bit at a time, under selection pressure from competition, predation and environment. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Climbing_Mount_Improbable

    Personal ignorance is only an argument in favour of education, rather than incredulity, arguments from ignorance, and denial of science.

    Ad hominems and smoke screens.

    Ignorance is a lack of knowledge. Describing an argument from ignorance and incredulity for what it is, is not an ad hominem, although hiding behind such false claims, is a common tactic of those who have no reasoned answers or evidence to offer.

    Nothing worth answering.

    I no longer expect you to be able to recognise science, and realise you have no credible answers to offer.

    Creationists love to see human “intelligent life as the central feature of the universe – their egos demand it. Of course it is simply not so. There is no evidence of “fine tuning” or “purpose” in the universe – just in the god-delusions in the brains of egocentric wish-thinkers.

    More off-topic non-sense.

    It is the core element of pseudo-science theistic evolution that the “purpose of evolution” is to create intelligent humans, rather than the scientific simple responses to selection pressures to aid survival.

    Notice that I am not even arguing as a creationist.

    Actually you are, but in common with many ID supporters over many years, you try to deny it, and pretend that ID is science!

    All I have said is that your position is at least as far-fetched as that of the creationists,

    In your personal very poorly informed biased opinion.

    so they should either both be rejected or both should be considered,

    Which is simply a false equivalence based on your earlier ill-informed assertion.

    but you have picked one far-fetched position over the other and like a religious fundamentalist will reject anything that opposes it.

    The suggestion the science of evolution supported by thousands of peer reviewed studies (not to be confused with the pseudo-science version of it you claim to accept), is “far fetched” or in any way equivalent to the unevidenced assertions and incredulity of ID, is simply laughable. Usually as laughable as ID’s supporters attempts at objectivity, evidence seeking, and scientific reasoning!

    But don’t feel bad.. your lack of objectivity and open-mindedness is something I have observed among many so-called “scientists” as well..

    I know – all those scientists who keep using real evidence to debunk silly ID incredulity, and climate change denial, and those space scientists who actually know what their probes and telescopes have looked and what they haven’t!
    They must be really upset that they have not benefited your “superior” pseudo-science understanding of their specialist subjects.

    Anyway, – I think you have demonstrated to readers here, why editors of reputable journals will not publish material you consider to be science.
    You have also provided readers here, with examples of the vacuous assertions, and fallacies of ID claims.

    In any case, I think that is it.. our discussion has come to an end. I see your immutable position and nothing I can tell you will change your mind.

    Did you ever have any evidence or understanding of any aspect of biology or space, which could usefully add anything to my existing knowledge of those subjects acquired from scientific discussions, high quality papers, science books journals, articles, or websites?

    All the planets where imaginary searches should have found life???????
    Imaginary samples from Mars missions which could have been shown to be imaginary by a quick Google!!! – Classic (no)IDer’s attempts at science!

    prime examples of comical circular faith-thinking self delusion, which exercises Dunning-Kruger confidence and learns nothing!!

  220. Even if you have perfect environment to sustain life, life being formed from non-living matter is still a mystery that science have not solved, so don’t say that science already have all the anwers.

  221. if life is inevitable in life sustaining environment, it’s like expecting automobile to spontaneously appear near oil field.

  222. James Jan 5, 2015 at 6:26 pm

    If current earth is able to sustain life, how come no one ever observes spontaneous life generation?

    That would be because current life forms are more competitive and would eat anything from which nutrients can be extracted.

    Also the current Earth oxygen atmosphere is poisonous to to the organisms of early Earth.

    The conditions sustaining present life which has adapted to them, are quite different to the chemical and physical conditions on early Earth.

  223. James Jan 5, 2015 at 6:28 pm

    Even if you have perfect environment to sustain life, life being formed from non-living matter is still a mystery that science have not solved,

    Various labs are working on abiogenesis and creating artificial life. It is probably only a matter of time!

  224. Roger that, was not my intention to suggest otherwise.

    He is looking a gift horse(s) in the mouth, is all.

  225. After many years of debating and thinking about God, I’ve come to the conclusion that there is no “killer” argument or evidence on either side of the issue. If there were, then we would not even be having these discussions. My concern is how both sides try to hijack science to justify their side. Science is a very useful tool to understand physical reality but there is nothing in science which proves or disproves the existence of God.

  226. There is however much in science that raises the improbability of any of the thousands of gods to truly astronomic levels, and nothing, zero, nada, zip, that speaks to their probability.

    Religion has lived on the arguement from authority for a long time. “Such grand buildings, such beautiful music. How could that be if God did not exist.” And of course, “Believe, or we will burn you at the stake, or cut your head off etc etc.”

    As the questions that beg the “God diddit” answer get answered by science, the probability that the rest will be similiarly answered increases.

    And, in all this, there is still no god to be seen, just answers based on evidence, and God gets pushed further into irrelevance..

  227. Even if you have perfect environment to sustain life, life being formed from non-living matter is still a mystery that science have not solved, so don’t say that science already have all the anwers.

    Science doesn’t say it has the answers. Are you alleging they are saying that and if so, please cite a reference. As Alan4D points out, science has several hypothesis that are proving potential sources of the original life. A pond full of water and the amino acids from comets, when hit with a bit of lightning form more complex organic molecules. The first life might have been an extreme long shot, but it did get going. After that, the sledge hammer of evolution takes over and improves, and improves through natural selection.

    Science has built a polio virus from scratch, using bits of DNA ordered by mail order and delivered to the lab. They put the DNA together. Inserted it into a cell and voila, self replicating polio virus. See here.

    Scientists have built the virus that causes polio from scratch in the lab, using nothing more than genetic sequence information from public databases and readily available technology.

    http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn2539-scientists-build-polio-virus-from-scratch.html#.VKuJHcmLWIA

    (you should read New Scientist or similar everyday.)

    So the chemistry of life is no big deal. The fact that we don’t know the exact formula for the original life today is not an issue. Life did get started or James wouldn’t be in this forum writing “God Did It” stuff. And James. It’s not a killer argument anymore. Not at least for informed rational people.

    Life is just self replicating chemistry. It’s nothing special.

  228. More on Polio Virus construction.

    Paul and her colleagues used chemical techniques to produce large segments of DNA corresponding to portions of the polio virus. They made one segment themselves, then ordered the rest from a company that routinely machine-generates DNA.
    Once they had all the segments, the team pasted the pieces together to produce one long stretch of DNA. They then used a commercially available enzyme to convert the DNA into RNA – the genetic form of the polio virus.
    Finally, they added the RNA to a soup made from human cells. This enabled the RNA to use the cellular machinery to create the proteins that complete the virus particles. The result was an infectious agent that could destroy cultured human cells and paralyse or kill mice in much the same way as the normal polio virus.

  229. if life is inevitable in life sustaining environment, it’s like expecting automobile to spontaneously appear near oil field.

    Please tell me that you don’t really expect this particularly nonsensical statement to be taken seriously, or are you suggesting an equivalency in that Botecellis’ “The Birth of Venus” represents the current thinking on abiogenesis?

  230. Neodarwinian Jan 5, 2015 at 11:04 pm

    What do you think the current life would eat?

    Soil bacteria and fungi will have a go at most organic material living or dead.

  231. “…the sledge hammer of evolution takes over and improves, and improves through natural selection.”
    Improves? (Careful, there.)
    “Life is just self replicating chemistry. It’s nothing special.”
    Nothing special? (Careful, there.)
    Life “improves”, yet it’s “nothing special”?
    I think I’m having a cognitive dissonance moment here.

  232. Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 8:01 pm

    Unless you are the absolute JUDGE and final authority of who is using the scientific method “enough” for you to bestow them the title of scientist or deny it to them.

    I am a competent judge of scientific methodology in familiar fields I have studied.

    Nobody knows if there is life on Mars or the moons . . . .

    Excuse me??? have we not sent probes and rovers to mars and brought back samples? NO life has been found..

    I do know that any competent scientist citing analysis of sample return missions from Mars, as evidence for a claim, would have studied the sample return missions to a sufficient depth, to notice that the first of the proposed sample return mission is scheduled for 2024 and that no such missions have yet been conducted!

    Those who make-up and bluster about their “scientific analysis” of non existent sample returns are the pseudo scientists, of a type well known in making ID incredulity claims with their supposed studies lacking scientific citations, and full of elementary schoolboy errors in the methodology.

    WE have not searched ANY exoplanets planets for life yet!

    As I already mentioned in a reply to you below, the point here is that for those who do realized how small the odds are is that we should have already found life in the planets and moons we have already looked at..

    Repeated assertions based on incredulity about imagined “small odds” of probabilities, is only evidence of the lack of scientific research and understanding by those making them.

    the point here is . . . . .. that we should have already found life in the planets and moons we have already looked at..

    I realise that those “faith-blinkers” give an amazing view of planets, moons, stars, and astrobiology, – far beyond any which can be seen by our best telescopes or probes, . . . .. . . ..
    and that the amazing detail they provide the troooo believer, , is uninhibited by any of those sciency measurements from those instrumenty things used by scientists, to record star-types, temperatures, atmospheres, pressures, orbital eccentricity, seasons, sychronicity, day-length, metalicity, chemistry, volcanism, radiation and such like!

    . .. . But what would geneticists, astrobiologists, and planetary scientists know?

  233. phil rimmer Jan 4, 2015 at 7:46 pm

    Without that establishing the odds of life evolving into intelligent life

    What are the barriers to this transition?

    The claim of calculating odds is ludicrous, without techniques of counting the numbers of reproducing organisms, egg sperm and zygote production in particular species, all over the whole planet. There is also a theistic false assumption that humans are THE exclusive “intelligent species”.

    Clearly there was no technology, and very limited skilled manpower for monitoring the life of whole planet (present or past), in 1986.

    1986 understanding is primitive on these matters. There is no longer any case here.

    Clearly there are no barriers to the gradual evolution of sensory organs etc, as features opportunistically develop on the way up “Mount Improbable”.
    The categorised “steps”, are just the compartmentalised thinking about the continuum by discontinuous minds.

  234. Caesar:

    What you say is correct but for those unlikely things to happen, you have to have other things that would beget such unlikely thing, happening gazillions of times at other levels..

    Yes, but the universe is very big and very old and it did happen. No miracles needed thank you. So far the naturalistic explanations seem to provide the framework of an understanding as to how it happened. Claiming that those explanations are on the same level as “miracles” is just plain wrong.

    If “miracles” are just as likely as natural events in your view, then why bother with science at all? Evidently it has nothing to offer you intellectually. Of course science allows the creations of things that do work, like your sat nav ! No group of theologians, philosophers or bishops ever produced a sat nav yet, (AFAIK) !

    As to the question of how “miracles” happen, well we’re back to that poxy designer again, and his designer and……. where did all those turtles come from !

  235. Caesar in reply to me above:

    Darcy,

    For you to just parrot what you already said shows that you are simply ignoring or not understanding the point I am making about simply blindly believing “we are here” even though we cannot find life in all the other planets we have searched.

    Well we are here ! Do you disagree with that ? I don’t think I need to “blindly believe” that fact.

    As to all the other planets that we have searched for life, you mean Mars ? And then only by robotic vehicles, mainly designed for other scientific purposes. Incidentally, don’t give up on Mars yet ! No there won’t be any dinosaur bones, but maybe, just maybe, signs of microscopic life.

    Please don’t quote the 1986 study again, I am fully aware of it, and things have moved along a bit since then. At least with the Drake Equation, more variables can be added as more information comes to light. And then there is the difficulty of time. Life on a distant planet might only just be starting, but we won’t know about it for at least say 10,000 years !

    I will assume that “Darcy” was a typo, and not a deliberate act.

  236. Alan

    The claim of calculating odds is ludicrous, without techniques of counting the numbers of reproducing organisms, egg sperm and zygote production in particular species, all over the whole planet. There is also a theistic false assumption that humans are THE exclusive “intelligent species”.

    Sorry for not clocking what the ten points were earlier. The way Caesar spoke of them I thought they were pre-biotic, cosmological factors. When I saw what they were I realised the deception/misunderstanding and the issue evaporated. Of all the improbable bottle necks, the need for irreducible complexity to explain away an evolved attribute of the list only the thermodynamic argument against mitochondrial absorption remains as giving any real problems from the list. (There is an energetic hump that needs large cell energy input to overcome the energy requirements to support such a dramatic increase in DNA content [cell energy requirements track genome size is the argument]).

    This hump explains, it is suggested, the delay in getting to multicelled entities.

    However, it transpires, the problem is disposed of by considering the localised existence of a high food energy environment that can support an ingested, parasitic then symbiotic mitochondrion absorption. The slow depletion of food/energy availability then drives the evolving simplicity of the mitochondrial genome down to 1% of its former size [and energy requirement] removing redundant, duplicated “back-office” processes. Cells with these powehouses capable of surviving more usual levels of “food” are then fit for multicelled adventures.

    There is also a theistic false assumption that humans are THE exclusive “intelligent species”.

    As much as any reason this is why I champion Andreas Wagner’s new work. His investigation of the the available solution space to relieve selection pressures is targetted smack on this idea of only one solution and only one outcome. If the mice in charge run the experiment of Evolution on Earth again the outcomes will be complex organisms, certainly, but not us, not the ebola virus, not gerbils. Alien stuff.

    If there is a direction to evolution it is not to us, it is merely to complexity, because complexity facilitates entropy and thermodynamics rules everything.

    Take away humans as the peak but substitute ever greater complexity then the Mount Improbable climb is a stroll

  237. David, Have you any suggestions on how God can improve on this thing he made in his own image?

    Remember David tells us that we were not made in God’s “intellectual image”:

    mankind’s intellect is infinitely inferior to God’s, it is sufficient to rule the earth, plant and animal world (poorly).

    Perhaps we just look like God, at least us men anyway? But then why is there such a variation in our appearance? We can’t all look like God. Do you think God is losing his hair? I wonder if he is circumcised.

    Why in the vastness of the universe did he pick this tiny planet and if there are no other forms of life anywhere else, what is the rest of the universe for?

    And why did he create the universe and then wait about 10 billion years to before creating us in his image.

    David tells us that God uses DNA sequences to design life. I wonder why God created self-replicating molecules that are prone to copying errors? Perhaps David could tell us?

  238. Remember David tells us that we were not made in God’s “intellectual
    image”.

    Bet he hasn’t got rheumatism or lung problems either. Bit of an inferiority complex me thinks!!

  239. @Doug…

    English wasn’t my best subject. I hope my comments get across my ideas on the topic in question. Do I get a pass if I substitute “Complexity” for improves, and I’ll stand by “Nothing Special.” Only the religious claim that the life of homo sapiens is “Special”.

  240. My understanding, Alan, is that multicellularity has happened many times and with consequent great evolutionary complexity thereby facilitated, when the unicellular feedstock is eukaryotic. Whilst organelle free, simple, prokaryotes and archaea can create multicellular assemblages, these have no capacity for evolutionary complexity.

    With eukaryotic cells locked in place in multicellular assemblages for greater functional reasons, the simple chemical fuel supply to the mitochondria can “feed” them. Other organelles like the golgi apparatus provide the functional differentiation.

    The evolutionary “hump” is not so much to multicellularity but to cells containing organelles

  241. david.graf.589 Jan 5, 2015 at 11:22 pm

    My concern is how both sides try to hijack science to justify their side.

    Two sides?? But hardly side of equally evidenced claims!

    Science is a very useful tool to understand physical reality but there is nothing in science which proves . . . . . . . . . the existence of God.

    That is so unless you count the neuroscience science identifying god-delusions in brains.

    Science is a very useful tool to understand physical reality but there is nothing in science which . . . . .. disproves the existence of God.

    Actually as JC Sheepdog points out, there are a whole lot of “miraculous” god-did-it claims which have been refuted by science over the years.

    However, any claim that a god exists because of a lack of DISproof is merely the confused thinking based on the Negative proof fallacy!

  242. English wasn’t my best subject. I hope my comments get across my ideas
    on the topic in question. Do I get a pass if I substitute “Complexity”
    for improves, and I’ll stand by “Nothing Special.” Only the religious
    claim that the life of homo sapiens is “Special”

    As long as you understand that “complexity” isn’t necessarily an “improvement”, and that it’s okay to think life is special.

  243. Mr DArcy Jan 6, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Please don’t quote the 1986 study again, I am fully aware of it, and things have moved along a bit since then.

    ID creationists love quoting antiquated long refuted claims, and old scientific theories they cannot understand.
    I am almost surprised we have not had the “Louis Pasteur refuted abiogenesis claim” yet!

  244. After many years of debating and thinking about God, I’ve come to the
    conclusion that there is no “killer” argument or evidence on either
    side of the issue.

    Consider the following argument, based on self-evidence and basic logic, which I very much doubt you have encountered before:

    The generally held notion of God, in essentialised form, is as follows: an omniscient, omnipotent and incorporeal consciousness that creates ex nihilo and is able to control directly, by mere acts of consciousness, all that exists in reality apart and distinct from itself.

    Now, try focusing your mind on what it actually means to be conscious. To be conscious is to be conscious of something; or, restated, to be aware is to be aware of something. A consciousness conscious of nothing is thus a contradiction. It is crucial to grasp this fact. Nothing is not a special kind of something, nothing is the absolute absence of existence. Nothing is non-existence, and to be conscious or aware of the non-existent is impossible. Consciousness thus requires the existence of physical entities external to itself for it to be conscious of. In other words, consciousness requires objects of consciousness. If there were no physical entities in existence – no objects of consciousness – there could be no consciousness. A consciousness can, of course, be conscious of itself, by means of the process of introspection, but before it can be conscious of itself it must first be conscious of things external to itself. (Introspection is a process whereby a consciousness attains awareness of its own actions in regard to some existent(s) in the outside world, such actions as perceiving, thinking, emoting, reminiscing or imagining.) Of course, a consciousness also requires some physical means of sensing or perceiving its objects – i.e., some sensory-perceptual apparatus – but this fact, and the fact of the requirement of some form of brain, is not relevant to the argument I am presenting here.

    Now imagine a hypothetical reality in which the only thing in existence is a single consciousness (which from a God-believer’s perspective must surely have been the extent of reality before God created everything else in existence ex nihilo). What would be the knowledge content of that consciousness?

    Consider very carefully that all of the knowledge (both perceptual and intellectual) a consciousness – any consciousness – possesses at any point in time derives ultimately from its direct sensory perceptions of physical entities (including their attributes, actions and relationships) existing, or having existed, in the outside world. If there had been no physical entities in existence, a consciousness could have acquired no knowledge content whatsoever. Thus the knowledge content of a single consciousness existing in a hypothetical reality in which nothing else existed would be exactly zero. And a consciousness with no knowledge content, nothing to know, and nothing to introspect upon is a contradiction, for in reality such a “consciousness” would be no consciousness at all.

    The notion of God, since it entails a consciousness conscious of nothing – a consciousness that is not conscious – is self-contradictory and thus self-refuting. From this it should be clear that one invalidates the notion of God in its entirety by exposing the self-contradiction at its root and core, not by proving that an actual God does not exist – an impossibility implicit in the very nature of the process of proof. See below for a clarification of the process of proof.

    Proof, outside of its meaning in the purely mathematical context, is the process of validating a conclusion by logically (i.e., without contradiction) reducing it to the direct evidence of the senses (i.e., to one’s direct perceptual awareness). The basis of proof (in the non-mathematical sense of the concept) is thus self-evidence. Note that one cannot prove the self-evident (nor does one need to) because self-evidence is the basis of proof.

    If an alleged entity does in reality exist, one can prove that it exists either by making it self-evident (i.e., by bringing it into one’s direct perceptual awareness) or (where self-evidence of the entity is not possible – e.g., in the case of radio waves) by logically inferring its existence from its self-evident effects. If, however, an alleged entity does not in reality exist, one cannot prove that it does not exist, because the basis of proof is self-evidence, and the non-existent cannot be made self-evident, and nor can its non-existent effects.

  245. @Doug

    I think I’m having a cognitive dissonance moment here.

    Science can be confusing when you don’t understand the terms or the context in which words are being used. Significance and probability have specific meanings in science for example, and they’re being deliberately misused by Mataxas, Caesar et el. Such words over-tax the creationist mind as exemplified above. I’m certain that this is the main stumbling block for you and the other ID apologists who so vehemently reject authentic science. I highly recommend The Magic of Reality by Dawkins as a good text for you to begin with.

    You criticize Krauss asserting that “he certainly could have done a better job. (This is
    generally true of any attempt to communicate complex information.)”

    Doug, statistics isn’t as complex as you and Richard imagine it to be, not once you begin to study it. Your cognitive dissonance is understandable because you’re unfamiliar with the meaning of words being used in a scientific context.

  246. Steve Jan 4, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    Therefore we cannot avoid God_ID in any of our models as the “inference to the best explanation”.

    We can say that nobody knows the origins of the Big-Bang at present, and therefore anyone who claims to have “a best model”, is a fiction writer who may be confused as to what is speculative fiction and what is evidenced science.

    The God-ID “model” notion of the Big-Bang, has as much credibility as my suggestion that the BIg-Bang was caused by an exploding Klingon warp-drive which they had foolishly bought from the Ferengi!

  247. Doug Jan 3, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    So we can safely conclude from the absence of evidence…

    I think it’s fair to conclude (as I did) that when one says “we can safely conclude”, one is interpreting evidence (in the form of absence of evidence) as “conclusive proof”. (I realize these were not your words, but I assume you endorse them.)

    I thought it said a safe conclusion (ie. on balance of probability) rather than “absolute proof”.

    And what are implications? Are they not conclusions?

    Yes they are reasonable conclusions based on the absence of expected evidence.

    The key question is whether evidence should exist but does not.

    When talking about elephants, anyone familiar with them ought to be able to agree quickly and easily on what sort of evidence there “should” be. (Those not familiar with them have no say and would be wise to keep their opinions to themselves.)

    What sort of evidence (which we deem to be absent) “should” be present to conclude the existence of any god/gods? On what do we base that expectation?

    Most rational scientists would look a the claims of the gods’ followers about their properties and physical interactions with people and the universe.

    There are thousands of these gods, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_deities and many claims about them are easily refuted, because of their claims conflict with scientific/historical evidence, or because of absence of evidence of any of their supposed actions.

    Many of the more obfuscated and vague claims would simply be dismissed as too incoherent to consider.

  248. I am not a scientist, nor a psychologist, just one of the many lay person readers here who follow the discussions and arguments about the existence of a supernatural force behind the existence of the Universe we live in. The only conclusion I can come to as to why so many people, including some scientists, continue to argue for a deity must be found in our common fear of death and the unknown which, with age increasingly occupies our thoughts.
    Religion has offered an answer to this and no amount of scientific argument to the contrary will satisfy those people who live in denial of the absolute cessation of our existence that comes to all with death.
    This is not going to change as long as religions (and especially Islam!) are able to able to commence an indoctrination process from childhood, from generation to generation that draws a line in the sand when it comes to any other explanation of life then what is processed into their minds repeatedly, ad infinitum….

  249. What a bunch of redundant drivel! Has anyone noticed that those who couch irrational premises with extensive dialog never subject their own belief (in god) to the same scrutiny they view the sciences with?

    Whenever an unknown is revealed, they exclaim that since science fails to explain this particular phenomenon, then the entire string of logic/reason is a fallacy, and that only the existence of a god can explain these unknowns. Yet they jump to another universe of their own making when arguing for the existence of a god. All rules of objectivity and rational inquiry die in an orgasmic inflation of faith — simply put, a wish!

    Notice how they dance around the frontiers of the sciences. But, the frontiers keep moving, so what was once (by them) considered to be the actions of a god, they now accept as natural phenomenon. A few hundred years ago, things that the faithful now accept as objective reality would have been considered to be heretical thoughts, with severe punishment to follow.

    The existence of matter is unconditional. It requires nothing to make in come into existence — no god required, or “wanted.” The “out of nothingness” description concerning the origin of the universe is based on the hypothesis that this “nothingness” was such that no elemental matter as we can identify as that of our present universe existed.

    Imagine a singularity composed of nothing but Higgs bosons. It is essentially pure gravity. Nothing, but for all practical purposes, an infinite gravity (of course, not REALLY infinite) with no characteristics which can be identified as elemental matter.

    Then something happens after maybe trillions of years. Perhaps a massive black hole collides with the singularity with enough mass to imbalance the gravity singularity. When the gravity expands, elements emerge through massive energetic forces held in check. In principle, kind of related to the massive energy required to split matter to its elemental subatomic levels with the Large Hadron Collider.

    Gods simply don’t, and cannot exist in this universe. The existence of one simply violates the fundamental laws of causality, as well as rational philosophy.

  250. Thanks for your comments again, Mr. 4discussion.
    I understand what you have said.
    I think maybe the best way to sum up my point is to say:
    Sometimes what we perceive as “absence of evidence” may be “ignorance of evidence”.

  251. Hello, Mr. Walsh,
    My “cognitive dissonance” comment was directed specifically at statements made by one poster (you can search through this sea of comments to see who it was). It was meant to be taken as a playful “tease” about careful use of words.
    I am not an “ID apologist” (I have read Dawkins and others) and I don’t understand where you have gotten the idea that I “vehemently reject authentic science”. Perhaps you have misunderstood some of my comments that were made in the spirit of playing “devil’s advocate” to provoke “spirited” discussion.

  252. phil rimmer Jan 6, 2015 at 4:40 pm

    My understanding, Alan, is that multicellularity has happened many times and with consequent great evolutionary complexity thereby facilitated, when the unicellular feedstock is eukaryotic.

    Indeed so with nerve cells (the initial stage of intelligent life), at a very early stage.

    http://www.aaas.org/news/science-jelly-not-sponge-base-animal-family-tree
    Which critters sit at the base of the animal family tree? Now, a study in the 13 December issue of Science provides the first-ever genome sequence of a creature called a comb jelly (a member of the phylum Ctenophora) and suggests that these animals are the most basal.

    The finding “changes the way we view early animal evolution,” said University of Vanderbilt researcher Antonis Rokas, who wrote an accompanying Perspective article discussing the new study.

    Traditionally, scientists have thought that sponges, which are morphologically very simple, represent the earliest branch of the animal family tree. “But if the earliest branch is the ctenophore branch,” Rokas explained, “this suggests that the pan-animal ancestor was much more complex than previously thought; it had a nervous system.”

    In this scenario, the nervous system was lost as animal evolution proceeded from comb jelly to sponge, but it was regained again when jellyfish emerged on the scene. The loss of complex cell types is not necessarily surprising, said Rokas, who noted that “body plan simplification is a frequently observed phenomenon.” But this elaborate picture of cell loss and gain differs from the previous view of early animal evolution, which resembled more of a linear path of evolutionary forms from the simple to the complex.

    “With the traditional animal tree of life,” said the study’s lead author Joseph Ryan, “it was thought that complex cell types (like nerves) arose once, and once invented, were never lost…Our study shows that this idea is not true.”

    “[This new view of early animal evolution] is a big deal,” Rokas emphasized. “It’s why decoding the ctenophore genome, and more generally, early animal evolution are attracting so much attention.”

    Scientists have been studying the origin and evolution of multicellular organisms for decades. But understanding the very earliest era of animal evolution has proved challenging because researchers have lacked a full genome sequence from the phylum Ctenophora. Having it would help scientists better understand the molecular changes that mounted through time to result in the diverse body types exhibited by animals today.

    Andreas Baxevanis, senior author of the Science study and senior scientist in the National Human Genome Research Institute’s Division of Intramural Research, and colleagues successfully decoded the genomes of two adult comb jellies colloquially named sea walnuts. The researchers collected the animals in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.

    The advanced technology his team applied with the help of the National Human Genome Research Institute and the NIH Intramural Sequencing Center allowed the group to leap forward in the field, successfully sequencing the sea walnuts’ gene content in a relatively short period of time.

    Critically, this means the scientists now have genetic data for all four phyla thought to sit on the earliest branches of the animal family tree, including the phyla comprising sponges and the one comprising jellyfish.

    Comparing the genomes of these early animals with the more than 16,000 genes of the sea walnut led to some surprising finds. For example, jellyfish and comb jellies, long envisioned as close relatives due to their morphological similarities, are more distinct than previously thought.

    “This means that some of the similarities (like the nervous system) that the two phyla share may have evolved multiple times,” Rokas said, explaining how they could be present at one point in the animal family tree, disappear, and then return. “Or, alternatively, the similarities they share may have evolved further back and were subsequently lost in other lineages.”

    Based these and other genetic finds, which helped the researchers get a clearer picture of this phylum’s position on the animal family tree, Baxevanis and colleagues suggest that ctenophores are indeed the earliest branch.

  253. bee Jan 9, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    The Evolutionist’s Dilemma

    The evolutionary scientific educator’s delema, is that many people seek information on evolutionary biology from creationist sites where only clueless denial is on offer.

    What do you do when you’ve invested so much in a theory, even proselytized others on its scientific validity, and then see every new archaeological discovery prove it wrong?

    But of course, only the utterly clueless who do not know archaeology from palaeontology make such claims.
    The palaeontologists and biologists have established records of how evolution happened in the past, and how it continues today in all the living species we study.
    Archaeologists make discoveries about ancient civilisations which help research the history of ancient civilisations.

    The massive collection of fossils discovered to date show that survival of the fittest (as attributed to evolution) never happened — the vast majority of fossils seem to represent the “fit.” The “unfit,” the ones that allegedly didn’t survive, are practically non-existent.

    This is just a false conclusion from a lack of understanding of ecology. Individuals in a population which are fossilised are a rare sample which happened to die in places where conditions for fossilisation existed. Even today most unfit animals are eaten by predators or simply rot away like the majority of individuals in their species.

    It’s one thing to claim that natural selection on the genetic level can weed out bad genes. But that the genetic process can weed out, prior to birth, the first birds without wings, fish without fins, lions without teeth, etc., is preposterous. These aberrations would have to exist before they could be eliminated by natural selection.

    I’m afraid this is just nonsense copied from the ignorant. It was the ancestral forms which were less well adapted and those best developing these new features which displaced their less well adapted relatives under pressure from Natural Selection. Nobody (apart from incredulous creationists) suggested that fins of wings suddenly appeared by magic. Feathered dinosaurs ran around for millions of years before their gradually changing feathered limbs were eventually used for flight. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/phylogenetics_05

    There’s no question that life forms can mutate in relatively minor ways to adapt to an environment. But for completely new families of creatures to suddenly appear without any telltale signs of trial-and-error

    Nothing happens “suddenly” in evolutionary biology. Living things do in fact mutate and change in minor ways a little bit at a time, with changes building up over millions of years as opportunities to be more competitive arise. The gradual developments and different levels of specialist use, are well illustrated in the fossils, the genetics, and in the families of related species alive today.

    For example all the levels of complexity in eyes from light sensitive, to light sensitive patches, pin-hole cameras, simple lenses, compound eyes, focussing eyes are all represented in modern species – some with more than one type of eye on the same individual (as in some spiders and some shellfish). http://www.mapoflife.org/topics/topic_7_Camera-eyes-of-cephalopods/

    that clearly show how the myriad of misfits fell by the wayside till nature finally got it right, is impossible to explain.

    It is only impossible for the ignorant to explain. Biologists have mapped out thousands of examples of the branching family trees of related species and have clear explanations readily available in reference books and libraries for those who wish to study and learn. http://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/article/phylogenetics_01

    There is simply no explanation for how nature produced virtually every new life form in a state already fit to survive,

    Of course there is! They evolved as variations on previous species which were already surviving. Mutations causing defects simply disabled, prevented breeding, and killed the individuals containing them, as they still do today, while their healthy relatives with slight improvements lived on.

    confronting evolutionists with legitimate disproofs of evolution is: “You don’t understand evolution.”

    A legitimate disproof of evolution!!!!?? That’s a bit like a legitimate disproof that the Earth orbits the Sun! – It’s easy to trot out the words, but trying to refute scientific evidence from tens of thousands of expert university studies, with these sorts of claims usually ends in comical farce!

    Really? The only ones who seem to “understand” evolution are those who believe in it.

    Or more precisely, those who have studied the science of the last 150 years across a wide range of species.

  254. Marktony,
    I’m not sure if your comment is directed at me or anyone who might read it, but nevertheless I will respond by saying that the primary reason I come here is to seek answers and I also hope to provide them occasionally, despite my apparent perceived lack of qualifications.

  255. Marktony Jan 9, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    You may find some answers here

    I see the passage on this link is identical to a post from “bee” which I answered here :- https://richarddawkins.net/2014/12/letter-to-the-editor/#li-comment-164884

    before it was deleted as plagurised from a posting by someone called “DawkyJR” on the thread you linked.

    As it says on your link:-
    There’s no law against ignorance, but it’s impolite and somewhat self-defeating to display it so publicly.”

  256. Yes, I liked that reply. And this:

    Anyway, the answer to your complaint that we don’t see unfit fossils is, how do you know how fit they were just by looking at them? Every living thing is both the product of highly successful ancestors, and an approximation of the best solution to living in that time and place, and thus there is always room for improvement.

  257. Caesar Jan 3, 2015 at 10:16 pm

    it would be very easy to find such planets with life. We have already looked for thousands of planets with the conditions to allow life and so far NONE has it. So far we have found none.

    For those of us who actually research information, rather than just making stuff up:- We have found slightly more than ONE thousand exoplanets, and THREE are within their stars’ “Goldilocks temperature zone”.
    We have no details of the chemistry of any of them, so do not know if they are capable of supporting life, let along generating it, and none of them is the size of Earth.

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-30705517

    One of eight new planets spied in distant solar systems has usurped the title of “most Earth-like alien world”, astronomers have said.

    *All eight were picked out by Nasa’s Kepler space telescope, *taking its tally of such “exoplanets” past 1,000**.*

    .But only three sit safely within the “habitable zone” of their host star – and one in particular is rocky, like Earth, as well as only slightly warmer.

    The find was revealed at a meeting of the American Astronomical Society.
    Red sky

    The three potentially habitable planets join Kepler’s “hall of fame”, which now boasts eight fascinating planetary prospects.

  258. In your link:

    That first-person encounter, however, is unlikely – both because the planet is 475 light-years away and because we still have essentially no idea what it’s made of.

    That’s a long way from here, but still less than 0.5% of the size of our galaxy and how many galaxies are there? It would be crazy to suggest we have searched the universe and found that we are alone – the sort of argument a creationist might use.

  259. Marktony Jan 10, 2015 at 8:02 am

    It would be crazy to suggest we have searched the universe and found that we are alone – the sort of argument a creationist might use.

    Indeed so – just like an ID proponent making up crazy nonsense and pretending it is science, while as usual, denying they are creationists using the regular fallacious circular thinking to dispute evidenced information, and make up their own (alleged) “facts”.

    Caesar Jan 4, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    given our state of our technology in searching for life in other planets we should have already found LOTS AND LOTS of planets with life in them

    https://richarddawkins.net/2014/12/letter-to-the-editor/#li-comment-164397

  260. Absolutely fascinating stuff, Alan. Thanks.

    My last comment got deleted for a grump about the problem of finding things on here and trying to fix it. This research is something I would love to discuss more. The energy driver for neural loss is such a profound (antique) aspect of our natures, perhaps even driving apoptosis to create efficient functionality, but I had no idea it was this early. Such discussions though look increasingly fatuous given the ease with which they are lost. Glad I thought to look.

  261. Improvement, unfit, inferior, advancement, higher, superior, etc. These, and similar, are all words that have appeared in this, and other, threads in describing evolution. They are used by theists in argument against evolution, and have also dripped from the pens of those attempting to cut through the theist fog.

    They have no place, on either side of the argument. They imply that evolution moves in a direction of somehow subjectively assessable benefit. It does not, and all of the emotive words in describing the progression of species under evolutionary pressure can be replaced with the simple word, “different.”

    Incremental change has no goal, there is no “progress,” no “higher attainment.” The circumstances that gave a primate with increasing intelligence dominance over the planet, could have as easily been different, and selection could have as easily curtailed our intellectual evolution as it has aided it.

    There is no evolutionary “Scale of Excellence,” with Homo Sapiens scoring 10 out of 10, and Blue Blubber jellyfish scoring 1 out of 10. No life form is anything more than opportunistic genes responding to changes in the environmental circumstances.

    This discussion will have a greater validity when the emotive vocabulary is dropped.

  262. Completely agree, but words like fit, unfit and fitness have a clear meaning in Darwinian discussion. “Fit”, used her, has a topical and temporal meaning. And comparative fitness is meaningful in a given place and time. What IDiots miss time and again are the ever changing natures of the evolutionary space and the effect that has on (the direction of) selection pressure.

  263. JC Sheepdog Jan 11, 2015 at 3:14 am

    Improvement, unfit, inferior, advancement, higher, superior, etc. These, and similar, are all words that have appeared in this, and other, threads in describing evolution. They are used by theists in argument against evolution, and have also dripped from the pens of those attempting to cut through the theist fog.

    The problem is that they can have meaning within the short-term adaptation process to a changing environment, and competitive advantage, – but of course theists try to apply them to “the objectives of gods”, – usually in terms of creating those ego-centric, geocentric, human believers”!

    Improvement, unfit, inferior, advancement, higher, superior, etc.

    A mud skipper, is an evolutionary “improvement” over “inferior” gilled fish in exploiting the resources on tidal mud-flats. Amphibians were a territorial “advancement” over fish in colonising the land. Some lions have a higher top speed than others. Some organisms have a higher order of complexity than others. Some birds have superior flight capabilities in performing certain manoeuvres, – but these are opportunist competitive adaptations to environmental situations acquired gradually over long time scales, not pre-planned objectives.

  264. “Klingon warp-drive”!
    Now that is science-fiction. The laws of physics created the universe (Hawking)? Well that’s nonsense from a logical standpoint (see Chapter 1, “Gunning for God” by John Lennox). The sublime and profound words of Genesis 1, versus a 60’s predictable sci-fi (no where near as clever as the original Matrix movie), or a physicist who thinks he can speak on behalf of Science and that without any pretence of a logical argument. I know which I choose.

  265. phil rimmer Jan 11, 2015 at 5:19 am

    What IDiots miss time and again are the ever changing natures of the evolutionary space and the effect that has on (the direction of) selection pressure.

    Sometimes in these discussions, I think we need to remember that the Dunning-Kruger effect plays both ways, so we should not be drawn by posing or bluster, into over-estimating the IDers’ grasp of the science or subject matter.
    Especially when the “bigoted conspiring scientists” flag is raised!

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect

    Meanwhile, people with true ability tended to underestimate their relative competence. Roughly, participants who found tasks to be relatively easy erroneously assumed, to some extent, that the tasks must also be easy for others

  266. Steve Jan 11, 2015 at 5:47 am

    “Klingon warp-drive”!
    Now that is science-fiction.

    The sublime and profound words of Genesis 1, versus a 60′s predictable sci-fi (no where near as clever as the original Matrix movie), or a physicist who thinks he can speak on behalf of Science and that without any pretence of a logical argument. I know which I choose.

    The comment was tongue-in-cheek, but it makes the point that both claims are pure fiction without any evidential backing!

    I know which I choose.

    The 1960’s fiction does have a more scientific ring to it than the bronze age fiction!

  267. Steve, what you say is not even wrong.
    To have a meningful fit of a dataset your model need, needs to have a definite number off free parameters, before you proceed to the fit.
    Smuggling a god (or whatever entity capable of arbitrary chioces!) inside a model destroys the model, because it introduces arbitrariety in the number of free parameters and, worse still, that number can be adjusted as needed.
    Those kind of “models” can fit any set of data with any precision, maximizing any likelyhood function you can devise. Making the whole machinery, mathematically and scientifically speaking, utter garbage. It amounts to say “every dataset fits itself perfectly”, which is a tautology and, thus, has zero information content and, therefore, can’t do any prediction.
    It may feel good, but that’s another story.

    Furthermore, and for the gazillionth time, the stochastic elements in the theory of evolution by natural selection are confined and are small. If you are not aware of that, please refer to a good biology book.

  268. but these are opportunist competitive adaptations to environmental
    situations acquired gradually over long time scales, not pre-planned
    objectives.

    I think this is the fundamental point that needs to be made in discussion with creationists.

  269. Alan,

    As I mentioned before, many so called scientists just ignore the statistics. Just like you have (without saying that you are a scientist because I don’t know you). You rejected the clear nil possibilities of intelligent life evolving from life by random chance established by Barrow and Tipler without any basis. Just your bias….

    From Barrow and Tipler’s work, we cannot established an EXACT possibility (the number of zeros after the decimal point), but simply established that the odds are pretty much nil (the number of zeros after the decimal point is huge.. almost mind-boggling). For life to have evolved by random chance, with such tiny weeny possibilities it would required A GAZILLION more planets than what are physically estimated to be present in the universe with life and even it would be necessary to find life in planets and moons that we have already visited (i.e., earth’s moon, mars). Finding life would need to be very easy, even in our solar system, for it to have evolved (like it did) by simple random chance (Either that or we have to accept the existence of multiverse, which, since it has not been demonstrated, it is non-scientific belief).

    Again, I am NOT advocating ID, I know that such has no scientific merit, but by the same token it looks to me that random chance is also in that same bucket, because the statistics simply do not match.

  270. I will answer only part of this, since I don’t want to repeat myself. I will do so to clarify for the benefit of the readers, because you are misconstruing what I have said.

    To beat the odds we should have been found at least signs of life very easily .. yet we didn’t ..

    In your (ought to be) humble opinion!

    When the studies show that the number of zeros after the decimal point is HUGE, believe me, it is not my humble opinion.

    Non-random Natural Selection has already been explained to you, but you just don’t get it!

    And I already explained that before natural selection may begin to occur, at the primordial level evolution DOES have to start by random chance, but YOU just don’t get it!

  271. From Barrow and Tipler’s work, we cannot established an EXACT possibility (the number of zeros after the decimal point), but simply established that the odds are pretty much nil (the number of zeros after the decimal point is huge.. almost mind-boggling).

    No all the work since 1986 says you can’t have this point. This work is no longer of any merit. This happens in science. We have pointed you at answers. No more from me until you get some reading done.

  272. at the primordial level evolution DOES have to start by random chance,

    No. Even at the pre-biotic level, in abiogenesis, selection pressures will still apply to any self catalysing chemistry however poor the copying is. Try reading Darwin’s Dangerous Idea (Dennett) to understand how this brilliant concept has wider appication.

    Besides, the processes identified by Barrow and Tipler only arrive two thirds and more into the history of life.

  273. Caesar, something we could really do without is Barrow’s and Tipler’s Completely Ridiculous Antropic Principle. Also, something we can do without are nonsensical phrases like:

    You rejected the clear nil possibilities of intelligent life evolving from life by random chance established by Barrow and Tipler without any basis.

    Complex life as we know it didn’t come around by chance. It evolved from simpler life. And so on, up until you come to the origins of life itself, which have been very humble indeed, and certainly not “intelligent”.
    What you need to ask, what makes sense to ask, is what are the chances that a proteinoid microsphere would form into a pond with a jumble of organic molecules and what are the chances for it actually engaging in some sort of self replication with the passing on of a coded information about its structure. If you are interested in that.
    As for what are the chances that a human-like skills and interests would evolve… well, they cannot be assessed, in a meaningful way, without knowing the distribution of environments -in great detail!- in which life is evolving.

    The organic compounds from which life is made have all, in one way or another (or many ways!) been replicated starting from very simple molecules of the sort you find hanging around in second generation star forming nebulae. You can search this very site: there are recent articles about just that.
    Give this scenario, what really puts an upper bound to the probability of having life starting on some planet is the fact that life on Earth seems to have an unique origin, since a) it all shares the basic code and b) actually a lot of the coded information is very similar. If you wanna amaze yourself, you can thing that you share on average something like one half of your genese with… plants.

    ~~~

    Before you start with your “we should have found planets…” mantra, let me ask you: what kind of instrumental resolution and/or sensitivity would you think it takes to detect a mouse-like creature scurrying on a planet which is several light years away -a planet of which you are aware, in the most cases, solely because of its gravitational interaction with its star? In comparison, detecting the signature decay of an exotic particle such as a H boson is child’s play.
    Samewise, any EM signal produced by a civilization similar to our own which may have been generated on such a planet would have fallen at background noise level.

    Really, come on.

  274. “…the stochastic elements in the theory of evolution by natural selection are confined and are small”. Confined and small? I would say not even defined let alone confined and small. Neo-Darwinism has not proceeded very far at all from the non-mathematical/non-statistical treatment in the “Origin of Species”. Where is the mathematical/statistical theory that parameterizes a macro-evolutionally model that predicts the development of novel organs/body structures? References? Remember the statistical methods developed for plant and animal breeding studies simply relate to an existing genome. Darwinian macro-evolution is a massive extrapolation from some minor (almost exclusively deleterious) mutations at the individual gene level.

  275. How does your well-defined and parameterized macro-evolutionary model overcome irreducible complexity or the origin and progressive development of complex, functionally specified information (e.g. origin of life)? The massive extrapolation I mentioned above is fundamentally flawed and a fantasy because of the above fundamental requirements that Darwinian macro-evolution is unable to overcome.

  276. Steve Jan 12, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Neo-Darwinism has not proceeded very far at all from the non-mathematical/non-statistical treatment in the “Origin of Species”. Where is the mathematical/statistical theory that parameterizes a macro-evolutionally model that predicts the development of novel organs/body structures?

    Evolution has neither plans nor predictions. It has random mutations providing occasional opportunist more competitive adaptations to be picked out and replicated by Natural Selection, a tiny step at a time.
    Neo-Darwinism makes no “predictions of novel organs and structures”, but simply maps those which have developed retrospectively.

    References? Remember the statistical methods developed for plant and animal breeding studies simply relate to an existing genome.

    Of course they do! All evolution is in the form of tiny modifications of existing genomes to be more competitive in exploiting available resources for replicating more competitive genomes.

    Darwinian macro-evolution is a massive extrapolation from some minor (almost exclusively deleterious) mutations at the individual gene level.

    Random productions of deleterious genes in a very small percentage of reproductive cells (such as chlorophyll deficient plants), are simply absorbed into the 95%+ mortality rate in the offspring of most species.
    Many mutations are simply neutral.
    Rare improvements permitting improved use of current resources, are replicated with improved survival of more competitive individuals causing them to spread through the population.

    When considering the numbers involved for the production of spores from hills covered with ferns, the eggs laid by insects fish and reptiles, or the vast distributions of seeds from fields or forests, the pretence of presenting calculations of probabilities in calculations of percentages of mutant variations and survival rates in offspring, over geological time scales, is simply comical self delusion.
    The numbers are huge and unmeasured!

  277. Steve Jan 12, 2015 at 7:41 pm

    How does your well-defined and parameterized macro-evolutionary model overcome irreducible complexity

    It does not have to! There is no “irreducible complexity” except in the minds of those ignorant of the biological mechanisms, and thinking in big steps, rather than the continuity of the processes.

    or the origin and progressive development of complex, functionally specified information

    The complexity of life-forms and organs is simply cumulative, very gradually building up over geological time, with natural selection picking out and replicating systems and improvements which work.

    (e.g. origin of life)?

    There are various experiments on self replicating organic molecules and processes of abiogenesis (a separate process from the subsequent evolution) which should be able to produce artificial life forms quite soon.