Adam and Eve Didn't Exist -- The Molecules Tell Us Why

Students of biology know with as near a certainty as knowledge is capable of that all organisms on earth are related. All use DNA or RNA as their genetic code. The code for turning DNA into protein is hugely similar in all cases and identical in most cases, and the records of fossils leave no doubt that the timespan involved in the creation of modern multicellular life has been about 3.5 billion years, most of which was spent with only unicellular creatures inhabiting the earth.

If humans are descended from a non-human ancestor, which biology shows definitively, then the story of Adam and Eve is wrong in its particulars without question. It is not even a valuable metaphor for people who don't accept it as true, because it suggests that humans have some special status beyond that of other creatures. Additionally, it suggests that we have "dominion" over the earth, which is a terrible idea that has created a very dangerous mindset in many human beings.

What is the evidence then, for common descent?

In a word, it's overwhelming. We'll look at it in greater detail now.

The most important evidence for common descent can be appreciated by anyone who does a broad survey of the existing kinds of life on earth. What we see are gradations of forms with variations on various types. This is what we would expect if the process of speciation were of a branching nature, with new forms coming from established ones.

However, there are molecular evidences that are real "smoking guns". This happens when an animal has a functioning gene that becomes inactivated. The animal will sometimes die, but occasionally environmental factors allow it to survive with the gene no longer active. When this happens, all the descendants of that animal will carry a "pseudogene" on their genetic code that looks very much like an active ancestral form but no longer functions. We'll focus on the most important one that establishes without question that humans are descended from other primates.

Simians and anthropoids (including chimps, orangs, baboons, gorillas and humans) are unable to make their own vitamin C (ascorbic acid). The reason for this is that the normal mammalian enzyme that makes vitamin C (called gulonolactone oxidase) is impaired from functioning properly in these animals. There was a deletion mutation and multiple point mutations that keep it from being functional.

Interestingly, the other wet-nosed primate groups, lemurs, monkeys etc., do indeed make their own vitamin C and they are capable of surviving without this as a portion of their diet.

Here's where the story becomes interesting. The mutations that create the inactive enzyme in humans are nearly identical with those of the simian apes. We can see minor variations but the main sequence remains amazingly similar. However there are other mammals that also don't make vitamin C. These include bats and also guinea pigs.

This seems like a monkey wrench in the system. Are we suggesting that these other mammals also descended from prosimians? A closer look reveals the answer. When we examine the actual sequences of the genes of mammals for gulonolactone oxidase we see a clear pattern. Humans, chimps and orangs have nearly identical sequences. Guinea pigs have very different sequences however. Don't take my word for it, scroll down on this page and look at them yourself.

This is exactly the pattern we would expect if it happened by adaptive radiation from a common ancestor. If we assume that the common ancestor of all prosimians ate a diet high in fruits and other foods high in ascorbic acid, the mutation would not have been limiting to life in that ecology. However, we must also assume that for most animals living on a diet that did NOT include ascorbic acid, the mutation would be lethal.

Thus, all the mammals that exist with a mutation in gulonolactone oxidase eat foods high in ascorbic acid, or they die. However, they do not have the same mutations unless they are otherwise closely related. Thus, the mutations in guinea pigs are the same as other guinea pigs. The mutations in apes and anthropoids are the same as other prosimian descendants. Although I am not aware of bats having gulonolcatone oxidase sequencing done at this time, we can assume pending the results that the same pattern will appear.

Scurvy is a horrible disease and has been a great plague to man whenever he takes long trips through hostile territory. Many humans have died for lack of ascorbic acid.

Therefore, the idea of a loving God, who made Adam and Eve with his hands is defied by the simple fact that monkeys could seafare easily on a diet of fish and clams, but we cannot. We must have vitamin C. Yet it would have been trivial for God to give us back the enzyme that makes vitamin C for us.

You can believe many different things, but to believe God exists, and he created Adam and Eve and all their descendants lovingly, you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them horribly sick if they went without ascorbic acid for a period of time. To me this makes him seem a monster. A much simpler and more rational explanation is that there was no Adam and Eve and that our ancestors were a population of fruit-eating mammals who lost an important enzyme.

81 comments:

Lamar said...

This is good too because it allows us a simple way to falsify things: we should predict that the bats have a different sequence of the gene that prevents the autonomous production of vitamin C. (I know. This sort of falsifiability is all over the evolutionary biology domain, but some creationists somehow think that natural selection and evolution are non-falsifiable theories.)

Also, I think some Christians would say that God breathed a soul into the first human ancestors. The 2 ancestors that all humans came from, and which might not have even been human as we know it today, lacked this gene as punishment from God for eating the forbidden fruit (perhaps, I guess, and orange). Sounds a little accomadationalist, but there it is. (Also, it's non-falsifiable.)

Evan said...

Lamar of course an apologist could say anything they wanted (and they will), but the book of Genesis at no point says that Adam and Eve are related to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

There's just no metaphorical way to suggest that from the text, yet that's the case.

In that sense creationism is also falsifiable and falsified.

Edward T. Babinski said...

Behe (an I.D.ist) agrees and this is one of the arguments he mentions in his latest book as evidence for common ancestry.

Lvka said...

you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them horribly sick if they went without ascorbic acid for a period of time.

Uhm, ... to dastardly paraphrase Your own words against You :

you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them die if they went without oxygen for a period of time.

Don't like it? Here's another one:

you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them die if they went without water for a period of time.

Still not convinced?

you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them die if they went without any food for a period of time.

Since humans did, -however-, treacherously managed to inhabit almost any possibly conceivable part of the world, from the North Pole to the Equator, and from ocean-surrounded islands in the midst of the Pacific to the sands of the Sahara, I kinda fail to see Your point. :-\ ... and since I see neither beduins nor eskimos doing too much complaining for the lack of tropical fruits in their regions, nor turning to atheism, I also fail to see much meaning in Your [otherwise very interesting] article.

Michael said...

I'm an atheist, but evolution and Adam&Eve are completely compatible.

Theologically speaking, it is possible that theistic evolution is true.

Yahweh guided the evolution process over millions of years, and then at one point, he decided to give one of them a soul, and he called it Adam.

So, they are compatible.

youtube.com/watch?v=N1xC1hTNht4

I can link some more videos if you like.

Lee Randolph said...

michael,
but thats not how the bible describes it now is it? That means that most of the creation story is false, so then, why would that one particular fact be true?

That would be special pleading.

Lee Randolph said...

Lvka,
I also fail to see much meaning in Your [otherwise very interesting] article.
you missed the entire meaning but you did not miss the red herring did you?

the point was that dna and microbiology falsify the Adam and Eve special creation hypothesis.

so,
as I told you in my article, for arguments sake, you don't like that one datum, cross it off, now lets discuss the rest of them.

What god WOULD or WOULD NOT do is not as important as what the facts are and whether or not they support the special creation hypothesis.

The null hypothesis asks "presuming god exists, would things work the same way with out god", the answer is yes. I can justify this with an arugment from "efficiency".

If god is perfect and capable of all things and if efficiency is better than inefficiency, then it would follow that god does not make things that function inefficiently. This is obviously false.

Using this criteria then all your rebuttals support the "no god" hypothesis as much as Evans article.

Thanks for your support.

Logossfera said...

Falsiability works in a natural universe. Obviously most atheists adhere to a naturalistic philosophy but bear in mind that the christians don't. Nature doesn't tell the truth (the naturalistic presuposition) if there is a god that can interefere with the speed of light, radioactive decay rate etc (the christian presuposition).

If there are virgin births and talking donkees the molecules are "speechless".

Lee Randolph said...

logossfera,
then if god doesn't play by the rules, or any recognizable principles, then he is incoherent and the claim that he wishes to have a relationship with us false. We as humans cannot have a 'relationship' with the incoherent, we won't know how to deal with it.

Atheism is one result, and I would say that Atheism is as good an argument against living gods as any.

Lee Randolph said...

to elaborate and head off a potential rebuttal, i'd say that anyone claiming that god is not incoherent hasn't given much thought to the claim that "gods ways are mysterious".

Logossfera said...

@lee randolph
We can imagine gods all day long. I can imagine a god that interfere with universe without wanting anything from us (eg: because he's bored). I agree that if god wants something from us (a christian claim) he must behave in a consistent way (very much like nature). That's why the only "escape" of religion is revelation (aka god is consistent in revelations and "only" the rest is mistery). There are many issues with a revelation-based, supernaturalistic epistemology and in my opinion I haven't seen enought attacks on this area.

Human knowledge is like a reversed pyramid. Starting from a premise we pile up evidence and reasons. We (atheists) like to demolish the pyramid of religion but we attack the upper levels when the basis is actually preaty weak.

Evan said...

you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them die if they went without oxygen for a period of time.

This is an argument that fails on first inspection.

All mammals require food, oxygen and water. There are none who can survive without it.

Most mammals can make their own ascorbic acid though.

So if you postulate either special creation or theistically guided evolution, you must postulate that things are the way they are because God wants them that way.

So obviously if God wants rats to be able to survive without ascorbic acid, he must want humans to die without it.

Evan said...

Logos, this is a pretty simple post with simple theses.

The post suggests that God didn't specially create human beings. The molecular evidence is pretty clear cut that he didn't.

I'm not trying to prove any other point. So thanks for talking about human knowledge, that's fine. But the point of this post is to show that humans were not specially created and that's about it.

Lvka said...

So obviously if God wants rats to be able to survive without ascorbic acid, he must want humans to die without it.

It also follows from Your logic that "God wants all living things to die if without water, air, or food". (And I personally fail to see much logic in this logic). :-\

Lee Randolph,

mind FINALLY tellin' me NOW if all those populaces or populations or peoples whose stories and legends were mentioned and presented as though offering some sort of support for the idea that they also believed woman to be have been taken from man's side were actually equivalent to "all these people or populations or populaces had dolls and figurines of women, and these were made from bone or earth" ? :-\ (Or would I only be naive to expect a direct, clear, and straightforward answer coming from You on this matter, in this lifetime?). :-\

Evan said...

"God wants all living things to die if without water, air, or food".

Funny how you reveal a great deal of ignorance about the biological world, or maybe just unclear thinking.

Have you heard of fish? They live quite well without air.

Have you heard of kangaroo rats? They survive without water.

Did you know there are bacteria that are killed by exposure to air?

Have you heard of plants? They survive quite nicely without food.

What on earth could you possibly have meant by that statement I can't imagine.

If you want to make a much more narrow statement such as "God intended mammals to die without air, water or food" that at least can be grokked in the light of knowable scientific facts. I will grant you that if there is a Christian God, he obviously would have wanted most mammals, with the exceptions of kangaroo rats (who don't need water), Enoch, Elijah, Moses, Jesus (who presumably can fly through space without dying), to die without food, air and water. That's certainly the case.

Lvka said...

Uhm, Evan, ...

Fish *DO* breathe; but they are in need of much smaller amounts of it (they extract it from oxygen-rich water). [Not to mention those that are capable of directly breathing air from the atmophere].

And -in any case- the total amount of living things that subscribe to what I wrote regarding needs for survival exceeds by far the total number of human beings on this planet (primarily because they obviously include mankind also) :-\

Lvka said...

And kangaroo rats can't live indefinitely without water either. (They do have a very efficient water-management system [just like camels ... only theirs is in the kidneys, not in the humps]). :-\

Again: ... what's the point? :-\

Evan said...

Sorry but kangaroo rats do not need to drink liquid water. Of course they are capable of it, but they survive from eating and breathing alone.

Here's what wikipedia has to say:

One special feature of the kangaroo rat is the animal's efficient kidneys. The kangaroo rat has a longer loop of Henle in the nephrons which permit a greater magnitude of countercurrent multiplication and thus a larger medullary vertical osmotic gradient. As a result, these rodents can produce urine that is concentrated up to an osmolarity of almost 6,000 mosm/liter, which is five times more concentrated than maximally concentrated human urine at 1,200 mosm/liter. Because of this tremendous concentration ability, kangaroo rats never have to drink; the H2O produced metabolically within their cells during oxidation of foodstuff (food plus O2 yields CO2 + H2O + energy) is sufficient for their body.

Hope that clears up your confusion.

Fish do take up oxygen but the do not "breathe" unless they are lungfish. Breathing requires air.

But I'm more curious about how you think it's possible for Enoch to fly through space. What did God do special to him that allows that?

Lvka said...

Evan,

Sorry for not being a rat-expert: I've also checked out Wikipedia, before posting my second (or last) comment, since I've obviously never heard of a kangooroo rat before; but what I've read seemed to paint a different picture. :-( (Sorry! My bad). -- In the words of Kaiser Soze: "I am not a rat" ;)

As for fish: I was under the (wrong?) impression that You were suggesting something about them not needing oxygen for living. (Sorry if I misunderstood You).

Anyway, Your idea that we have to be able to make vitamin C on our own is simply devoid of any sense or logic. (Might as well say that we need a pair of wings also). Or that God "wants" the great and overwhelming majority of all the living things to die because he made life to be dependent for its survival on the very elements that sustain it. -- which is a truism, of course. :-\ (And an insulting one at that).

Again, what's Your point? :-\ That we're sustained by the elements!? That we need water to drink, food to eat, and air to breathe? :-\

When resources no longer sufficed, our "primitive" little ancestors migrated. (That's what they've been merrily doing for the last... how many yrs?). Today it's called emigration and imigration. (We've basically added an extra-vowel in front of the word, so that it might, you know, not sound so primitive, 'cause, you know, we've evolved). :-) -- And they've also somehow (curiosuly enough) managed to "conquer" all thinkable and unthinkable climatically-diverse places in that process (without necessarily carrying a bag of lemons where-ever they went). -- Funny, don't You agree? :-\

I mean: seriously, man, what's the point of Your post? :-\ Honestly, now ... :-|

Lee Randolph said...

HI Lvka,
I'll answer you over on my article so we don't clutter up Evans article.

Evan said...

The point of my post is very simple and I will try to clear it up as much as possible for you.

There are all kinds of mammals. Most of them can make their own vitamin C.

All humans cannot make their own vitamin C.

If you believe God designed humans, then you have to believe he designed them to be MORE vulnerable to disease than his design of the kangaroo rat.

More importantly, the fossil genes that are present in your own DNA today show that you share a common ancestor with orangs, chimps, gorillas and baboons, who also need vitamin C in their diet.

Therefore, there was no Adam and Eve because we are descended from populations of animals. Genesis posits a special creation of humans, not their descent from other animals and so it is false.

Does that help?

Lvka said...

If we need it and we can't "make it on our own", then we obviously take it from nature. And the last time I checked Genesis, the Paradise of Eden was an orchard, and man was created to toil it and to taste the fruit of its trees: all except one, that is.

Again, WHY "should" we be able to `make it on our own`? :-\ "Should" we also have a set of wings? Cause You never know when they might come in handy, right? :-\

Nothing is self-subsistent. (Nor >should< it). God's life, the last time I've checked the Scriptures, was Trinitarian. Not isolated and monistic. :-\ You a Jew or Muslim?

Trou said...

Evan,
I understand you completely.
Our ancestors developed a mutation that eliminated the ability to produce vitamin C. This was not a problem because there was plenty of vitamin C in their diet. However, it is an indication of our relations with our cousins the great apes who also share this mutation.
Did I get it right? As I understand it, genetic drift would have allowed this mutation to become fixed. Natural selection would not have come into play because it conferred no advantage nor was it a detriment considering the plentiful supply of vitamin C in the food supply.
Therefore, either God created us with a weakness that shows itself when we inhabit environments that lack an abundance of vitamin C, which makes him an unintelligent designer, or it is an indication of natural processes and genetic relationships between species that share a family tree.

Evan said...

Lvka,

If all mammals had wings except for simians, anthropoids, guinea pigs and armadillos, it would require some explanation wouldn't it?

As it stands, there is only one group of mammals, the chiroptera, that have wings and we can see how the wings developed from the pattern of bones in the hand of the bat.

So there is an explanation for that exception that is clear and concise and doesn't require God making the bat's wing.

In exactly the same way, we have an explanation for our inability to make vitamin C. It's clear, concise and it doesn't require God being a monster who wanted people with otherwise nutritionally replete diets to die of scurvy if they lacked vitamin C. It has the additional benefit of fitting with all the available evidence, and it makes a testable prediction: the sequence of the gene in other mammals that lack the ability to make vitamin C will differ from that in humans and apes, which has been confirmed once and needs confirmation from bats as well.

Exceptions to general rules usually are where principles and understanding about processes can be developed.

The fact that you can't or won't see it is either evidence that you aren't understanding what I see as a relatively clear point here, or that you are being deliberately obtuse.

Evan said...

Trou, dead-on. Glad I can at least get someone to understand my point.

Lvka said...

Evan,

it is Your convoluted reasoning that "makes God a monster that wants people to die of scurvy".

I have nothing against Your evolutionistic convictions, it's just that Your logic is faulty.

You said that our common ancestors lived in an environement that had plenty of vitamin C, therefore they logically lost their ability to make it, because there was no need for it.

I said that Adam and Eve were placed in the Paradise of Eden, which had plenty of trees and fruits.

Trou said...

"You said that our common ancestors lived in an environment that had plenty of vitamin C, therefore they logically lost their ability to make it, because there was no need for it."

It is not logical that we and our cousins lost this ability because we could have, just as easily, retained this ability. The fact that we survive lacking this trait is logically due to the fact that our ancestors lived in an environment with plenty of naturally occurring vitamin C sources. This would allow for survival despite this drawback. The logic is retrospective but the mutation itself is not logical. This is purely a mater of chance I suspect.

As for Adam and Eve, I don't think it's wise to pick and choose parts of the creation myth that can be somewhat agreeable with science and declare that this proves the story to be true. There are many more discrepant parts of the story that run counter to what we know about science and cosmology.

Light created before a light source, plants created before the sun and the moon so no means of photosynthesis, the differing order of creation in the 2 accounts of the creation are several examples of things that can't be reconciled with what we know to be true of the real world.

To say that God created Adam and Eve without the ability to produce vitamin C is to say that he did not foresee a future need for this ability. This means that he didn't have foreknowledge of the fall or that he created man with this lack knowing that they would fall but not caring that this would be a weakness that could be detrimental outside the garden. Not at all loving.

If you make the excuse that God was economizing in his design of mankind then why did he also create our cousins with the same lack due to the same genetic mutation?

All evidence points to natural processes in my view.

Evan said...

I have nothing against Your evolutionistic convictions, it's just that Your logic is faulty.

So you believe that humans evolved from apes or not?

You said that our common ancestors lived in an environement that had plenty of vitamin C, therefore they logically lost their ability to make it, because there was no need for it.

No that's not quite what I said. I said that the only descendants of such animals who could survive were the ones who ate lots of fruit in their diet.

There could easily have been many who did not live in a place with abundant vitamin C who ended up dying of scurvy shortly after the mutation was fixed in the population.

So do you accept that humans are animals descended from prosimians or not?

Lvka said...

Evan,

I still find Your judgement to be fundamentally flawed. I can't help it. Sorry. Makes no sense to me.

And no, I don't find within me the power of believing in evolution (as I do believe, for instance, in astronomy). Actually, I don't believe in astronomy either: we know it to be true (directly, and without any intermediaries.

I have reached the conclusion that evolution or creationism do not run counter to my own religion, but I can't make a statement of faith out of any of them (nor would I be allowed to). -- not that astronomy would be such a statement either.

The Christian Creator God is not monistic, (and as it turns out, He happens to be quite Trinitarian actually) and my guess is He didn't create us to be self-subsistent, monistic, isolated, individual entities either. (That's my theological statement). Thus, "it is not good for man to be alone"; thus, man was placed in the Garden of Eden and given all the fruits of all its trees for food -- all except one.

Evan said...

So Lvka then you must accept most of the Genesis story as literally true. Does that mean you also believe there was a universal flood and the earth is less than 10000 years old (since you don't believe in astronomy)?

If you believe those things, then you are just like your buddies over at Triablogue, who put their beliefs before the evidence.

The evidence I've shown here is compelling but it's just the tip of the iceberg. Try this one out. See how you like it. Check out the evidences for common descent on the talk.origins archive.

It is not the position of atheists alone that man evolved from prosimians. It's the position of any educated person who has critically examined the data without presupposition. I had a biology professor who was a creationist who assured me that if he didn't believe in the Bible first he could never disbelieve in common descent because it makes too much sense. It's also the position of Dinesh D'Souza (apparently), Michael Behe (ID proponent), and Pope John Paul II (Catholic).

The findings of science are compelling to anyone who examines them with skeptical rigor, that is why they are so powerful. Thousands of people spend years trying to disprove them.

When Darwin published "The Origin" the whole world of biologists were creationists, but within a generation they almost all changed their minds because of the strength of his argument.

So you can put your thumbs in your ears and try to ignore the data, but it's still there and if you believe all truth is God's truth then you have to accept what can be proven true as truth.

Lvka said...

Evan,

I'm not arguing against evolution. And I do believe in astronomy, but not as a statement of faith.

My problem was with the obvious non-sequitur present in Your position.

Evan said...

So which is it:

And no, I don't find within me the power of believing in evolution

or:

I'm not arguing against evolution

If you don't believe it, I'm not going to convince you unless you give some argument against it.

So which is it?

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Evan wrote, "You can believe many different things, but to believe God exists, and he created Adam and Eve and all their descendants lovingly, you also have to believe he created them in a way that would make them horribly sick if they went without ascorbic acid for a period of time. To me this makes him seem a monster."

I don't relegate symbiotic relationship as a monstrous creation but rather as the potential foundation for inspiring faithful, caring and beneficial relationships.

Although it is true that in symbiotic groupings, the potential for the parasitic (abusing neediness and vulnerability) or deprivation and perishing resides alongside the alternate potential for honing and increasing our capacity for mutually beneficial and faithful relationships.

The same thing applies to the notion of being "special" in that by faith, we have the potential privelege of being good caregivers and servants. But the potential also exists for those who desire to corrupt the meaning of "special" to be used for abusive practices.

Jesus mentioned this when talking about the difference between wheat and weeds.

I think I better go get some Wheaties now -
3M

Lvka said...

Evan,

it's both: I don't find within me the power to believe in evolution, and I'm not arguing against it either. (I don't quite understand how these two statements were supposed to conflict eachother) :-\

Evan said...

Lvka,

This means you take no position, which is an acceptable stance if the evidence is somehow ambiguous or of weak character.

However in the case for common descent, the evidence is overhwelming and has confirmed the initial hypothesis made by Darwin IN THE ABSENCE OF ANY OF THIS EVIDENCE.

If the Bible had been written in the 7th century BCE and we had clay plates that were dated to that time, and it accurately predicted the rise of Alexander, the rise of the Roman Empire, the conversion of the Roman Empire to Christianity, the rise of Islam, the schism between eastern and western Christianity, the rise of the nation-state, the enlightenment, the industrial revolution and the scientific and computer revolutions, it would be powerful evidence in favor of it.

Darwin predicted (without evidence other than his theory of common descent) that fossils would be found linking humans with pre-human great apes. His theory predicted we would find fossils that were intermediate between fish and amphibians and it predicted where we would find them. His theory predicted what we would find about the genetic code once it was discovered, and has accurately predicted what changes we would see in that code over time (when it comes to large multicellular animals).

That's pretty compelling evidence.

In fact, to date, no evidence has been found since Darwin's theory was proposed that suggests anything other than common descent with modification by means of natural selection.

So if you don't take a stand ... that's the equivalent of being a creationist from my point of view, except that it means you are weaker in courage than a creationist. At least creationists say, "Let the world of knowledge be laid to waste, I will believe my Bible first." All you say is:

I don't find within me the power to believe in evolution, and I'm not arguing against it either.

You don't have much power within you then.

I can respect that, even if I can't do it.

Lvka said...

As I said,

my only problem was with the lack of logic found in Your post.

As for You having such a negative view of me for not fighting to preserve the truth of the Bible, and cowardly bowing my head to clearly counter-scriptural evidence put forth by atheists ... well, what can I say? "He without blame draw the first stone!" :-) "For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again". :)

Lvka said...

As for the Bible not predicting the Christianization of the formerly pagan Roman Empire, I wouldn't be so sure about that ...

Actually, for the sake of connecting this particular statement of Yours with the main theme of this post, I'll Evan say that's it's all in Genesis 1 -- how about that? >:) :D

Evan said...

Lvka you're seemingly unable to identify the lack of logic in my post to the point that I can see it, so I am sorry. Others looking at your writing have also not seen it.

If there really is a lack of logic I'd like to know. I certainly want to be a logically coherent as I can.

Are you saying that humans don't have an inability to live without ascorbic acid? I was illogical there?

Are you saying that most other mammals with the exceptions I listed also have that inability?

Are you saying that the reason that I have given for humans to have this deficit -- that we were descended from apes who also lacked the enzyme -- is incorrect?

Or are you saying that God specially created people, apes, guinea pigs and bats without this enzyme because we wouldn't need it? Is that the logical mistake?

Try as I find I can't find what logical error you keep putting forward.

It's clearcut to me that all the facts show conclusively that we are descended from prosimians. You don't disagree with me, but you don't agree either. And you are accusing me of being illogical.

If you see irony in that, it may spur you to figure out what's going on in your own head.

Lvka said...

Evan,

Your post wanted to show that since human beings lack that ability, then God were bad, were He to exist: and, in spite of all that You've presented so far, I still can't see any sense in that. (Sorry).

Lee Randolph said...

HI Evan,
I've decided that if Lvka is not a troll he certainly acts like one so much that I'm going to treat him like one.
He came into my article nay-saying, but couldn't muster up a coherent rebuttal, then he said he was tired of 'tail-twisting' which I interpreted as him accusing me of trying to avoid giving him a straight answer, then he admitted that he had no point.

some key elements that I noted in his strategy over there were
* non-committal
* nay-saying
* appealing to impossible precision
* special pleading
* red-herring
to his credit he did avoid the other two common apologist plays in their play book (or at least I didn't notice them); the old, "poisoning the well" (as in "if you haven't read these then you are not qualified to speak") and the Ad Hominem.

But the strategies he used are consistent with defending vacuous arguments. They are a mixture of Fallacious reasoning schemes and violations of principles of rational discussion (as described by van Eemeren and Grootendorst).

I point these out here, not because I don't think you noticed it, but as a quick reference for our readers who may be new at reading christian apologetics.

Christian apologists are like the sophists that Socrates complained about. They try to make the worse argument look better.

Lvka said...

Lee Randolph,

A friendly ugachakah to you too! (That's troll for "hello!"). :-)

I did NOT come to Your post to "make a point", I came there to ask a question. The reason I did that was sheer curiosity and interest. -- Sorry to see that that upsets You. :-\ (Makes me wondert why You even post, when You don't care about Your posts in the first place). Your post title was very promising and it got me all excited and worked up; then, as I read my way through it, my innitial enthusiasm began to decrease proportionaly with my reading. The text or content of Your post failed to satisfy the expectations that I received from its title, for the very logical and self-evident reasons already stated: there is no scientifical link between the two ideas You tried to connect; they are sadly pseudo-scientifical. :-|

The above paragraph was meant as a clarification, NOT as a "hammer"; I deeply respect Your interest in these matters, -even though we obviously view them from different, if not completely and diametrically-opposed sides of the "barricade"- and I mean NO disrespect towards the gentlemen whose works You've cited (: given the way they treat their data, I assume them to be rather "old-school" [or, at least drawing their views from those that are/were so]: very 'naive' and non-demanding; loose and phantasy-full in their interpretation -- such was the 'norm' when the Religions-geschichtliche Schule was at its inception). -- Every road, no matter how far, begins with just a single steo, right? And there's NO point in "spitting", as it were, at the slow but steady progress made by our predecessors: only Ham mocked his father Noah, and it did NOT do him too much well either. In any case, -nowadays-, the standards are (obviously) more up-lifted, and such an [up-lifting] day-dreaming is no longer possible or acceptable. (Again: I mean You NO harm). :-|

Of course, were You to have been, -say-, a missionary, trying to convert said populations to Christianity, and were You to have used said reasoning, then there would've no problem: the scientifical-accuracy impediment would've been un-necessary or at elast not demanded or expected; and we wouldn't`ve been `shocked` by a more loose, even mystical, or metaphorical-allegorical eisegesis of said data.

I guess what I'm trying to say here is: You . must decide whether You want to be an atheist missionary or mystic; or rather an atheist scientist ... and this decision is basically up to You, and no-one else. (Though, quite frankly, since You're obviously NOT a Buddhist, I couldn't think of a single reason for You top choose the former as opposed to the later). :-\ -- but that's just MY opinion.

-----
Evan,

whether one interpets Genesis in a strictly literal fashion, -or, in a more metaphorical one-, one can't escape the feeling that -on one hand- man was placed in a Garden and given the fruit of its trees for food; and -on the other hand- it descended from trees (and the reason he was up there in the first place might probably have something to do with feeding on their fruit). :-\

And sorry to have disappointed You by my failing-to-defend-the-Bible-and-cowardly-succumbing-to-atheist-positions, but I'm an apophatical Eastern Orhodox, and not a Western positivist. (Sorry if my religion ain't good-enough for Your highly exalted [atheist? or: Protestant?] standards). :-\

-----
Am I "reaching" through to You? (no proselytising pun intended); or am I still listed in the much-to-be-feared troll-section? :-(

Lee Randolph said...

Hi Lvka,
you certainly are persistent.
I didn't realize you were so well versed in the difference between science and pseudoscience. While I noticed this before but didn't mention it out of courtesy and because it was irrelevant in the previous context, I would have expected that with your level of expertise in discerning pseudoscience you would use the more common word Scientific. instead of Scientifical of which I would normally take as an indication that someone is not exposed to much scientific literature. Maybe english is not your first language and you normally read scientific literature in another language?

Lvka said...

Oh, fer Pete's sake, Lee,

cut me some slack here, will ya? I'm a Romanian! :-\ As to the difference(s) between the suffixes "ic", "al", and "ical", I have absolutely no idea how or when exactly to use them. :-\ (So shoot me!). -- And please don't start poiting out to each and every single typo I make, as the Triabloguers oftenly do, OK? ("love covers all ;-) "). Ya love me, don't`ya? :p

Lvka said...

Actual-Lee, Ly, the *real* answer is that I'm *sooo* well-read in scientific lit. that I can even master the meaning of its *most* *hidden* words ... but I was *too* *modest* to say that. :-) ;-) :D :p

(OK: I'm sorry for the cheek-in-tongue; nuff fun fer now). :-) :D

Lee Randolph said...

Lvka,
I'm not mad that you came over to my article asking pointless questions (by your own admission).

I'll answer the rest on my article so we don't clutter up Evans.

But I will say here, because it is relevant, that you are asking for a type of impossible precision that I am sure you don't expect elsewhere from the bible, or in real life. As you know, sometimes in life, you just have to look at the data and make the call, sometimes were wrong but most of the times we are not.

I can't prove to you that I am not an artificial intelligence program designed to play dialogue games but I am sure you have already assumed that I am person. You made the call based on the best information you had. Are you sure you are right? Why? Maybe you should reserve your conclusion until you have more information.

But it really is silly for me to claim that I'm an IA Dialogue Game, isn't it, when it is certainly more plausible that I am a human.

My point is that you are using a fallacious reasoning scheme of demanding impossible precision.

now back to the article,
Its not only Vitamin C. Schizoprhenia is a genetic mutation that is only 40% inheritable, but in 60% of the cases it happens on its own.

Like I said before, microbiology demonstrates that there is no special creation, and pinging on this Vitamin C datum is pointless when there are so many others that you can't explain away.

God created inefficient machines, which is inconsistent with his claimed characteristics. The other side of the coin is that It means that he created us with suffering built in, he built the problem of evil/suffering into us, into our DNA and into the world so either the bible is wrong about God or the Problem of Evil/Suffering is not the fault of Mankind, and Jesus (human) sacrifice on the cross was pointless.

If you say that human DNA was not like this until after Adams transgression, then without evidence that is just pure speculation on top of pure speculation, and since God is the only one that could pull that trick off, it means that not only did he kick them out of the Garden, he sabotaged them and us.

Lee Randolph said...

Lvka,
oh yea,
I forgot to mention, the only way out of this adam and eve logic loop is to go with evolution.

Logossfera said...

@lee randolph
I have to disagree but what you said id not true: "But it really is silly for me to claim that I'm an IA Dialogue Game, isn't it, when it is certainly more plausible that I am a human."
The basic presupositions about our existence (we live in a dream, we live in a natural universe, we live in the Matrix, we live in a supernatural universe, we are the product of another mind etc) have the same "plausability" value. We think (wishfull thinking?) some of them are more plausable but they are not.

As for your discussion with Lvka (I'm romanian too :)) it only prooves my point. You haven't established the common ground (aka naturalism) and that's why the discussion is going nowhere. For example giving premise A: "Devil exists and can mess up the fossil record" I can LOGICALLY dismiss evolution. But I understand that after being immersed for so long in scientific literature human tend to take for granted the naturalistic approach to existence.

And the problem of supernaturalism is, I think, pretty easy to defeat. All you have to do is test your beliefs: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=o-lmBSAgwGc

Shygetz said...

Lvka said: Your post wanted to show that since human beings lack that ability, then God were bad, were He to exist: and, in spite of all that You've presented so far, I still can't see any sense in that. (Sorry).

Let me take a stab at bringing you up to speed. We'll take the basic fundamentalist Christian premises that God exists; has perfect knowledge of the past, present, and future; is the sole creator of the universe; and that this creation is told in at least some valid detail in the Book of Genesis. Fair enough?

Now, this God would have created the Garden of Eden, with trees and ALL of the animals, as you said. This God would have done so knowing that humans would fall, and that this fall would cause them to be expelled from the Garden, and that this expulsion would result in them spreading across the Earth. So, knowing all of this, this God created humans to be unable to live healthy lives in situations where fresh food rich in vitamin C were unavailable, most notably during the long trips required for expansion.

To exacerbate this fact, God took the same animals from the Garden that had the same trees (complete with the same fruits and vegetables) available to them, and made them able to live just fine in the absence of sources of vitamin C, even though many of them were much more limited in their habitat and, presumably, not as special to this God. The logical inference is that this God WANTED humans, and only humans (and primates and guiniea pigs), to suffer from scurvy during their migrations after the expulsion, as He knew it would happen and was clearly able to prevent it from happening (as evidenced by the ability of most animals to produce vitamin C), yet chose not to. The alternative to a God that is out to kill humans by vitamin C deficiency, while leaving animals unharmed, which is theologically at odds with the Christian idea of God as a benevolent figure. Clear enough?

I don't find within me the power of believing in evolution (as I do believe, for instance, in astronomy). Actually, I don't believe in astronomy either: we know it to be true (directly, and without any intermediaries.


We know evolution to be true as well, without any intermediaries. By "intermediaries" I assume you mean fossils; these aren't even the strongest evidence that evolution is true, they are just a record of which way evolution went--it's like saying you don't believe in history because you think Asselio's Rerum Gestarum Libri might be wrong--while the details of historical evolution from the fossil record are interesting, they are probably one of the weaker evidences of evolution (which, given how strong they are, is saying something). The strongest record are the molecular data that show long-distance relationships, and the longitudinal studies that show short-distance relationships.

The evidence for evolution is MUCH stronger and more direct than the VAST majority of astronomy, which suggests that either you don't know much about astronomy, or you don't know much about evolution, or both.

Lee Randolph said...

Hi logossfera,
The basic presupositions about our existence (we live in a dream, we live in a natural universe, we live in the Matrix, we live in a supernatural universe, we are the product of another mind etc) have the same "plausability" value. We think (wishfull thinking?) some of them are more plausable but they are not.
maybe in the library, but not in a pragmatic practical existence. Not in real life. Its like I said before, you can doubt everything till your blue, but there comes a time when you have to make the call and at that point, not everything is as plausible as everything else.

it is a fallacious reasoning scheme of impossible precision.

since only christians believe in the christian version of the devil, then it is more plausible that the christian devil is a figment of the christian imagination.

therefore you cannot logically use the devil as a premise for anything.

Shygetz said...

The basic presupositions about our existence (we live in a dream, we live in a natural universe, we live in the Matrix, we live in a supernatural universe, we are the product of another mind etc) have the same "plausability" value.

Not according to Occam, they don't. "Matrix"-style explanations are perfect examples of the proper application of Occam's Razor. Additionally, they are unfalsifiable, and therefore impossible to entertain rationally. They add nothing to the discussion, just another layer of impossible-to-get-at fluff over what can be observed in any fashion. The same is true of the "God-did-it" (or the popular "Satan-did-it" alternative); unless God did it differently from how nature did, then all you are saying is God = nature + unobservable fluff, which turns the question from metaphysics to semantics. Unless you can rationally establish your positive claim (e.g. that Satan exists and messes with the fossil record), then you cannot rationally dismiss evolution (not to mention the molecular evidence, physiological evidence, epedemiological evidence, ecological evidence, etc. that Satan would also have to tamper with in real-time).

The only positive claim that naturalists must hold as an unjustified assumption is that our observations correlate with a world that actually exists in some form, which is an assumption that ANY discipline that studies physical questions must start with.

You also seem to misunderstand how naturalism works in science; science is not wedded to philosophical naturalism. We require methodological naturalism; that is, we cannot appeal to forces that are not in evidence to exist unless we can justify their existence, which include gods and other "supernatural" forces. If an ecologist were to observe the literal Hand of God pulling the beaks of finches to larger sizes and this observation were properly verified, science would NOT demand that the Hand of God be denied. However, methodological naturalism means that, if the ecologist just observes the beaks getting larger, she cannot claim it was the Hand of God; she also cannot claim it was a fifth fundemental interation that she named "beak-extending force" even though such a force would be in keeping with philosophical naturalism. She must restrain herself to as few assumptions as are necessitated by the data.

Which leads me to the question--what do you mean by "supernatural"? I am still cloudy on what makes any unobserved force more or less "supernatural" than another--before we discovered the strong interaction, would that have been "supernatural"? From my point of view, once something is observed, it can be described, and once it can be described, it is natural. So the only things that could possibly be not-natural (or "supernatural") are things that we have not observed, and therefore have no justifiable basis to believe exists.

Lee Randolph said...

logossfera,
I watched the video. You should do it again and read it off the monitor. If I understood it correctly
that seems like a classic argument from ignorance. "I don't know that it wasn't the devil so it at least could have been the devil".

lets generalize it to make less of an easy target.

* it could have been an evil spirit.

* it also could have been just a pedophile that realized that he had to get rid of the evidence.

the dna evidence is convincing enough for me.

I know he could have been sane and just wanted to have sex with that little girl and didn't think it through all the way, and realized he had to kill her, etc, etc, etc.
After all, sanity is subjective.
In any case, using the principle of minimizing harm, he needs to be taken out of society.

lets put this to the null hypothesis test.
could this have happened without a supernatural element?
yes
or else all instances of this are supernatural elements,
and if you want to say that,
welcome back to the dark ages.
you have to show some unequivocal data to prove your case that it was something supernatural. you have to show that evil spirits exist somehow or they can't be taken seriously.

Do you believe in russells teapot? if you believe in spirits you should.

I'll bet the devil never makes you sweat the way the sun does at the beach. I'll bet you beer on that.

Logossfera said...

First of all I want to say I'm an atheist and a naturalist (don't believe in matrix, computer simulations etc)
@lee randolph
I'm a pragmatic too. But that doesn't entitles me to believe my pragmatic approach is any more valid than a non-pragmatic approach. If you have seen my video I agree that when the line needs to be drawn even "hard-core" believers will accept a pragmatic/naturalistic approach.

As for my right to use certain premises I still have it. And you have the right to challenge whatever premise you want. That what argumentation is all about.

@Shygetz.
I don't think Neo should have told Morpheus Occam's Razor when the pill was handed to him. I am all for evidence-based conclusion (i've been acused of being a positivist), and I agree that anything remotely supernatural once observed and confirmed by tests would become part of "nature".

When I said science is based on a naturalistic philosophy I meant that the science started as an endevour based on a philosophic ideea (let those moody gods of Mountain Olympus do their thing and see what we can learn about how nature works the "rest" of the time). As you can see some people don't even agree with Aristotel, how can you expect to agree with Darwin and Einstein? :)

Shygetz said...

I don't think Neo should have told Morpheus Occam's Razor when the pill was handed to him.

A.) It's a movie
B.) Morpheus offered evidence...eat the pill and you'll see the truth now and permanently. If Morpheus had just said "You're in the Matrix. I can't prove it, but trust me, it's true," Neo would have applied Occam's Razor and told him to take a hike. Neo required evidence of the Matrix; I require evidence (of the Matrix or any other layer of fluff).
C.) It's a movie

As far as people are concerned, they may disagree with me in their pews, but they still come to the hospital to accept my treatments. When the rubber meets the road, I know where their faith truly lies. And, given that you are typing to me on a computer rather than straining to reach me telepathically, I know where your faith truly lies as well.

Science is and always has been, at root, pragmatic--it's goal is to accurately predict the future (no mean feat), and it has accepted known short-cuts and approximations to do so, always with the goal of eliminating the short-cuts as soon as possible (e.g. Newtonian mechanics, which we knew for a LONG time were false, are still used today because they are close enough). Yet, by every measure, science has been more successful at describing reality than any other "way of knowing". So, unless your goal is artistic rather than practical, there is no way to justify any "way of knowing" other than science, as they all have terrible track records when it comes to accurately describing the world. Sceince isn't perfect, but it's a damn sight better than the alternatives.

Jennifer said...

All specific scientific arguments aside for a moment, did anyone else notice that Adam and Eve (man of the earth and mother of all living) were place in a garden which bore fruit?

I don't know enough about the specific biology of primates and humans to be able to argue anything from that perspective, but one is going to criticize God for not providing Vit. C, it's a poor argument. Vitamin C can also be found in greens, the most potent being weeds such as dandelions, purslane, nettle, several varieties of wild sorrel, and on and on. Eating fresh greens would have supplied more than enough vitamin C for Adam and Eve even after they were expelled from the garden, according to the account.

I don't know enough about common descent to say anything about it, but it will be interesting to follow.

Lvka said...

Shygetz,

people are free to jump in fire or drown in their house-fountains if they so desire: but to deduce from here that God was "obligated" to purvey us with asbestos-skin and branchia is a LONG-shot to say the least. (I'm sorry). :-\

Evan said...

Lvka you are still not getting it and it must be deliberate at this point.

All mammals drown if they don't breathe air including MARINE mammals, so there are no exceptions to that rule.

All mammals burn if they are exposed to fire, therefore again, there are no exceptions to the rule.

But most mammals do just fine without ascorbic acid in their diet. We don't. Please stop using examples of things that are unexceptional. It's ridiculous to compare the two and I've pointed that out multiple times in this comment thread. That you can't see it suggests willful blindness.

Evan said...

Jennifer,

I don't know enough about the specific biology of primates and humans to be able to argue anything from that perspective, but one is going to criticize God for not providing Vit. C, it's a poor argument.

The primary point of the post is to show that we descend from prosimians. It sounds like you don't want to criticize that and that's intelligent of you because any criticism will be defeated easily. So you are glomming on to Lvka's point that somehow it's OK for God to uniquely single out humans and prosimians as the only primates that can't make ascorbic acid as if that makes it unexceptional.

Except of course that in times of famine, disease, or travel uncounted millions of humans in history have DIED from scurvy!

Does God say in Genesis, "From the garden I have given ye shall ye never depart, nay for if thou eatest not of fruits high in vitamin C verily shalt thou die."

Nope, he doesn't. It took British sailors to figure out what to do about it in the modern era. Before then huge numbers of soldiers, pilgrims, travellers and other humans died of this eminently preventable disease. All because they can't make their own vitamin C.

I don't believe in God, so I don't believe it is an argument that God is evil because something that doesn't exist can't be evil.

But IF you believe in God, you must explain his choice to predestine so many humans to die of scurvy when he could easily have given them a functioning gene for gulonolactone oxidase.

goprairie said...

the genetic 'defect' is more easily explained by evolution than by 'god creating'. it is more likely that it happened by a genetic defect that was not fatal or that was even linked to another improvement than that it happened by accident or on purpose by god. as is the case in ALL THINGS attributed to god if you really look. the natural explanation makes more sense and is therefore more likely than the god one.

Jennifer said...

Evan,
What is your answer for irriducible complexity? You are a physician so you know cellular anatomy and physiology. Which hypothesis for the evolution of the cell do you find adequate?

How did RNA, or DNA, come into existence without a nucleus and how did a nucleus come to exist without organized amino acids? Amino acids...that's another topic.

Ed,
Has Behe changed his view on irriducible complexity? From what I remember he doesn't have an issue with common descent, but does have a problem with the cell. That's where I am as well. I haven't heard a plausible explanation for the extremely intricate "factory" which is a cell.

Lvka said...

Evan,

I respect Your convictions; I just see no point to them, that's all. What is so strange in eating food that has vitamin C in it? And how do You explain (away) the very existence of...eskimos and beduins?

Our job isn't to "create" either food or water or air "on our own": God made us an *integrant part* of Mother Nature; the Jewish and Christian God is a *Creator* God; not the God of Gnosticism. And the Christian God is *Trinitarian*, as opposed to being either *monistic* or *individualistic*. :-|

How can You even think of us as isolated, self-subsisting entities in need of nothing else than ourselves!? :-\ :-O What kind of a bizarre and convoluted logic is that!? :-/

Shygetz said...

Something else Evan failed to mention is that, every time humans moved to a new environment, they would have to find sources of vitamin C. How did they do that? Trial and error...eat stuff and see if people get scurvy. So, every time humans spread to a new locale (including when they left the Garden of Eden), they would have to suffer through generations until they found the plants/animals that prevented scurvy. (Eskimos found it in uncooked organ meat and the skin of the Beluga whale, and camel milk is high in Vitamin C, since that seems to concern lvka). No other migratory animal species has to deal with this deficiency, but your all-loving God decided that His chosen people should suffer and die every time they traveled to a new environment, like He forced them to do when He expelled them from the Garden.

Shygetz said...

Keep in mind, you asked a scientific question...if you were expecting a short answer, you are a fool. Even so, this answer has been significantly shortened...if you want details, attend your friendly local neighborhood university.

What is your answer for irriducible complexity? You are a physician so you know cellular anatomy and physiology. Which hypothesis for the evolution of the cell do you find adequate?

I am a biochemist, so I may be in a better position than a physician to answer this question.

The answer to irreducible complexity is simple...we have not yet found a system that is irreducibly complex. If an system was found that was truly irreducible and was sufficiently complex to disallow evolution by chance, then evolution would be disproven as a mechanism for it's arisal. Such a system has never been found. There have been systems that Behe has CLAIMED are irreducibly complex, but he always conveniently forgets to look at alternate functions, duplication and co-option, and scaffolding, which are known occurances in evolution. Every time Behe comes up with an example, scientists quickly find (or often have already found) functional intermediates (real-world, not hypothetical) that allow evolution to work just fine (first the flagellum, then the eye, then the immune system; I'm not sure what he's touting now, or if he's given up). There have been multiple entire peer-reviewed articles debunking Behe's crap, his entire department has publically disowned him on their website, he was terribly embarassed in court in Dover by the MOUNTAINS of peer-reviewed research on the evolution of the immune system that he just never bothered to read (seriously, if he had been a grad student unaware of that much literature on his supposed topic of expertise, I would have failed him), and yet creationists still cite him as a credible scholar to confuse their followers who are uneducated in evolutionary biology. The only possible explanation is that the creationists aren't interested in truth, they are looking for propaganda.

I haven't heard a plausible explanation for the extremely intricate "factory" which is a cell.

The problem that most people have when they think of irreducible complexity, whether it is a flagellum or a whole cell, is they look at the end product and think that it had to pop up as is somehow and be able to compete in the modern environment. This simply isn't true. All an organism would have to do is evolve one trait that wrapped it in a lipid bilayer consisting on one type of lipid. Being able to protect its genetic material from outside forces would be an inherent advantage to the faithful transfer of genetic material to later generations. The rest of the complexity would be added on top of that gradually to give you the finished product. The difficult question for evolutionary biology isn't "How is there a cell"--the basic structure of the cell is just a bilayer of lipid, a very common organic molecule; it's "Why is the cell structure of different organisms so fundamentally different" given that cell evolution seemed to occur so early.

Abiogenesis is an active field, and there is currently no hypothesis that has been sufficiently tested to be presented as fact. I, for one, favor the co-evolutionary framework posited by Carl Woese, where the evolution of the cell occurred concommitant with the split between archae and other life, and was part-and-parcel of the evolution of translation and the conversion from RNA-world to proteinaceous biology. In the absence of cells, horizontal gene transfer would play a much larger role, allowing evolutionary advantage to rapidly be passed along between organisms, in addition to the traditional Darwinian lineage (and yes, we know horizontal gene transfer is real--it's one way antibiotic resistance spreads among bacteria; it's just relatively rare because the cell membrane/wall gets in the way). So, the proto-machinery for organizing a membrane would be widespread, and the evolutionary step towards actual lipid biogenesis would be small for all organisms; however, differences in how this step was made would cause the different lineages we see. Once cellular biology was widespread, it by itself would greatly slow or stop horizontal gene transfer, allowing the two major lineages to evolve separately with little genetic cross-talk.

If you wish to confine your God to the spaces currently left unexplained by science, feel free. But, when you are older, be sure to write a book entitled "The Amazing Shrinking God" and dedicate it to me, because those spaces are getting smaller and smaller every day.

How did RNA, or DNA, come into existence without a nucleus and how did a nucleus come to exist without organized amino acids? Amino acids...that's another topic.

The VAST majority of organisms on the planet have DNA and RNA, but no nucleus. So, we know perfectly well how that happened--a nucleus is not at ALL required for DNA and RNA, and is a relative latecomer to Earth. Nuclei also came after amino acids. Amino acids can easily occur by solution-phase chemistry, and were certainly present on pre-biotic Earth (as demonstrated by Miller-Urey and later related studies under different conditions, and supported by atmospheric science)--indeed, ancient genomes are enriched for codons encoding for amino acids that are easier to generate by solution phase chemistry, strongly suggesting that the original amino acid complement was smaller than the current one.

One interesting question is, since the genetic component (DNA or RNA) and the catalytic component (proteins) are separate, how did evolution occur since life requires both the ability to store information (genetic code) and the ability to catalyse replication of the information? Either proteins would have to be capable of self-replication of their own information, or nucleic acids would have to be capable of catalysis, or evolution as a force in abiogenesis is stuck. Turns out, RNA is a catalyst for a wide variety of reactions. It's not as versatile a catalyst as proteins (which is why it was eventually replaced with proteins), but it works well enough for evolution to be possible.

Evan said...

Jennifer,

I'm glad to see you accept common descent, and I hope you see the implications of it. Specifically it means that Genesis is wrong and we are not specially created either metaphorically or actually.

As to abiogenesis, I've posted a couple of times before a perfectly plausible if unproven sequence of events that could lead to it, but this is still an area of active research and everything is still unproven. However, the sequence currently hypothesized requires no divine intervention and uses normally occurring molecules and structures that would have existed on earth 3.5-4 billion years ago.

Remember, a hundred million years is a long time. A hundred MYA there were dinosaurs on earth.

Finally to irreducible complexity there are two main objections. First is the one Stephen Colbert brought up when he was interviewing Behe. Behe suggests the mousetrap is irreducibly complex. Colbert replied that after you take apart a mouse trap, all you have is wood, a piece of metal and a spring, and those are useless, nobody could ever do anything with those. The crowd laughed and I hope you see why.

The second, and much bigger problem is that irreducible complexity as a concept lacks any rigor. There are no tests for it. It amounts to a gigantic argument from personal incredulity.

"I can't believe this evolved, therefore it must be irreducibly complex."

There has been no technique put forward for determining if something is actually irreducibly complex.

And to back up Shygetz, there simply is no example of an "irreducibly complex" structure that hasn't been howitzered to pieces by either pre-existing or subsequent research.

So I am sure we can agree that if you can come up with a test for irreducible complexity that reliably determines all objects that are designed by intelligences and separates them from evolved structures, that will help us determine whether the theory has any validity. In addition, if you can find an irreducibly complex structure that actually is irreducibly complex and could not have evolved, that would discredit some part of evolutionary theory.

But common descent is as proven as a thing can be. Hardly anyone on this thread is disputing it (with the exception of Lvka who is choosing not to argue that point but holding out that it might be incorrect).

And common descent is all you need to realize that Genesis is a fiction BOTH historically and metaphorically. We ARE NOT shaped by God, but are shaped by our history and our genes.

Jennifer said...

Shygetz,

One interesting question is, since the genetic component (DNA or RNA) and the catalytic component (proteins) are separate, how did evolution occur since life requires both the ability to store information (genetic code) and the ability to catalyse replication of the information?

This is what I was actually asking so thank you for being more specific.

I thought you were a psychiatrist so I must be getting everybody mixed up.
I'm not familiar with Behe being embarassed, ridiculed or unanimously proven wrong by peer review, or is that peer pressure? I am not swayed by majority opinion. Nikola Tesla had a hard go of it, but he was right.

Anyway, on Talk Origin I noticed blood clotting was listed as not being irriducibly complex. I've not learned what "cascading" is, but Von Willebrand's disease and hemophillia are two undeniable realities and each is only missing one clotting factor. Whether there is a hypothetical or technical explanation for blood clotting not being IC, neither condition is able to support life without modern technology and careful attention to injury. Especially in the case of Von Willebrand's in women.


Evan,

I actually don't think the mouse trap is laughable. If you take apart a strand of RNA or DNA, the individual amino acids are in the same position unless they have the precise conditions in which to combine, or something like a virus can occur which is not life as we know it. How did Behe respond to the laughter, what was said next? Or maybe he didn't pick that battle.

Behe's point was that the mouse trap won't work for it's inteneded purpose if one component is missing and the trap must be assembled by intelligence so we're back to the watchmaker in a sense. From your telling, Colbert was making a case for ID.
Or maybe I don't see why it's funny and you could explain more in depth.

I believe in God for several reasons and science is not a threat to that belief. I enjoy learning about how things work and the intricacies of nature, but I do not agree with you that the gaps are getting smaller.

We are the ones who subscribe words such as "supernatural" to God. It's exciting to learn more and more because I think it is leading us closer to understanding the magnitude of God. Believing that the Bible is "inerrant" doesn't mean it must be scientifically accurate in every detail by today's standards. This is a short post which shows what I would not communicate as well.

It is my perspective, and that of otheres as well, that until we know all there is to know (and how will we know that?), we can only guess at conclusions. I am as certain that God exists as I am that I am touching this keyboard, but I don't pretend to know everything there is to know about God. I have a lot of questions, but it's OK for the answers to be a long time in coming or maybe not to come at all in my lifetime. I think there will be a marriage of the study of creation and the study of God at some point, but I probably won't live to see it.

That's probably a weak perspective in your opinion, but it doesn't stop me from wanting and being excited over new knowledge and application within moral limits and I think my life is richer for it.

Best,
Jennifer

Evan said...

You can watch the interview with Behe at Comedy Central's website or here.

You can determine for yourself if Behe argued his case persuasively.

As for Von Willebrand's disease I know a bit about that. In fact large numbers of people with genetic markers for VWF have no clotting problems whatsoever, a phenomenon known as incomplete penetrance.

Additionally, there are numbers of clotting factors that are redundant and deficiencies of them do not yield disease.

Dr. Behe is simply wrong. His biases are obvious and I see you have given me no test other than personal incredulity to determine what is irreducibly complex.

Therefore, by any reasonable standard, you should accept (at a minimum) common descent, which throws out the Genesis account both literally and metaphorically. If you wish to believe that 3.5 to 4 billion years ago a man in the sky made a cell that later evolved, you have no conclusive proof at the moment that that did not take place, but the story of life after that point is well-understood in its broad outlines.

Those outlines demolish the Genesis text in a literal or figurative interpretation.

Jennifer said...

Evan,
I looked at the video and my points for Behe would be:

1)Comedy Central is not the place to have a detailed discussion about the physiology of a cell. Of course the audience laughed, they were there to be entertained.

2)Dr. Behe did a good job of explaining the intelligence behind the design.

3)I am not arguing against common descent and neither is Dr. Behe, he seems to agree with it and I don't know enough about genetics to comment intelligently on the subject.

4)I do have a good knowledge of the cell, as complete as it is now. Metabolism is something that is still not understood completely, and please don't pretend that it is because I can give a long list of "peer reviewed" studies which will show otherwise. A cell is extremely complex and while it may have "back-up" systems, the fact remains that in order to work correctly there must be a perfect environment.
The less stable and fine tuned the environment is, the faster degeneration processes take place.

5)We are organisms so when studying the individual cell and it's role in the living body, we can't separate the cell from the organism. It's like my garden; it is an organism. If I have a healthy ecosystem developing and I neglect one factor, such as nitrogen fixation, my garden will not remain healthy. It will still produce for a few years, but then it will end up a desert full of weeds until an intelligent being (me) comes along. (This is what is attractive about bio-dynamics. It considers the whole organism while recognizing it's individual parts and how the health of each ingredient is what the whole organism's health is dependent upon. It works very well even if it does rely to some degree on more esoteric methods.)
Even mothers-to-be are told that in order to have the best chances for a healthy baby, they must eat the perfect diet, get enough sleep, exercise moderately etc.. for at least a year prior to carrying a child. They are preparing the "soil" and it makes a difference! This implies that although we have a great diversity of chemical processes that can cover some poor ones, there is a best case scenario and we all reach for the paradise lost.

6)According to Genesis, God was with Adam and Eve even after their expulsion from the perfect environment. Cain talked with God and was grieved to leave God's presence. Whether metaphorical or actual, the concept of God helping the first people to get along in a more hostile world (which would not have been very hostile at all given the climate and vegetation in the rest of the region), fits well with the creation account and the stubborn independence man continues to display. Between the Catholic and Jewish views of Genesis I think it can be metaphorically interpreted, but I won't make a committment to a young or old earth. I'll keep my options open!

I am not a scientist, I'm just a mom with a background in some medical science toward a nursing degree, but I understand what I read. What I read points to irreducible complexity on some levels.

Thanks for the conversation. :)

Jennifer said...

but the book of Genesis at no point says that Adam and Eve are related to the birds of the air and the beasts of the field.

And does it need to? Adam was made from the ground. If man (male and female) were made from the ground and all other life was made before man, it makes sense that we all come from the same stuff! Even mitochondrially related! Why not? Why don't you think it works?

Evan said...

Jennifer,

Here's the thing. You are full of what-if's and maybes, so you make a very nebulous point and I don't quite see how it's anything but a way of rescuing your belief in God from data that clearly shows that he doesn't exist.

Man is NOT made from earth. Man is made eggs and sperm. Those eggs and sperm were originally in mammals who were not man by our definition. This is the OPPOSITE of God fashioning man in his own image. It is the ecology of Africa forming man from prosimians.

As to irreducible complexity -- we still have no test for it so it's a fancy way of saying, "I can't imagine it evolved." You say as much in the above.

And yes, if the Bible were accurate history or even if it were metaphorically true in some sense it would not have God specially creating the kinds of animals and plants because that is not what happened. It would also not have God giving man "dominion" over the earth but would instead talk about his brotherhood with his fellow creatures.

Finally, it would not have placed the origin of man in Mesopotamia, which is where civilization originated, but in Africa, where humans originated.

Nothing in the Genesis account gibes with what we know to be true, even if you personally are unable to face the facts.

Thanks also for your end of the conversation :)

Lee Randolph said...

Evan,
you are doing a great, great, job.
my compliments!
I'm going to reference this article in one of my series.

goprairie said...

You say "but I understand what I read. What I read points to irreducible complexity on some levels." Try this: Instead of looking for things you and others think are irreducibly complex, try looking for the explanations of why they are NOT. there are explanations right here onthe internet for every sincle one of them, written clearly and simply. start with the eye and you will find light sensing cells that have usefullness to the animal and you will se the progression from there to eyeball in eye socket, all steps explained. look for the scientific explanation of where the parts of the 'motor flagellan' come from and you will see the step that lead to it. it is all reducible and it all evolved. and it is easy to find the information on it if you are open minded to it.

Reverend Phillip Brown said...

This whole blog is pointless as the bible accounts shows us that we cannot take the Genesis account the way you have.

For more see my blog,

christianityversusatheism.blogspot.com

Jennifer said...

Well, I can see that once again the point has been lost. I'll be very clear:

I am not arguing for a young earth, although none of us can unequivocally prove it is not.

Behe is an ID proponent from the theistic evolution camp, so we are not even arguing if evolution is true or not.


This is about whether or not a Creator could have created a man and woman as is loosely described in the Bible.

If I were a scientist I would not be leading people into a following by claiming I have all the answers. Science should be a humble undertaking with the understanding that a scientist is only a person who develops hypotheses, tests them and presents findings, which should be neutral.

But the findings are not neutral are they? Evolution is given a personality in place of God. Just looking on Talk Origins and Talk Design is enough to demonstrate how people are looking for direction wherever they can find it. "Evolution is cleverer than you are." ???? Really? Evolution is clever now? Even if it is only
tongue in cheek, the language of personality and direction is prevelant in the articles.

You say I can't see and I say you can't see. We are all little people in a huge continuum of time and learning from the past we can see that at times scientists thought they were absolutely right; hands down. They found out they were wrong sometimes.

Can you see how silly the argument from Miller is in this exchange between Behe and Miller? I do and I am sure others will. Posturing and ridicule only work on the sheep among us.

Behe is right and I really can't imagine how frustrating it must be to only be able to give such short answers. I'd like to see a debate which is spread out over several days so each party can have the time to make an in depth rebuttal.

Goprarie,
I think I can already guess what you are referring to and I am not convinced by the simple diagrams because I have watched cells under a microscope and have studied the intricate chain of chemical processes that occur within a cell. Maybe you have too, but we come to different conclusions.
Plants are even more fascinating.

Here is one example of what I think you are suggesting:
Evolution of the Eye

Some scientists believe, believe - they do not have proof, that eyes may have developed in several animals during the "Cambrian Explosion", and if there is no intelligent design, it would seem to be the only way to account for any animals having eyes at all.

This whole article talks of natural selection as if it is intelligent. It isn't! Random processes are random. If one animal had a light sensitive spot on it's skin that gave it some advantage, the chances of passing the genetic material on to one of it's offspring, depending on which animal it may have been and how many offsrping it could produce per generation, would be very slim because it was a mutation. Of course mutations can be passed on and they are all the time, but life is engineered in such a way as to keep mutations from happening.
Each one of us has an immune system that is on guard 100% of the time, but hampered by stress and other factors. We can potentially and plausibly have cancer cells develping right now that our immune system is killing off and we'll never know we have a mutation underway unless our immune system can't win.

The article says: "eyes corresponding to every stage in this sequence have been found in existing living species. The existence of this range of less complex light-sensitive structures supports scientists' hypotheses about how complex eyes like ours could evolve."

Really? If you're a skeptic like me, you might wonder if those eyes are the result of lost genetic material. If we say each eye is a stage in the evolution of the eye as we know it, we are implying engineering, or design. Those eyes are somehow incomplete because they are not as "advanced" as more complex eyes. We have passed a value judgment for random processes.

There is no question in my mind that there is an intelligent designer. We all know a well put together machine when we see one and we don't question that it was indeed put together.

If evolution is purely random there is no desireable outcome. Random processes do not make value judgements, yet we do. We have an idea of what "perfect" means and are working hard to attain to it!

Anyway, I'm getting way off topic. One of Evan's points is that Adam and Eve cannot be true because humans are descended from non-human ancestors. Well, if the first human was fashioned from the earth, there were plenty of lower life forms to build from in one inch of soil. Genesis does not record whether the plants and animals came from the same "seed" as man, but it may very well have been. God is not a magician, He is the ultimate naturalist.

His reason Genesis cannot be accepted even metaphorically is based upon a value judgment about dominion. I think it's obvious that we DO have dominion over the earth. We weed our gardens, manage the forests, protect wild game from poachers, care for the water and the air, and we make value judgements based upon our sense of worth. None of us would give the dog our last piece of meat if one of our children were in need of it, even if we felt bad for the dog - which we would.
For that matter, we MUST have dominion over the dog, or the dog will dominate us...the Alpha.

Cole said...

"I am not arguing for a young earth, although none of us can unequivocally prove it is not."



Jennifer,

Recent studies have calculated the vast distances to astronomical sources based upon geometry. The calculation of distances using triangulation REQUIRE NO ASSUMPTIONS, but are based purely upon mathematical principles.

Geometric measurements of quasar 3C 279 now establish that the universe is at least 5.9 billion light years across. Since light cannot travel faster than the speed of light, the light from that quasar must have been traveling for 5.9 billion years. The young earth explanation is that God created the light in transit. However, we know that quasars existed only during the beginning of the universe, since none are seen closer to us than billions of light years. If God created light in transit, He would have created the light in transit from a quasar that does not now exist. Likewise, we have observed supernova explosions in galaxies millions of light years away. If God created light in transit from these objects, He would have made the light from an object that does not now exist, since it appeared to have blown up millions of years before the universe was actually created.

THE UNIVERSE IS OLD!!!!

Cole said...

References:
J. R. Hernstein, et al, “A Geometric Distance to the Galaxy NGC4258 from Orbital Motions in a Nuclear Gas Disk,” Nature, 400 (1999), 539-41.
D. C. Homan and J. F. C. Wardle, “Direct Distance Measurements to Superluminal Radio Sources,” Astrophysical Journal, 535 (2000), 575-85.

Cole said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
goprairie said...

"This whole article talks of natural selection as if it is intelligent. It isn't! Random processes are random. If one animal had a light sensitive spot on it's skin that gave it some advantage, the chances of passing the genetic material on to one of it's offspring, depending on which animal it may have been and how many offsrping it could produce per generation, would be very slim because it was a mutation. Of course mutations can be passed on and they are all the time, but life is engineered in such a way as to keep mutations from happening.
Each one of us has an immune system that is on guard 100% of the time, but hampered by stress and other factors. We can potentially and plausibly have cancer cells develping right now that our immune system is killing off and we'll never know we have a mutation underway unless our immune system can't win."

Clearly you are not operating under the same rules of science as the rest of the world. A mutation, as in a genetic mutation, occurs when the egg/sperm production or combination process and it is this mutation that is expressed in the organism, and since it then makes egg or sperm with the mutation, the mutation can and often is passed on. the immune sytem has nothing whatsoever to do with mutations. and mutations can and do lead to incredibly complex things and generations and generations of great numbers of individual combinations and splittings of genetic material occurs in sexual reproduction. the human mind can almost not comprehend the hugeness of numbers of these combinations multiplied by geological time.
i don't have the time to pick at the other scientific errors in your comment and it seems to be a cold thread now anyway.

goprairie said...

"There is no question in my mind that there is an intelligent designer. We all know a well put together machine when we see one and we don't question that it was indeed put together."
And THIS supposition that things are just too complicated to have evolved is ridiculous to the point of absurdity. People who lack understanding of processes are so fond of spouting it yet it just does not wash. Have you ever been involved in designing something from scratch? Something designed by an intelligent being rarely works the first time, be it software or a machine. Some little detail is not worked out correctly, it is built, and the error is found, and the error is fixed. It is through the process of post-design, post-built. post-testing adjusting that something intelligently designed finally works. The process of evolution is the same. Things change. If they work, they persist. If they cost more than they are worth, they fade away. If they are worth more than they cost, they are passed on to offspring, who pass them on. Sometimes they stop being a benefit and if the cost is not too great, mthey persist. Like the cigarette lighter in a car being the port for charging cell phones. What a silly way to plug in a tiny device with a giant plug. Designed by an intelligent being, but over increments, so it is really kinda defective by now. The process of natural design by mutation and selection is pretty much the same as design by intelligence. Oh, you might claim your perfect god could design perfectly the first time, but tell me why we have appendix and lots of other 'defects' or useless baggage. The idea that something designed intelligently is more or less complex and works more or less effectively than something designed by mutation and selection over time is wrong. If we were designed by an intelligent being, we would not be able to function ass effectively as we do with our defects. That life functions as it does with its 'imperfect designs' shows what the defects have been smoothed out over time.

Lee Randolph said...

Look,
it is simple,
If it is a sound principle that
if "the world is too complex to have arisen on its own then it must have been designed"
we can restate it like this
" 'x' is too complex to have arisen on its own then it must have been designed"
and replace x with "a watch"
it is true,
and replace x with "a car"
it is true
and replace x with "a god"
and it should be true.

simple, elegant, succinct.

for it not to be true is called "special pleading". Special pleading can be shown to be non-fallacious with a valid reason. Wheres the reason?

I'll bet the only 'reason' will be circular. They can't help but be circular because there is no evidence, only assertion from the bible. The bible is the only evidence, but it is one of a few competing hypotheses for revelation about god and origins. Thers has yet to be shown any compelling reason to consider the bible version authoritative over any other version.

Lee Randolph said...

The point I was trying to make is that if anything is irreducibly complex it would be god. And if irreducibly complex is an indication of design, then god would have to have been designed by someone else.

the old who created the creator argument.

and anyway, if god created adam and eve the way the bible says, where do they fit in history?
Cain left and built a city. Cities started getting built between 4000 - 3500 bc. That puts adam and eve back between 5000 - 4000 granting them a 900 year lifespan. There were estimated 15 million people on the earth at that time and none of them seemed to have lived much over 30.

So don't lose sight of the forest. There's a lot of trees out there that need to be accounted for to place adam and eve in history.

Shygetz said...

I don't want to waste tons of time on this, but I want to tell anyone out there reading that Jennifer is wrong, wrong, wrong on pretty much ALL of the biology she is claiming to know, including cells needing a "perfect" environment (you can boil some bacteria spores without killing them), your immune system clearing out all mutant cells (untrue...look all humans have mutated genomes, which would be impossible if jennifer was right about the supposed efficiency of our immune system to root out mutation), the inheritability of the eye-spot (the probability of an eye-spot mutant passing on the mutation to one of it's offspring is almost 1, as it was a single-celled organism that reproduced by fission), just to name a few. No, natural selection is not intelligent, but it does have a "goal"...it selects for mutations that are better able to reproduce in the environment, and this selection leads to directional changes, not random ones. The errors continue, and I don't have time to list or correct them all, but take what she says with a shaker full of salt.

Martin said...

Just a small mistake: monkeys are like apes in that they cannot make ascorbic acid (vitamin C). The wet-nosed primates, which can make the ascorbic acid, are the lemurs and lorises