Posts Tagged ‘evolution’

The Fine-Tuning Argument: The Worst Argument for Theism

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Feb 23, 2016 11:35 am by he_who_is_nobody

Theistic Apologists deploy several arguments to try to establish that a god(s) is necessary. In my humble opinion, the worst of all these arguments is the Fine-Tuning Argument. The Fine-Tuning Argument is essentially saying that the parameters of the universe as we know it are placed in such a way to allow life as we know it to exist. However, there are three fundamental flaws that make this easily the worst argument a theist could use to justify their deity(s).

 

First, when employing this argument, the theist is making the underlying assumption that the fine-tuning we see in the universe is the only possible way the universe could exist that would permit life. No justification for this is ever given, beyond the fact that if the fine-tuning were different, then things would be different; an example of a counterfactual conditional. Simply because things would be different does not mean that life or a universe could not exist. They may not be as we see them today, but that alone does not mean that the possibility for life and a universe are dependent on the fine-tuning of the universe as we know it. This is an unjustified claim built into the argument that should be challenged. Beyond that, the theist also has not shown that the fine-tuning of our universe could be anything different. It could just as easily be that all possible universes have the same fine-tuning.

 

Second, this argument does not take into account evolution. Built into this argument is the assumption that we (either humans or all life on this planet) perfectly fit. The Earth is just the right distance from the Sun, the Moon is just large enough to keep our axis stable, Jupiter is just large enough and far enough away to keep us safe from space junk, etc… However, what the theist usually fails to account for in this picture is the 14 billion years of history the universe has gone through, 4.543 billion years of our planet’s own history, and  ~4 billion years of life history on this planet. Most of the life history we see is shaped by selection and a lot of dumb luck thrown in for good measure. Essentially, it is asinine to say this planet/universe is fine-tuned for us. If anything, we are finely-tuned by the environment.

 

Third and by far the largest problem for this argument. As of the writing of this post, we currently know of one planet in our solar system that supports life. That life is supported mainly on its surface, and (except for Tardigrades), species can only survive in certain environments. There are seven other planets in our solar system (plus a few hundred moons) that do not support life (as far as we know now). There are a few possible other places in our solar system that might have life (i.e. Mars and a few moons around Jupiter or Saturn). Thus, out of several celestial bodies in our solar system, there are less than ten of them that could support life. Besides this, there is empty space between those celestial bodies wherein life cannot exist. Basically, whenever a theist tries to use the Fine-Tuning Argument, they are essentially saying; “Look at this earth size planet. It has one microorganism on it. Thus, the planet must be finely-tuned for the microorganism.” Any engineer would look at that system and conclude that it was poorly tuned if its purpose was for sustaining that microorganism. If this universe was fine-tuned for anything, it was fine-tuned for creating black holes and not life.

 

One objection to these objections could be if the theist is willing to admit their deity(s) is not omnipotent. Most apologists in the West would not dream of giving up that aspect of their deity. However, why would an omnipotent being need to fine-tune a system in the first place? Would it not be powerful enough to create a flawless system? In addition, if it were not powerful enough to create a flawless system, how could we say it is a god?

 

Another objection that Abrahamic Apologists could try is “The Fall” caused this. One problem I would have with this objection is that it could account for the planet earth, but why all the other celestial bodies and the rest of the universe? Why create such a universe that would be affected by two hairless apes on a rock orbiting a nondescript star?

 

There appears to be nothing redeemable about this argument. In fact, this argument could be far better used to show that there is not a single omniscient and omnipotent deity that cares about life (let alone humans) for the simple fact that this universe is not finely-tuned for us. Given just one of those two attributes (omniscient or omnipotent), a human fine-tuner could produce a universe far more hospitable for life.

Answers for Eight questions for Evolutionists

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Tue Mar 18, 2014 1:48 pm by he_who_is_nobody

(Ian Juby, seen here playing a scientist)

Last month Ian Juby asked eight questions for us silly evolutionists to answer. Here are my answers in the order they were asked.

 

 1) Let’s start at the beginning: How did the first life arise? If you have no life, then you have no evolution. Following the laws of science and nature, how did that first life arise?

 

We do not know, yet. However, saying that we do not know does not open up the question for Juby to insert a god(s). Modern science’s inability to answer this question completely is not a victory for magic (a.k.a. creationism).  However, I would encourage Juby to look into the field of abiogenesis. Lots of progress has been made in that field in the past decade.

 

 2) How do you explain the origin of Grand Canyon without a world wide flood?

 

Seeing as how a worldwide flood does not and cannot account for the Grand Canyon, I will give a truncated explanation for it. The layers one observes in the Grand Canyon were laid down at different times. Near the bottom of the canyon, one can easily see an angular unconformity, where the land was laid down horizontally, than uplift happened to one side raising that side higher than the rest. Erosion than happened, which flattened down the raised layers to an even plain, after that, more layers of sediment were laid down on top of the angular unconformity. Some of these layers are made up of limestone, which cannot form rapidly in an aquatic environment; others are made up of sandstone that had to have come from a vast desert. Both of those observations alone expose that the earth is not young and there was not a worldwide flood in recent history.

After all the layers were formed, the Colorado River started to make its way across the area were the Grand Canyon is now found. It was once a slow meandering river, which one is able to see when looking down on the Grand Canyon (it meanders around the Colorado Plateau). Slowly the Colorado Plateau uplifted making the Colorado River cut down into it more and more. This is how the Grand Canyon was formed.

Again, this is a truncated response, one could write a whole book about the history of the Grand Canyon.

 

 3) How do you explain the copious numbers of dating methods which point to a young earth, and a young universe?

 

One wonders what Juby means by copious, because as far as modern science is concerned there are no dating methods that point to a young earth or young universe. Perhaps Juby could point some out.

 

 4) What scientifically factual information can you supply to support your contention that the universe is billions of years old? Don’t give me your assumptions and theories, and don’t give me the speed of light problem because it’s also a problem for you, and I already answered it with my response. I want scientifically factual information.

 

Seeing as how Juby will not accept the speed of light (i.e. the only reason we can see stars billions of light years away is that their light had to travel billions of light years to get here) I guess we will have to settle for our observations of the cosmic microwave background radiation, globular clusters, white dwarf stars and radiometric dating. All of those establish the universe to be billions of years old.

 

 5) How do you explain the origin of information, such as the information contained in the DNA, without violating the laws of thermodynamics?

 

Well, it would be nice if Juby defined information for us. Using the correct definition of information when talking about DNA (Shannon information), information can arise in a system without violating the laws of thermodynamics. No doubt Juby will take issue with this, but that is because Juby tries to equivocate the different definitions of information in his arguments.

 

 6) How do you explain the PRESERVATION of the information in our DNA over MILLIONS and MILLIONS of years, seeing as how thermodynamics is observably and quickly removing bits and pieces of that information in every single generation? 

 

Since Juby again does not define information, one can only assume he is talking about Shannon information. It is untrue to say that thermodynamics is removing bits and pieces every generation. Thus, this question is invalided because it is based off a flawed premise.

 

 7) How did sex arise? Seeing as how there are miriads of sexual reproduction systems in organisms, pretty much NONE of which are compatible with one another in reproduction. See CrEvo Rant # 13 Ian’s Sex Video for the quick low down on the problems you face in explaining this dilema. I’m not interested in sexual fantasies of how one system evolved into the other, I’m interested in factual, scientific evidence – observed changes, like any good scientist would expect of a theory.

 

Once again, we do not know the exact answer, yet. However much like the first answer I gave, science not knowing an answer does not make room for Juby’s god(s).

 

 8) Do you think your brain was intelligently designed? And if not, then how can you trust your thoughts if they are the result of unintelligent, undirected forces? Random chemistry?

 

This question is a vague attempt to insult proponents of evolution, and never fails to make me laugh when I see it. Of course our brains are not intelligently designed; they are a product of natural and sexual selection. However, just because they were not intelligently designed does not mean our thoughts are based on unintelligent, undirected forces. The reason we can trust our thoughts is based on knowledge that we obtain through experience or learning. Because we live in a natural world, were the laws of physics do not change on a whim, we can base our prior experiences and knowledge on the facts of reality in order to gain a deeper understanding of the world around us.

Hat tip to Bill Needle for transcribing the questions used above. 

Rebuttal to Ian Juby’s “’In 7 Days’ Crash Course in Creation” Day 2

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Wed May 08, 2013 8:00 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Read part one.

Day 2:  Still in the beginning….

You want deep time?

No problem, let’s give evolution 20 billion years.  Depending on who you ask, this is a typical estimate for the age of the universe.  While the majority of this time is supposed to have been spent building galaxies, stars and planets, let’s assign all of that time just to making life without a creator.

 

Juby cannot even be bothered to locate the actual estimated age of the universe, which is not hard to find out. Off the top of my head, I know it is ~13.5 billion years old and I would expect anyone who has studied the Origins Debate in any detail to at least be able to recall a fact this simple. However, he is only trying to set up a straw man.

And so, we have a stark contrast between the two models of human origins: Creation has a supernatural being who has infinite skill and knowledge, creating the first life.  Evolution, which has no skill and no intelligence, no guidance, no direction, must form the first life by blind chance.

 

First off, Juby is equivocating evolution with a straw man of abiogenesis. One could go a step further and infer that Juby is equivocating evolution with naturalism. Second, Juby is creating a false dichotomy by saying it is either a supernatural creator or blind chance, those are not the only options one can think of, nor are either of those the most likely options that lead to life.

This leads into Juby’s next straw man, which there is no other way to present, so I must quote the whole thing, please forgive me.

Amino acids are the basic building blocks of life.  Think of them as Lego; there are roughly twenty different kinds to choose from, and they join together to form structures called proteins.  These proteins can also join together and these form the essential parts of cells.

One simple protein might be an assembly of 200 amino acids.  So, using fairly simple math, for each amino in the assembly, we have a 1/20 chance of randomly selecting the correct one.  Thus, in our protein, we have 20200 different assembly combinations – and essentially only one of those combinations is correct and will work!

Written out, that’s:

1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,00,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000 different combinations!

Taking 20,000,000,000 (20 billion) years, and multiplying it by 365 days per year, 24 hours per day, 60 minutes per hour and 60 seconds per minute, you get:

630,720,000,000,000,000
seconds in 20 Billion years!

 

As you can see, we only have a mere 630,720,000,000,000,000 seconds to try all
1,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,00,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 different combinations.

Remember – evolution has no intelligence to call upon to select the correct combination the first time, so it’s hit and miss.

So let’s divide our available time into the number of combinations available.  We would have to randomly try

15,854,895,991,882,293,252,156,265,854,896,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,
000,000,000,000
different combinations, every second, for twenty billion years, to produce one protein by unguided processes.

 

As one can tell Juby chose a nice round number of 20 billion to make his math easier. However, if Juby actually understood the science of abiogenesis he would have noticed that the argument he just put forward is only arguing against a straw man of abiogenesis.

No one argues that a complete protein had to have formed all at once in one shot. The leading hypotheses in abiogenesis, much like in evolution, start with simple combinations of amino acids linking together and forming new structures. Essentially, a crude version of natural selection most likely took place before proteins, as we know them, first came on the scene.

However, Juby then goes on to give up the whole game:

Evolution requires an infinite amount of time, but an infinite creator God requires but the twinkling of an eye.  The complexity of life demands a creator.

 

There are three problems with this statement; first, his last sentence is an argument from ignorance. Life’s complexities have been and are being explained without a creator for the last 150 years of science. Evolutionary theory explains quite well the complexities of life and how those complexities arose. Second, Juby is still equating abiogenesis with evolution, and when he says evolution in the above quote, he means abiogenesis. Furthermore, earth formed 4.5 billion years ago and the first signs of life are 3.6 billion years old, so abiogenesis did not take an infinite amount of time. This could be an example of a lie from Juby.

However, the third point (the one I alluded to above) is Juby admitting that creationism is magic and nothing more. Juby truly wants people to believe that a god created life on earth with nothing more than magic!

However, this does not deter Juby, his next move is to project that fault (creationism = magic) onto evolution.

But never mind that for a second – let’s assume that somehow, by some miracle (yes, if you believe in evolution, you believe miracles – more on that later on in another lesson), we have enough amino acids, and somehow, by some miracle, they are joining together.  Let’s say we’re 10 billion years into the process, and we have 100 of the amino acids joined in the correct sequence, making half a protein.  What’s going to happen to that half-a-protein while the other 100 aminos get their act together? I’ll tell you – they’ll disintegrate! They’ll detach from each other, and we will lose what we already had!

 

Again, Juby’s ignorance of anything remotely resembling science shines through like a beacon in the night. Juby, why will they detach and disintegrate? You state this without giving a shred of evidence.

The other side of the “time” coin that the anti-creationists don’t want you to know about is the deterioration of the genome.  Evolution thrives on mutations.  Mutations are errors in our genetic code – the code that is essentially the blueprint on how to build you, or a plant, or a fish, etc…

 

Juby is essentially correct in his definition of what a mutation is, however, he does use some loaded language in it. Now watch as Juby uses his ignorance of genetics and his loaded language to create another fallacious argument.

Tremendous advances have been made in the arena of genetics and the study of the genome, and the surprises have been numerous.  One surprise that has come to light in recent years is that mutations are usually near-neutral; that is, they usually have no effect, and so are sometimes missed by the DNA repair mechanisms in your body.  The second thing they’ve learned is that these “near-neutral” mutations now accumulate over time (because they’re not detected and removed), and the accumulating errors add up to one BIG error, which is a very big problem.

 

Juby is correct that neutral mutations are the bulk of mutations that occur and he is correct that the neutral mutations can accumulate over time. However, there is nothing that suggests the build up of neutral mutations can lead to problems, as Juby states. Since he gives no evidence of this, I feel it is safe to assume Juby has no evidence to back this claim.

Third, negative mutations (that is, mutations that are definitely bad for you) outnumber the “good” ones considerably.

 

This is also true, but natural selection weeds those mutations out, thus they are not passed down to the next generation as frequently as good mutations. I do not understand why Juby would omit this fact.

Fourth, the “beneficial” mutations (the ones that are supposedly “good” for you) are always deletions – in other words, the supposed “beneficial” mutations which you can read about in the scientific literature, are actually information in the genetic code that is LOST.

 

This is patently false. Beneficial mutations can be any of the forms of mutations that we observe (deletions, point mutation, insertions, etc…). Thus, mutations can add and subtract to the genetic code. This could be classed as another example of Juby simply lying.

So to sum all these points together, we are losing valuable information in our genetic code over time.  We are also gaining errors over time, which really means we’re losing information that way as well.  When enough of the blueprint contained in the genetic code is corrupted, your body no longer has good enough “plans” on how to build/maintain your body, and you die.  We are losing this information so fast that all life as we know it should have died off millions of years ago, if indeed we had been around that long.

 

Now we see why he had to distort and perhaps lie in his last example. It was so he can present this conclusion based on all the falsehoods presented above.

In Conclusion:

Evolution requires an infinite amount of time, and yet, even if evolution was given its required infinite amount of time, it still could not produce life.  If we had millions of years, we would lose the life we have.  It is evident that life has not been around for millions of years, and that an intelligent Creator was involved in its origin.

 

No Juby, in conclusion, you do not know the first thing about genetics, abiogenesis, and deep time or you are blatantly misrepresenting everything you know in order to spin it to suit your preconceived notions.

Coming up in lesson three:

Dinosaurs and humans step on evolution…

Of species and kinds

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Mon Feb 25, 2013 5:30 pm by he_who_is_nobody

 

One familiar argument an evolutionary proponent will encounter when dealing with creationists is the “species problem”. Essentially the argument is that there is not a definitive definition for a species. This almost inevitable argument comes up because the evolutionary proponent asks the creationist if they could define kind. Creationists believe that since biologists cannot come up with a consensus on species that applies to every organism, it gives them a free pass to not define kind.

 

The problem with this argument and the reason we have a “species problem” in biology is that different forms of life reproduce differently. For example, a definition for bacteria will not work for a population of mammals because they reproduce in a different manner. Thus, one is able to produce a robust definition of a species for organisms that reproduce sexually (i.e. reproductive isolation), but have a more fluid definition for species when it comes to asexually reproducing populations.

 

However, this is all beside the point and can be considered a red herring, thus one does not even have to address it. The main issue with this creationist argument is that the definition for kind should be vastly more robust than any definition of species. Young Earth Creationists believe that their God came to Earth, seeded all life on this planet, and made sure that each kind would reproduce after its kind. Thus, if a god(s) truly wanted to do this we would be able to see distinct genetics unique to certain kinds, which are not shared with any other animal outside of their kind. That is, there should be genetics shared only between the cat kind or dog kind that are not found in other organisms and we should not be able to find shared genetics between the two kinds.

 

Nevertheless, this is not what we see when we look into the genetics of life. Every time we look into the genome of an organism, we can see its shared life history with every other living organism on Earth. To date, we have not found a gene sequence unique to a group of organisms except at the species level, and those unique genes are what make that species different. It is this fact that is the real reason creationists refuse to define kind and would rather hide behind the “species problem” when asked to define kind. If the creationists were correct, and god(s) created different kinds then geneticists would be unable to create phylogenetic trees linking all organisms into clades based on their evolutionary history. To make this problem worse, other phylogenetic trees, based on morphology, embryology, etc…, should not be able to produce similar (statistically the same) trees. One would think that their genetics would be different, since all the kinds were created separately with no relation to the other.

 

Thus, the next time a creationist refuses to define kind, kindly remind him that comparative genetics has definitively proven universal common descent and that there have been no genetic markers to indicate that there ever were unique kinds. The “species problem” is not equivalent to the lack of a definition of kind.

Edited by Dean, 25/02/2013
Reason for edit: Minor corrections of grammar & punctuation.

First blog post

he_who_is_nobody
he_who_is_nobody
Sun Feb 17, 2013 12:33 pm by he_who_is_nobody

Seeing as how this will be my first blog post, I thought I would start by giving my CV.

I am currently a contract archaeologist; my specialty is human and faunal remains (I am not using that much today). I have been on excavations in Hawaii, Spain, and in my great state of New Mexico. I obtained my Bachelor of Science with honors in Biological Anthropology from the University of New Mexico in 2010. My senior thesis was about dental microwear on extant primate populations (it can also be used to reconstruct paleo-environments). I one day hope to return to school and continue studying skeletal anatomy, paleoecology, and cladistics. I also volunteer at my local natural history museum, which I also hope to obtain a larger role in soon (hopefully specimen preparation work and excavations). To sum it up, I like bones and fossils.

My main Ethernet hobby, as many of you already know from practically all my forum posts, is debunking creationism. With part of this blog, I am hoping to add just a little more firepower to the pro-science side of this argument, not only in biology, but also in all fields that creationism tries to distort and tamper with.

The other part of this blog I am hoping to answer general questions people have about archaeology, anthropology, and paleontology; a basic “ask an archaeologist/anthropologist/paleontologist” blog. I would welcome all questions; the main thrust of my volunteer work is answering questions from the public. Thus, any questions are welcome and will be answered by me (hopefully).

For the most part that is what I would like to blog about; I may blog about other things, such as how great New Mexico is, but look forward to creationism debunking and archeo-babble.

I guess this is enough for my first post. I hope everyone will enjoy my blog as much as I enjoy writing it.

Have a nice day. :)

NASA Reveals Discovery of Arsenic-Using Life

AndroidAR
AndroidAR
Thu Dec 02, 2010 9:47 pm by AndroidAR

NASA has announced the discovery of microbes that can replace phosphorus with arsenic, which is toxic to all other known life forms. It can substitute arsenic for phosphorus in the (normally phosphoric) backbone of its DNA and RNA, in its cell membrane, and even in its ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which is a central energy-carrying molecule in all cells.

NASA’s release: http://www.nasa.gov/home/hqnews/2010/dec/HQ_10-320_Toxic_Life.html

So, how do you think this will affect the search for life elsewhere? It might not be life on Titan (as some speculated the news release might be about), but it’s still pretty cool.

Forum topic for convenience: http://forums.leagueofreason.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=6453

On the Origin of Stupidity…

AndromedasWake
AndromedasWake
Tue Sep 22, 2009 8:26 pm by AndromedasWake

Isn’t it amazing what League of Reason bloggers get up to? Sure, some of us lead very mundane lives, doing absolutely nothing but drinking coffee and and tweeting about it. But others spend their days trying to make good use of speaker’s corner. And every so often (though arguably not often enough), one of our number produces cartoons with a very low frame-rate, that is more than made up for by the punchy writing and suspiciously brilliant voice acting.

Every week there’s some exciting new scandal involving a Leaguer, and I can’t tell you how proud this makes me. After all, scandal makes the world go round*. Perhaps then, you can imagine the smile on my face when our very own Godless-Romanian-Vampire-Gypsy-Witch captured the attention of not only atheist overlord PZ Myers, but also the Huffington Post. There’s no need for me to explain this story, when you can just watch the video after the break. Then read on…

(more…)

The Greatest Show on Earth Review

djarm67
djarm67
Fri Sep 11, 2009 3:51 am by djarm67

Hi All,

I have uploaded my review of The Greatest Show on Earth to my YouTube channel. It is a 2 parter and I will be auctioning off my copy of the book this weekend on dprjones BlogTV charity drive. Hope you enjoy my review.

In “The Greatest Show on Earth The evidence for evolution”, Richard Dawkins takes on creationists and intelligent design proponentsists whilst taking the reader on a detective trail of evidence to show why evolution through natural selection is a fact and a theory.

Part 1

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part1

Part 2

Richard Dawkins The greatest show on Earth Part 2

The details of the charity auction for Medicines sans frontiers (Doctors without borders) is here,

Dprjones BlogTV room:http://www.blogtv.com/people/dprjones

The site at which you can make donations is:

http://www.firstgiving.com/dprjonesblogtv

http://www.justgiving.com/dprjonescharityblogtvshow/

Don’t be intimidated by large donations,
simply donating what you can spare is appreciated; the small amounts make a big difference.

The website for Medicens Sans Frontiere (“MSF”):http://www.msf.org.uk/

In the US the charity (it is the same charity) is know as “Doctors without Borders”:

http://doctorswithoutborders.org/

The msfuk youtube site is here:http://www.youtube.com/user/msfuk

The eBay auctions have started and will be added to as the show date approaches:

http://tinyurl.com/m2jb3e


DJ

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