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Author Topic:   The Grand Theory of Life
Modulous
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Posts: 6420
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


(1)
Message 1 of 77 (539306)
12-14-2009 9:00 PM


I would like to start this thread unorthodoxly. I hereby nominate Message 99 to be one of the greatest posts of 2009.

In the thread Help in teaching 11-12 Year olds (RE (Religious Education) in the UK), an interesting subtopic emerged. It has been thrashed about a lot, and Peg has brought it up often. Creationists often attempt to undermine abiogenesis research in an attempt to show evolution as a theory without a solid foundation.

Evolutionists counter that by suggesting the two ideas are logically distinct from one another - you could have evolution happen after a special creation event or alien seeding or time travelling scientist creating a handy closed time loop or what have you) and you could have a natural origin of life without subsequent evolution.

As Peg has said in Message 42:

Peg writes:

the{y} are not disctinct {sic} because logically, you cannot have evolution without first having origins

So what do we do?

I say that the scientific method, by its very nature, must start with investigating separate phenomena, unifying them later. I will highlight this point by prefacing my argument with a poem.

WHAT SCIENCE SAYS TO TRUTH

As is the mainland to the sea,

Thou art to me;

Thou standest stable, while against thy feet

I beat, I beat!

Yet from thy cliffs so sheer, so tall,
Sands crumble and fall;
And golden grains of thee my tides each day
Carry away.
--William Watson

Newton

I need not labour on the history here. Newton discovered certain laws of motion. Before Newton there were two planes: the earthly and the heavenly. Each plane required different models to discuss. On earth we had to work to get things to happen. In the heavens, the heavenly bodies never slowed, except for a handful which did some interesting things.
Newton's work allowed us to talk about the motion of the planets in the same terms as we talk about the motion of a plough.
It turns out, from Newton's work, that the thing that causes the planets to move the way they do is the same thing that causes apples to fall off trees! This is a mind blowing concept, taken for granted by us now.

Before Newton, it wasn't that we knew nothing about motion, stellar or earthly. But Newton unified the two fields and this is typically seen as a good thing.

Electricity

We have known something of electricity as a species for a long time. We really started getting to grips with describing it starting with William Gilbert in the 17th Century. rsted and Ampre independently showed there was a relationship between electricity and magnetism centuries later. And then of course, Maxwell came along and gave us a unification of optics, electricity and magnetism in one set of equations.

cavediver's post discusses some part of the quest for a grand unification in physics so that all physical things can be described in one consistent framework. I think he would agree, as would just about any other physicist: when it comes, it isn't likely to overturn everything we already knew...just explain how it ties together.

The Grand Theory of Life

The physics history gives us a lesson: Theories are grown gradually by building knowledge. Seemingly independent branches come together and this is a good thing. But the knowledge of those branches isn't erased by the unification! The descriptions of the motions of the planets were not false just because Newton described them using a set of equations that also explains falling apples! Nor were Galileo's descriptions about the way apples behave suddenly wrong.

There is no reason to think that finding the Grand Theory of Life will prove what we know about evolution false. If we find out that simple earth life was specially created by some agent, it would still be true that Chimpanzees are related to Humans, and the explanation as to how that could be would still hold.

That we do not have a Unified Theory for the History of All Life on Earth is not in any way evidence that evolution is on shaky grounds. Science proceeds by growing knowledge and spotting patterns and connecting dots and slowly, slowly seeing the bigger picture. We don't need the bigger picture to be confident of some parts of it - if we did there would be no way to proceed at all and science would be useless! And when it comes to life, most of the picture is its evolution.

Is it Science?

Edited by Modulous, : No reason given.


Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by cavediver, posted 12-15-2009 6:02 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply
 Message 4 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 3:58 AM Modulous has responded
 Message 14 by Briterican, posted 12-17-2009 3:54 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
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Message 2 of 77 (539366)
12-15-2009 11:59 AM


Thread Copied from Proposed New Topics Forum
Thread copied here from the The Grand Theory of Life thread in the Proposed New Topics forum.
  
cavediver
Member (Idle past 106 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 3 of 77 (539427)
12-15-2009 6:02 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
12-14-2009 9:00 PM


Well, I clicked your link with interest to see what gem had prompted your praise, and All I can say is that I'm just off-loading the subject I love - given that EvC is strictly a debate site, I feel a bit of a fraud

I think [cavediver] would agree... ...when [the theory of everything] comes, it isn't likely to overturn everything we already knew...just explain how it ties together.

Exactly. All of our theories, whether in physics, chemistry, or biology, are merely explanatory mechanisms - explaining *how*. Anti-evolutionists regularly reveal their confusion by assigning "motive" to these theories - none so blatently than bolder-dash with his recent accusation claiming that the Theory of Evolution was poor science in its attempting to explain both how and *why*, in contrast to all other theories in science.

Edited by cavediver, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 12-14-2009 9:00 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

  
Peg
Member (Idle past 1393 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 4 of 77 (539460)
12-16-2009 3:58 AM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
12-14-2009 9:00 PM


Hi Modulous

Modulous writes:

There is no reason to think that finding the Grand Theory of Life will prove what we know about evolution false.

In some way, the understanding of molecular biology does put evolution on shakey ground because even the simplest life forms are extremely complex making it highly unlikely that they developed without guidance in an organic soup.

complexity does not come together by chance

Some scientists have shown thru experiments that life cannot originate by chance...that in itself puts evolution (basic lifeforms advancing to more complex lifeforms) in doubt.

Modulous writes:

If we find out that simple earth life was specially created by some agent, it would still be true that Chimpanzees are related to Humans

there is no such thing as 'simple' life....its all very complicated and even though you know that, you will continue to be led by the idea that complicated life is the result of slow evolution. Why?

I thought scientists were supposed to be the ones who look for evidence before they believed a particular theory. In the case of evolution, the theory has come before the evidence...its as if the theory blinds people to the real evidence.

Modulous writes:

and the explanation as to how that could be would still hold.

So if the study into abiogenesis shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that life could NOT have arisen in a primordial soup, you are still absolutely certain that the ToE will hold true???

that is a blind faith you have right there.

Edited by Peg, : 'not' added in last paragraph


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 12-14-2009 9:00 PM Modulous has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 5 by cavediver, posted 12-16-2009 4:22 AM Peg has responded
 Message 6 by Granny Magda, posted 12-16-2009 4:58 AM Peg has not yet responded
 Message 9 by Modulous, posted 12-16-2009 9:58 AM Peg has responded
 Message 12 by Briterican, posted 12-17-2009 3:18 PM Peg has not yet responded
 Message 42 by Iblis, posted 12-20-2009 4:49 PM Peg has responded
 Message 52 by Hyroglyphx, posted 12-23-2009 10:07 PM Peg has not yet responded

    
cavediver
Member (Idle past 106 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 5 of 77 (539464)
12-16-2009 4:22 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Peg
12-16-2009 3:58 AM


Oh, Peg, I have never seen a post so affirming of an OP

In some way, the understanding of molecular biology does put evolution on shakey ground because even the simplest life forms are extremely complex making it highly unlikely that they developed without guidance in an organic soup.

Organic soup -> Abiogenesis
Evolution -> *NOT* Abiogenesis

Mod is pointing out that evolution and abiogenesis are completely separate scientific areas, yet are constantly conflated by creationists - and here you are doing it again.

So if the study into abiogenesis shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that life could have arisen in a primordial soup, you are still absolutely certain that the ToE will hold true???

And again

If the study into abiogenesis shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that life could have arisen in a primordial soup, then it says NOTHING about evolution. Evolution stands and falls on its own evidence. It doesn't require and it doesn't imply abiogenesis.

By the end of this topic, you will appreciate this or we will die trying...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 3:58 AM Peg has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 7 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 5:55 AM cavediver has responded

  
Granny Magda
Member (Idle past 29 days)
Posts: 2284
From: UK
Joined: 11-12-2007


(1)
Message 6 of 77 (539470)
12-16-2009 4:58 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Peg
12-16-2009 3:58 AM


Hi Peg,

This thread seems like a good place to respond to a message deemed off-topic when it was first posted. The original has been hidden, so here it is again;

Peg writes:

Granny Magda writes:

Could you at least give me some kind of signal that you understand what I'm saying? Even if you disagree, it would be nice to know that you are getting my point here.

Yes, i do get the point. Evolution is the development of the species after life somehow appeared on earth.

But do you also understand that life must have begun on the molecular level before natural selection could have selected any animals to survive and reproduce offspring?

Granny Magda writes:

I asked how you can demonstrate that evolution requires a natural origin.

isnt a natural origin what evolution is all about? Isnt that why evolution is so fiercly contested by creationists?

Granny Magda writes:

I'm trying to get at the fact that many possible origins are compatible with evolution, both natural and supernatural. Do you see where I'm coming from?

Yes i can.

And if, by evolution, you are refering to the 'variations' found within a species, then i dont have a problem with it. I know species of animals develop over time and show different features.

But if your version of evolution includes the idea that species can develop so much change that they become a new species, then i dont believe that there is any evidence for that.

Granny Magda writes:

Supernatural explanations have an appalling track record in explaining the world. Historically, supernatural explanations have only ever been proved wrong. This alone is good enough reason to expect every phenomenon, including life, to have a naturalistic explanation.

I agree that many creation storys are rediculous...but not so with the bibles creation account which is why I accept it over other stories such as Brahman for instance.

The bible creation account shows animals created according to their 'kinds' and going forth to multiply. this is in perfect harmony with what breeding projects have found with regard to species. Species reproduce according their parents.

So,

Yes, i do get the point. Evolution is the development of the species after life somehow appeared on earth.

Hallelujah! By George, I think she's got it!

But do you also understand that life must have begun on the molecular level before natural selection could have selected any animals to survive and reproduce offspring?

Absolutely. We are in complete agreement here. Life, or at the least, imperfect replicators, must emerge before evolution as we know it can take place.

isnt a natural origin what evolution is all about? Isnt that why evolution is so fiercly contested by creationists?

Now this is the bit I disagree with.

Evolution is not about a "natural origin". Evolution itself is either a real aspect of the natural world or it is not. It is not "about" anything. It merely is.

The Theory of Evolution is not about a "natural origin" either. It is about explaining certain qualities of living things. The ToE seeks to describe realities about biology. It seeks to do this as accurately as possible. That's it. It has no other purpose.

I would also like to point out that science deals with natural phenomena because it is unable to deal with the supernatural. Thus, any scientific treatment of abiogenesis/origins will inevitably be interested in a natural origin, because that's all science can tackle.

As for why creationists object to evolution, you tell me, but as far as I can tell, the main reason is because one of the origin stories that is not compatible with evolution is the one in Genesis. That seems to be the main bone of contention. One cannot believe in a literal Genesis and a mainstream ToE. The ToE is compatible with many different origins but one thing it is not consistent with is humanity being created in our current form at the dawn of the Earth.

I hope this makes my position clearer. The rest of your post is better dealt with in the species/kinds thread, so I will pass on that for now.

I will just say one more thing in response to the post above;

Some scientists have shown thru experiments that life cannot originate by chance...

No, they simply haven't been successful in creating life so far. That is not the same as proving it impossible.

Mutate and Survive


"A curious aspect of the theory of evolution is that everybody thinks he understands it." - Jacques Monod
This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 3:58 AM Peg has not yet responded

    
Peg
Member (Idle past 1393 days)
Posts: 2703
From: melbourne, australia
Joined: 11-22-2008


Message 7 of 77 (539474)
12-16-2009 5:55 AM
Reply to: Message 5 by cavediver
12-16-2009 4:22 AM


cavediver writes:

Evolution stands and falls on its own evidence. It doesn't require and it doesn't imply abiogenesis.

i dont think thats quite the case (and i meant if abiogenesis is proved to 'not' be possible so i fixed it)

there is definately changes occuring in species, but those changes are within the species...they have not been proved to create new completely different life forms.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 5 by cavediver, posted 12-16-2009 4:22 AM cavediver has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 8 by cavediver, posted 12-16-2009 7:17 AM Peg has not yet responded

    
cavediver
Member (Idle past 106 days)
Posts: 4129
From: UK
Joined: 06-16-2005


Message 8 of 77 (539484)
12-16-2009 7:17 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by Peg
12-16-2009 5:55 AM


and i meant if abiogenesis is proved to 'not' be possible so i fixed it

Ok, thanks for the clarification

there is definately changes occuring in species

Yep

but those changes are within the species

No, not just within species - we have observed speciation, as many creationists acknowledge (ICR) - but we don't need to argue that here, so I'll accept that that is your argument and that's fine

they have not been proved to create new completely different life forms

Here, we'd really need to bash out what you mean by different life forms, and how we probably wouldn't expect this with evolution anyway - but again, I accept that this is your argument and that's fine.

But what on earth does any of this have to do with abiogenesis?

If "chemical soup" abiogenesis was proved to be impossible, and let's go further and say it was proved that in fact the first life was made up of complex cells that were created by god, then what on earth does this say about the ability of those created cells to evolve? Nothing...

To repeat:

Evolution stands and falls on its own evidence. It doesn't require and it doesn't imply abiogenesis.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 5:55 AM Peg has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by ICANT, posted 12-17-2009 1:20 PM cavediver has not yet responded

  
Modulous
Member
Posts: 6420
From: Manchester, UK
Joined: 05-01-2005
Member Rating: 1.3


Message 9 of 77 (539504)
12-16-2009 9:58 AM
Reply to: Message 4 by Peg
12-16-2009 3:58 AM


In some way, the understanding of molecular biology does put evolution on shakey ground because even the simplest life forms are extremely complex making it highly unlikely that they developed without guidance in an organic soup.

Seems like you know what the simplest life form possible is - not just the simplest presently living one. Care to illuminate me?

Some scientists have shown thru experiments that life cannot originate by chance...that in itself puts evolution (basic lifeforms advancing to more complex lifeforms) in doubt.

1. Which scientists, which experiments?
2. Did you read anything I wrote which explained how special creation of basic lifeforms doesn't necessarily cause problems for evolution? It is the topic.

So if the study into abiogenesis shows beyond any shadow of a doubt that life could NOT have arisen in a primordial soup, you are still absolutely certain that the ToE will hold true???

Absolutely certain? No. So certain that I'm prepared to eat a hat should I be wrong? Yes.

that is a blind faith you have right there.

Hi Peg. I see you didn't address any of the points I raised in my opening post. Maybe you can show me your famous open mindedness by doing so?
I showed you how when theories that science has not connected together yet into one seemless whole, it is not a sign that the parts are gratuitously incorrect. When they connect, we don't throw out the ideas before hand. That was central part of the thesis and you ignored it to repeat your position. I know your position, deal with mine.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 3:58 AM Peg has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 43 by Peg, posted 12-21-2009 6:44 AM Modulous has responded

    
1.61803
Member
Posts: 2325
From: Lone Star State USA
Joined: 02-19-2004
Member Rating: 1.6


Message 10 of 77 (539589)
12-17-2009 12:46 PM


whats it all about>
That we do not have a Unified Theory for the History of All Life on Earth is not in any way evidence that evolution is on shaky grounds.

I can not understand how anyone would want to trash everything we know in a effort to perserve beliefs?

The list of what we know is growing, but with each new discovery formulates new and more interesting questions.

Here are a few of mine:
1. what explaination do we have for the fundalmental forces of nature. Are they simply a emergent property of the big bang?

2. Energy is equal to mass, so all things with mass have energy.
what is energy? Is it as well a emergent property of the big bang?

3. Is conciousness through the evolution of the brain the end all for energy to comptemplate itself? And to what purpose?


  
ICANT
Member (Idle past 63 days)
Posts: 5182
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 11 of 77 (539594)
12-17-2009 1:20 PM
Reply to: Message 8 by cavediver
12-16-2009 7:17 AM


Re: Life
Hi cavediver,

cavediver writes:

Evolution stands and falls on its own evidence. It doesn't require and it doesn't imply abiogenesis.

Would you agree that for evolution to take place you would first need a life form?

cavediver writes:

If "chemical soup" abiogenesis was proved to be impossible, and let's go further and say it was proved that in fact the first life was made up of complex cells that were created by god, then what on earth does this say about the ability of those created cells to evolve? Nothing...

Would you agree that if abiogenesis is impossible there would be no life form to evolve?

Would you agree that if the God of Genesis created all the different kinds as stated in Genesis there would be no need for evolution beyond that which is observed and reproducible in a species?

God Bless,


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
This message is a reply to:
 Message 8 by cavediver, posted 12-16-2009 7:17 AM cavediver has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
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Briterican
Member (Idle past 412 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 12 of 77 (539605)
12-17-2009 3:18 PM
Reply to: Message 4 by Peg
12-16-2009 3:58 AM


Natural selection is the opposite of chance
Peg writes:

complexity does not come together by chance

The process of natural selection is not governed by chance at all. Mutations can come about by chance, geological incidents (meteor/comet impacts) can come about by chance, even the universe itself on an atomic level has some weird element of quantum "chance" that cavediver could probably explain quite nicely. But natural selection, the primary driving force behind the gradual emergence of greater degrees of complexity, is certainly not chance.

Miller sees natural selection as one of the essential paths to complex life forms. Such a mechanism gives species the ability to filter out what doesnt work and leave what does. Professor Miller echoes this notion, saying Natural selection is a distinctly non-random process that acts as a sieve through which genetic changes are filtered. Just as a sieve filled with various rocks will not end up filtering out its contents randomly, natural selection does not filter organisms randomly.

source at forthesakeofscience.wordpress.com

Edited by Briterican, : Added Peg's name to the first quote.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 4 by Peg, posted 12-16-2009 3:58 AM Peg has not yet responded

    
Briterican
Member (Idle past 412 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 13 of 77 (539608)
12-17-2009 3:35 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by ICANT
12-17-2009 1:20 PM


Re: Life
Note: ICANT's questions were directed at cavediver, I just can't help but give my opinions as well.

ICANT writes:

Would you agree that if abiogenesis is impossible there would be no life form to evolve?

This equates to "Would you agree that if no life came to exist then there would be no life form to evolve? ... which just doesn't make sense. Of course if no life form came to exist then there would be no life form to evolve.

ICANT writes:

Would you agree that if the God of Genesis created all the different kinds as stated in Genesis there would be no need for evolution beyond that which is observed and reproducible in a species?

What if the planet is hit by a comet tomorrow and only a very few creatures survived? In order for those creatures to survive over another vast millions of years (like the ones preceding us did), they would have to adapt to a new environment, and natural selection would take hold with a dramatically different set of variables to work with.

A proper contemplation of the vast backdrop of geological time available on this planet prior to our emergence is necessary in order to envision the process of natural selection.

The above example is only intended as a hypothetical "wipe the slate clean" situation, with the intent of asking you: "What would happen then?" Do YOU think that natural selection would, over a vast stretch of future time, lead to new species and greater complexity? Or would God have to show up and save the day in some fashion?

Edited by Briterican, : Clarified opening disclaimer.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by ICANT, posted 12-17-2009 1:20 PM ICANT has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 15 by ICANT, posted 12-17-2009 4:22 PM Briterican has responded

    
Briterican
Member (Idle past 412 days)
Posts: 340
Joined: 05-29-2008


Message 14 of 77 (539609)
12-17-2009 3:54 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by Modulous
12-14-2009 9:00 PM


Spot on
Modulous writes:

That we do not have a Unified Theory for the History of All Life on Earth is not in any way evidence that evolution is on shaky grounds. Science proceeds by growing knowledge and spotting patterns and connecting dots and slowly, slowly seeing the bigger picture. We don't need the bigger picture to be confident of some parts of it - if we did there would be no way to proceed at all and science would be useless! And when it comes to life, most of the picture is its evolution.

Spot on and worth repeating here. In fact this point comes up on so very many threads and yet never seems to sink in.

We may never be able to fully evidence the mechanisms behind abiogenesis, but we have now a great deal of understanding about evolution.

cavediver writes:

Evolution stands and falls on its own evidence. It doesn't require and it doesn't imply abiogenesis.

By the end of this topic, you will appreciate this or we will die trying...


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by Modulous, posted 12-14-2009 9:00 PM Modulous has acknowledged this reply

    
ICANT
Member (Idle past 63 days)
Posts: 5182
From: SSC
Joined: 03-12-2007


Message 15 of 77 (539613)
12-17-2009 4:22 PM
Reply to: Message 13 by Briterican
12-17-2009 3:35 PM


Re: Life
Hi Briterican,

Glad to see you agree if there is no life there is nothing to evolve.

But was disapointed at the second part where you stated my question then just went into an example and ask me a question.

I probably should not answer your question until you answer mine but what the heck.

Briterican writes:

Do YOU think that natural selection would, over a vast stretch of future time, lead to new species and greater complexity? Or would God have to show up and save the day in some fashion?

1. Well since I believe God created all the different kinds in the beginning and there was no need for evolution except what is observed and reproducible within the kinds, I do not believe natural selection would ever replace anything.

2. When the heavens and the earth melt with fervent heat God will create a new heaven and earth and refurnish it.

But there have been many times over the history of the earth that there was extinction events that took place. Then all of a sudden a lot of new life forms appeared. Not super long periods of time.

God did not stop creating until about 6,000 years ago.

God Bless,


"John 5:39 (KJS) Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me."
This message is a reply to:
 Message 13 by Briterican, posted 12-17-2009 3:35 PM Briterican has responded

Replies to this message:
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