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Author Topic:   MrHambre - Abiogenesis and Origins
mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 1 of 20 (95993)
03-30-2004 1:56 PM


Dear MrHambre, in an effort to save the other topic I have brought this forward, it's a bit of a rant but I hope you can take part.

Our "belief" that life arose from non-life is based on the fact that naturalistic explanations have been sufficient to account for all other natural phenomena that have been studied. The way that previously-unsolvable mysteries of our Earth have yielded to empirical evidential inquiry gives us the confidence that abiogenesis may yield to the same methods.

In essence, you think that life came from the dust? It's good to see that you believe the Genesis in abiogenesis.

It would ofcourse, make the chance explanation complete, in that - nobody could say any longer "G-d could have used it". If it comes about solely naturally, you'll probably insist then that it is a G-dless universe and that science now favours atheism. When the scientists all enter, is it not true that they say; "first of all, we all know that there's no G-d". Yes, maybe the ToE is better off without abiogenesis afterall, if science becomes solely atheistic and even biased towards the possibility of the supernatural. Fair enough, if they don't include G-d then I'll be happy - as long as they don't imply that God = unreality.

Remember, to be truly scientific would to not insist upon an opinion of there being no G-d having any merit in regard to science, or to a scientific position. Especially when touting that science has no view on the issue. I agree, you can't make an experiment in which you can come to know the answer as to G-d's existence, but abiogenesis does step on the toes of the religious even more controversially than evolution.

To say that it is purely naturalistic and to then continue with the assumption infinitely throughout each of the mysteries of the universe also concludes no G-d - as we do not consider G-d a natural reality, but rather a supernatural reality bar Christ. For if everything comes under your favoured and often spoke of Methodological Naturalism then that is to conclude no G-d as G-d cannot come under this.

Forgive my new found religiosity in regards to G-d's name. Regards, Mike.


Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by RAZD, posted 03-30-2004 2:19 PM mike the wiz has not yet responded
 Message 3 by MrHambre, posted 03-30-2004 2:57 PM mike the wiz has responded
 Message 5 by NosyNed, posted 03-30-2004 3:45 PM mike the wiz has responded
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RAZD
Member
Posts: 19890
From: the other end of the sidewalk
Joined: 03-14-2004
Member Rating: 5.5


Message 2 of 20 (96001)
03-30-2004 2:19 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
03-30-2004 1:56 PM


beginnings
Nice post focus.

I like to think of the beginning to be slightly different than the christian model:

In the beginning was the word
And the word was "SURPRISE-ME"

I don't think you can eliminate the possibility of a supernatural beginning of a universe with the stage set for abiogenesis and evolution, but then, I'm a deist ...


we are limited in our ability to understand
by our ability to understand

RebelAAmerican.Zen[Deist
{{{Buddha walks off laughing with joy}}}


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MrHambre
Member (Idle past 285 days)
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 3 of 20 (96014)
03-30-2004 2:57 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
03-30-2004 1:56 PM


Mike,

I've never been altogether comfortable with the strict division between abiogenesis and evolution. It's perfectly reasonable to say that the evolution of all species from the first life forms is a different subject than the emergence of the first life forms themselves. However, I think that Darwin's theory illuminates the similarities between both subjects.

The origin of a contemporary species, according to Darwin, is a process of evolution from an ancestor species. There is no magic threshold that a species crosses where it assumes its species-hood, and it can be difficult to distinguish between subspecies and species. How, then, can we separate a species from the ancestor species, or from the very process by which the new species evolved? The answer is that we can't. The core of Darwinism is that such distinctions are useful but arbitrary, vestiges of the essentialism that Darwin's theory put to rest.

The same goes for the distinction between life and non-life. If we're looking for the magic point where life 'happened,' we're not likely to find it. Even in modern forms there is a Twilight Zone between life and non-life, inhabited by such things as viruses and prions. These forms aren't considered living organisms, though they share some of the biochemical machinery of true life forms. I'm not an expert on proto-biology by any means. There are plausible scenarios for the emergence of life as we know it, but the field is by definition highly speculative.

Speculation using verifiable, testable mechanisms is more responsible than speculation using supernatural fantasies. Yes, I have a thing for Methodological Naturalism, because it's the bullshit filter that has worked. Without MN we have literally no basis for limiting the field of possible mechanisms down to ones that are relevant. If I seem dogmatic in declaring that you can't do science without using MN, just look at the track record of MN in advancing our understanding of natural phenomena. If the puzzle of abiogenesis is to be solved, it will be solved using MN.

regards,
Esteban "Amino Acid Casualty" Hambre


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by mike the wiz, posted 03-30-2004 1:56 PM mike the wiz has responded

Replies to this message:
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 Message 7 by mike the wiz, posted 03-30-2004 5:38 PM MrHambre has responded

    
PaulK
Member
Posts: 15084
Joined: 01-10-2003
Member Rating: 3.3


Message 4 of 20 (96024)
03-30-2004 3:26 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by MrHambre
03-30-2004 2:57 PM


There is one very big reason for seperating abiogenesis from evolution.

The mechanisms of evolution don't come into play until you have a population of replicators. So one major step - perhaps the most difficult in abiogenesis - has to happen before evolution can even start. Some people would even make that step the boundary between life and non-life. And I can't say that they're wrong. It's as good a dividing point as any.


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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 5 of 20 (96035)
03-30-2004 3:45 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
03-30-2004 1:56 PM


Remember, to be truly scientific would to not insist upon an opinion of there being no G-d having any merit in regard to science, or to a scientific position. Especially when touting that science has no view on the issue. I agree, you can't make an experiment in which you can come to know the answer as to G-d's existence, but abiogenesis does step on the toes of the religious even more controversially than evolution.

I don't quite agree with either part of the above.

You are stuck with the fact that science can not deal with a supernatural God into thinking that it is therefor saying it doesn't exist. That's not the point. The real point is that science just doesn't deal with it. That is bound to appear to be denying the existance of God to some but that's more a side effect of the limits of what science can deal with than something intended (other than in the minds of some).

The second part about abiogenesis being more of a problem for the religious might only look that way in the context of what we know now and the fact that you understand a bit more science than others around here.

There was a time when the earth moving was a big problem for the religious. The idea of evolution of any kind at all -- any change at all, was a big problem. For some it still is.

Now other, more enlightened individuals, may not have as much trouble with that but might with abiogenesis.

Others already don't have a problem with a natural orgin of life but do with the origin of the universe.

This is all a problem with any God of the gaps type of thinking. Those who adopt this set up a long term gradual retreat from point to point. It is, apparently, not considered to be very good theology by the theologians.

Others seem to have no problem with a God that prevades all, no gaps, and allows the universe to unfold based on the way it was set up in the first place (which may not be the big bang but could go deeper than that even).

I just love the "Surprise me" line. If I was a believer at all that is the only thing I could see God doing. It is the only thing I could see entertaining a god of any kind. Otherwise a gods existance could only be one of boredom.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by mike the wiz, posted 03-30-2004 1:56 PM mike the wiz has responded

Replies to this message:
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Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 6 of 20 (96037)
03-30-2004 3:52 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by mike the wiz
03-30-2004 1:56 PM


quote:
I agree, you can't make an experiment in which you can come to know the answer as to G-d's existence, but abiogenesis does step on the toes of the religious even more controversially than evolution.

Why should science change a very successful strategy, not because it doesn't work, but because it steps on the toes of a religious sect? To me, this would be bad science, rerouting an investigation because of a personal or emotional bias.


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mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 7 of 20 (96071)
03-30-2004 5:38 PM
Reply to: Message 3 by MrHambre
03-30-2004 2:57 PM


Chance existence etc
There were a few points made, but I will respond to you firstly Sir, as the topic is concerning you.

Speculation using verifiable, testable mechanisms is more responsible than speculation using supernatural fantasies. Yes, I have a thing for Methodological Naturalism, because it's the bullshit filter that has worked.

I am not saying MN is a wrongful approach or the wrong thing to use BTW, I just don't think we should maybe apply it to everything, including mysteries or unknowns like origins of universe or life. Okay, I apreciate the position you take as to using a testable mechanism rather than taking a supernatural stance. The problem is probably something Ned mentioned. It would appear that if G-d isn't included because there is no means to apply a testable mechanism to him, then people will assume science says he doesn't exist.

But that is not my own personal situation. I just think that if we added abiogenesis to the evolution worldview then it would appear that the whole meaning of life is that of a natural perspective, and it would complete the "chance" outlook on things or even an atheistic view would seem more scientific. Afterall, at what stage are miracles included if it is all explained via MN?

The same goes for the distinction between life and non-life. If we're looking for the magic point where life 'happened,' we're not likely to find it.

Unfortunately not. Would it be a better thing to maybe remove speculation and/or have no official scientific position altogether?

Okay, I heed Loudmouth's post, he says what has a religion got to do with our investigations - good point, my problem is that I am looking at this philosophically whereas you may take a totally scientific position so I understand the point well.
I will maybe continue to see things philosophically, from my point of view, what with the media and it's programs about earth/universe - it all looks like a totally chance outlook and there seems to be an almost empty and meaningless consensus attached to everything. I assure you this is not ego speaking as I don't have much of one.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 3 by MrHambre, posted 03-30-2004 2:57 PM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 10 by MrHambre, posted 03-31-2004 7:23 AM mike the wiz has responded

  
mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 8 of 20 (96077)
03-30-2004 6:00 PM
Reply to: Message 5 by NosyNed
03-30-2004 3:45 PM


There was a time when the earth moving was a big problem for the religious. The idea of evolution of any kind at all -- any change at all, was a big problem. For some it still is.

Understood. Infact I would encourage scientific endeavour, and am aware that no view = no view, even if it looks like you are cutting out the Creator. Fair enough, don't forget though - I am not saying that science itself is biased. Though it does trouble me when only one way of thinking is allowed. To assume that abiogenesis is the case seems a slightly opinionated area, cannot we leave the door open?


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mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 9 of 20 (96263)
03-31-2004 7:03 AM


Bumped for the less of a chance deludants with a full Dan-ban included.
  
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 285 days)
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 10 of 20 (96265)
03-31-2004 7:23 AM
Reply to: Message 7 by mike the wiz
03-30-2004 5:38 PM


Mike the Wiz writes:
quote:
I heed Loudmouth's post, he says what has a religion got to do with our investigations - good point, my problem is that I am looking at this philosophically whereas you may take a totally scientific position so I understand the point well.
So why do you care whether science regards your religion as relevant to the origin of life? Philosophically, you can believe whatever makes you feel good. However, science depends on testable, verifiable, falsifiable hypotheses.

Methodological naturalism doesn't care whether everything that is verifable and testable is all that exists, or whether it's a subset of everything that exists. MN (science) can only deal with things that can be investigated through empirical evidential inquiry. God is among those phenomena that don't yield to scientific research, so don't expect science to give you a basis for belief in God.

regards,
Esteban Hambre


This message is a reply to:
 Message 7 by mike the wiz, posted 03-30-2004 5:38 PM mike the wiz has responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 11 by mike the wiz, posted 03-31-2004 7:56 AM MrHambre has responded

    
mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 11 of 20 (96270)
03-31-2004 7:56 AM
Reply to: Message 10 by MrHambre
03-31-2004 7:23 AM


So why do you care whether science regards your religion as relevant to the origin of life?

I don't care too much. I care that if we maybe assume that MN is the case or abiogenesis - it would fit a more "chance" like outlook among people, as already it seems this becomes almost the way when I see programs on the universe etc.

God is among those phenomena that don't yield to scientific research, so don't expect science to give you a basis for belief in God.

But shouldn't you be saying that because G-d is among phenomena that don't yield to scientific research don't expect a basis for belief or unbelief in G-d from science?

So many times here I've been told that science has no opinion on G-d, yet this quote interests me, would you suggest that scientifically a belief in G-d is not correct?

You see it's not G-d in particular, him not being a part of science doesn't bother me, but if we assume that a naturalistic means is the only possibility for life to emerge, that almost suggests or = no G-d, and/or a "chance" existence. If there was evidence for abiogenesis, that says a natural process is what happened then this debate wouldn't matter, but as you say, if we can't see what happens at the time then why assume only a naturalistic position? Surely you hold a possibility in your own mind if this cannot be solved by science?


This message is a reply to:
 Message 10 by MrHambre, posted 03-31-2004 7:23 AM MrHambre has responded

Replies to this message:
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 Message 13 by MrHambre, posted 03-31-2004 11:22 AM mike the wiz has not yet responded
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NosyNed
Member
Posts: 8842
From: Canada
Joined: 04-04-2003


Message 12 of 20 (96317)
03-31-2004 11:01 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by mike the wiz
03-31-2004 7:56 AM


If there was evidence for abiogenesis, that says a natural process is what happened then this debate wouldn't matter, but as you say, if we can't see what happens at the time then why assume only a naturalistic position? Surely you hold a possibility in your own mind if this cannot be solved by science?

It is easy to mix up individuals views with what the appropriate general position should be. Some of us atheists are willing to make the jump to "no god" from the "no god so far" state. This is based on our personal view that not only is methodological naturalism a good way to answer questions (which is science) but also our view that there isn't anything but the natural (which isn't science it is just our personal view).

When you hear some of us talking (and Dawkin's is a better stong example) you can be excused for mixing what is a general approach and what is personal.

To bring this back to the topic:

While abiogenesis is mostly unanswered anyone may say God had a direct, specific hand in it. However many believers would suggest that this is a misunderstanding of how God works with things. They suggest either he has a hand in everything in some God-like way or He chooses to allow the universe to unfold before him after starting it.

To keep putting God only into cases of occasional miracles runs the risk of leaving no room for God when each of the cases is explained.

Abiogenesis is one such place. Creationists may be safe in that it might be hard to pin point the precise path from non life to life but they may be at risk when you consider what we have explained so far.

It was only about 7 decades ago the one man was able to say he understood how the sun shines and no one else did. Go back a century or three and the idea that we could understand such things would have seemed as unlikely as we now might think understanding abiogenesis in precise detail is.

Creationists certainly have their credibility at risk (as if there is much left) since the whole probablility arguement and many others will collapse as we get to understand one or more viable possilbe paths from non-life to life.

They will, of course, then fall back on the "OH YEA! Sez who? You weren't there!" argument. Which works for some people but is so clearly silly to many it will just force more marginalization.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by mike the wiz, posted 03-31-2004 7:56 AM mike the wiz has not yet responded

  
MrHambre
Member (Idle past 285 days)
Posts: 1494
From: Framingham, MA, USA
Joined: 06-23-2003


Message 13 of 20 (96327)
03-31-2004 11:22 AM
Reply to: Message 11 by mike the wiz
03-31-2004 7:56 AM


At Home in the Universe
Mike,

Whatever. If science's inability to comment on the existence or non-existence of pretend invisible entities sounds like a reason not to not believe in them, you get the green light. However, science functions according to the universal application of natural law, so without empirical evidence you can't claim a 'belief' is scientific. And I never mentioned 'chance,' since I don't think it's a meaningful explanation, so quit using the term.

It's not that science assumes that naturalistic processes are the only ones that could conceivably be responsible for natural phenomena. It's that science couldn't deal with any processes that aren't naturalistic. If you think non-naturalistic mechanisms (whatever they may be) account for abiogenesis, you'll have to devise a methodology that could demonstrate this. Keep in mind that MN has led us to a greater understanding of disease, the weather, celestial motion, heredity, fermentation, and a slew of other former mysteries. I'm not aware of any such advances in our understanding of natural phenomena that propose supernatural mechanisms.

Like I said, I'm not an expert on abiogenesis, but there are naturalistic processes that are being explored to account for the phenomenon. Stuart Kauffman has proposed that principles of self-organization may account for the autocatalysis of the original biochemical reactions, and there's some lab support for his proposals. Using naturalistic mechanisms, we can get closer to a definition of the phenomenon of abiogenesis, keep or discard hypotheses through empirical testing, and hopefully solve the mystery. By talking about God, miracles, and supernatural forces, you don't solve anything.

regards,
Esteban Hambre


This message is a reply to:
 Message 11 by mike the wiz, posted 03-31-2004 7:56 AM mike the wiz has not yet responded

    
Loudmouth
Inactive Member


Message 14 of 20 (96335)
03-31-2004 12:13 PM
Reply to: Message 11 by mike the wiz
03-31-2004 7:56 AM


quote:
So many times here I've been told that science has no opinion on G-d, yet this quote interests me, would you suggest that scientifically a belief in G-d is not correct?

Not to belittle anyones faith, but your post could have been rephrased to read "would you suggest that scientifically a preference for blondes is not correct?" Religious beliefs come down to a type of personal preference (a stronger preference than hair color I would presume, just using an example). Science does not deal with personal preference or religious belief, only with what affects the natural world/phenomena. I could also ask if it is theologically correct to prefer lush rainforests to an arid desert. No theology that I know of demands that its followers prefer rainforests to deserts.

quote:
but if we assume that a naturalistic means is the only possibility for life to emerge, that almost suggests or = no G-d, and/or a "chance" existence.

It is just suggesting that God did not act through supernatural mechanisms to create life but instead relied on the natural laws that were set up during the creation of the universe during the Big Bang. There is room for a belief in God within abiogenesis. Maybe not as large a role as some would want, but a role nonetheless.

As far as life being a product of "chance", stating this disregards the vast amount of chance that we experience every day. Your genetic makeup is due to chance, due to the random shuffling of genes during meiosis of both your father's sperm and your mother's egg. The country and city you were born in could be considered chance. Just a personal example, there is a beautiful mountain range near where I live called the Sawtooths. To me, these are some of the most beautiful mountains in the world. However, these were formed by random mechanisms of uplift and erosion. Just because chance was part of their formation does not detract from their beauty. To sum up, chance is not a bad thing but rather something we live with from minute to minute and we still love life regardless. There is no reason to be a control freak is what I am trying to say.


This message is a reply to:
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mike the wiz
Member
Posts: 4656
From: u.k
Joined: 05-24-2003


Message 15 of 20 (96340)
03-31-2004 12:48 PM


You win
Okay guys you win, both Loudmouth MrHambre and nosyNed have convinced me that methodological naturalism is the best way to investigate the case. I'm willing to admitt that science cannot deal with the supernatural - you win MrHambre.

Also - I'm getting into an area I didn't really want to get into, I think I am digging my own grave. I honestly do not mind that God is not included in science as that is simply not it's purpose. If evolution is happening it is most definatlely happening in the wiz-box. I like the hard-line truth of science - "swallow it, cos it's the way it is" - that indicates the search for truth to my mind.

Ned also mentioned something very significant in his intelligent post, he said (to the effect) that even if abiogenesis did happen it could be a "set-up" universe.
You guys are so close to making me an evo' right now I can almost completely give in. It's the logic that is the most sensible that lures me in, and it only seems to happen when the evolutionists speak.


Replies to this message:
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