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Author Topic:   Biogenesis
Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 956 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 249 of 312 (478016)
08-11-2008 1:41 AM
Reply to: Message 247 by AlphaOmegakid
08-10-2008 6:53 PM


Re: OoL Cartoons Excite the Faith of Evo's
AlphaOmegakid writes:

2. The video starts by making this statement...

Get this one thing straight! The origin of life, abiogenesis, has NOTHING to do with the Theory of Evolution.

Yeah. Right. Why then do you (the video maker) and Dr. Szostak invoke evolution so early on in the process of abiogenesis.

I'm just guessing here, but I think the reason would be similar to the desire that physicists have to come up with a unified theory, which would bring quantum mechanics and general relativity together into a single, coherent, consistent whole. The ToE has been firmly established by evidence from existing, observable life and from the fossil records of life in the past, and it does not make any assertions about how life began in the first place. Given that this theory is firmly established and evolutionary mechanisms are increasingly well understood, it's important that any attempt to explain how life began in the first place should be unified with the ToE, by describing a progression from raw materials and first principles, through stages that are demonstrable or explainable as being consistent with known physical processes, to yield the cellular forms that are the fundamental units of evolution. A theory of origins that does not connect thoroughly and coherently with the ToE would be no good at all.

AlphaOmegakid writes:

This cartoon, is NOT PLAUSIBLE. You people have been advocating that this stuff is plausible, but the good Dr. is not so brazen. He is searching for plausibility. Yet you have the audacity to submit this as scientific evidence. This crap should definitely be kept out of the schools.

With this statement, and several others throughout this thread (belief in angels, assertion that life was created by the God of the Bible), you've made it clear that you do not want to see any critical, reasoned, evidence-based discussion of the origins of life presented in science classrooms.

You say you feel this way because you think that discussions of models such as Dr. Szostak's are no less faith-based than your own personal beliefs. You refuse to acknowledge the supporting evidence, the experimentation, and the attention to physical details that motivate and support Szostak's models. I expect that if you paid closer attention to the details, and noticed changes, adjustments or alternate versions of the models, you would criticize this as just more equivocation, more weaseling to side-step falsifiability, rather than recognizing it as an essential part of the scientific process that it is.

In effect, you are not willing to submit your own beliefs to the same scrutiny and critical thinking that is always necessarily applied to the ToE, to Szostak's or similar models of life origins, to general relativity, quantum mechanics, and so on. In other words, you want the schools to reject scientific topics because they conflict with your personal religious beliefs.

I respect and credit your position with regard to this important point: you are clearly not proposing that your religious beliefs should be taught in science classrooms. But you seem to be appealing to a misguided (or warped) sense of "fairness": "if my Judeo-Christian beliefs about life origins cannot be taught in science class, then neither can anything that contradicts my beliefs." With all due respect, that's outrageous and preposterous -- it puts us back to the trials of Galileo and Scopes. Is that where you want us to go? Must your tolerance of critical thinking really be so limited?

(I would agree with a proposal that the Biblical creation story can be taught in public schools -- in a social studies class where all creation mythologies are given fair consideration, and critical thinking can be applied more freely on logical, ethical and esthetic grounds, without the requirements of scientific rigor and physical evidence.)

My apologies if my comments seem like an ad hominem attack. My intent is not to criticize you personally, but simply to clarify the manner in which you exemplify so much of the argumentation from people who, because of their personal religious beliefs, persistently reject non-religious explanations of reality.


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 247 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 08-10-2008 6:53 PM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

Otto Tellick
Member (Idle past 956 days)
Posts: 288
From: PA, USA
Joined: 02-17-2008


Message 289 of 312 (478565)
08-17-2008 7:39 PM
Reply to: Message 287 by AlphaOmegakid
08-16-2008 3:26 PM


Re: What does AlphaOmegakid really want?
The following sentiment has appeared several times (with a few minor variations in wording) in AOkid's posts on this thread:

AlphaOmegakid writes:

I don't have a problem if you and others want to pursue your religion, just don't teach it to my kids.

So, just to clear up the nature of the issues being argued here, I'd like AOkid to provide a direct and honest answer to the following question:

When a student in a U.S. public school asks "How did life begin on Earth?", what response would you like the science teacher to give?

  1. The answer is found in the Holy Bible, so you should look it up there.

  2. So far, the answer can only be guessed at on the basis of what we currently know about physics, chemistry, biology, and the first third or so of Earth's 4.5-billion-year history; a few different theories about the origin of life are being actively researched, and are being revised as more information becomes available, so we can look at how these theories differ, how they are changing, and what is still in doubt.

  3. We cannot discuss the question in this classroom, because it cannot be answered without violating the first amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which, among other things, bars the government from establishing any religion.

AOkid: if you really, honestly pick door #3, you are doing your kids a serious disservice (and you risk violating another important part of the first amendment: the right to freedom of speech). Choice #3 would simply be another example of how religious dogma (disguised as "consideration" for fundamentalist Christian beliefs) can be used to stifle learning, and it is simply wrong-headed.

If you are inclined to pick door #1, then you are in fact asking for a direct violation of the establishment clause in the first amendment, and there will be many more people (including me) saying that we don't want anything of that sort in our public schools.

Let me state this very clearly: door #2 is not a violation of the establishment clause, for it is not in any way a form of religious indoctrination or a presentation of religious doctrine. If that choice is completely unacceptable to you, and if you honestly don't want any of the other choices, what do you want the teacher to say?

Edited to add: I suppose we could consider a fourth choice -- which is really just a slight variation on choice #3 -- where the teacher says "there is no way to discuss the origin of life in a science class, because any attempt to answer this question is intrinsically a matter of faith or religion." I suppose this might be close to the sentiment that AOkid is trying to push, and much of the effort expended by others in this thread has been to clarify how and why this is a false assertion. There are ways to pose and explore the question scientifically, without basing our conclusions on faith; most of the vitriol on both sides of the discussion has arisen because of AOkid's singular inability to see (or unwillingness to acknowledge) this fact.

Edited by Otto Tellick, : Added last paragraph.

Edited by Otto Tellick, : a minor addition to the added paragraph.

Edited by Otto Tellick, : No reason given.


autotelic adj. (of an entity or event) having within itself the purpose of its existence or happening.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 287 by AlphaOmegakid, posted 08-16-2008 3:26 PM AlphaOmegakid has not yet responded

Replies to this message:
 Message 291 by dokukaeru, posted 08-17-2008 8:55 PM Otto Tellick has not yet responded

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