Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Ooh! A (Very, Very Long) Response...

So remember that post I wrote answering a creationist’s questions about abiogenesis? I got three PMs in response, which was actually quite surprising since they usually spam me with copy and pasted questions and then scamper off when I respond. However, as I said I will answer any question that is asked of me to the best of my abilities, regardless of whether or not I think they won’t reply, and in this case he did. Well, let’s take a look shall we?

Well, I got the answer I get from virtually every atheist or evolutionist I encounter. They say evolution has nothing to do with abiogenesis and that you can believe in evolution without having to worry about deciding where life came from. There is a huge problem here. First of all, you are overlooking the obvious fact that evolution is directly linked with abiogenesis. If there is no life, we cannot evolve from anything. If life cannot come from nonliving material, evolution is not possible. If there is no God, obviously life HAD to come into existence by itself andit HAD to be from nonliving material. Your argument that evolution has nothing to do with abiogenesis is simply incorrect.

All of the fields of biology and even science are linked in some way, that does not mean that evidence for (or lack thereof) of one discipline means that the other is false. By the same rationale you could say well the theory of evolution is directly linked with the theory of gravity, because without gravity all life would fall off the planet and float around in space, so any problems found with the theory of gravity mean evolution is a lie! Modern medicine is directly linked with evolution because without evolution there would be no vaccine development or reason to test drugs on animals, I don’t believe in evolution therefore I won’t go to the doctor! Just because the fields of science are interconnected does not mean that the evidence for them is in the way you are suggesting.

Now, onto your next attempt at answering my questions. You gave me details about a peptide being created and attempted to pass that off as life. I truly hope you were joking or maybe you were not thinking clearly because this is the most ridiculous answer I have ever gotten.If you want a more specific definition of life, how about this? A single-celled organism. Tell me where a single-celled organism has arisen in a lab from nonliving material. THAT is life. Do not give me the details about a peptide being created. That is completely ridiculous.

I am not trying to “pass” anything off as anything, I was giving an example of something that could conceivably represent a step between non-living and life, while illustrating that defining life is very difficult. Don’t the pro-lifers constantly say that IVF technicians are “creating life” every time they combine sperm and egg?

 So your definition of life is something that has a cell wall? Ham Smith and Clyde Hutchinson made a self-replicating bacteria in May 2010 at the J. Craig Venter Institute in San Diego, by chemically making its genome in the lab after having designed it in a computer. My guess is that is not going to be enough either, and you’ll change the definition of life again. The point I still don’t understand is why you are so hung up on scientists creating life as the ultimate proof of abiogenesis. Even if scientists created a frog in the lab from scratch, one that is in every way indistinguishable from a frog born from frogspawn, what would that matter? That would be nothing more than a pointless, extremely expensive endeavour, not proving or providing any evidence for abiogenesis. Ironically, the example of the self-replicating peptide is far more interesting in the scope of abiogenesis than making an animal in a lab is, but you dismiss it as “ridiculous”, which leads me to believe you actually don’t read up much on the evidence for abiogenesis as you previously claimed.

A peptide is a molecule consisting of 2 or more amino acids. Peptides are smaller than proteins, which are also chains of amino acids. Molecules small enough to be synthesized from the constituent amino acids are, by convention, called peptides rather than proteins. The dividing line is at about 50 amino acids. Depending on the number of amino acids, peptides are called dipeptides, tripeptides, tetrapeptides, and so on. These are some of the components that make up living organisms, however they are not living organisms themselves. Many experiments have been conducted attempting to create life from nonliving material using these "ingredients of life". However, they have all failed. They have even used conditions that are unrealistic in the natural world in an attmept to create living organsims. In more simplistic terminology, they were cheating in an attempt to create any sort of living organism. Sadly, even though they were using unrealistic conditions that were in their favor, they stil cannot create life.

Could you please provide your sources? What poor scientists were desperately trying to create life in an attempt to provide evidence for abiogenesis?

 I am feeling generous today, I will give you another chance to answer my question. Also, you say since scientists cannot create life, it is unreasonable to automatically assume "God did it". I am not saying it automatically proves that God did it. What I am saying is that the fact that we cannot create life is CONSISTENT with biblical scripture. It is NOT CONSISTENT with evolutionary/abiogenesis teaching. If life arose from nonliving material completely by chance, we should be able to replicate that process. However, we cannot. If God made life, we should not able to replicate that process. And guess what? We cannot create life.

Might I point out that a scientist actively creating something alive in the lab is not life “arising by chance” and therefore would still not provide the evidence that you are so desperately looking for?

And how is this consistent with biblical scripture? Does the bible say that humans will not be able to create life? And even if it did, what about all of the things that are in scripture like classifying bats as birds  or a man being able to live to see his 800th birthday, which are completely inconsistent with reality? What do those parts of the bible say to its veracity and unerring nature?

Also, in response to your attempt at answering my quetion, you gave me a false answer about the peptide being created in 1996.
Here is a quote from the website detailing your findings:

(It wouldn't let my copy and paste, but feel free to google this statement. I copied it word for word from the article detailing the 1996 experiment you discussed.)

"Because the peptide with 32 amino acids facilitates the formation of this single peptide bond, Lee claims that this peptide can self-replicate. But is this really true? To self-replicate, this peptide requires a pool of two peptides. One of these peptides has the same amino acid sequence as the first 15 amino acids in the self-replicating peptide, and the other has the amino acid sequence as the next 17 amino acids. Where do these peptides come from? In this case, they are supplied by the investigator."

Did you forget to mention that part? I think you did. Wow- scientists cannot even create self-replicating peptides from nonliving material. That is pretty sad. 

I did google it and guess what? It comes from a creationist website (of course). Not including what a creationist had to say is not forgetting, it’s omitting irrelevant information. However the fact that a creationist found Lee et al’s work to be important enough to try to butcher on their website should be an indication that it is not as “ridiculous” work as you think. If you want the real information the paper is free, which is one of the reasons I picked it, you can find it and read it yourself here 

As for you saying no scientist would say that E.Coli or anything similar to that would suddenly pop out of the ground, I completely agree with you. However, the bottom line is that there are NO examples of life coming from nonliving material in nature (The Law of Biogenesis) and we cannot create life from nonliving material in a lab.

The Law of Biogenesis, as in Pasteur circa 1860? I agree with him that spontaneous generation is not correct, but we really have come quite a way in science in the past century and a half. 

After 24 hours, I got this amusing little follow-up

You completely ignored my statements. You refused to admit that I proved scientists could not create the peptide you claimed and that your attempts at debating me have failed in every respect. You refuse to see the evidence and stubbornly hold on to nothing to support your ridiculous claims. You didn't reply to any of my arguments. You are truly pathetic.

Honey, when you have two jobs, deadlines coming up, squeezing in travel time and being a part-time youtuber and blogger, not getting back to you within a day is not called “ignoring [your] statements”, it’s called “being busy” (or “having a life”, if I want to be snarky about it).

So since you obviously have far more time on your hands than I do, why don’t you state your position a little more clearly (as well as providing the sources I asked for earlier):

1     1. What properties exactly does a bacteria possess that a self-replicating peptide does not that qualifies it as life?

         2. Why do you think creating a single-celled organism from scratch in a lab would disprove creationism and prove abiogenesis?

3  3.  How do you explain scripture that is blatantly inconsistent with reality? If your answer is “those parts are not literal”, then how do you objectively discriminate between what parts to take literally and which parts not to? If your answer is “back then those things were true/worked, they just aren’t/can’t now” then what evidence do you have of that? Has anyone been able to reproduce those ancient conditions in a lab and confirm what the bible says? (If not, by your logic, there’s a problem…)

And finally, and most importantly

        4. If you were to encounter the scientific experiment you seek, that fit all of your criteria unequivocally, would you begin to doubt creationism?

Think about that last one, because if the answer is no, there is absolutely no point in continuing to educate yourself in science or pestering scientists with questions you don’t want the answers to.

Unless you particularly enjoy building straw men and then beating them to death.

***EDITED TO ADD: I got a response back again from this guy. Apparently, pointing out that he's hanging his hat on a straw man is actually "admitting that [I'm] losing the debate". He didn't answer the questions, a part from saying that he would doubt creationism only if scientists created multi-cellular organisms every day in the lab (*facepalm*), did not address the fact that bacteria have been made repeatedly, and declared the "debate" over. As per my rule he has not responded with any new or relevant points, facts or opinions, so there goes another on the growing pile.

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