Conversation With An Atheist
By Jack Wellman |
Posted 8:47 am on July 05, 2010
I have authored three books, and my first one is on Apologetics called “Blind Chance or Intelligent Design?, Empirical Methodologies and the Bible” and an excerpt from that book was an article I published on Associated Content, called Richard Dawkins, Climbing Mount Improbable - Blind Chance or Intelligent Design? And what follows is a very lively discussion that I had with a learned and very intellectual evolutionist and atheist, about the theory of evolution and humans inability to create life. His first comment is in response to my article. His first response is to my article on Dr. Dawkins and his subsequent responses are in italics. My answers are in the regular font, while the evolutionist's are in italics.
“Has anyone ever identified anything in the universe that was uncaused?”
Only a person with absolutely no knowledge of quantum mechanics could ask such a question, because at the quantum level, uncaused events are happening all the time.
Sir, let me say this in response to your statement. Amino acids come in two forms called right and left-handed because one is a mirror image of the other. Proteins which contain all left-handed amino acids will connect correctly with the surrounding proteins. However, if a right-handed amino acid is included, the shape of the protein is changed and the protein will not work in a living cell. Scientists have not been able to cause amino acids dissolved in water to join together to form proteins. The energy-requiring chemical reactions that join amino acids are reversible and do not occur spontaneously in water. The conclusion is that even in extreme laboratory conditions humans have still not been able to create a living organism from non-living inorganic matter. If indeed “uncaused events” are happening all the time, then I might ask, what was the cause of quantum mechanics effects and its capabilities? You simply cannot have an effect without a cause, in this case, the quantum mechanics. Even the word “mechanics” infers a mechanism is involved. Mechanisms infer a cause. Mechanisms produce effects. It takes us back to square one. Cause must necessarily precede effect.
“What was the cause of quantum mechanics capabilities” you asked. You simply can not have an effect without a cause, in this case, the quantum mechanics.”
What is your basis for claiming that quantum mechanics must have a cause? Quantum mechanics is not an event or an effect. It is a description of the physical world. Part of that description is the observation that some events are not precipitated by any “cause”. This observation belies your statement that “You simply can not have an effect without a cause”.
Your statements about the stereochemistry of amino acids is a non sequitur to my point about quantum mechanics. But since you mention it, you are incorrect in stating that “if a right-handed amino acid is included, the shape of the protein is changed and the protein will not work in a living cell.” Some bacteria use dextrorotary amino acids, without any difficulty.
From what I understand, the very origin of homochirality (the synthesis of homiciral amino acids) is the focus of science concerning the origin of life, true? The fact is that non-optically pure mixtures of sugars or amino acids can not, stand alone, be used to make proteins and the RNA and DNA that are absolutely essential to make a living organism from a non-living one and have it become a cell-dividing prokaryote. That is the point. Scientists can not create life nor can they explain the origin of life. Neither can science use experimental processes to reproduce any naturalistic origin of life.
They have failed to produce amino acids or sugars to create Ribonucleic acid, which directs the manufacturing of and building of proteins and necessary codes for the genome that is present in certain organisms as well as the Deoxyribonucleic acid, a chemical residing inside the nucleus of cells which carries genetic instructions which are necessarily required to make living organisms. In what study have these two acids joined to create a new living organism? Surely we would have seen this in Time or Newsweek, somewhere, right?! I would like to see what experimental evidence or scientific reports have claimed to have scientists create a living organism that is self-sustaining and becomes a cell-dividing prokaryotes (called binary fission).
“From what I understand, the very origin of homochirality (the synthesis of homiciral amino acids) is the focus of science concerning the origin of life, true?”
False. Scientists exploring early life are looking at a number of things. It would be inaccurate to say that homochirality is the “focus” of this area. Additionally, we already know a great deal about how homochiral peptides form. For one thing, a simple peptide replicator (which can have as few as eight amino acids) can amplify the proportion of a single-handedness in an initially random mixture of dextrorotary and levorotary fragments. We also know that some amino acids (notably serine) form stable homochiral clusters. These clusters can form the template for homochiral heteropeptides, through a substitution reaction.
The larger point, however, is that because science is a dynamic field, there is always more to learn. There are now, and may always be, unanswered questions in science. But through the process of scientific investigation, we have learned vast amounts about the development of life on Earth. It is an invalid criticism to say (as you seem to) that because science cannot (yet) explain some things, the many things that science does explain should be disregarded.
The literal translation or meaning of science is “knowledge” and this knowledge is always changing, yet scientists in experiments have failed to create life on their own after multiple decades of attempts and millions upon millions of dollars in experiential endeavors. Science is in a constant state of change, just as is knowledge. Revising here, overturning this hypothesis and so on. That is the point of this article. Scientific theories and evolutionists continue to hold to this day that life began in the oceans from a concentrated organic complex from which particular chemicals “randomly or accidentally” produced life. Yet there remains no conclusive evidence that life emerged spontaneously or by happenstance. So again the fact that there is no conclusive proof remains and so we can openly ask; what experimental evidence or scientific reports have revealed that scientists have ever created a living organism that is self-sustaining and becomes a cell-dividing prokaryotes (called binary fission)? The answer is of course, zilch.
“Scientists in experiments have failed to create life on their own after multiple decades of attempts and millions upon millions of dollars in experiential endeavors.” That’s it? Really? That’s your basis for denying the evidence for evolution–the fact that scientists have not yet synthesized an artificial cell? By that logic, since scientists have spent so much more time, effort, and money trying to create a sustained nuclear fusion reaction without success, you must likewise conclude that a sustained nuclear fusion reaction is impossible, right?
Of course, nothing you have said so far, not one single thing, calls into question in even the slightest way, all the things that science has learned about how life has developed on Earth. Once again, it is an invalid criticism to say that because science cannot yet explain some things, the many things that science does explain should be disregarded. You certainly have provided no reasonable basis for discounting all the things that science has learned.
By the way, the premise of your flawed argument is likewise flawed: you seem to be imagining that there has been a vast effort over the years to synthesize a cell. That is simply not true. While some researchers have investigated prebiotic systems over the years, these investigations have been nowhere near the scale of such efforts as sequencing the human genome or investigating the causes of cancer.
Sir, you stated that my “basis for denying the evidence for evolution [is] the fact that scientists have not yet synthesized an artificial cell?” and “That’s it? Really?”
No, I’m afraid that’s not it. That’s not all. It's only a fraction of the reason that evolution remains inconclusive in proof. There are reasons based in biology, archeology, paleontology, etc, e.g., paleontologists, archeologists and evolutionists have long pointed out the problem for the evolution theory, chiefly that all the major groups (phyla) of life which we know today appear in the Cambrian with no evolutionary ancestors. This is why evolutionists refer to it as an “explosion” of evolution. There are no groups which have been identified as ancestral to any of the phyla, and geologically these phyla seem to have appeared suddenly and simultaneously. The evolutionary conundrum is this absence of ancestors. Each of the phyla represents a basic blueprint, or unique body plan. Evolution’s deepest paradox is that in rock layers above the Cambrian no new or different body plans appear. What is found are compound eyes, intricate appendages, all completely formed already. Plants already appearing fully flowered, all already highly complex.
Why haven’t we seen any new animal body plans continued to crawl out of the evolutionary cauldron during the past “hundreds of millions” of years? Or why haven’t we seen new appendages, more new species? According to evolutional theory, enormous and radical evolutionary changes have taken place in this time, and evolution has half a billion” years? The starfish, for example, has shown no evolutionary changes at all, none whatsoever. 95% of all known fossils are of invertebrates, do these same invertebrates appear gradually? Absolutely not, they appear in the Cambrian, and in an already fully mature state.
So no, I’m afraid that’s not it. There is so much more “roaring silence” in the inability proof of evolution.
Incidentally, there actually “has been a vast effort over the years to synthesize a cell.” And despite the vast amounts of money spent on experiments and research, no hard evidence has been produced about how any RNA could evolve into a complete simple living cell. That fact remains..
Oops: American scientists (Craig Venter) announced yesterday [May 5th, 2010] that they have created a new life form in a test tube. Although rudimentary (single cell organism) is has vast implications. How say you now?
Reactions to Venter’s accomplishment have been mixed–while it has been trumpeted as the creation of artificial life, many scientists said the reaction was overblown, and took issue with Venter’s claim of having created a truly synthetic cell. Here, we round up a selection of responses from all corners of the science world.
But many experts say that since Venter copied a pre-existing genome, he didn’t really create a new life form.
“To my mind Craig has somewhat overplayed the importance of this,” said David Baltimore, a leading geneticist at Caltech. Dr. Baltimore described the result as “a technical tour de force” but not breakthrough science, but just a matter of scale…. “He has not created life, only mimicked it,” Dr. Baltimore said in The New York Times. 
In addition, many experts note that the experimenters got a big boost by placing the synthetic genome in a preexisting cell, which was naturally inclined to make sense of the transplanted DNA and to turn genes on and off. Thus, they say, it’s not accurate to label the experiment’s product a true “synthetic cell.”
So a preexisting cell was necessary and it is not accurate to label the experiment’s product a true “synthetic cell.” So it is not a true synthetic cell. It is only a mimic. It is mislabeled as a "new life form". It is not one at all, but a mimic and one that of necessity, had to use the copy of the genome of an already, existing cell and not a cell of its own making. Yes, oops. Oops to a new life form that is.
That is the last I heard from this gentleman…for now.
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