Conversation With An Atheist

I have authored three books, and my first one is on Apologetics called Blind Chance or Intelligent Design?, Empirical Methodologies and the Bibleand 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.[1]

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. [2]

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.

1. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/

2. http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/80beats/2010/05/20/did-craig-venter-just-create-synthetic-life-the-jury-is-decidedly-out/#more-15116

30 Comments

  1. arizona_d said:

    “major groups (phyla) of life which we know today appear in the Cambrian with no evolutionary ancestors.” The appearance of mineralized skeletons came about in the Precambrian, which would mean finding fossils of soft bodied organisms, they do not fossilize well. Considering the unique conditions it takes to fossilize bone, and the low percentage of bones that actually make it to the surface when a paleontologist happens to walk by and see it, we are lucky to have any. Needless to say this makes the fossils of this soft-bodied ancestors a little harder to find, and one would assume a good majority of soft bodied organisms would have been broken down and consumed by other co-existing organisms. The explosion did show a great amount of added diversity, but the explosion was in quantity, not speed, the Cambrian explosion lasted some 20-30 million years, perhaps even longer, this is a significant length of time you fail to acknowledge… which is plenty of time those very small early organisms to have evolved, considering the amount of changes other organisms underwent in shorter spans of time, this is not a problem, there is no controversy with in the science community as to if evolution happens but as to how, you are deliberately misinforming people of that nonsense. Evolutionary change has no foresight, just variation. The degree of genetic variation is different for each breeding population, some are diverse others are not. However, if the design is successful the morphology is expected to remain fairly steady, natural selection will be harsh to those with to much variation in the particular design, extra fins, ect… with changes still happening in the genetic diversity, without effecting a successful design… starfish, sharks, crocodile have had an obviously successful design, but you see a great deal of variation, not all starfish look alike nor sharks or crocodile. To deny that we have no evidence of transitional forms, happening across multiple species, is ignorant. The roaring silence seems to emanate from between your ears, much like a seashell I would image. I await your denial, I mean response.

    July 5, 2010
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  2. said:

    I will not respond in kind to your remark and I am sorry you have to resort to insults, e.g., “The roaring silence seems to emanate from between your ears, much like a seashell I would image. I await your denial, I mean response.” My response would be to take just one example of what I was writing about: Worm Burrows, which have been found in rocks that dated 1.1 billion-years-old. These complex worms are still around today…and they remain virtually unchanged from the Cambrian period. There have been no DNA changes, no body or structural changes…in 1.1 billion years in these Worm Burrows…absolutely no evolvement has been seen at all. None. To this day, they remain single-celled creatures. If evolution is said to be slow, this is so slow as to be at a stand stil. Furthermore, the most abundant life on earth is thought to have originated in the oceans. Going from single-celled organisms, to single-celled colonies to colonial organisms (like sponges), then eventually to some fish-like organism. However, transitional fossil evidence has never been found to support this hypothesis. If fish evolved and gradually grew legs to walk out of the ocean, I think it strange that there is no fossil evidence of it. Then, they developed complex lung structures, but again, no archeological record of it. The leap was from Amphibian to Reptiles to Birds. But nothing in the fossil records has ever been found to support this assumption. The outer membranes went to reptiles’ scales then advanced to evolve into bird’s feathers, and later into fur and into hairs for other species. But once more, there is no evidence. Faulty assumptions lead to faulty conclusions? The fossil evidence for plants is just as invisible. There remains not ONE SINGLE FOSSIL SERIES that is needed and necessary to support the phylogenetic trees that are supposed to explain the origin of plant life. Assumptions must prop it up…since fossil evidence can‘t support it.

    July 5, 2010
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  3. RickK101 said:

    There are several obvious mistakes and logical fallacies in your article. But since this site apparently doesn’t publish comments, you are protected from the strain of an actual public discussion. But I’d suggest that you not pat yourself on the back too much until you’ve actually weathered criticism and defended your views in an open, transparent forum.

    July 5, 2010
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  4. said:

    Dear RickK101; Indeed they DO allow comments, but the moderators, not me, approve all comments for content to ensure that there is no spam, nor inappropriate words or words that are normally censored on most forms of media. It just takes time is all. Thanks for your comment.

    July 5, 2010
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  5. TheBicyclingGuitarist said:

    Hello Jack. You said in one of your replies to a comment that “If fish evolved and gradually grew legs to walk out of the ocean, I think it strange that there is no fossil evidence of it.” Haven’t you heard of Tiktaalik? It is stunning proof of the predictive and explanatory power of evolution. There are also many fossils showing a clear transition from land animals to whales (including whales with legs), from reptiles to birds, and from apes to humans (although technically we are still apes, in fact we are highly derived fish). You seem way out of touch with what evidence exists that evolution happens. It is quite possibly the most well-proven fact known to modern man. Your position is as untenable as if you were to insist the earth is flat in spite of all evidence to the contrary. It really is that obvious. Would ANY amount of evidence be sufficient for you to admit humans share common ancestry with monkeys? IF you are a sincere seeker of truth, please educate yourself before spreading such misinformation as you do.

    July 6, 2010
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  6. Bobby Funn said:

    I am surprised to hear you state “That is the last I heard from this gentleman…for now”, since I made additional comments that are still posted: http://www.ministrymaker.com/richard-dawkins-climbing-mount-improbable-blind-chance-or-intelligent-design I made one additional comment, which you deleted, but which I will repeat here. In response to your statement “It comes down to the fact that humans can not create life; in fact they are created themselves. That God is the prerequisite of the creation of life and by Him alone is it possible. God = 1, humans = 0. That is the final score”, I replied: “Humans could not fly . . . until Kitty Hawk. Humans could not split the atom . . . until Rutherford did it. Humans could not travel to the Moon . . . until the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base. It is folly to assume that what we cannot do today, we will not be able to do tomorrow. By pinning your hopes on science advancing no farther, you are doomed to disappointment, because science continues to expand our knowledge. It has been so since the dawn of the Age of Reason, and it will continue to be so for many years to come.” Incidentally, you incorrectly attribute to me the statement about Venter’s research results. That statement was made by Joe Blogg.

    July 6, 2010
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  7. arizona_d said:

    “I will not respond in kind to your remark and I am sorry you have to resort to insults” First off, my comment was not an insult, I played off of your quote, AND it was an observation based on your ignorance in these topics, and this forum provides an opportunity to prove my observation incorrect. You did not, and still have not, taken advantage of that opportunity. DNA from the Cambrian???? Your lack of knowledge on these subject is shocking. Someone has extracted a complete DNA genome from a worm, dated to the Cambrian? Stop misleading people… please. It is harmful to our medical and science fields, the results being less doctors less scientist. It stems from a childhood of listening to people, like you, giving false, half, or misinformation in a deliberate attempt to further what? Your congregation? Your faith? Your god? It all seems selfish of you, and whatever religious view you’re pushing as the alternative to real science. If you keep aligning your faith alongside science, science will only leave you hanging on in denial… The supernatural explanation is a lazy one, incomplete and incoherent. It is also not nearly as wonderful as a natural one, admittedly not as emotionally fulfilling but at least it is the best truth we can know and explain without resorting to pseudoscience. What does this have to do with non-theism? It seems more like Conversations with a Non-Christian rather than atheist like the title states, considering the catholic church, has no conflict with the fact of evolution. (They argue over the point in which the soul became ‘inserted’ for lack of a better word. You’re obviously an author, not a biologist, theologian, paleontologist, astrophysicist, but you cut and paste abilities are not to be underscored.

    July 6, 2010
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  8. arizona_d said:

    since I now know the speed of the comments posted here… It would help you, if you were to list a source, for all this false information you are attempting to spread, but since none of them are supported by any respectable member of the scientific community, we both know this is not going to happen. Since 1973 there have been over 100,000 peer review piece of literature, that support the theory of evolution, and 1 that supported the creationism, thats 100,000 to 1 and I am being very generous here, since the paper was refuted one year later. (100,000 to 0 currently) The paper, if you are interested was, “Simulating evolution by gene duplication of protein features that require multiple amino acid residues” 2004 by Behe & Snoke. Its refutation was by M.D. Lynch with his paper “Simple evolutionary pathways to complex proteins” 2005.

    July 6, 2010
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  9. said:

    You want a source. Try Darwin himself. The Cambrian explosion or Cambrian radiation was the relatively rapid appearance, over a period of many million years, of most major groups of complex animals around 530 million years ago, as found in the fossil record. This was accompanied by a major diversification of other organisms, including animals, phytoplankton, and calcimicrobes. Before about 580 million years ago, most organisms were simple, composed of individual cells occasionally organized into colonies. Over the following 70 or 80 million years the rate of evolution accelerated by an order of magnitude (as defined in terms of the extinction and origination rate of species) and the diversity of life began to resemble today’s. The Cambrian explosion has generated extensive scientific debate. The seemingly rapid appearance of fossils in the “Primordial Strata” was noted as early as the mid 19th century, and Charles Darwin saw it as one of the main objections that could be made against his theory of evolution by natural selection. [1] 1. Darwin, C (1859). On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection. Murray, London, United Kingdom. pp. 315–316. ISBN 1602061440. Or try wikipedia: The long-running puzzlement about the appearance of the Cambrian fauna, seemingly abruptly and from nowhere, centers on three key points: whether there really was a mass diversification of complex organisms over a relatively short period of time during the early Cambrian; what might have caused such rapid change; and what it would imply about the origin and evolution of animals. Interpretation is difficult due to a limited supply of evidence, based mainly on an incomplete fossil record and chemical signatures left in Cambrian rocks. 1. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cambrian_explosion

    July 6, 2010
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  10. said:

    I might add that one can believe in evolution and still be a Christian or not believe in it and still be a Christian. It is non-essential to salvation in Jesus Christ (Acts 4:12) and this conversation deviated from the original article about Dr. Venter’s false claim to have created life. That is the thing that can not be disputed, if you read the article here on it.

    July 6, 2010
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  11. Bobby Funn said:

    I am the person you are referring to in this post. The reason that you did not hear further from me is that you started deleting my comments. The parts of our conversation that you did not delete may be found here: http://www.ministrymaker.com/richard-dawkins-climbing-mount-improbable-blind-chance-or-intelligent-design If you are willing to refrain from deleting it now, I can re-post here my response to the last point you made in our earlier conversation. You said: “It comes down to the fact that humans can not create life . . . That God is the prerequisite of the creation of life and by Him alone is it possible. God = 1, humans = 0. That is the final score.” My response was that Humans could not fly . . . until Kitty Hawk. Humans could not split the atom . . . until Rutherford did it. Humans could not travel to the Moon . . . until the Eagle landed at Tranquility Base. It is folly to assume that what we cannot do today, we will not be able to do tomorrow. By pinning your hopes on science advancing no farther, you are doomed to disappointment, because science continues to expand our knowledge. It has been so since the dawn of the Age of Reason, and it will continue to be so for many years to come.

    July 7, 2010
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  12. Bobby Funn said:

    I should also point out that the statement regarding Venter’s research was not made by me. You are mistaken in attributing that to me. The point that I was making, and that you never were able to rebut, is that it is an invalid argument to say that because scientists have yet to synthesize a cell completely from scratch, the modern evolutionary synthesis is incorrect. The conclusion does not follow from that premise.

    July 7, 2010
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  13. RickK101 said:

    All right then, Mr. Wellman – Since you’re responding to comments, let’s talk about this. Every day DNA is used to answer important life questions like: Will my baby be born with a terrible deformity? Is this bit of flesh found at the WTC all that is left of my father? Does this man belong on death row? Is this stranger really my birth mother? These are important questions. The same DNA says you share a common ancestor with the chimpanzee at your local zoo. Do you agree?

    July 7, 2010
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  14. Duderman said:

    Quoting “If fish evolved and gradually grew legs to walk out of the ocean, I think it strange that there is no fossil evidence of it. Then, they developed complex lung structures, but again, no archeological record of it.” This is completley untrue; here is the name of just one transitional fossil, the most famous, Tiktaalik. If you honestly research this fossil and other transitional forms you will see a chain of about a dozen transition fossils between fish and tetrapods. As far as fish developing lungs we can see existing examples of them alive today, they are called lungfish. This all very basic information and denying it’s very existence raises a number of questions.

    July 7, 2010
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  15. said:

    Dear Mr. Funn, I did not nor have I ever deleted any comments on this site nor on the previous site. When the article is moved off the prime page, the comments are closed. As for this site, I think this also might be the case. Anyway, I have never deleted any articles as any site that I have ever written at. I’m sorry that you thought so.

    July 7, 2010
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  16. RickK101 said:

    I submitted an earlier comment that was not posted. I will try once more to “join the conversation”, as this website says. Wellman claims that the fact that scientists have been unable to create life from scratch in the past 50 years somehow proves that life couldn’t have evolved naturally in the past 4 billion years. OK, let’s set aside the absurdity of this argument and take it seriously for a minute. First, we know species evolve from earlier species. We’ve too much evidence in DNA, the fossil record, species morphology, molecular biology, biogeography, ativisms, vestigial species, Lenski-type evolutionary experiments and field study to deny that species do evolve. I sincerely hope that Mr. Wellman will not deny this simple conclusion. So Mr. Wellman focuses on the Cambrian “explosion”. He says that because evolution hasn’t occurred in a constant manner over time, and that some species show less evolutionary change than others, that somehow the mechanisms of evolution are suspect. Wellman employed the logical fallacy (or debating trick) known as the “Strawman”. Wellman painted a simplistic, incorrect version of evolution and then said – “see, my examples don’t fit evolution”. But nobody in the past 80 years has argued that evolution happens at a constant rate across all species. So Wellman’s argument is a complete failure. Wellman arbitrarily selects “phyla” as a demarcation point and says “no new phyla have evolved since the Cambrian.” So what? ALL LAND PLANTS AND ANIMALS have evolved since the Cambrian, so it’s a little silly to suggest that somehow evolution hasn’t been actively producing new stuff for the past 500 million years. Another failure for Mr. Wellman. Mr. Wellman also employs the tired old tactic of calling evolution into question because scientists in the past 50 years haven’t yet repeated the origin of first life that occurred billions of years ago over millions of years of time. This is an interesting hurdle to set. I assume Mr. Wellman employs the same logic regarding the Big Bang – “I won’t believe the universe started with a rapid expansion until scientists recreate the Big Bang.” Mr. Wellman must make quite the juror: “Your honor, I can’t find the accused guilty until I witness him murdering someone.” Of course, Mr. Wellman’s “origin of life” issues have no bearing on the fact that current species evolved from earlier species. But the origin of life topic IS interesting. Let’s look at what we HAVE learned: In the past 50 years we’ve determined that complex organic molecules can be created through natural processes, that complex organic molecules exist in nature, that the numbers tell us that all life originated from a common ancestor, that self-replicating molecules can be created under conditions consistent with the early Earth, and that self-replicating molecules, when allowed to replicate, undergo Darwinian evolution. And finally, we’ve determined that a genome can be completely created synthetically, thus opening the door to creating synthetic life. That’s really not bad progress for 50 years. Given that progress, I think it is arrogant and disingenuous to assume that any question not yet answered today will never be answered, and therefore we must invoke divine causation. Mr. Wellman – species evolve. Natural phenomena have natural causes. Deal with it. Accept it. Stop twisting your arguments and compromising your intellectual integrity trying to prove something false that is true.

    July 8, 2010
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  17. said:

    Friends, I AM not blocking anything here at all. This is not a debate forum. The article about Dr. Venter is not my opinion. His claim has not be validated nor is it accepted by the general scientific community. I suggest that you try Bible Forums as it has the Creationist-Evolutionists threads on it to debate these things and by much more learned men then me. I think that this blog site is not set up for a debate forum. There exists several of these sites on the web. Perhaps you can go to the links that I provided from the scientists themselves and their reports for they are the ones you disagree with. I quoted them precisely so this is not my opinion, but just the fact of their reports and research.

    July 8, 2010
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  18. Ebonmuse said:

    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… 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?” Jack, this is just a total misunderstanding of how evolution works. Richard Dawkins had a helpful analogy for people suffering from this form of confusion: “Suppose you have a great oak tree with huge limbs at the base and smaller and smaller branches toward the outer layers where finally there are just lots and lots of little twigs. Obviously the little tiny twigs appeared most recently. The larger boughs appeared a long time ago and when they did appear, they were little twigs. What would you think if a gardener said, ‘Isn’t it funny that no major boughs have appeared on this tree in recent years, only small twigs?'” The phyla are like the twigs on Dawkins’ tree. Originally, back in the Cambrian, they were very similar to each other. But over great spans of geological time, they’ve diverged farther and farther, and what were originally slight differences became accentuated by evolution to fit the varying lifestyles to which their descendants adapted. Today, the living representatives of these groups have major differences from each other, and looking all the way back, we can see how those differences developed from what were originally slight distinctions. In that sense, it’s fair to say that the “fundamental body plans” first appeared in the Cambrian. But that’s not the same thing as saying that the earliest members of these groups were radically different when they lived side by side. When you say that “all the major groups” of life were present during the Cambrian, an uninformed person might think you meant that things like frogs, lizards, fish, birds, mammals, etc. all suddenly appeared in that time frame. In fact, all vertebrates were represented in the Cambrian by a single known species: Pikaia, a one-inch-long free-swimming worm with a bundle of nerve fibers running the length of its back. That species, or one very like it, is the ancestor of every living vertebrate, even though it has almost no resemblance to anything alive today. Much the same holds true for the other phyla, whose Cambrian representatives were weird creatures very much unlike any modern species. We can discern the patterns of descent only by a few telltale diagnostic traits.

    July 9, 2010
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  19. Duderman said:

    “This is not a debate forum. The article about Dr. Venter is not my opinion. His claim has not be validated nor is it accepted by the general scientific community. I suggest that you try Bible Forums as it has the Creationist-Evolutionists threads on it to debate these things and by much more learned men then me.” I’m not sure I understand your problem, if you don’t want comments on your article don’t post it in a media forum that is basically all about comments and interactions. You seem eager to respond to comments but not so eager to take responsibility for the blatant disinformation included by you in your article. But this is not really surprising.

    July 9, 2010
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  20. said:

    This is the way a typically so-called transitional fossil is exposed as a fraud. The way that Ventastega is described, it sounds like it had the head of Tiktaalik, and the body of Acanthostega. This describes a mosaic form, which merely has structures that can be found in more than one animal. This is not demonstrative of an evolutionary lineage, but is merely an attempt to fit unresponsive data into an evolutionary strait jacket, and claiming it as evidence for evolution. Read for your self. ReMine, W.R., The Biotic Message, St Paul Science, St Paul, MN, pp. 289–290, 1993. Further, Tiktaalik’s fin was not connected to the main skeleton, so could not have supported its weight on land. The discoverers claim that this could have helped to prop up the body as the fish moved along a water bottom,3 but evolutionists had similar high hopes for the coelacanth fin. However, when a LIVING coelacanth (Latimeria chalumnae) was discovered in 1938, the fins turned out not to be used for walking but for deft maneuvering when swimming. Shubin, N.H., Daeschler, E.B. and Jenkins, F.A., Jr, The pectoral fin of Tiktaalik roseae and the origin of the tetrapod limb, Nature 440(7085):764-771, 6 April 2006 This makes absolutely no sense that “the [Pikaia] species, or one very like it (theoretical I see), is the ancestor of every living vertebrate, even though it has almost no resemblance to anything alive today. Okay, we are supposed to believe that it is the ancestor of “every living thing”, even though it has “almost no resemblance to anything alive today.” Not a good argument at all I’m afraid.

    July 9, 2010
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  21. Ebonmuse said:

    The way that Ventastega is described, it sounds like it had the head of Tiktaalik, and the body of Acanthostega. This describes a mosaic form, which merely has structures that can be found in more than one animal.” Why is that word “merely” there? That’s exactly what a transitional form is: a species that has a mosaic of characteristics, some of which are typical of its ancestors, others of which are more typical of its descendants. Archaeopteryx, for example, has a very reptilian skeleton, but was covered with feathers. Ambulocetus, an ancestor of whales and dolphins, has a cetacean skull, but still had legs. Human ancestors like Lucy or the recently-discovered Ardipithecus ramidus have brains only slightly larger than a chimpanzee’s, but stood and walked upright on two legs. “Further, Tiktaalik’s fin was not connected to the main skeleton, so could not have supported its weight on land.” Partially correct. Tiktaalik’s limbs were clearly weight-bearing – it has a wrist joint, for example – but it also had fins, rather than toes. It’s probably true that it couldn’t have walked on land, at least not very well or for very long. That’s not a problem, though, because that’s not what limbs evolved for in the first place. Tiktaalik lived in a swampy habitat, where regular algae blooms sucked the oxygen out of the water much as they do today. In such surroundings, a regular fish wouldn’t be able to use its gills and would suffocate. Tiktaalik, however, could use its legs to push itself up out of the water and raise its head into the air to breathe (it had lungs as well as legs). It also could have “walked” along the bottom in murky or fast-flowing water, which, again, is how some species of fish still get around today. “This makes absolutely no sense that “the [Pikaia] species, or one very like it (theoretical I see), is the ancestor of every living vertebrate, even though it has almost no resemblance to anything alive today.” Why does that make no sense? As I’m sure you’ll recall, we’re discussing evolution, which means change over time. And the Cambrian was a very long time ago indeed.

    July 10, 2010
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  22. RickK101 said:

    Mr. Wellman – instead of dishonestly insinuating there are no transitional fossils, instead of sniping at evolution, please summarize for us YOUR explanation of the fossil record. Please summarize for us how YOU think humans and chimps, for example, formed to have such similar DNA. What is YOUR theory? And remember, your theory, to be more valid than evolution, must do a better job than evolution at explaining the evidence we see in all the areas I listed in my earlier post.

    July 10, 2010
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  23. said:

    You said that the “Pikaia, species, or one very [much] like it, is the ancestor of every living vertebrate, even though it has almost no resemblance to anything alive today.” You and some evolutionists also suggest that Pikaia, which is a Cambrian chordate, was the ancestor of all vertebrates too. And so you, evolutionists, and biologists had expected to see something that would link a primitive ancestor to the middle Cambrian animal Pikaia. Explain the archeological evidence that Pikaia had a less-complex ancestor then. Nanjing Institute of Geology and Paleontology’s Jun-Yuan Chen and his team instead found a chordate that already displayed many vertebrate characteristics 15 million years earlier in a dig in China, so your statement that “Pikaia, a Cambrian chordate, was the ancestor of all vertebrates” doesn’t fit the evidence. Read for yourself Dr. Fred Heeren’s, “A little fish challenges a giant of science,” article (Boston Globe, 30 May 2000, p. E1.). The belief that Pikala is a perfect Cambrian living thing which was claimed as a transitional form fossil is a absolutely false.

    July 10, 2010
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  24. said:

    RickK101, further studies in the 21st Century by evolutionists have confirmed that the comparison of chimp and human DNA is down from 98% to 95% today. So this reasoning is not a very convincing number when you realize that 5% difference is 150 million DNA pairs! Irises and dandelions have more in common than humans and monkeys do. And the fact that animals, not just chimps, share 95% of the DNA, doesn’t mean they’re 95% human. Irises and humans have 25% of the same DNA, so based upon your faulty logic, we should be at least 1/4th part Iris. Incidentally, you failed to mention the fact that the genetic code for protein-coding genes is nearly universal in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Millions of alternative genetic codes exist, so why do all organisms have nearly the same one? Because they are nearly universal in all living orgainisms. Thus, your argument is not valid. Its like saying that dandelions evolved out of Irises, which clearly they did not, since they existed simultaneously and still do today, just as humans and chimps or apes have existed simultaneously and still do today.

    July 10, 2010
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  25. Bobby Funn said:

    First of all, ReMine’s book does not appear to be a peer-reviewed publication. It carries no scientific weight. Second of all, if Tiktaalik was “exposed as a fraud” by ReMine in this book, then that was a pretty impressive trick, since this book was published in 1993 but Tiktaalik was not discovered until 2004. Perhaps Tiktaalik appeared to DeMine in a dream, a dozen years before his fossil was discovered. As for the following claim by you: “Dear Mr. Funn, I did not nor have I ever deleted any comments on this site nor on the previous site. When the article is moved off the prime page, the comments are closed.” I made a screen shot of the page in question today, showing that the comments of this page are open even now. I can e-mail this screen shot to anyone who would like to see it. Your excuse that the comments were closed on that page is demonstrably false. A small point, but it is worth letting others know the level of honesty and integrity we may expect from you.

    July 11, 2010
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  26. said:

    My comment, “Dear Mr. Funn, I did not nor have I ever deleted any comments on this site nor on the previous site. When the article is moved off the prime page, the comments are closed.” Then you said, “I am the person you are referring to in this post. The reason that you did not hear further from me is that you started deleting my comments. The parts of our conversation that you did not delete may be found here: http://www.ministrymaker.com/richard-dawkins-climbing-mount-improbable-blind-chance-or-intelligent-design If you are willing to refrain from deleting it now, I can re-post here my response to the last point you made in our earlier conversation.” Mr. Funn, the site you referred to is the one that I did not delete any comments and said my original comment that once it moves off that main or homepage, then they close i

    July 11, 2010
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  27. Ebonmuse said:

    And so you, evolutionists, and biologists had expected to see something that would link a primitive ancestor to the middle Cambrian animal Pikaia. Explain the archeological evidence that Pikaia had a less-complex ancestor then.” Easily done: Haikouella isn’t an ancestor of Pikaia. You’ve jumped to the erroneous conclusion that a species living at time X must necessarily have been the ancestor of a species at time X+Y. If you really want to understand this, Jack, I’m happy to explain it. Evolution rarely, if ever, works in a single, smooth trajectory of change – species A changes into species B, which changes into species C, and so on. Instead, what we usually see is a path of descent like a branching bush: species A radiates into species B1, B2, B3… and so on. Most of these go extinct, but B2, say, speciates into C1, C2, and C3, and again, some of the daughter species go extinct and others diverge in their own ways. But species don’t have fixed lifespans, and there’s nothing to dictate how long a particular species will survive before it goes extinct. There may still be living species from the A or B generation existing side-by-side with far more advanced descendants. It’s like having an uncle who’s younger than you: for humans, it’s unusual but certainly possible. But in evolution, it’s downright common. For obvious reasons, it’s difficult to reconstruct an exact line of descent from fossils, just as you probably couldn’t put together an exact family tree just by looking at photographs. It’s possible that either Pikaia or Haikouella is the common ancestor of all vertebrates, or it may be another species we haven’t discovered yet. But what’s certain is that evolution was doing a lot of experimenting with chordates in the Cambrian, and what’s equally certain is that we came from one of those lineages, because true vertebrates – primitive fish called ostracoderms – start appearing in the Late Cambrian and then in greater variety in the next period, the Ordovician. This was why I wrote “Pikaia or one very like it” – all this detail is what lies behind that little phrase. “Irises and humans have 25% of the same DNA, so based upon your faulty logic, we should be at least 1/4th part Iris.” It would be more accurate to say that irises and humans are very similar when it comes to the most basic functions of life, which is true, and is a prediction of evolution via universal common descent. Really, why are you so surprised by this? Sure, irises and humans don’t look much alike, but at the lowest levels of organization, we have a lot in common. We’re both made out of eukaryotic cells. We both store genetic information in DNA, copy it into messenger RNA, and transcribe that RNA into proteins. We both use ATP as the cellular currency of energy. We both share basic components of cellular metabolism like glycolysis and the Krebs cycle. We have these and many other traits in common because we (that is to say, animals and plants) are both descended from an ancestral eukaryote that did all these things. We’ve both inherited a common toolbox of genes for performing the basic functions of life, and as the human and iris lineages diverged, we each added our own specializations on top of that. “Incidentally, you failed to mention the fact that the genetic code for protein-coding genes is nearly universal in eukaryotes and prokaryotes. Millions of alternative genetic codes exist, so why do all organisms have nearly the same one? ” Again: because we’re all descended from a common ancestor. This is actually one of the most powerful lines of evidence for evolution. Why do you think it should be a problem for us? Note that an omnipotent creator could easily have created every single species with a completely different genetic code, a completely different way of turning genes into protein. That’s the kind of evidence that would prove evolution impossible. Instead, what we find is near universality, with just a few very minor variations – the only signature we could reasonably expect from a process of descent with modification.

    July 13, 2010
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  28. Duderman said:

    “Its like saying that dandelions evolved out of Irises, which clearly they did not, since they existed simultaneously and still do today, just as humans and chimps or apes have existed simultaneously and still do today. ” It is hard to put into words how great a lack of fundamental understanding of Evolution is displayed by this statement. This is like saying there can’t be anymore Europeans because Americans, the Caucasians anyway, are descended from Europeans and therefore they can’t exist simultaneously. At this point I have to question your intellectual honesty; if you cannot understand why your statement is flawed you have been mentally crippled by your religion.

    July 13, 2010
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  29. Duderman said:

    Well, looks like Jack and friends have stopped publishing comments again. A nice commentary on the honesty and integrity to be found here.

    July 15, 2010
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  30. Ebonmuse said:

    A further comment which I wrote has been blocked, with no explanation given. Shall I take it as granted that no further debate will be allowed on this topic?

    July 15, 2010
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