Friday, June 15, 2007

thoughts on evolution/creation battle

realize that the gap in our knowlege between what chemistry can do and what the simplest bacteria can do is IMMENSE. this gaping chasm only openned up 50 years ago.

how do you get from this:
Chemistry of the Elements, Second Edition (Paperback)
by A. Earnshaw, Norman Greenwood

to this:
a day in the life of a cell

some adamant atheists say "of course life came about through some (mumbly mumbly) chemistry" and really havent thought it through. they just don't want their ignorant religious neighbors bringing in their LORD.

some scientists say the same thing, but really what with specialization these days i don't think theyve thought it through.

without going through this:

complexity lab manual

kind of training (which i think (sadly) most who graduate with a B.S. or even Phd rarely get) i realy don't see how anyone could even have a descent intuitive feeling that chemistry CAN make life. it's all wishful thinking.

so it's no wonder that such irreducible complexity arguments are floating around. i'm not talking about specific arguments about flagela, yeah i know how those can evolve. i'm talking about how the HELL did we get cells capable of evolving them in the first place. it's all a little mindnumbing.

the next important aspect is: Intelligent design is a PERFECTLY reasonable hypthesis. the only trouble is that we don't have anywhere near a decent exploration of what we mean by: what is an intelligent system?

we DON'T know how the human mind works, we DON'T know how neurons MAKE/BE it. we don't even know how a single celled protozoan wends it's way creatively through its environment, how the innards of the cell, the dynamic cytoskeleton, the 100s of chemical feedback loops coordinate to make A COHERENT ENTITY.

we don't know how to ask: is honeybee hive an entity? is an evolving ecosystem an entity. is Earth an entity? i.e. are the growing interactions between organisms over time cohesive enough to call it that.

we don't have a general theory of HOW intelligences in general might create. therefore we can't say "well, does this look like the work of AN intelligence?"

we've got vague mumblings about, well why would an intelligence create a 20foot vagus nerve running all the way up then back down the neck of a girraffe... the creationists rant: well, who knows the mind of god, maybe there is a purpose?

who knows? we don't have a general theory of intelligences.

i will grant that such a creator is probably NOT like a grey bearded old man in the sky.

it does not help, certainly, that most religious folk make no effort at an experimental or synthetic exploration of what their beloved intelligence IS like.

some do, they are called mystics, and i suppose ultimately some come to a conclusion that such an intelligence they contact is nothing more than the grandness of the universe...

so frankly i think that most of the problem is that really this discussion in popular media is basically at the level of the National Enquirer, or a mobfight at a baseball game. truly i think the particular ideas, not thougth out, evolution vs creation are just arbitrary banners being held by waring classes in america. the war is really about something ENTIRELY different! what does the average person care about these complex issues of chemistry, complex systems and artificall intelligence?

i'd like to find out what that war is REALLY about. my suspicion is that it is:

one class wants to continue this glorious (?) european enlightenment cultural/economic experiment

the other class, who came here wanting to get AWAY from eruopean civilization who created the wasteland of the wild wild west, now knows it's destined to work at wallmart and 7/11.

if anyone has any ideas, i'd be very intersted in hearing.


Anonymous said...

Hi, it's Greg from the meetup group here. I guess I don't disagree with what you are saying for the most part. The gap between simple chemistry and biochemistry is large, and I certainly don't have the answers, but that doesn't mean people won't figure it out someday.

However, Intelligent Design is nothing more than a vague idea. I don't think it even merits the label "hypothesis". It's basically saying "something" did "something" to make life. At least that is what the seem to say. What we actually know about the ID movement is that it's pure creationist propaganda firmly rooted in Christian fundamentalism. It's strategy is not to find new knowledge, but to cut down the perceived threat of evolution.

Why are they doing this? I don't know enough history or sociology to judge your claims about the two classes. In my view it's simply fundamentalists seeing scientific facts as a threat to their beliefs. They think if you prove Noah's Flood never happened, then the whole Bible falls apart. They think if their children are taught this science they will literally end up in Hell, tortured forever. Yes, a significant portion of the population believes this without doubt. This is how they view the fight:

As an atheist I am comfortable saying "I don't know" to questions about the origins of life. But so far materialistic causes (ie. chemistry) are all that I see, and for now it is what I "believe" in until other evidence comes along.

barry goldman said...

thanks for your comment:

you said about the gap between chemistry and the simplest cell:

>but that doesn't mean people won't figure it out someday.

you see that's one of my points. that's an irrational thought. on what analysis and experience do you base it on?

yes, personally having studied complex systems all up and down the scale from transistors/molecules up to programs, cells, minerology, cellular automata, loads of mathematics, etc.. i do have a GUT FEELING that in the next 50 - 150 years we will figure out exciting things about this.

but it's JUST a gut feeling. we have to be careful to state that, lest we too sound fundamentalist.

you say that ID is nothing more than a vague idea. in the minds of MOST i agree with you. but it CAN be made into a firmly testable idea, once we have some examples of what kind of systems can be intelligent, and some theory about intelligence.

this i agree NEITHER side has done. the ID side doesnt try, and the science side is making slow progress.

anyway you are correct it's just a smoke screen. you suggest a different bodom line:

they don't want their kids to goto hell. that's a really odd thought. i'd have to learn to do some anthropological research to understand what that means.

unitil we understand what that means, this evo/creation argument will keep talking over each other's heads and get no where.

who is teaching these people this biblical hell shit? ceos of wallmart?

dammit i thought your link was to an indepth article.

i'll keep looking i guess.

Anonymous said...

>>but that doesn't mean people won't figure it out someday.

>you see that's one of my points. that's an irrational thought. on what analysis and experience do you base it on?

I'm not saying I believe (or have "faith") people will surely figure it out. I'm just saying the astonishing depth of the mystery doesn't necessary rule out a discoverable solution to the problem. I don't think it's an irrational thought. And I agree, it is just a gut feeling, but I don't think I said anything beyond that in my first comment.

However I DO believe that science is the only method we have for gaining reliable knowledge. You won't fill those gaps looking at scripture.

Some mysteries (why is there something rather than nothing? what causes subjective experience, aka qualia?) might never ever be solved by humans. Who knows? That still doesn't imply anything supernatural.

>they don't want their kids to goto hell. that's a really odd thought. i'd have to learn to do some anthropological research to understand what that means.

As the image link in my first comment suggests, they see evolution as the root of society's evils. They see it undermining the authority of the Bible. If you believe in a literal hell, then evolution is a very real threat to the safety of your loved ones. Remember about half of Americans really believe Jesus is coming back in the next 20 years.

>who is teaching these people this biblical hell shit? ceos of wallmart?

I'm not sure I understand what you mean. The fundamentalist preachers are telling people this. That is what they learn in their churches. It's very simple really: turn or burn. Science and "worldly" knowledge mean nothing, the only important thing is faith in Jesus. That is the virulent strain of Christianity that is fueling the anti-science hordes.


PS: My image link to the "tree of evil" seems to run off the margin and can't be copied. So here is a TinyURL link: