Why Doubt Abiogenesis & Darwinian Evolution?

Boeing 747
In a word, “math” more specifically. “probability.”  Darwinian evolution by natural selection and varying mutation following the miraculous accidental formation of the first self replicating molecule is highly improbable.  In mathematics such probabilities are labeled absurd.  For that reason, noted Astrophysicist Fred Hoyle famously said,

The chance that higher life forms might have emerged in this way is comparable with the chance that a tornado sweeping through a junk-yard might assemble a Boeing 747 from the materials therein.[1]

David Berlinski earned a PhD in philosophy from Princeton University and was later a postdoctoral fellow in mathematics and molecular biology at Columbia University. He offers the following:

I have been reading Berlinski and I take him seriously. Consider this:

It is this destructive dilemma that Dawkins calls the Ultimate Boeing 747 gambit. The appeal to a Boeing 747 is meant to evoke a lighthearted quip attributed to the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle. The spontaneous emergence of life on earth, Hoyle observed, is about as likely as a tornado sweeping through a junkyard and assembling a Boeing 747 out of the debris. Although an atheist, Hoyle was skeptical about Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Dawkins passionate in its defense. Since the junkyard expresses with rare economy precisely the odds favoring the spontaneous appearance of life—they are remarkably prohibitive on virtually every calculation—it has been an irritation to Dawkins ever since it made its appearance. With their consciousness unraised, a great many people have evidently concluded that when it comes to the origins of life, the junkyard is all that Darwin offered. [2]

I would add this requirement to the 747 dilemma, “First, you need to get your own junk,” suggesting that one needs to explain the origin of the junkyard as well. “Abiogenesis isn’t evolution” is the typical atheist rejoinder… My answer, “so what?” It is necessary for naturalism. There can be no “natural selection and varying mutation” without preexisting reproducing life. If you haven’t explained that yet, then you haven’t begun to address origins. The evidence leads to some sort of creation event via intelligent design, that is, unless airplanes really can be assembled by tornadoes. It’s actually much worse. Even simple bacteria are more complex than a Boeing 747. The mathematical probability of reproducing molecules forming on the primordial earth is so described below by David A. Plaisted, a PhD Computer Scientist:

Biologists currently estimate that the smallest life form as we know it would have needed about 256 genes.  A gene is typically 1000 or more base pairs long, and there is some space in between, so 256 genes would amount to about 300,000 bases of DNA. The deoxyribose in the DNA “backbone'” determines the direction in which it will spiral. Since organic molecules can be generated in both forms, the chance of obtaining all one form or another in 300,000 bases is one in two to the 300,000 power. This is about one in 10 to the 90,000 power. It seems to be necessary for life that all of these bases spiral in the same direction. Now, if we imagine many, many DNA molecules being formed in the early history of the earth, we might have say 10 100 molecules altogether (which is really much too high). But even this would make the probability of getting one DNA molecule right about one in 10 to the 89,900 power, still essentially zero. And we are not even considering what proteins the DNA generates, or how the rest of the cell structure would get put together! So the real probability would be fantastically small. (David Plaisted)

In a probabilistic sense, to believe this happened is absurd. It is a tiny probability and I hope anyone understand that an event with a probability of 1/10^89  (one chance out of ten with eighty-nine zeros behind it) is not at all likely to happen. It’s mathematically absurd.  Intelligent Design theory is the only option that fully makes sense of the evidence. I am not an expert but I do read both sides carefully.  I am willing to contemplate that God used a process to form human bodies (Genesis 2:7) but naturalism just seems mathematically and philosophically absurd.

Notes

  1. Fred Hoyle, “Hoyle on evolution,” Nature, Vol. 294, No. 5837 (November 12, 1981), 105
  2. David Berlinski, The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions, [2nd ed. (New York: Basic Books, 2009),140-141

Evolution is Scientific Fact? Darwinism is Not!

This video argues that while there is certainly truth to the fact that organisms evolve (microevolution) the whole scale tree of life posited by Darwinism (macroevolution) is more akin to a mythological extrapolation than hard science. Evolution can be defined simply as change through time, and it can refer to anything that changes. Languages evolve; tastes evolve; cultures, art forms, and government bureaucracies evolve. Change over time — the present is different from the past – I think everyone will agree that in this sense evolution does indeed occur. The plethora of meanings of the word Evolution – are frequently exploited by Darwinists. Darwinists pretend to be selling students on “change over time” while they are really peddling Darwinism. While Darwinists have attempted to distance themselves from the term Darwinism, it will show that this fails as well. Darwinism is religious position and it always has been. I originally produced this in two parts a couple years ago that I have combined into one 20 minute presentation since Youtube has extended the maximum video length.

Evangelical Lutheran Theologian Advocates Transhumanism

I recently read Tom Horn’s article Are Church leaders abdicating the future of man to the Luciferian dead hand of the great planners and conditioners? I’m afraid they are not merely abdicating, some are actually advocating transhumanism!

In my research through scholarly theological literature,  I discovered a Lutheran based journal Dialog: A Journal of Theology which featured and article “The Animal that Aspires to be an Angel: The Challenge of Transhumanism” by Philip Hefner.  In this article, Hefner actually advocates the transhumanist pursuit as a Christian duty. The author is an ordained pastor with the theologically liberal Evangelical Lutheran (ELCA) denomination and retired editor of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science.[1] Accordingly, his writing exhibits a command of science. However, the article’s title referring to man as an animal compounded by his references to the Qur’an as a divine revelation[2] and Genesis as mythology[3] telegraph a freethinking worldview.

His position seems to be driven by a sincere desire to accommodate human progress and eliminate suffering, yet his conclusions are driven by questionable presuppositions. For instance, he holds an oxymoronic metaphysic of “religious naturalism.” He defines this peculiar term as “a set of beliefs and attitudes that there are religious aspects of this world which can be appreciated within a naturalistic framework.”[4] This sounds virtually identical to deism.  He also suggests that God created man deficiently so that we might pursue this techno-enhancement. He asks rhetorically, “Has God created us to be dissatisfied with our birth nature and to seek to enhance it?”[5] I think the scriptural answer to that is an emphatic “No”! One wonders where denial of self in the pursuit of Christ fits into his theology (Lk. 9:23, Rom 12:1). A Christian worldview entails the acceptance of some suffering (2 Cor. 1:5). John the Baptist understood that, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn 3:30)

So how can a pastor maintain a straight face and advocate transhumanism?

To rationalize his endorsement, he proposes a caveat in the way of a distinction he deems “uppercase and lowercase” transhumanism. While it is somewhat arbitrary, the former entails enhancement to the extent of becoming post human (a new species), while the latter comprises a gray area which includes things like assistive medical technologies, cosmetic enhancement and life extension therapy. The author builds sympathy for the concept by offering his own pitiable medical history. The pursuit of healing is not the same as enhancement.  It seems wrong not to advocate the elimination of debilitating conditions or assistance for the handicapped.  However, the author’s emphasis on what he deems “lowercase” transhumanism avoids the more disturbing ramifications.

A major weakness in his argument is that although he acknowledges human sin, he doesn’t account for it adequately. He evades discussion of the potential for augmented human depravity via a post-human result. It seems that the majority of those promoting this endeavor are atheist/agnostic secular humanists.[6] If secular humanism is a religion, then transhumanism amounts to its eschatology. It is certainly not seen by them as co-creation with God. The implications are staggering. He identifies a central issue as, “the insistence that our original nature, received in conception and birth, is open to alteration at our own hands.”[7] Insistence is  never a wise posture to take with God.

What about gratitude?  How about, “I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well” (Ps. 139:14)?  Nevertheless, Hefner contends that to object on theological grounds imposes an unwarranted normative anthropology. He views it as the next step in human evolution. His theological justification is that transhumanism is a natural out working of man’s status as a co-creator with God. In other words, it is theistic evolution through human agency. In his theological conclusions, he goes so far as to claim:

To discredit this aspect of human nature is in itself an anti-human move, in my opinion. In a theological perspective, we have been given this nature so that we can participate in God’s own work of making all things new and fulfilling the creation. To discredit our God-given nature is itself a rebellion against God. [8]

This is astounding. Hefner identifies important questions like “what constitutes alteration—appropriate or inappropriate—of human nature?” and “where is the boundary between healing and improvement?” Yet he does not attempt to answer them. I shudder to consider the potential social implications between the haves (posthumans) and the have-nots (humans). There is much at stake and the consequences have not been fully explored or even imagined. There is too much equivocation in his argumentation. Assistive technology seems justified but it is entirely another matter to argue for what amounts to techno-Darwinism. Christians are supposed to be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29) not a transhuman Übermensch.  It seems to me that what he advocates as co-creating with God is actually closer to the delusion of apotheosis (Gen 3:5).


[1] “Rev. Philip Hefner, M.Div., Ph.D. .” Metanexus Institute. 2010. http://www.metanexus.net/AcademicBoard.asp?45 (accessed 11 04, 2010).

[2]Hefner. The Animal that Aspires to be an Angel: The Challenge of Transhumanism.” Dialog: A Journal of Theology, 2009; 164.

[3] Hefner. “The Animal,” 163.

[4] PhilipHefner. “Zygon at 40: the times, they are a’changing—or not?” Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science. 2010. http://www.zygonjournal.org/40.html (accessed 11 04, 2010).

[5] Hefner. “The Animal, 162.

[6] Christopher Hook. “Transhumainism and Posthumanism.” In Encyclopedia of Bioethics (3rd ed.), by Stephen G. Post, 2517-2520. New York: MacMillan, 2007.

[7] Philip Hefner. ” The Animal,”  161.

[8] Hefner. “The Animal,” 166.

Secular Humanism’s Inadequate Creation Myth (part II)

The secular humanist’s insistence on naturalism also poses a problem when it comes to cosmology. That the natural world had an ultimate beginning has now been firmly established by the big bang cosmology. Yet for naturalism to be coherent, the universe should be static and eternal.[1] Because our space time reality is contingent, the principle of sufficient reason or the scientific method would lead one to look for a sufficient cause. An infinite regress is irrational. Thus, a self-existent necessary first cause is clearly the best explanation. The only possible alternatives are irrational appeals to self-creation or that something comes into being without a cause. Unfortunately, this is exactly where secular humanism arrives. The famously brilliant physicist, Stephen Hawking, has recently argued, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the universe can and will create itself from nothing. Spontaneous creation is the reason there is something rather than nothing, why the universe exists, why we exist.”[2] In other words, to create itself, the universe had to exist, before it existed. This is nonsense. Fortunately for theists, the law of non-contradiction is still a necessary corollary for real science. It seems far more reasonable to assert that that which caused nature is indeed supernatural.

Secular humanists are particularly entrenched when it comes to the sacred cow of Darwinism. There are very good scientific reasons to doubt Darwinian orthodoxy but the majority of humanists are practiced in this debate.  It might be wise to address a more ultimate question like the origin of life. Evolution cannot explain the origin of life and Darwin never really tried. There can be no Darwinian evolution without reproducing life and to date there are no feasible theories as to how this occurred. But even if we grant evolution, it does not equate to naturalism. There are many theistic evolutionists like human genome project director, Francis Collins, who argue that the evolutionary process itself is evidence of God’s design. For instance, William Paley’s classic argument from a watch to watchmaker still holds. Far from being a defeater, evolutionary theory leads one to believe that we have found a self-replicating watch that makes improvements on itself in response to its environment.[3] That demands not only a skillful design but one with foresight. When viewed through this lens, evolution actually refutes naturalism. This effectively demonstrates that naturalism and scientism are inadequate.


[1]Geisler and Turek, I Don’t Have Enough Faith to be an Atheist, Wheaton, Ill.: Crossway Books, 2004,72.

[2] Stephen Hawking, The Grand Design. (New York: Bantam  Books, 2010), 14.

[3] Dinesh D’Souza. What’s So Great About Christianity. (Washington DC: Regnery Publishing, Inc., 2007), 98 .

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