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Thread: The Intelligent Design people got to me! Help!

  1. #1 The Intelligent Design people got to me! Help! 
    Forum Freshman GreatBigBore's Avatar
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    It's nagging at me that both carbon and liquid water are such miracle molecules. I've always heard about how carbon is this really useful molecule and its uniqueness makes life possible. That always made me a little uncomfortable. But now I hear this in a documentary I'm watching:

    "It is now widely recognized that the chemical properties of [liquid] water are exquisitely suited for carbon- based life. These properties include water's ability to dissolve and transport the chemical nutrients vital to all living organisms, and its unmatched capacity to absorb heat from the sun [making it a significant regulator of planet-wide climate]."

    I can live with the Big Bang resulting in hydrogen plus helium everywhere, and carbon being produced only by stars of just the right mass. I can live with the coincidence that carbon is such a life-enabler. But now it seems that water also is a miraculous life-enabler. This is seriously nagging at me. I can't even get past "Why did the Big Bang occur?" My imagination is just too small to envision that there just happens to be this molecule, hydrogen, that given gravity and time just happens to result in these fabulous molecules. Anyone have any helpful comments? Have some good suggested reading, especially online reading? Feel free to refrain from telling me I'm stupid.


    The most exciting phrase to hear in science is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny...” -- Isaac Asimov
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    So what exactly are you confused about? Why is there water? Or are you just being perplexed by the fact that life, as we know it, basically requires water and carbon to exist, and how that could have come about without supernatural intervention?

    Naturally water will be vital to life as we know it, we are made up mostly of it! If however, we were made up of different atoms, perhaps we would not need water. However without parts of our body that repel water (and thus make membranes) we could not exist, made the way we are, because there would be no barriers to retain the water.

    Why can you not imagine that hydrogen given gravity and time can result in other elements?

    What is hydrogen? One proton and one electron. It's very basic. Add one proton and one electron to hydrogen and you get helium, this is what stars do. Eventually they run out of hydrogen and fuse helium into heavier elements, and then when they die, especially the ones that super-nova, that's where the heaviest elements come from.

    So when you boil it down, everything you are, at one time was created in a star, which then died. You are made of star dust.

    This is all from my limited perspective someone will likely come along and correct my mistakes and inform you better.


    "He who fights with monsters should look to it that he himself does not become a monster...when you gaze long into the abyss the abyss also gazes into you" - Friedrich Nietzsche

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    Forum Freshman GreatBigBore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    So what exactly are you confused about?
    I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm confused. I'm just very suspicious about the fact that there are so many life-enabling elements and complex molecules. I've found, in other recent discussions, that carbon and water are not the only "miracle molecules" for life--lots of other elements/molecules could be the basis of other types of biochemistry.

    So the thing that's disturbing is this: start from hydrogen and helium, then fuse a bunch of that for a few billion years and you end up with amazing molecules like water and the various carbon compounds. It just seems like a huge coincidence that hydrogen, after fusion, eventually results in all of these molecules that have amazing properties. What fundamental principle causes hydrogen to fuse into so many of these really useful, interesting elements instead of just boring ones?
    The most exciting phrase to hear in science is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny...” -- Isaac Asimov
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatBigBore
    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    So what exactly are you confused about?
    I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm confused. I'm just very suspicious about the fact that there are so many life-enabling elements and complex molecules. I've found, in other recent discussions, that carbon and water are not the only "miracle molecules" for life--lots of other elements/molecules could be the basis of other types of biochemistry.

    So the thing that's disturbing is this: start from hydrogen and helium, then fuse a bunch of that for a few billion years and you end up with amazing molecules like water and the various carbon compounds. It just seems like a huge coincidence that hydrogen, after fusion, eventually results in all of these molecules that have amazing properties. What fundamental principle causes hydrogen to fuse into so many of these really useful, interesting elements instead of just boring ones?
    I would turn the whole story around. What else should life be based on than the elements that are there? Is it really miraculous that life is made of some of the most abundant elements in nature? The classical mistake is that many people see a development or a chain of events, and they think that everything just happens to reach the final step. But this is not true. Things just happen. Period.
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    I recommend:

    The Carbon Age: How Life's Core Element Has Become Civilization's Greatest Threat

    Read at least the first few chapters. It explains what's been said here in greater detail.
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    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    GreatBigBore,
    there seem to me to be several possible explanations for this apparent serendipitous arrangement of the laws of nature.

    1) If the laws were significantly different we would not be here to observe what they are.
    2) There may be many configurations of the natural laws that permit the emergence of complexity and of life. We are simply in one of them.
    3) God did it.
    4) We are living in a computer simulation run by entities whose environment we couldn't even guess at.
    5) If there are an infinity of universes then many of them, probably an infinity, will be capable of allowing, even encouraging life. We just happen to be in one of them.
    6) Other concepts I can't think of off the top of my head.

    Currently we have no way of falsifying any of these and so they fall into the realm of idle speculation at worst, or philosophy at best.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatBigBore
    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    So what exactly are you confused about?
    I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm confused. I'm just very suspicious about the fact that there are so many life-enabling elements and complex molecules. I've found, in other recent discussions, that carbon and water are not the only "miracle molecules" for life--lots of other elements/molecules could be the basis of other types of biochemistry.

    So the thing that's disturbing is this: start from hydrogen and helium, then fuse a bunch of that for a few billion years and you end up with amazing molecules like water and the various carbon compounds. It just seems like a huge coincidence that hydrogen, after fusion, eventually results in all of these molecules that have amazing properties. What fundamental principle causes hydrogen to fuse into so many of these really useful, interesting elements instead of just boring ones?
    There are a lot of aspects of the physics of the universe that appear to be "fine tumed" for life. Some of the fundamental constants of physics, were they a bit different would preclude at least our form of life.

    Nobody knows why this is true. Nobody even knows if there exists a reason why it is true. Nobody is likely to know any time soon.

    But you can find a plethora of speculation in the populat, and not so popular literature.
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    It has been said that there could have been a billion universes before this one where conditions were not right and where stars or life could not exist.

    If life has come about here on Earth, it has found a niche which is carbon and water based, the local ingredients. Science fiction writers have talked about silicon based life, things that can exist in the dense methane atmospheres of gas giants, on freezing cold, boiling hot or heavy gravity worlds, etc.

    We do not know where life may be possible or impossible since we have extremophiles which live in water at 400.C, in acids of pH2, and strong alkalies, in a vacuum, miles underground, in temperatiures far below zero, in toxic liquids and even in radioactive environments. This is just what we know about.
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatBigBore
    Quote Originally Posted by Haasum
    So what exactly are you confused about?
    I wouldn't necessarily say that I'm confused. I'm just very suspicious about the fact that there are so many life-enabling elements and complex molecules. I've found, in other recent discussions, that carbon and water are not the only "miracle molecules" for life--lots of other elements/molecules could be the basis of other types of biochemistry.

    So the thing that's disturbing is this: start from hydrogen and helium, then fuse a bunch of that for a few billion years and you end up with amazing molecules like water and the various carbon compounds. It just seems like a huge coincidence that hydrogen, after fusion, eventually results in all of these molecules that have amazing properties. What fundamental principle causes hydrogen to fuse into so many of these really useful, interesting elements instead of just boring ones?
    We only know the "how" not the "why". The "why" is so difficult or even impossible to answer that it sometimes drives people to madness. It applies to everyday life as well. Say you get dumped by your girlfriend of 3 years and yell "why?" to the gibbous moon in lament...although you may find an answer in that she was cheating on you, once you find that out you'll think to yourself..why was she cheating on me?, then, when you find out she wasn't attracted to you you'll ask "but why?"...then, if you're religious you may think "why did God allow this to happen?" And even if you found out why God did it, you'd still be inclined to know why he did what he did ad infinitum. In summary, "why" usually leads to an infinite regress.
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  11. #10  
    Universal Mind John Galt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    In summary, "why" usually leads to an infinite regress.
    Why do you think that is the case?
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ophiolite
    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    In summary, "why" usually leads to an infinite regress.
    Why do you think that is the case?
    Ahhhh..good one sir. :wink:
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    The idea that the universe is fine tuned to our form of life because if it weren't, we would not be able to observe it, i scalles the anisotropic principle (Ithink I spelled it right), and its been discussed in a lot of books

    As for intelligent design. If the universe is so complicated and so fine tuned that it necessarily implies a 'creator', then that 'creator' must be an even more complex entity and, using the same logic, necessrily implies a creator to the 'creator', and so on, and so on, and so on...

    This is circular reasoning !
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    Quote Originally Posted by MigL
    The idea that the universe is fine tuned to our form of life because if it weren't, we would not be able to observe it, i scalles the anisotropic principle (Ithink I spelled it right), and its been discussed in a lot of books
    It's called the anthropic (= human) principle. The other problem with "Intelligent Design" is that it is unscientific, because it postulates a conjecture that is neither provable nor unprovable. As such, it cannot explain anything.
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  15. #14 Re: The Intelligent Design people got to me! Help! 
    Forum Senior Booms's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by GreatBigBore

    "It is now widely recognized that the chemical properties of [liquid] water are exquisitely suited for carbon- based life. These properties include water's ability to dissolve and transport the chemical nutrients vital to all living organisms, and its unmatched capacity to absorb heat from the sun [making it a significant regulator of planet-wide climate]."

    See 'Carbon-Based'

    ya it looks all nice an neat and designed


    until you realise that if Gravity was stronger, if the planet was substantially hotter. the conditions would be fine for Silicon Life, or something as extreme as Lead Life



    Religious theories like DA work from a 'here and now' point of view. look out at the world and assume it's always been as it is, and it will seem miraculous and designed

    think about it along a time stream, life began on a world full of water and carbon, so eventually the organisms will start to utilise these primary substances, Carbon is easily obtained from Carbon Dioxide leaving a large quantity of oxygen in the atmosphere, which will be used by newly evolved life
    Nothing is Miraculous, except from a closed perception
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
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  16. #15  
    Forum Freshman GreatBigBore's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by gottspieler
    We only know the "how" not the "why". The "why" is so difficult or even impossible to answer that it sometimes drives people to madness.
    It becomes science when you then say, "Why do they do those things...?" -- Sir David Attenborough, at about 37:35 in this clip (emphasis mine).

    If I drive myself to madness, at least I'll be in good company.
    The most exciting phrase to hear in science is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny...” -- Isaac Asimov
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