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Thread: Discuss: The claim of 'The Impossibility of the event of Abiogenesis'

  1. #1 Discuss: The claim of 'The Impossibility of the event of Abiogenesis' 
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    Creationists' claim of 'The Impossibility of the event of Abiogenesis' are supported by lots of evidence they have given:
    Sardines and heretics
    Why Abiogenesis Is ImpossibleThe overwhelming amount of evidence given makes my head ache.
    and the last one, which i have a problem with, Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations (specifically this picture:views.jpg), and Why Abiogenesis Is Impossible(this website supports creationism, and states:
    No one has proven that a simple self-copying molecule can self-generate a compound such as DNA. Nor has anyone been able to create one in a laboratory or even on paper.
    It addresses talkorigin.org's claim against the creationist idea of abiogenesis (showing how the picture-shown-theory-of-abiogenesis is invalid in the quote?).)

    I would like to know which are crackpots, etc. supported by evidence/verified experiments.




    My thoughts: The occurance of abiogenesis is next to impossible. If it did not happen, we would not be here discussing this topic. But the next to impossible (NOTE: a probability of occurance exists) did happen, so why are we here discussing this? =P

    Near impossible = Impossible?
    or
    Near impossible =/= Impossible?

    and also,
    No one has proven that a simple self-copying molecule can self-generate a compound such as DNA. Nor has anyone been able to create one in a laboratory or even on paper.
    this quote is puzzling. discussions focusing on this preferably?


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  3. #2  
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    The occurance of abiogenesis is next to impossible.
    Take that as given. That the odds against it are many millions to one. Now look at a planet with certain conditions (nothing, absolutely nothing, like they are now) with lots of inorganic compounds reacting all over the place. For millions of years.

    How many minutes in a year?
    How many seconds in a century?
    How many 1/10ths of a second in a millennium?
    How many 1/100ths of a second in just one million years?
    10 million years?
    100 million years? I'm not even going to try to write that number down. Anyone who wants to is very welcome.

    When you set the number of split seconds that are opportunities to set the whole process going against the initial odds, it looks a lot more likely. Still fairly small, but much, much more likely.


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    No one has proven that a simple self-copying molecule can self-generate a compound such as DNA. Nor has anyone been able to create one in a laboratory or even on paper

    This refers to the fact that in order to have replication of DNA, you need enzymes to do the work. In order to make enzymes that do the work, we transcribe DNA and synthesize the enzyme. You have a pretty big chicken/egg conundrum encoded in the question, then.

    As I understand it (what little I do), they think RNA what the first to form spontaneously and start copying itself. Some RNA molecules can act sort of like enzymes, and I believe they have been demonstrated to be self-copying. I do not have a source for that, though, so I don't know for sure.
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    Quote Originally Posted by adelady View Post
    The occurance of abiogenesis is next to impossible.
    Take that as given. That the odds against it are many millions to one. Now look at a planet with certain conditions (nothing, absolutely nothing, like they are now) with lots of inorganic compounds reacting all over the place. For millions of years.

    How many minutes in a year?
    How many seconds in a century?
    How many 1/10ths of a second in a millennium?
    How many 1/100ths of a second in just one million years?
    10 million years?
    100 million years? I'm not even going to try to write that number down. Anyone who wants to is very welcome.

    When you set the number of split seconds that are opportunities to set the whole process going against the initial odds, it looks a lot more likely. Still fairly small, but much, much more likely.
    what about the 'tornado in a junkyard makes a boeng 747 is more likely than abiogenesis'?

    i dont think airplanes pop up randomly anywhere in the past.
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    On what basis is that more likely?
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    what about the 'tornado in a junkyard makes a boeng 747 is more likely than abiogenesis'?
    i dont think airplanes pop up randomly anywhere in the past.
    Well duh!
    They were the wrong sort of junkyards until now.
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    Food for thought:

    As a preamble, id like to point out as i often do that "life" is a "word", a simple man made label.
    What we perceive to be life in nature is not a simple yes no label, you have a spectrum of diverse molecular interactions, we look at what we see now, millions of years later, and draw an arbitrary line saying, here, thats what life is, then we see something different like a virus and wonder is this alive? Does it fit in the simple box we created? No, so that means its in the other box. And in the process think the box and labels are real and forget its just a made up label.

    "What are the odd that..."
    Also note that we think is random its not just random, the environment and interaction play a part.
    ~What are the odds that~ a trillion million atoms of hydrogen drifting around in space all go towards the same direction??? And star to spin to boot!
    Well if theres enough of them and theyre close enough to interact in a certain way, they may very well all go towards a central point in that massive could. Its not the magical hand of the space Leprechaun that intelligently steers the atoms towards a given point because he feels like it, but the properties of the environment which the atoms are an integral part of.
    Last edited by icewendigo; May 28th, 2013 at 10:03 PM. Reason: Ipad no paragraph syndrome
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    what about the 'tornado in a junkyard makes a boeng 747 is more likely than abiogenesis'?
    This presumes that abiogenesis produces a fully organised and functioning organism like a worm or a fungus or even a person. All abiogenesis really needs is a bit of chemistry with the possibility of developing chemistry along a new track. It only becomes biology in retrospect. Because there were billions of other chemical reactions going on all over the surface of the earth that didn't start anything at all or became part of non-biological events or processes.

    Basically, abiogenesis only requires a murky liquid to change in a way that there's a slightly different molecule within the murk - and this time that molecule starts off a chain of forming new molecules that finish up, a million or so years later, with fully biological processes. But nothing like a reptile or a mammal anywhere on the horizon. But what do 2 or 10 or 200 million years matter when there's a whole universe involved? Time is one thing there's plenty of for these things to get going.
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    But what do 2 or 10 or 200 million years matter when there's a whole universe involved? Time is one thing there's plenty of for these things to get going.
    But according to creationists, it's only been 6000 years.
    Its the way nature is!
    If you dont like it, go somewhere else....
    To another universe, where the rules are simpler
    Philosophically more pleasing, more psychologically easy
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    Adelady @2 - when you consider that a single ml of seawater can contain a million bacteria - or the chemical precursors for the precursors of them - times 1.3 billion cubic kilometres... or 1,000,000 (bacteria or precursors) x 1,000,000,000 (a billion years) x 13,000,000,000,000,000,000,000,000 ml (volume of water) arguments based on 'too unlikely for an abiogenesis event" get kind of watered down fast.

    We may get a clearer understanding of what that minimum complexity required is from the rapid growth in knowledge of biochemistry and ultimately end up reproducing such an event.
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    And when we're talking abiogenesis we're talking precursors of precursors of precursors of precursors of precursors of ..... for as many steps or complementary events or associated processes as might possibly be involved.

    Somewhere
    in that sequence was the process that eventually gets identified as the beginnings of biochemistry / biology.
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    [/QUOTE]

    what about the 'tornado in a junkyard makes a boeng 747 is more likely than abiogenesis'?

    i dont think airplanes pop up randomly anywhere in the past.[/QUOTE]

    Yes, this cliché is a well-known creationist analogy, which I've always found particularly silly.

    Many, many things that occur every day have, in themselves, very small probability. For example, the chance of being murdered, or of winning the lottery. But, every day, or week, or month, SOMEONE does indeed get murdered, or win the lottery. The clue is that the number of people around, each exposed to this very low probability, is very large indeed.

    As Adelady and others have pointed out, the number of opportunities for the low probability sequence of events required for abiogenesis to occur is also very very large. And this is without even taking into account the number of planets in the entire universe that might be suitable to support life.

    So you end up with a number close to zero multiplied by a number close to infinity. So where does that get you? This kind of argument simply does not allow any useful conclusions to be drawn.
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    i think it was Richard Dawkins in one of his books who showed the difference between the probability of an event when you have to start from scratch every time (in which case anything complex becomes a virtual impossibility) and the probability of the same event when you're allowed to keep incrementing from a part-way solution, in which case the so-called improbable or impossible event becomes not only very likely, but also happens in a surprisingly short time
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by marnixR View Post
    i think it was Richard Dawkins in one of his books who showed the difference between the probability of an event when you have to start from scratch every time (in which case anything complex becomes a virtual impossibility) and the probability of the same event when you're allowed to keep incrementing from a part-way solution, in which case the so-called improbable or impossible event becomes not only very likely, but also happens in a surprisingly short time
    Are you perhaps thinking of the "Methinks it is like a weasel" program? :-

    Weasel program - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    This certainly shows how odds shorten dramatically when SELECTION allows characters to be retained, once they have cropped up by chance. Most creationists seem either too stupid, or too mendacious, to acknowledge that SELECTION is the whole point: comparisons with RANDOM mutations giving rise to organisation totally miss Darwin's central insight.

    The weasel program is far from a perfect analogy, as the discussion in the Wiki article indicates. But it does demonstrate how important it is to factor in the impact of selection when attempting to think about the process.
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    Quote Originally Posted by exchemist View Post
    This certainly shows how odds shorten dramatically when SELECTION allows characters to be retained ...
    Worth noting here that the characters are only "retained" by chance and selection. One (creationist) criticism of the program is that it "cheats" by "locking in" the correct letters when they appear. This is obviously false: (a) the program does not contain any code to do that and (b) you can see correct letters disappear occasionally.

    I think a fundamentally flawed paper based on analysing the program's behaviour under this incorrect assumption is the only peer-reviewed paper that creationists have managed to get published (it is in something highly relevant like the Journal of High Voltage Systems )

    But it does demonstrate how important it is to factor in the impact of selection when attempting to think about the process.
    And so many people don't seem to understand that. It is always "how could random mutation blah blah blah?"

    Which is, of course, the fallacy that starts this thread: selection would have been operating at the chemical level (which reactions are more thermodynamically favoured at any given time) before life and as part of the process that led to life.
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    I think the other thing that gets ignored or omitted by people who prefer to look at the world as though everything happens by purpose rather than by chance. Given all the "opportunities" for abiogenesis or any other process to start what we've finished up with - there must have been thousands if not millions or billions of "starts" to processes that were abiogenesis of the sort we would recognise but happening in circumstances where the chain of reactions petered out. Or, just as if not more likely, false starts to processes that might have finished up with a different biological system than the one we've got, but they also petered out.

    If you think of the lottery ticket analogy, just how many tickets were there during those millions of years that had a winning combination - all but for one wrong number. My suspicion is that that's another number near infinity.

    But it only took just one, eventually, to get the whole thing started. As they say, nothing succeeds like success.
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  18. #17  
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    [QUOTE
    Near impossible = Impossible?
    or
    Near impossible =/= Impossible?

    and also,
    No one has proven that a simple self-copying molecule can self-generate a compound such as DNA. Nor has anyone been able to create one in a laboratory or even on paper.
    this quote is puzzling. discussions focusing on this preferably?[/QUOTE]

    RamenNoodles,

    Seems to me the discussion so far has dealt fairly thoroughly with the subject, but perhaps 2 specific points you raise still need a direct answer:

    1) "near impossible"

    near impossible = very low probability =/= impossible. I think this is clear from the discussion but just thought I would answer it directly.

    2) "No one has proven that a self-copying molecule.......etc"

    This is another hackneyed creationist canard, arising from a series of misunderstandings, (whether from true ignorance or wilful refusal to understand must be open to question), about the nature of science. It tangles several strands and it takes a while to untangle them again. Here goes:-

    Firstly, science does not deal in "proof" of anything. Proof is for maths and logic, not for science. Science deals in observations and then in theories constructed to explain them and to predict future observations. Successful theories are able to do both, but are never "proved" because there is always the possibility that some future observation may be found that does not fit, requiring the theory to be refined, modified or replaced.

    Secondly, it is not necessary in science that all observations are made by synthesis, in a "lab", by people in white coats, etc, as seen on TV. Merely observing the variety of replicating molecules (DNA and RNA in their various forms, and so on) is evidence suggesting ancestral replicating molecules.

    Thirdly, nobody has more than fairly speculative hypotheses as to the actual process of abiogenesis. This is because nobody has been able to make any observations that are enough for a real theory to be developed. (By contrast, the theory of evolution, quite a different subject, often conflated with abiogenesis by creationists who really want to undermine evolution, is supported by massive observational evidence and is one of the better-confirmed theories in science.)

    Fourthly, "science" is short for "natural science". Not, please note, "supernatural science". The advance in understanding the natural world that science has achieved since the Renaissance is precisely due to its insistence on confining itself to natural explanations, based on repeatable observation i.e. avoiding the invoking of supernatural influences. This is not atheism - many scientists are religious believers - but just a discipline inherent in the scientific method of understanding the world. So, where there are gaps in understanding (and there are many, or science would be a dead discipline), science does not reach for supernatural causes to fill them. Instead, it waits for observations or advances in theory to do so.

    P.S. I apologise for the slightly testy tone of my reply on this, as I realise you, yourself, may not subscribe to creationism. But I have had ample experience of making these points to numerous creationists. I have often found them not to be intellectually honest, so I'm afraid I find it very hard to respect their position.
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    Another point

    If life can magically pop out of nowhere, why didnt Ponies pop into existence 4 billion years ago, and why arent there rabbits hopping on asteroids, frogs on the moon and birds in space?

    The reasons animals are on earth is because of the environment that gradually allowed more complexity in earths water areas which spread to land. Rabbits are not hopping on the moon because the environement in the past and in the present is not suited for complex interaction between complex molecular structures.

    Even our atoms for the most part are not simple hydrogen drifting in space because of the environment of which they were a part of in the past (Star).


    Another side note,

    for a long time in our universe, perhaps for most of the universes existence, you had existence, without anyone or anything knowing they existed or that anything existed. This imo is important to grasp. You can have existence without sentience, and that was the default situation for most of the universe. Sentience took a long time for the conditions in a tiny fraction of the bowl of soup of interaction to take shape. It took a long time before molecules organization was such as they could "perceive" the environment, let alone perceive they existed. We learn the more complex aspects of reality through perception and start knowing nothing as infants and learn as we perceive experiences events objects and information. The idea of an all-knowing omniscient god/person/thing/anything when nothing exists, is the exact opposite of reality, from that perspective, God is not just like "a pink unicorn on the moon" impossible, its more impossible by several orders of magnitude because you cant know everything when theres nothing yet. Unless, we are a creation, in which case we are the equivalent of a simulation, for which there could be one individual or an entire civilization responsible for the simulation, but in that case it is reasonable to think that they (creators/simulators) were in a universe that did not have a god and that they just like our version of reality started out in a situation where there was no sentience or knowledge to start with.
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    RamenNoodles, I ought to have mentioned one further point which may be important when dealing with creationists, as follows.

    Because science has only speculative hypotheses about abiogenesis, I can imagine the creationist might well say, well if that is all science has to offer, then it seems pretty feeble and I'm going to carry on believing that life was created by supernatural intervention (a miracle in other words). I think this is an understandable point of view, though as I've explained it is not a scientific way of thinking.

    I would reiterate, though, that this is quite different from the creationist's rejection of evolution, which flies in the face of huge amounts of evidence. Evolution, it is worth repeating, is a well-developed and well-confirmed theory that accounts for how the species we see today arose from earlier forms, but does not account for the origin of life from non-life.
    Last edited by exchemist; May 30th, 2013 at 05:30 AM. Reason: typo
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    Have anyone ever abiogenate any self replicating cell, or self replicating compound, for instance?
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    Do you have any idea how complex a cell is- and we even have mitochondria!
    Complexity does not imply a creator... but it does mean we are still young in our technology and limited in what we can do.

    Fundies have always asked similar questions and over time, when scientists did it- they moved on to new questions that could not currently be done. It's called shifting the goal posts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    Have anyone ever abiogenate any self replicating cell, or self replicating compound, for instance?
    The whole point is that whole living cells did not suddenly appear from nowhere (that is why the "hurricane in a scrap yard" argument is wrong).

    The earliest (chemical) starting points could be compared to crystallization or auto-catalysis, where the existence of something causes more of it to be created.

    The whole (hypothetical) process of abiogenesis is long and complicated involving many different stages and many different possibilities.
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    Quote Originally Posted by RamenNoodles View Post
    Have anyone ever abiogenate any self replicating cell, or self replicating compound, for instance?
    If by "abiogenate" you mean synthesise, then not to my knowledge. But so what? See my 2 previous posts.
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    Have anyone ever abiogenate any self replicating cell, or self replicating compound, for instance?
    No. You need to read again all those comments about the multiplicity of possibilities for starting and/or continuing the process.

    We just don't "know" which chemical processes might have been involved, including not knowing what temperature and pressure combination they occurred in and failed or succeeded. Whether they were in deep, shallow or very deep water. How they did or didn't cope with solar radiation permitted through by the lack of an (adequate) ozone layer. And a dozen other conditions which might or might not be relevant. Then we get back to not knowing what chemical reactions were involved in the first place.
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    Although there are some really good ideas (supported by evidence).

    But we will probably never know exactly what happened on the early Earth. Even if we were able to replicate some of the possibilities in the lab it would only show that one or more of those could have been the processes involved.

    Of course, that does still leave the option for people to say "God did it". But there is no evidence for that opinion, so it isn't particularly interesting.
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    The tornado in a junkyard analogy is (as expected) deeply flawed - molecules routinely react with each other, combining, breaking apart and recombining in different ways. Carbon based molecules in solution or suspension are remarkable for the near limitless combinations. But macroscopic bits and pieces of various metals, polymers etc do not ordinarily bond and combine with each other simply by proximity, no matter what the bits are or how turbulent the tornado.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ken Fabos View Post
    The tornado in a junkyard analogy is (as expected) deeply flawed - molecules routinely react with each other, combining, breaking apart and recombining in different ways. Carbon based molecules in solution or suspension are remarkable for the near limitless combinations. But macroscopic bits and pieces of various metals, polymers etc do not ordinarily bond and combine with each other simply by proximity, no matter what the bits are or how turbulent the tornado.
    Exactly and it is Non-Random interaction even if encounters can be termed as random.
    For example, it may be random encounter for one magnet to pass another magnet but the interaction between the two is property, not random. A magnet will not randomly shove iron fillings away sometimes and not others...
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    Everyone who hates analogies can skip this one. (But it's a lot better than that junkyard, tornado, aeroplane one.)

    We've all seen those cooking shows (well, I've seen the advertisements for them). Let's imagine one of those huge kitchen set ups with many work stations with every imaginable sink, appliance, gadget, knife. We also have, for this purpose, an infinite supply of participants who have never, ever cooked anything, never seen any cooking in their lives. To simplify matters, the only ingredients available are one kind of flour, one kind of raising agent, one kind of sugar, along with eggs, butter, and blocks of cooking chocolate. (There are also pantries and fridges but it's left to the participants to find that out for themselves.) The most important thing in this exercise is that all the potential cooks not yet in the kitchen can see what all their predecessors are doing/ have done.

    First crowd comes in and starts putting together their choices of quantities of ingredients, their choices of cooking methods. Whoops! Mess everywhere, including the ceiling. A few mixing bowls might be worth licking but the "cooked" items are all ugly and either lumpy, floury, charred, sludge, concrete-like, or otherwise inedible. Whole lot of fail all round. Many yet to be cooks observe that using the high temperature grill seems like a bad idea.

    Next crowd comes in, mostly much like the first lot, results still ugly, still inedible, even though everyone avoids that grill.

    Several more rounds and someone somehow produces something edible if not visually appealing.

    Next few rounds, a few participants try to reproduce this effort, most fail, but some improvements. Kitchen still a disaster zone although most now remember to put the covers on the blenders and mixers. Occasional edible results. But Aha! someone else did something different and produced a different edible thing.

    Luckily we have an infinite supply of participants so this keeps going again and again and again. Eventually, just from some processes being more successful more often, more participants start producing items that are recognisable as being like the previous successes.

    You'll notice there's no particular thing specified as "the" success. It might be that the first was choc chip cookies - much simpler than most of the options we know about because we have cookbooks. Just let this process keep going and one day, somehow, someone produces a self saucing chocolate pudding. More and more participants now produce different edible things and we now get light as a feather chocolate cakes, chocolate custard, mud cakes, pancakes with chocolate sauce, steamed chocolate puddings, chocolate tarts, chocolate muffins, chocolate croissants. Then, one day in this infinite sequence, someone produces a four foot high tower of chocolate filled croquembouche. Surrounded by an impeccably clean kitchen. Is this or is it not "the" literal pinnacle of success for this process? Depends entirely on whether you like croquembouche filled with chocolate cream, I expect. Or is the lavish spread of 40 different kinds of attractively presented, perfectly cooked chocolate foods the real success.

    And this is with just 6 ingredients as options. All that was needed was an infinite number of opportunities (participants) to assemble them in various ways and progressively get a higher and higher success rate.

    Now put this kind of process together as a near infinite selection of chemical elements and compounds, thousands of different situations, billions of opportunities for things to be near or to interact with others in millions of different ways. With no time constraints of any kind so all the possible combinations can be rerun again and again and again in thousands or millions of different circumstances.

    When you put it that way, abiogenesis seems a lot more likely.
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    The theory of evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, quantum mechanics, whatever. None of it has any bearing on the existence or non- existence of God. ( Which is, I think, what people are really arguing about when they discuss these issues)

    Science deals with the nature of the universe. It is the study of what is, and how it came to be. Religion is primarily concerned not with what, but why. Why are we here? What is the purpose of life?

    Religion tells us that the universe did not happen by accident. That there is a creator and he has a plan. Science can neither prove nor disprove this.

    It's possible that there have been an infinite number of universes in which life never even arose, let alone sentient life and that we just happen to have the good luck to exist in the one universe in which the unlikely chain of events that gave rise to life occurred.It's also possible that the Big Bang, abiogenesis, evolution, and all the rest happened due to the will of God. How the hell could we tell the difference?

    Yes, science does show that a literal interpretion of the Bible is not in keeping with observable evidence. So what? That much is obvious.
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    If it was Gods will- he went to a whole lot of trouble to make it appear to be unintelligently driven only to talk about himself a lot in the Holy Bible.
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    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    The theory of evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, quantum mechanics, whatever. None of it has any bearing on the existence or non- existence of God. ( Which is, I think, what people are really arguing about when they discuss these issues)
    That is only true in threads like this where someone is struggling with their religious upbringing (or when someone is promoting non-science). In nearly all scientific discussions of these subjects, the question of god never arises, it just isn't an issue.

    Yes, science does show that a literal interpretion of the Bible is not in keeping with observable evidence. So what? That much is obvious.
    I agree with this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by madanthonywayne View Post
    The theory of evolution, the Big Bang, abiogenesis, quantum mechanics, whatever. None of it has any bearing on the existence or non- existence of God. ( Which is, I think, what people are really arguing about when they discuss these issues).
    Of course it does....because it offers alternative explanations supported by evidence and often is shows that the religious version of the god-driven events did not happen as mythology describes. The Abrahamic religious versions are nearly all demonstratively wrong for example and not more credible than any other creation myths from around the world--yet most of them would have been taken at complete and accurate literal version of events by nearly all Christians, Muslims and Jews until the Renaissance.
    --
    In addition abiogenisis is not a sharp line (or a spark) as many think it is...there's a rather large set of "life like" characteristics, many trivially easy to make in a lab that show it's a very diffuse spectrum.
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