Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The improbability of man's random spontaneous generation

Sir Francis Bacon asserted "A little science estranges a man from God; a lot of science brings him back." This has certainly been my experience. Over the years, I've had conversations with atheists who have asserted to me that the evidence of science proves there is no God. What follows are excerpts from some of those conversations.

An atheist asserted polemically,
"... authentic, intelligible knowledge must always depend upon evidence. We should never believe in something without the support of facts and reason. Otherwise we would be justified in believing anything."
Certainly we should always be prepared to share the reason that gives us hope, but do so gently and reverently (1 Pet 3:15).

The atheist continued:
“In addition, the responsibility of presenting facts and reason sufficient to persuade others of the truth of an idea rests with those who assert its truth.”
I agree. If an atheist asserts as "truth" that God does not exist, then he should be prepared to present facts and reason sufficient to be persuasive. Likewise, theists have the same responsibility if they want to persuade others that God does exist.

Furthermore, as one who studied science in college, I do accept hypotheses as convincing that are well-founded by evidence, although not strictly or absolutely provable in a scientific sense. I worked as a spacecraft engineer for years and if I didn't make certain decisions based upon incomplete yet convincing evidence, then I would not have gotten very far. "Beyond reasonable doubt" is sufficient for moral certainty, even if unable to absolutely prove something. It's how business works. It's how law works. It's how scientific theory manifests itself into real-world practical applications. Its how everyday decisions are made. So, some things in science and theology are convincing to me because of many converging clues, although perhaps no strict proof exists in the scientific sense.

Additionally, I must reject relativist or subjective theories of "truth." Instead, I believe truth is objective, and it is defined as "that which corresponds to reality." Given that humans share the same reality, then it necessarily follows that humans share the same truth, whether they believe it, or understand it, or sense it, or experience that truth or not. Thus, there is no such thing as a "truth for me" being different than a "truth for you." One who subscribes to this linguistic confusion is mistaking the word "truth" for the word "belief." It is certainly true that "beliefs" vary from person to person. However, if truth is understood as it has been since the advent of human existence as "that which corresponds to reality," then one can come to no other conclusion than the existence of objective truth is the same for every human being.

The atheist then stated:
"It is believers who must demonstrate that their god(s) exist, and not unbelievers who must prove that god(s) do not exist.”
This seems to contradict what was just asserted by the same atheist above. On the contrary, if an unbeliever is in fact trying to persuade others of the truth of their ideas, they too must present facts and reasons sufficient to persuade.

With that said, I ask any atheist who asserts as truth that God does not exist:
"Do you believe Man is merely the most fortunate animal on the planet?"

The Nobel Prize-winning molecular biologist Jacques Monod wrote:

The initial elementary events which open the way to evolution in the intensely conservative systems called living beings are microscopic, fortuitous, and totally unrelated to whatever may be their effects upon teleonomic functioning.

But once incorporated in the DNA structure, the accident -- essentially unpredictable because always singular -- will be mechanically and faithfully replicated and translated: that is to say, both multiplied and transposed into millions or thousands of millions of copies. Drawn from the realm of pure chance, the accident enters into that of necessity, of the most implacable certainties. For natural selection operates at the macroscopic level, the level of organisms. ( Monod J., Chance and Necessity, Collins, 1972)

It seems the facts indicate man has the extreme upper hand with regard to controlling his environment comparative to all the other animals. However, do you believe that man is merely enjoying the fruits of mere random chance?

Random probability, even when conditioned upon prior random events still results in a random (normal) statistical distribution. If man came to have the upper hand based purely upon random probability, without any outside intervention, then why is man an extreme outlier, statistically speaking?

For example, if man is in first place with regard to the ability to dominate this planet (either positively or negatively), then where's the second place species? Man, it seems, is such an extreme outlier statistically speaking that it brings theories of evolution by "random processes" into serious doubt from a purely mathematical viewpoint. Even evolutionists have frankly described their theories are "an article of faith" or base upon "philosophical necessity":

"We tell this story to beginning students of biology as though it represents a triumph of reason over mysticism. In fact it is very nearly the opposite. The reasonable view was to believe in spontaneous generation; the only alternative, to believe in a single, primary act of supernatural creation. There is no third position. For this reason many scientists a century ago chose to regard the belief in spontaneous generation as a “philosophical necessity.” It is a symptom of the philosophical poverty of our time that this necessity is no longer appreciated. Most modern biologists, having reviewed with satisfaction the downfall of the spontaneous generation hypothesis, yet unwilling to accept the alternative belief in special creation, are left with nothing."(Dr. George Wald, "The Origin of Life" Scientific American, 191:46, May 1954).
Likewise, Harold Urey, who won the Nobel Prize in 1934, wrote:
"All of us who study the origin of life find that the more we look into it, the more we feel that it is too complex to have evolved anywhere. We all believe, as an article of faith, that life evolved from dead matter on this planet. It's just that its complexity is so great, that it's hard for us to imagine that it did" (Christian Science Monitor, Jan 4, 1962, pg. 4)
According to mathematical principles, random processes cannot account for the statistical outlier called "man." I agree that "it is just too complex to have evolved anywhere." We have been to the moon. I would think the second place species would have at least discovered how to harness and exploit fire by now. I love math and science. I've been a missile systems engineer and spacecraft engineer for much of my military career. It is my study of math and science which confirms in my mind that there is a God, a universal first cause, an intelligent creator.

The mathematical improbability that the outlier called "man" came to be an outlier without some other influence is as of yet unsatisfactorily explained by math and science. Probability, even event conditioned, doesn't support the gap between first place (man) and a second place species (whatever that may be).

According to mathematical principles, given enough events, the statistical distribution fits the process. Pure random processes have a normal distribution. Extreme outliers, according to mathematical principles, always have to have a cause. Random processes do not result in extreme outliers like the one called 'man'. Therefore, man's status as first place is no mere result of random variation, otherwise I would expect a distribution with the second place species as an outlier, but a little bit less than that of man. Where is the second place species? How come we can go to the moon and the second place species have not yet navigated its way across the Atlantic, or in the case of dolphins, found its way toward exploring the land masses?

What do you suppose the statistical distribution is of all animals with respect to the fitness to adapt and survive in their surroundings? In all distributions that I am aware of, there should be a close second, unless there was some extreme outlier which has some other external influence that was not affecting the others. I believe man is clearly an extreme outlier, based upon all available evidence. Therefore, I conclude that there's some external influence which is the cause, which for some reason, is not affecting the rest of the pack in the same way.

I'm trying to approach this methodically, given the tools of math and science which I've come to learn. Darwin's theory is based upon random variation. It should then match the laws of probability. Why the extreme outlier? I read Beginnings by my favorite atheist author, Isaac Asimov. He does a great job explaining evolution. However, his explanation lacks an answer as to why man is the quintessential extreme outlier when compared to all other animals on this planet.

Life finds away to adapt and overcome. However, man has done so much better at "adapting and overcoming" than all others that have ever lived. The theory that "man" as the first place species is keeping the chimpanzee at a distant second, for example, and not allowing the random variations to work its way forward is unconvincing. Compare man's dominance to the status of all species understood to have existed before man. Before man, was there an extreme outlier? If there was a clear dominant species, it doesn't seem that they were so much more dominant than all the rest that they were clearly an extreme outlier. This is not the case with man. We're not like the best dinosaur. We are much better equipped, more advanced, etc. In short,
there is no biological precedent compared to man in pre-human existence.

Random variation would not have resulted in such an extreme outlier. Check all known probability density curves where random variation is the supposed influencing process. The gap between first and second is never great. An extreme outlier always indicates some other influence.
Always. If I'm going to stick to what I learned in math, I must admit this conclusion.

Yet, you don't have to take my word for it, because real mathematicians have concluded the same thing. A
Biological Probability Conference concluded:
"We believe there is a considerable gap in the Neo-Darwinian theory of evolution. We believe this gap to be of such a nature [that] it cannot be bridged with the current conceptions of biology" (Schurtzenberger in Mathematical Challenged to the New-Darwinian Interpretation of Evolution, pp. 73, 75).
Charles Darwin wrote,
"... Natural selection acts only by taking advantage of slight successive variations; she can never take a great sudden leap, but must advance by short and sure though slow steps." (The Origin of Species, ch. 6)
Thus, Darwin conceded that...
"If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down" (ibid)
According to Dr. Robin Berhoft, MD:
"DNA does not function unless it has several dozen regulatory proteins present. These are produced by DNA, but must be present before DNA can actually produce them. You need the whole genetic system all at once. There is no value in having just part of it. Asking the genetics system to produce itself and its autoregulatory proteins simultaneously is like asking your neighbor to become her own grand-mother." (Robin Berhoft, "Confronting Creation's Complexities - Darwinism Isn't Fit to Survive" This Rock, Sept 2003, Vol 14, No. 7)
The need for the whole genetics system all at once and not by small increments accumulated over time as demanded by Darwinian theory is yet another converging clue within science which points to a Creator.

Of course faced with this dilemma, evolutionists have theorized:

DNA could have evolved gradually from a simpler replicator; RNA is a likely candidate, since it can catalyze its own duplication [Jeffares et al. 1998; Pool et al. 1998; Leipe et al. 1999]. The RNA itself could have had simpler precursors, such as peptide nucleic acids [Böhler et al. 1995].
A nifty little response they've put together at first glance. However ...

According to Evolutionist Robert Shapiro,

"The [RNA theory] must be considered either a speculation or a matter of faith" (Rober Shapiro, Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth, (New York: Summit, 1986), 189)

Why would he say that? A matter of faith?

According to origins-of-life biologist Dr. Stephen Meyer,

For a single stand of RNA to replicate, there must be an identical RNA molecule close by. To have a reasonable chance of having two identical RNA molecules of the right length would require a library of ten billion billion billion billion billion billion RNA molecules--and that effectively rules out any chance origin of a primitive replicating system.

Jay Roth, former professor of cell and molecular biology at the University of Connecticut and an expert in nucleic acids, said whether the original template for the first living system was RNA or DNA, the same problem exists.
[T]his template must have been very complex indeed. For this template and this template alone, it appears it is reasonable at present to suggest the possibility of a creator." (Jay Roth, "the Piling of Coincidence on Coincidence," in: Henry Margenau and Roy Abraham Varghese, ediors, Cosmos, Bios, Theos, (Chicago: Open Court, 1992), 199
Another example is the bombardier beetle. These beetles have three chambers in their abdomen, two of which contain liquids that are chemically inert, but when mixed they create an incendiary combination. The chamber is a reaction chamber into which the two chemicals are squeezed when danger is near, and then expelled explosively towards the perceived danger. You need all the parts of this system all at once for it to operate. Without all the parts, the beetle would blow itself up or the partial assembly of parts would serve no purpose. Such a system could not have evolved by random variation. It is a complex system that needed to have a purposeful designer and an all-at-once assembly or there would be no advantage. The odds of such a complex system being randomly generated with all parts in just the right place at just the right time for the right purpose is too improbable to be accepted by mathematicians and scientists.

Applied Biology is based upon "descent with modification." This we know from real evidence. However, some speculate that it occurs randomly from species to species. Others do not. There's never been proof of a species evolving into a different species through purely random processes. It's speculative. It has nothing to do with applied biology.

In computer engineering, we have artificially intelligent programs called "genetic algorithms." They
are modeled upon the biological principle of "descent with modification."

If I designed two genetic algorithms and set them on their they way, their decendent operators would likely look similar if I was the designer for both and designed them similarly (as designers often do). If you were to happen to discover their similarity but did not know their origin, you may be tempted to speculate that one descended from the other or were related in some way. Yet, in reality, the only thing they had in common from the very start was that I was the same designer for both of them.

The above computer algorithm example illustrates what evolutionist are claiming, but what they cannot prove. One cannot prove the origin of the two genetic algorithm's (GA) mutated operators. One can only hypothesize that ...

1) GA #1's operator decended from GA #2's operator
2) or that GA #2's operator decended from GA #1's operator
3) or that GA #1 and GA #2 operators have not decended from each other at all.

How could you tell if one came from the other? Here's an example of what a mutated operator from GA #1 looks like '101101001001001' and here's an example of what a mutated operator from GA #2 looks like '101010101001010'. Are they related? They sure look similar. They both have 15 bits, so they must be related, right?

Would it be good science to merely presume that one species came from the other merely due to similarity?

According to Dr. Jonathan Wells, a Berkley post-doctoral research biologist whose research focused on evolutionary biology:

"It's becoming clearer and clearer to me that this is materialistic philosophy masquerading as empirical science. The attitude is that life had to have developed this way because there's no other materialistic explanation. And if you try to invoke another explanation--for instance, intelligent design--then the evolutionists claim you're not a scientist."

Biochemist Francis Crick, who shared the Nobel Prize for discovering the molecular structure of DNA stated:
"An honest man, armed with all the knowledge available to us now, could only state that in some sense, the origin of life appears at the moment to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to have been satisfied to get it going" (Francis Crick, Life Itself, (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981),88)
Astrophysicist, C.J. Isham wrote:
"Perhaps the best argument...that the Big Bang supports theism is the obvious unease with which it is greeted by some atheist physicists. At times, this has led to scientific ideas...being advanced with a tenacity which so exceeds their intrinsic worth that one can only suspect the operation of psychological forces lying very much deeper than the usual academic desire of a theorist to support his or her theory." (John Polkinghorne, Quarks, Chaos, and Christianity, (New York: Crossroad, 1994), xii.)
Arno Penzias, Physicist and Nobel Prize winner:
"The best data we have are exactly what I would have predicted had I nothing to go on but the first five books of Moses, the Psalms and the Bible as a whole" (Malcom W. Browne, "Clues to the Universe Origin Expected", New York Times (March 12, 1978)
Dr. "Fritz" Schaefer is the Graham Perdue Professor of Chemistry and the director of the Center for Computational Quantum Chemistry at the University of Georgia. He has been nominated for the Nobel Prize and was recently cited as the third most quoted chemist in the world.

Dr. Schaefer stated,

"The significance and joy in my science comes in the occasional moments of discovering something new and saying to myself, `So that's how God did it!' My goal is to understand a little corner of God's plan." (U.S. News & World Report, Dec. 23, 1991)

From a lecture Dr. Schaefer gave in 1994 at the University of Colorado:
The idea that the universe had a specific time of origin has been philosophically resisted by some very distinguished scientists. We could begin with Arthur Eddington, who experimentally confirmed Einstein's general theory of relativity in 1919. He stated a dozen years later: "Philosophically, the notion of a beginning to the present order is repugnant to me and I should like to find a genuine loophole." He later said, "We must allow evolution an infinite amount of time to get started."

Albert Einstein's reaction to the consequences of his own general theory of relativity appear to acknowledge the threat of an encounter with God. Through the equations of general relativity, we can trace the origin of the universe backward in time to some sort of a beginning. However, before publishing his cosmological inferences, Einstein introduced a cosmological constant, a "fudge factor," to yield a static model for the universe. Einstein later considered this to be the greatest blunder of his scientific career.

Einstein ultimately gave grudging acceptance to what he called "the necessity for a beginning" and eventually to "the presence of a superior reasoning power." ...

About the 1992 observations, which were from the COBE (the NASA satellite Cosmic Background Explorer), there was a story on the front page of virtually every newspaper in the world. The thing that the London Times, New York Times, etc. seemed to pick up on was a statement by George Smoot, the team leader from the Lawrence-Berkeley Laboratory. He said, "It's like looking at God." Obviously, this captured the public's attention.

A somewhat more sober assessment of the findings was given by Frederick Burnham, a science-historian. He said, "These findings, now available, make the idea that God created the universe a more respectable hypothesis today than at any time in the last 100 years." ...

Hugh Ross, an astrophysicist, has written very persuasively on this topic. He again brings us into the philosophical implications. Ross says that, by definition,

"Time is that dimension in which cause and effect phenomena take place. . . . If time's beginning is concurrent with the beginning of the universe, as the space-time theorem says, then the cause of the universe must be some entity operating in a time dimension completely independent of and pre-existent to the time dimension of the cosmos. This conclusion is powerfully important to our understanding of who God is and who or what God isn't. It tells us that the creator is transcendent, operating beyond the dimensional limits of the universe. It tells us that God is not the universe itself, nor is God contained within the universe."

Evolutionary biologist F. Clark Howell sums up why I'm not convinced of the claims of pseudo-science called evolution:

"There is no encompassing theory of [human] evolution ... Alas, there never really has been."(F. Clark Howell, "Thoughts on the Study and Interpretation of the Human Fossile Record," in W. Eric Meikle, F. Clark Howell, and Nina G. Jablonski, editors, Contemporary Issues in Human Evolution, Memoir 21.)

If evolutionary biologists themselves admit this, then why should I be convinced?

Dr. Colin Patterson, Senior Paleontologist, British Museum of Natural History, London:

"One of the reasons I started taking this anti-evolutionary view, was ... it struck me that I had been working on this stuff for twenty years and there was not one thing I knew about it. That's quite a shock to learn that one can be so misled so long. ...so for the last few weeks I've tried putting a simple question to various people and groups of people. Question is: Can you tell me anything you know about evolution, any one thing that is true? I tried that question on the geology staff at the Field Museum of Natural History and the only answer I got was silence. I tried it on the members of the Evolutionary Morphology Seminar in the University of Chicago, a very prestigious body of evolutionists, and all I got there was silence for a long time and eventually one person said, 'I do know one thing -- it ought not to be taught in high school'." (Keynote address at the American Museum of Natural History, New York City, 5 November, 1981)

I think I'll stick with the "miracle" theory vice the random genetic mutation theory, as the latter seems to demand more faith from me.

God bless,