Abiogenesis not part of evolution

Discussion in 'Creation vs. Evolution' started by Administrator2, Jan 24, 2002.

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    BILLY
    If has been stated several times here and elsewhere that the theory of evolution must encompass the theory of abiogenesis. I believe this to be false. They are two seperate, though linked, theories.

    It could be shown conclusively that abiogenesis is impossible, and it would not reflect on the TOE in the slightest. The TOE assumes life for the process to get started.

    [Administrator: edited at author's request.]

    [ January 24, 2002: Message edited by: Administrator ]
     
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    HELEN
    I am currently reading Frankllin Harold's The Way of the Cell,
    (2001, Oxford University Press). I not only think he disagrees with you
    concerning the separation of evolution from abiogenesis, I would say he
    predicates his entire book on the concept that evolution, as a process
    of life, cannot be divorced from its beginnings biologically.

    However as far a someone proving abiogenesis impossible (which is a
    universal negative and therefore impossible itself...) and that not
    disturbing the theory of evolution -- I have no doubt you are right.
    That is because the theory of evolution is a matter of faith, and
    nothing like a lack of evidence for abiogenesis is going to get in its
    way!
     
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    SOS

    If has been stated several times here and elsewhere that the theory of
    evolution must encompass the theory of abiogenesis. I believe this to be
    false. They are two separate, though linked, theories.

    It could be shown conclusively that abiogenesis is impossible, and it would
    not reflect on the TOE in the slightest. The TOE assumes life for the
    process to get started.



    Well, the noted atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins, for one, would
    disagree with you. The following quote is from this website (if I counted
    correctly it's in his answer to the sixth question):
    http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/transcript/dawk-frame.html

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    "...The whole point -- the whole beauty of the Darwinian explanation for
    life is that it's self-sufficient. You start with essentially nothing -- you
    start with something very, very simple -- the origin of the Earth. And from
    that, by slow gradual degrees, as I put it 'climbing mount improbable' -- by
    slow gradual degree you build up from simple beginnings and simple needs
    easy to understand, up to complicated endings like ourselves and kangaroos.
    Now, the beauty of that is that it works. Every stage is explained, every
    stage is understood. Nothing extra, nothing extraneous needs to be smuggled
    in. It all works and it all -- it's a satisfying explanation. ... "
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The theory of evolution not only encompasses abiogenesis, it actually
    encompasses EVERYTHING in the universe. After all, the universe and
    everything in it is claimed to have evolved from a "big bang" into the
    various forms of matter, energy, stars, galaxies, planets, chemical
    elements, compound amino acids, RNA and DNA, proto-life forms, single cell
    organisms, multicellular organisms, to increasingly more complex
    multicellular organisms through naturalistic processes. Now either the
    cosmos evolved into these increasingly complex stages by naturalistic
    processes or supernatural processes created it. The problem is that you and
    some others of the evolutionary mindset want to claim that evolution is
    only limited to biology. Well, biological evolutionary processes are limited
    to biology. The evolutionary processes of advancing from slime mold to
    sapiens are certainly different from the processes of cosmological evolution
    and abiogenesis - but they are ALL evolutionary processes.

    Not only that, but according to atheistic reductionary thinking we humans
    are little more than conscious animated mud cakes. If life itself is
    defined as merely a form of uniquely systematized functioning relationships
    of complex chemicals, then where is the dividing line between biology and
    abiogenesis?

    If abiogenesis were impossible it most certainly WOULD impact on biological
    evolution. If natural processes could not account for life's origin (and
    therefore a supernatural creator is strongly implied) then a rational
    acceptance of at least the possibility of a supernatural creator exists. If
    this creator exists, then He could have created all the major divisions of
    organisms with a built-in capacity for variation to survive diverse
    ecologies yet remain within its "kind". This is what we actually observe in
    the real world and in the fossil record. Without the prejudice to reduce
    reality to what can be understood and experienced by the scientific method
    alone and by naturalistic processes alone, the facts would be allowed to
    fall into a pattern that supports creation, not evolution.
     
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    DANEEL

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>I am currently reading Frankllin Harold's The Way of the Cell,
    (2001, Oxford University Press). I not only think he disagrees with you
    concerning the separation of evolution from abiogenesis, I would say he
    predicates his entire book on the concept that evolution, as a process
    of life, cannot be divorced from its beginnings biologically. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Hello Helen,

    Anyone can say anything they want but I think you will find that the majority of scientists separate the two and are only concerned with their specific field of study and how evolution applies to it. I am a botanist and look at the evolutionary changes that have occurred in plant anatomy and morphology of vascular and non vascular plants. Also, I teach biology as do many other college teachers and as such we separate evolution from the origins of life. They are in separate chapters in separate parts of the book. Besides, the mechanisms of abiogenesis are highly speculative. We have some ideas but until there are more discoveries the process is still in a theoretical stage. I'm not sure how many scientists accept evolution and do not think that life had a naturalistic origin, however. Evolution on the other hand is, as other theories, solid and I would surmise accepted by 95 to 99% of those in biological fields.
     
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    BILLY

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    Well, the noted atheistic evolutionist Richard Dawkins, for one, would
    disagree with you. The following quote is from this website (if I counted
    correctly it's in his answer to the sixth question): http://www.pbs.org/faithandreason/transcript/dawk-frame.html

    "...The whole point -- the whole beauty of the Darwinian explanation for
    life is that it's self-sufficient. You start with essentially nothing -- you
    start with something very, very simple -- the origin of the Earth. And from
    that, by slow gradual degrees, as I put it 'climbing mount improbable' -- by
    slow gradual degree you build up from simple beginnings and simple needs
    easy to understand, up to complicated endings like ourselves and kangaroos.
    Now, the beauty of that is that it works. Every stage is explained, every
    stage is understood. Nothing extra, nothing extraneous needs to be smuggled
    in. It all works and it all -- it's a satisfying explanation. ... "
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yeah well, I disagree with Dawkins about a lot of things. I think he is an extremist, and I think the above is a rather intemperate remark.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>The theory of evolution not only encompasses abiogenesis, it actually
    encompasses EVERYTHING in the universe. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No, it explains the origin of species by natural selection.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>After all, the universe and everything in it is claimed to have evolved from a "big bang" into the various forms of matter, energy, stars, galaxies, planets, chemical elements, compound amino acids, RNA and DNA, proto-life forms, single cell organisms, multicellular organisms, to increasingly more complex multicellular organisms through naturalistic processes. Now either the cosmos evolved into these increasingly complex stages by naturalistic
    processes or supernatural processes created it. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    No, the Origin of Species where Darwin set out his theory says nothing of the above except the diversity of species.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>The problem is that you and some others of the evolutionary mindset want to claim that evolution is only limited to biology. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    All right. If the Big Bang was rejected by all scientists, what effect would that have on evolutionary biology?

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Well, biological evolutionary processes are limited to biology. The evolutionary processes of advancing from slime mold to sapiens are certainly different from the processes of cosmological evolution and abiogenesis - but they are ALL evolutionary processes.

    Not only that, but according to atheistic reductionary thinking we humans
    are little more than conscious animated mud cakes. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    That is a misrepresentation of atheism. You seem to believe that one cannot have respect for humans if you do not believe in God. That is also incorrect.


    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>
    If abiogenesis were impossible it most certainly WOULD impact on biological
    evolution. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Billy: Well tell me how.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>If natural processes could not account for life's origin (and
    therefore a supernatural creator is strongly implied) then a rational
    acceptance of at least the possibility of a supernatural creator exists. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    The theory of abiogenesis and Darwinian evolution say absolutely nothing about the supernatural. There are millions who accpect Darwinism that also believe in the supernatural. Being scientific theories, they cannot encroach on that area.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>If this creator exists, then He could have created all the major divisions of
    organisms with a built-in capacity for variation to survive diverse
    ecologies yet remain within its "kind".
     
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    HELEN
    Hi Daneel,
    I know anyone can say anything they want. And I know that origins is
    separated from later diversity where biology is concerned. But when
    that is insisted upon, evolution becomes a ‘floater’ with no beginning
    and no ending. It’s just sort of the way things have been interpreted
    to have been happening for some time.
    The problem that I see is that evolution – in biology – says rather
    firmly that only natural, material causes are responsible for everything
    we see in the diversity of life now and in the fossil record. It only
    accepts natural, material causes.

    But the concept of ‘life from life’ is even older than evolutionary
    biology and here is where evolution runs into its bugaboo. Abiogenesis
    requires life from non-life BECAUSE only material, natural causes are
    ‘allowed.’ Now, if evolution will allow an immaterial and/or
    non-natural cause for the origin of life, then by what logical right or
    step can it then be denied that this immaterial or non-natural force
    would not affect life as it develops?

    Logically, evolution cannot divorce itself from abiogenesis. The
    concept of a creation totally front-loaded, which is the basis for
    theistic evolution arguments, essentially is the same argument as the
    ‘clockwinder god’ argument. Get it started and let the thing run, for
    better or for worse! It totally marginalizes God in a true “God of the
    gaps” argument!

    Logically, abiogenesis is a necessary corollary to biological
    evolutionary diversity ideas.

    I agree with you that most scientists, teaching or research, are so
    involved in their own field of study that they really do not spend time
    pondering some of these logical points. But that does not erase either
    the logic or the points. And the fact that they are not pondered by
    many has no bearing at all on whether these points are correct or not.
    Truth is not truth by majority. Truth stands with or without the
    majority behind it.
     
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    DANEEL

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>from Helen:
    Hi Daneel,
    I know anyone can say anything they want. And I know that origins is
    separated from later diversity where biology is concerned. But when
    that is insisted upon, evolution becomes a ‘floater’ with no beginning
    and no ending. It’s just sort of the way things have been interpreted
    to have been happening for some time.
    The problem that I see is that evolution – in biology – says rather
    firmly that only natural, material causes are responsible for everything
    we see in the diversity of life now and in the fossil record. It only
    accepts natural, material causes.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think your beef is with science in general. Science and the scientific method makes the assumption(s) that you are talking about. They are: that there are natural causes for what we see based on natural laws, that these laws do not vary in space or in time and that humans have common perception.

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>But the concept of ‘life from life’ is even older than evolutionary
    biology and here is where evolution runs into its bugaboo. Abiogenesis
    requires life from non-life BECAUSE only material, natural causes are
    ‘allowed.’ Now, if evolution will allow an immaterial and/or
    non-natural cause for the origin of life, then by what logical right or
    step can it then be denied that this immaterial or non-natural force
    would not affect life as it develops?

    Logically, evolution cannot divorce itself from abiogenesis. The
    concept of a creation totally front-loaded, which is the basis for
    theistic evolution arguments, essentially is the same argument as the
    ‘clockwinder god’ argument. Get it started and let the thing run, for
    better or for worse! It totally marginalizes God in a true “God of the
    gaps” argument!

    Logically, abiogenesis is a necessary corollary to biological
    evolutionary diversity ideas.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    When it comes to biological evolution even some creationists accept (some) natural selection and talk of micro evolution. There are theists who are scientists who accept evolution as to how it explains the diversity of life today. They may or may not believe in a naturalistic origin of the first life. The concept of life from life does not exclude creation. I must think, however, that the more we find out about organic material in meteors and how simple genetic systems work it becomes harder and harder not to accept a naturalistic origin. Even then, as you know, it is still possible to interject god as a creative force that created the natural laws that allowed life to begin. So I don't think that arguing about weather evolution includes abiogenesis is that productive. It all depends on your primary assumption. Is there a God that fired the starting gun. Or did the gun go off by itself.

    Logic is based on assumption, therefore, logically you can argue anything if you assume a certain premise. Why do you think that there are so many divergent points of view based on human logic? You yourself claim your views are logical. Yet there are others who claim their own are logical. The human mind is good at that. IMO it is because it is an animal mind. That's my assumption.
     
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    DAVID PLAISTED

    The problem is that without evolution, one can only get to very simple structures and then greater complexity would have to arise by evolution of some form -- chemical evolution or whatever. So there would have to be some kind of evolution very early, even way before one had a cell with functioning genes and DNA. Various proposals I have seen are DNA organisms, RNA organisms, and PNA -- I'm not sure what that means but maybe "prion nucleic acid" where proteins influence others to fold like themselves and thus can in some sense propogate themselves. All recognize that this field is highly speculative and despite the apparent evolutionary sound of this post so far I am a creationist and do not think abiogenesis occurred. But in any event it would include some evolutionary mechanism very early.

    David Plaisted
     
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    HELEN
    Response to Daneel,
    You wrote: I think your beef is with science in general. Science and
    the scientific method makes the assumption(s) that you are talking
    about. They are: that there are natural causes for what we see based on
    natural laws, that these laws do not vary in space or in time and that
    humans have common perception.


    I think you left out one very important word, actually. Your first
    assumption should actually state, “that there are ONLY natural causes
    for what we see….”
    My ‘beef’ is not that science is limited to dealing with natural,
    material causes and effects. That is the nature of science. What I
    object to is that science therefore declares that because it can only
    work with the material and natural, that that is all there is.

    I don’t think this impacts other fields as much as it does biology.
    Physics deals with the physical. That’s what it is. Chemistry deals
    with chemicals. That’s what it does. Astronomy deals with what can be
    seen outside of our earth and geology with what the earth is made up
    of. These by their very nature are dealing with physical substances and
    they can be dealt with in terms of physical properties.

    But biology is different. It is the study of LIFE itself in all its
    various forms on earth. Now while chemists can agree upon the
    definition of the various elements, and physicists can agree regarding
    basic properties of matter, have you noticed that biologists cannot
    agree as to the meaning and definition of life? There is something else
    going on in this field. An operative cell is more than the sum of its
    composite parts. And while we know what makes a rock and we are pretty
    sure we know what makes a star, what on earth makes a cell live?

    There is the difference. This does not change the necessity of science
    to be limited to the physical properties and processes – again, that is
    all science can do. But in the case of biology, to deny the possibility
    of the supernatural is what is not good science. Call it ‘god of the
    gaps’ if you like, but there is an incredible gap there between
    chemistry and life, and it may very well be that God does belong there!

    Now, in chemistry, we know what makes an element. We know pretty well
    how the elements themselves form in stars. We may be wrong about parts,
    certainly, but there is no giant gap that we are aware of. Physics
    cheerfully plunges into cosmology when it feels like it, looking for
    beginnings. They don’t try to divorce themselves from it, regardless of
    frustrations.

    But biologists try to separate themselves from origins when it is
    origins that is even more important in this field, perhaps, than any
    other. As I mentioned, I am reading Franklin Harold’s new book, The
    Way of the Cell
    . Harold is Emeritus Professor of Biochemistry and
    Molecular Biology at Colorado State University. He also has the
    wonderful talent of being able to write well. I do recommend the book.
    Yes, of course he is an evolutionist – of the dyed in the wool variety,
    the “I’d rather die than change” sort. Nevertheless, here are just some
    bits from the Preface:

    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Life seems to me the supreme marvel of the universe – familiar,
    thoroughly material, probably ubiquitous yet elusive and ultimately
    mysterious….I take it that the term “life” designates a real phenomenon,
    recognizable by a set of properties characteristic of some natural
    objects and lacking in others; one of our goals must be to identify the
    essential features that distinguish living organisms from other
    things….How do lifeless chemicals come together to produce those
    exquisitely ordered structures that we call organisms?<HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    Yes, he states very firmly that he believes the causes are entirely
    physical. But at least he is not willing to separate biology from the
    origin of life. If one is going to study life, which is what biologists
    do, then the natural question ‘where did it come from; how did it
    happen?’ must be dealt with.

    That is why I am saying that biology cannot divorce itself from origins,
    and if evolution is demanding – as it does – ONLY material, natural
    causes, then abiogenesis is, by necessity, part of the deal.

    You mentioned natural selection. Of course we accept it. We were the
    first to deal with it! I know you guys don’t like ICR’s Impact
    articles, but I think this one is fairly well done on the subject:
    http://www.icr.org/pubs/imp/imp-283.htm


    Or you might be interested in Salthe’s essay on the subject (which I
    don’t imagine made him terribly popular with his peers!)
    http://www.nbi.dk/~natphil/salthe/anacri.99.08.html


    But natural selection has nothing to do with origins. Neither does
    variation, which you also brought up as creationists ‘accepting.’ Of
    course it is accepted. Every time a child is born we see it! But these
    seem to me to simply be red herrings you are dragging across the path
    which have nothing to do with the necessity of biology to deal with the
    origin of the very thing is purports to study: life.

    Lastly, yes, you can argue anything if you assume a certain premise. A
    lot of people argue without even knowing their assumed premises, which I
    am sure you are aware of! You mentioned many divergent points of view.
    I think most have nothing to do with logic at all, but with desire – the
    desire to believe something true because that is what one feels
    comfortable with. Logic is the formal, precise movement from an
    established premise to a conclusion.

    Here is a sample:

    1. Biology is the study of life.
    2. Evolutionary biologists claim that everything has a natural, material
    cause.
    3. THEREFORE, life – according to evolutionary biologists – has a
    natural, material cause.

    But most of them won’t touch that bit of logic with a ten-foot pole.

    To break out of that logical progression, one must admit to some kind of
    possible exception for the origin of life. And if there is an exception
    there, why should there not be other exceptions in other parts of the
    study of biology?

    Just to clarify where I stand as a creationist: I do think that
    everything we are aware of does have physical and natural causes WITH
    THE EXCEPTION of those things God claims were direct miracles from Him.
    In other words, if the Bible does not tell me it was a miracle from God,
    I’m willing to go for broke looking for the material, natural
    connections. So this is not a ‘God of the gaps’ argument at all. It is
    simply recognizing that God Himself has told us where naturalistic,
    material causes stop and where He has dealt with things Himself,
    directly. That is why I have said that I agree that the Bible is not a
    scientific text book, but that it is a scientific guide. It does tell
    us where the boundaries of truth are – within which we are free to have
    the time of our lives exploring and discovering and working.

    But I think it is because the origin of life can really only be
    attributable to God that evolutionists won’t touch it. It is not
    because biology is naturally separated from the origin of life. It is
    not. The two are part and parcel of the same field no matter how sharp
    the knife that tries to separate them.
     
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    SOS
    Hi, Billy,
    You may disagree with Dawkins' position and call him an extremist but he is
    a noted spokesman for many (not all) in the academic world and has tried to
    popularize the concepts of atheistic evolutionary processes as the
    explanation of everything. He is really just carrying the naturalistic
    philosophy to its logical conclusion. Nor is Dawkins alone in this thinking.
    Neither he nor I (who are at anti-poles in our theistic position) are saying
    that the processes of biological evolution are the same as abiogenesis. The
    history of the universe, however, and not just biological development, is
    understood by naturalism to be an evolutionary process and therefore the
    term evolution certainly includes but is not limited to the origin of
    species, families, genera, etc. To demand that the use of the term
    evolution be restricted to mere biological diversification appears to
    me to be an unwarranted and extremely narrow definition. In a biological
    analogy, it would be like demanding that only the field of specialized
    neurology could be called biology. Evolution is a paradigm that far
    transcends mere biology.

    SOS quote:
    The problem is that you and some others of the evolutionary
    mindset want to claim that evolution is only limited to biology.


    Billy's response:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>All right. If the Big Bang was rejected by all scientists, what
    effect would that have on evolutionary biology? <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    What you are asking is not addressing the issue. If the steady-state theory
    had won in preeminence over the big bang theory (or whatever the proposed
    cosmological theory advanced would happen to be), it would, by necessity,
    have to be an evolutionary theory in order to explain the cosmos in
    naturalistic terms. Science is no longer a search for the truth in the
    universe but a search for naturalistic explanations for everything. Those
    naturalistic explanations can only explain the origin and development of
    both any particular thing in the universe and also everything in the
    universe by using evolutionary scenarios. Can you propose a scenario where
    anything in the universe did not evolve by naturalistic processes from some
    pre-existing entity and change through time? Did not stars and galaxies
    evolve from hydrogen gas (supposedly)? Did not the higher elements evolve
    through time in the bowls of stars (supposedly)? Did not life evolve from
    "star stuff" as Carl Sagan put it?


    SOS quote:
    Well, biological evolutionary processes are limited to
    biology. The evolutionary processes of advancing from slime mold to sapiens
    are certainly different from the processes of cosmological evolution and
    abiogenesis - but they are ALL evolutionary processes.
    Not only that, but according to atheistic reductionary
    thinking we humans
    are little more than conscious animated mud cakes.


    Billy's response:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>That is a misrepresentation of atheism. You seem to believe that
    one cannot have respect for humans if you do not believe in God. That is
    also incorrect. <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>


    Being a former atheist, I assure you that there are many (not all) atheists
    that would agree with my statement. Atheists that have subjective
    existential humanists values (and most do) do care about the human condition
    and seek ways to improve it and I am not trying to demean that in the
    slightest. That does not change the bottom line, however, that if God does
    not exist and did not create man as spiritual beings with physical bodies,
    then the stark reality is that man is ultimately nothing more than a
    pre-determined fancy chemical reaction. Ideals of love, hate, etc. as well
    as moral values become nothing more than personal and cultural preferences
    (which are themselves nothing more than the result of neurons firing and
    chemical reactions in the body). Most atheists try to make some "leap of
    faith" of their own to try to escape the nihilistic starkness that remains
    as the logical conclusion of atheism and, as such, most atheists are not
    nihilists. Yet, that is the logical conclusion of atheism. There is no
    reason for our existence without God other than the subjective wishes and
    purposes we place on it.
     
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    BILLY

    Helen said:
    <BLOCKQUOTE>quote:</font><HR>Logic is the formal, precise movement from an established premise to a conclusion.

    Here is a sample.

    1. Biology is the study of life.
    2. Evolutionary biologists claim that everything has a natural, material
    cause.
    3. THEREFORE, life – according to evolutionary biologists – has a
    natural, material cause.

    But most of them won’t touch that bit of logic with a ten-foot pole.
    <HR></BLOCKQUOTE>

    I think you are attempting to construct a syllogism, but the above would have had my own logic professor beating me about the head and shoulders if I submitted it! It is neither formal nor precise. And the second premiss, that evolutionary biologists claim that everything has a natural, material cause, is plainly false, since many evolutionary biologists believe in miracles.

    Not only is it touchable, it is easy to show that it is invalid.
     

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