Tuesday, August 12, 2008

AiG Busted - Master Debunker

Over at the WWGHA Science Forums, a Moderator has been posting some stuff from creationist "journals" for me to debunk. Let's see how I did:

Why Abiogenesis is Impossible By Jerry Bergman

"If naturalistic molecules-to-human-life evolution were true, multibillions of links are required to bridge modern humans with the chemicals that once existed in the hypothetical “primitive soup”. This putative soup, assumed by many scientists to have given birth to life over 3.5 billion years ago, was located in the ocean or mud puddles. Others argue that the origin of life could not have been in the sea but rather must have occurred in clay on dry land. Still others conclude that abiogenesis was more likely to have occurred in hot vents. It is widely recognized that major scientific problems exist with all naturalistic origin of life scenarios. This is made clear in the conclusions of many leading origin-of-life researchers. A major aspect of the abiogenesis question is “What is the minimum number of parts necessary for an autotrophic free living organism to live, and could these parts assemble by naturalistic means?” Research shows that at the lowest level this number is in the multimillions, producing an irreducible level of complexity that cannot be bridged by any known natural means."

My Response:

This is ridiculous. We need fossil "missing links" of molecules that lead to life? Those would surely not be preserved. Secondly, what about the virus? I would argue that it is a living transitional between life and nonlife, because it has some characteristics of life (a genetic code, the ability to reproduce) but cannot reproduce outside of the cell.

Secondly, this organism does not have to come together all at once, not by a long shot. Current theories of abiogenesis posit that a simple replicating molecule was formed, and then through mutation and selection evolved into life. Such replicators have been produced in the laboratory.

Thirdly, the first replicator need not be autotrophic. It need only be something that can stay around long enough to make a few copies of itself. Besides, evidence indicates that the ocean was a several percent solution of organic materials. The first organisms would have almost certainly fed off of that, and would therefore not have to eat other organisms or produce their own food from sunlight as organisms do now.
For more, please see:


A Mechanism for Accelarated Radioactive Decay


Kaluza-Klein theory, originally proposed in 1921 to 1926, has been described as a miraculous synthesis of Einstein’s gravitation theory with Maxwell’s equations of electricity and magnetism. In an approach which anticipated modern string theory, Kaluza and Klein added a fifth dimension of space to the three familiar spatial dimensions and one time dimension. The extension of Einstein’s theory to this fifth dimension then led naturally to Maxwell’s equations. The theory also naturally leads to a relation between the constant G of Newton’s law of gravitation and the fine structure constant a = e2/hc. This relation depends on the circumference of the compactified fifth dimension, so that variation in this circumference over the history of the universe could be viewed as variation in physical constants, such as the fine structure constant. If, during early creation week, say before the creation of man, such variations were to occur, they could lead to accelerated nuclear decay, thus adjusting isotopic abundances, without giving humans an unacceptable dose of radiation.

My Response:

"If, during early creation week, say before the creation of man, such variations were to occur, they could lead to accelerated nuclear decay, thus adjusting isotopic abundances, without giving humans an unacceptable dose of radiation."

And we always hear that evolutionists engage in wil speculation. ; )

First of all, creationists believe that the geologic column, since it contains fossils (of course), came after the fall of man (when death supposedly entered the world). So why would radiometric dates of millions of years appear long after the alleged creation, after these alleged variances occured? Secondly, geologists use something known as the principle of superposition. It states that all layers of the geologic column were originally layed down horizontally, with the older on the bottom and the younger at the top. Why would radiometric dating agee with this if it was wrong?


Nomad said...

Your example of Viruses as an example of a pre life transitional type form would seem to be invalid.

I can't pretend to understand the origins of viruses, I still say they look and sound like (I mean their description sounds like) molecular robots. Well, some of them look like UFOs. I find nothing weirder than the idea that I might have tiny things inside me that look like UFOs and break into my inner workings, making me sick in order to make more tiny UFOs. No pulp science fiction writer of the 50s could have come up with a concept as weird on their own.

But unless they have evolved from something else that didn't rely on other living things, they could only have come about once life had occurred. A bunch of viruses on pre life Earth are going to be stuck. They need complex life forms with DNA to work their wicked ways on.

However the "why abiogenesis is impossible" article is still absurd. It suggests that because we don't know for sure it must be impossible, and then goes on to assume that the first living thing must have been "created" with modern complexity instead of considering a primitive self replicating chemical reaction.

I think people like this must be sticking their fingers in their ears and singing "lalala I'm not listening!" when research about subjects like the self arranging properties of DNA come out.

The line of "multibillions of links are required to bridge humans with the chemicals that once existed in the hypothetical "primitive soup"" is about the only thing it got right. With multibillions of years for the process to occur in there's room for multibillions of links.

As for the radioactive decay thing... I'm trying to process it. I mean, forget about the "miraculous synthesis of Einstein’s gravitation theory with Maxwell’s equations of electricity and magnetism", unless they can demonstrate an application for it. But I THINK what they're saying is that the world was created, then this fifth dimension changed size and caused the radioactive decay rates to change (and then, presumably, change back, or else it could be interpreted as saying the rates started out high and then changed to their current slow speed), and THEN life was created. So basically all the radioactive elements started out in the proportions that we think they should have started out in (never mind that that concept is tied to things like stellar formation, there's no reason that God should have created the Earth with the isotopes in any particular ratio), but then something poorly defined happened and a bunch of decay occurred, as if billions of years had passed even though it hadn't. So at that point you've got an Earth with no life, but the shorter lived isotopes are all depleted and the longer lived ones show ages of over a billion years. THEN life was created, then the biblical history happened, and you end up with us in the present day seeing radioactive ages of billions of years even though billions of years didn't happen.

It doesn't explain why millions of years occur within the observed fossil record though. It basically admits that such accelerated decay would irradiate living things, so it had to happen before life. But the fossil record doesn't just start long ago and stay apparently uniformly old, it proceeds over hundreds of millions of years. By that theory (and I use the term loosely, VERY loosely) accelerated decay had to be happening over the history of life on the planet as well to make the dates line up, as you kind of suggest. The problem isn't that the dating suggests that the older is on the bottom and the newer on top, the problem is that the dating shows the passage of hundreds of millions of years, the whole decay acceleration thing as postulated by the article doesn't cover that. As the article suggests it, we should see the fossil record start out very old and then get only 6000 or so years newer.

In terms of rock dating, I mean. Carbon dating wouldn't be effected by this, unless it was argued that 6000 years is insufficient time to build up to equilibrium in the atmosphere between the various isotopes.

I always enjoy a bit of jiggery pokery with radioactive decay. This was a nice change from the usual "you're just assuming that it's a constant rate, even though we have no evidence of anything different" stuff. The RATE study was kind of dead in the water, it was technical enough that the ignorant don't understand it, and the educated understand how it was mistaken.

Hmm.. now I'm in the mood for a little "the speed of light might have been slower/faster in the past".

Creationist canards: You can't debunk just one.

AIGBusted said...

Hi Nomad,

My point about viruses was that creationists often want to draw a line around what is life and what's not. But you can't, because there are always things with some/most characteristics of life but not all.

Scientists think that the first organisms may have been heterotrophs of sorts, since they would have obtained nutrients from the primordial soup.