Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Updates to GodRiddance.Com

I have written a lengthy article on Presuppositionalist Apologetics and the "Transcendental Argument".

I have revised my page on the "Hitler and Stalin" argument against atheism.

I have also expanded and revised my page on the origin of life ('abiogenesis'). Here are some of the new things on that page:

Addendum B: A Summary of the Evolution of the Genetic Code

Components of the Genetic Code:
DNA, mRNA, tRNA, Ribosome.

DNA is the "storage medium" which holds all the information for making a living creature. Messenger RNA, or mRNA, "reads" and copies the information of DNA. Transfer RNA molecules, or tRNA, brings specific amino acids to the mRNA chain. Ribosomes are in charge of matching tRNAs with the mRNA code.The amino acids form proteins which make up all aspects of living things, from skin to internal organs and muscles.

So, as you can see from my simplified explanation of the genetic code, it is fairly complex and may seem (at first) to be impossible to explain by natural means. Yet it is not. Consider this: Scientist have discovered RNA which can act as both mRNA and tRNA (1). This in and of itself is a drastic simplification of the genetic code. But we can go even further: we can postulate that all of the components of the genetic code originally came from chains of RNA called Ribozymes. We now know that the Ribosome is a Ribozyme (2). Scientists have even successfully derived DNA from an RNA ribozyme through a process designed to simulate evolution (3). Essentially, all of the genetic code seems to be derived from chains of RNA.

Components of the Genetic Code and where they came from:

DNA - Ribozyme

mRNA, tRNA - Common ancestor ribozyme which performed both functions.

Ribosome - Ribozyme

1. Di Giulio M., The early phases of genetic code origin: conjectures on the evolution of coded catalysis. Orig Life Evol Biosph. 2003 Oct;33(4-5):479-89. (page 7)

2. Cech, T., Structural Biology: The Ribosome is a Ribozyme. Science 2000 Aug 11;289(5481):878-9.


Addendum C: Creationist Arguments about the Origin of Life

I highly recommend all three of these essays which dismantle creationist arguments against abiogenesis quite thoroughly:

Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations by Ian Musgrave

Are the Odds Against the Origin of Life Too Great to Accept? By Richard Carrier

Dismantling Jonathan Wells' arguments against the Origin of Life


Baconeater said...

Your argument about Stalin is good.
I would include the fact that we evolved empathy and guilt, something found in most higher intelligent social animals.
It has to do with survival of the tribe/species. You don't need to believe in God to be compelled to open a store door for an old lady.
If it was in our nature as humans to rape, steal and murder, we probably would be extinct by now.
And in nature, I like to use the example of the mother crocodile who knows enough not to swallow its young when transporting them from water to land or land to water. You don't see crocs reading the bible either.

AIGBusted said...

Great thoughts BEAJ. I have written about the evolution of morality when addressing C.S. Lewis' argument for a "Universal Moral Code". Basically, I think that natural selection, along with parents teaching their children to behave morally (for obvious reasons), completely explains why civilization is so, you know, civilized.

John Healey said...

I notice that you have Ian Musgrave's article listed first on your recommended reading list. I want to point out that his article has been thoroughly debunked. I’ll give you just one example of why that involves math, something we can all agree on.

Musgrave says, “So how does this shape up with the prebiotic Earth? On the early Earth it is likely that the ocean had a volume of 1 x 10^24 litres. Given an amino acid concentration of 1 x 10^-6 M (a moderately dilute soup, see Chyba and Sagan 1992 [23]), then there are roughly 1 x 10^50 potential starting chains”

First, there are only 1^50 atoms on earth. You can verify this yourself by doing a Google search or click this link.

Every protein chain contains multiple atoms so it is immediately clear that Musgrave’s math doesn’t work. Furthermore, Earth's solid mass is about 32% iron, 30% oxygen, 15% silicon, 14% magnesium, 3% sulfur, 2% nickel, 1.5% calcium, and 1.4% aluminum. Much of the iron and nickel are in the planetary core, which is 89% iron and 6% nickel. The atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen and 21% oxygen, with traces of other gases including carbon dioxide (0.3%).

Read more:

The key elements of proteins are carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, and nitrogen. So it is clear that proteins, which are a small-organized subset of these elements, constitute only a tiny fraction of the number of atoms on earth.

This is basic high school science and clearly demonstrates that Musgrave’s article is complete rubbish. He is trying to impress people with his use of demonstrably false scientific jargon in an attempt to prove that abiogenesis is possible, which of course it isn’t. All science, including statistics, points to an intelligent design of the universe and life. Einstein came to the same conclusion.

As an aside, I'm troubled that they presented the fairy tale of abiogenesis to me as a fact when I was in school. The textbooks talk about the "primordial ooze" and the perfect conditions that existed to allow abiogenesis to occur, even though science demonstrates clearly that it can't. In their defense, as microbiology progresses we learn more and more about the complexity of a single cell. As it turns out, it much easier to build a complex machine like the space shuttle, or a supercomputer, or an atomic bomb than it is a single living cell capable of replication. Scientists still haven't been able to create a cell from scratch without the aid of other living organisms like yeast and bacteria, yet they want me to make the leap of faith that "it just happened by chance" in the primordial ooze. Sorry, I want to be taught facts, not fairy tales.