Thursday, September 24, 2009

Creationist Thinking about Spontaneous Generation

 
It's not surprising to discover that creationists are opposed to the idea that life began by purely natural processes. After all, that's at the heart of the dispute between creationists and scientists.

One of the rhetorical tricks used by creationists is to refer to the origin of life as "spontaneous generation." Why is this a trick? Because the term is most commonly associated with an old-fashioned view of spontaneous generation as a process that occurs regularly when new living things spring into existence. The idea was that the maggots on rotting meat arose spontaneously, for example, without the need for pre-existing life.

This notion was put to rest once-and-for-all by nineteenth century scientists; notably, Louis Pasteur. We all know that spontaneous generation of this sort doesn't happen. The creationists take advantage of this when they talk about abiogenesies—the origin of life. If they can confuse their audience by associating abiogenesis with discredited spontaneous generation, then that's a good thing, as far as they are concerned. They know what they're doing and that's what makes it despicable.

This brings me to Denyse O'Leary, Toronto's own version of IDiot. Last month she posed the following question on her blog: Is accidental origin of life a doctrine that holds back science?.
Accidental origin of life is the basic thesis of origin of life researchers. Life all just somehow sort of happened one day, billions of years ago, under the right conditions – which we may be able to recreate. But there is a constant, ongoing dispute about just what those conditions were.

Here is the problem I have always had with accidental origin of life: It amounts to spontaneous generation. However, banishing the doctrine of spontaneous generation played a key role in modern medicine’s success. If we assume that life forms (for medical purposes, we focus on pathogens) cannot start spontaneously, then they must have been introduced. Hence, we can develop procedures for a sterile operating room or lab.

If life can be spontaneously generated, why isn’t it happening now? Conditions for life today are probably as good as they have ever been, and maybe better. For over 500 million years they have obviously been good for complex life forms, and for billions of years they have been good for simple ones.
You can win a creationist book for the best response to her question.

Well, the results are in and the prize goes to StephenB. Here's part of his response. Presumably, this is the best argument the IDiots have to offer on what science is all about.
The accidental origin of life idea hurts science because it militates against the vital principle of causation, the rational and indispensible standard on which science is based. The first question any researcher asks is this: “How did it happen? or—What caused it? Yet, the concept of spontaneous generation popularizes the idea that physical events can occur without causes—that there need not be a “how”—that they can “just happen.”

Consider the following proposition: Streets don’t just “get wet.” Using the scientific and philosophical principle of causation, we understand that something had to cause the streets to get wet. So, we say that if the streets are wet, then it must be raining, or else someone turned on a fire hydrant, or we look for some other reason. But if, as Darwinists or postmodern cosmologists claim, physical events do not always need causes or necessary conditions, that is, if something really can come from nothing, then streets can indeed just get wet. With this mind set, science is severely compromised. If, indeed, something can appear spontaneously or without a cause, why cannot it happen again somewhere else in some other situation?

In keeping with that point, if one thing can “just happen,” then why cannot anything just happen? Why not everything? Under these circumstances, how could the scientist know which things were caused and which ones were not? Science would become an intellectual madhouse where the impossible is affirmed with confidence and the obvious is dismissed with disdain, which, come to think of it, is not a bad description of Darwinst epistemology. For Darwinists, and for postmodern cosmologists, a universe can pop into existence, life can come from non-life, and, yes, streets could, in principle, just “get wet.” Science cannot survive this irrational mind set indefinitely.
Are there any evolutionists out there who believe that the first living cell just "poofed" into existence without any cause or antecedents? If you believe this then please post a comment below.

If nobody admits to holding such a belief, then how do we account for the fact that the IDiots misunderstand and misrepresent science?


12 comments :

  1. Ford Prefect, Hefner Heir ApparentThursday, September 24, 2009 4:27:00 PM

    Some fools simply equate "natural" with "random".

    Life on Earth began through natural processes, but that doesn't mean they were totally chance events.

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  2. "One of the rhetorical tricks used by creationists is to refer to the origin of life as "spontaneous generation."

    I prefer to think of it more as a "creation myth"

    http://www.magictails.com/creationlinks.html

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  3. I also wonder why life only formed once. Is it such an improbable event? Could it only occur in conditions no longer in existence? Or does it continue to occur from time to time, deep in some thermal vent somewhere?

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  4. We don't call them IDiots for no reason.

    There is some very interesting research into abiogenesis. See R Hazen's book. I am sure progress will continue to be slow as this is not likely a high-priority research topic.

    But in my lifetime there has been huge progress.

    I look orward to reading about more.

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  5. The question of life forming only once is interesting as well. I would suspect that it has formed more than once, perhaps even on earth, but much more likely on other planets.

    Seems it could be hard now for new life to form since there are many complex life forms in every niche. Could a new process leading to life actually compete or persist long enough without being consumed to extinction?

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  6. Could it only occur in conditions no longer in existence?

    I'm no expert but my understanding is that because the world is now populated by hungry organisms, any environment which begins to form the rich organic chemical precursors to life gets filled with existing life which feeds on this 'soup'. There may have been multiple independent sources of life at one point but with so many predatory organisms, that window may be closed.

    I look forward to more knowledgeable contributors correcting me :)

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  7. The accidental origin of life idea hurts science because it militates against the vital principle of causation, the rational and indispensible standard on which science is based. The first question any researcher asks is this: “How did it happen? or—What caused it? Yet, the concept of spontaneous generation popularizes the idea that physical events can occur without causes—that there need not be a “how”—that they can “just happen.”

    I always get a laugh when clowns like Mr. StephenB make statements like this. I have a flash for Mr. StephenB. Radioactive decay of unstable nuclii is a perfect example of a process that has no cause. One can make no prediction as to when any particular unstable nucleus will decay because the process is entirely random. One can only state the probability that it will decay within a given time period, based on observations of the half life of a large number of such nuclii.

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  8. I am in basic agreement with Tyro on additional origins of life. You could not have a build-up of precursor molecules today which resembled that on the early earth, because existing life forms would get there first, and they have a tremendous headstart. It's a "winner takes all" argument.

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  9. A first-cause argument from Denyse O'Leary? That's right Denyse, the only way to stop that regress is to insert your sky fairy, nevermind that there are plausible attempts to explain it without the supernatural. One massive argument from personal incredulity/ignorance (the former in the case of CW and latter in the case of O'leary?)

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  10. Ugh, once a cretin, always a cretin.
    Only shame is that somehow this one is able to remain alive.
    Bit like a nasty virus, creating a downward spiral into intellectual oblivion.
    But maybe it's better just to ignore the IDiots totally, as they contribute nothing any discourse?

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  11. What I wonder most is, that creationists actually believe in spontanious generation "per ce" :

    IF it is jus as they say and Pasteur's test show that it will not happen. And it is not just a "mechanistic limitation". Then God did not create them either. If there is spontanious generation ex. rats from clothes, is'nt that possible a creation process?

    If it is happening, then we have observed a phenomena, and in it can be many possible theories how it happen. End is testing. And if it is not happening, then it limit all possible theories. Everything that says "it poofed" are equally wrong.

    So I have wondered how it is a bigger problem to generate one "simple" life form, then many baramines, which are more complex. Old fashioned Creationists claim is that rhinos, cats and other stuff "poofed".

    So "in most creationistic way in looking it" there is actually two models. One in which is one, quite small, poof. (naturalistic) And one, where is many "extremely complex" (this information if complexicity is off course from "C -man") poofs.

    If poofs did not happen and we can not do the mainpart of science and test it somwhow too, is'nt there Occams Razor just for the cases like this?

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  12. "If nobody admits to holding such a belief, then how do we account for the fact that the IDiots misunderstand and misrepresent science?"

    It must be because they need to.

    The expression "accidental origin of life" is extremely stupid. There's no more "accident" in it than in the rainfall that made Stephen B.'s street wet.

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