Honolulu Chapter

Archive for 2014


PZ Myers and Sam Harris face off at Twitter | Uncommon Descent.

New Atlantis dumps on the hard Darwinism of Dawkins and Dennett | Uncommon Descent.

Heh, heh:

Biologists, that is, will acknowledge that, at molecular and higher levels, they see almost nothing but an effective employment of a thousand interwoven means to achieve a thousand interwoven ends — all in an almost incomprehensibly organized, coordinated, and integrated fashion expressing the striving of the organism as a whole. The organism, they will say, as it develops from embryo to adult — as it socializes, eats, plays, fights, heals its wounds, communicates, and reproduces — is the most concertedly purposeful entity we could possibly imagine. It does not merely exist in accord with the laws of physics and chemistry; rather, it is telling the meaningful story of its own life.

And then they will take it all back.


“Perhaps the best argument in favor of the thesis 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, such as continuous creation or an oscillating universe, 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/her theory.” — Christopher Isham

Big Bang Exterminator Wanted, Will Train – Evolution News & Views.

“Is life really ubiquitous, as the big numbers hypothesis would claim? We only have one data point so far, Earth. And what we learn from life here is that isolating nonliving chemicals inside protective membranes to form self-replicating molecular machines is a very complex step; so is the step from there to cells with protected nuclear material. Terrestrial life was stuck in this unicellular stage for some three billion years out of the 3.5 billion years that we know it has been around.Without a heavy moon, Earth’s rotational axis would wobble and seasons would not exist; without a protective atmosphere and magnetic poles, cosmic radiation would sterilize the surface, and so on.The bottom line: Earth is not mediocre.”

— Marcelo Gleiser, Appleton Professor of Natural Philosophy at Dartmouth College.

via Are We Alone? – Why We Matter – To the Multiverse and Back.

Dr. Edward Peltzer Edward Peltzer explores the possibilities that1. Life is the result of unguided chemical reactions and random processes2. Life is the result of purposeful physical laws and initial conditions3. The laws of nature and fine-tuning of the initial conditions are sufficient to account for the origin of life4. natural processes alone prohibit the origin of lifeAfter reviewing the evidence for each option Dr. Peltzer comes to the conclusion that chemical cross-reactions, including the Maillard reaction, would have prevented a purely naturalistic origin of life. His research thus supports the Law of Biogenesis, that life proceeds only from pre-existing life:

via Origin of life The faith and the facts | Uncommon Descent.

“The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small. The idea of spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore highly improbable, even on the scale of the billions of years during which prebiotic evolution occurred.”

— Ilya Prigonine

NASA asked agnostic Yale Physicist Harold Morowitz to calculate the odds of the simplest conceivable cell to come together from random chance to enhance their astrobiological knowledge. The odds Morowitz came up with were 1 in 10 to the 339,999,866. Anything less probable than 1 in to the 50th power is mathematically impossible. Morowitz was a good agnostic though, and insisted that energy flow (such as that coming in from the sun) could cause the engineering of the first cell, and cited Nobel Prize-winning chemist Ilya Prigonine as an authority for that claim. One little problem, though; Ilya Prigonine disagrees with Morowitz, and says it’s virtuously impossible!

Q: Doctor Morowitz, is the scientific literature regarding the ordering effect of the flow of energy well known?

A: Yes. It’s certainly well known to all thermodynamicists.

Q: Is there a considerable amount of such literature?

A: There are a number of books, scientific books, there are a large number of journal articles on the subject. And it’s even found its way into the popular press in the sense that in 1977 Ilya Prigogine was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry, cited in part because of the results of his theory on the ordering effect in biological systems, so that the matters we’re talking about are extremely well known.

via McLean v. Arkansas – Plaintiff’s transcript, testimony of Harold Morowitz.

“The probability that at ordinary temperatures a macroscopic number of molecules is assembled to give rise to the highly ordered structures and to the coordinated functions characterizing living organisms is vanishingly small. The idea of spontaneous genesis of life in its present form is therefore highly improbable, even on the scale of the billions of years during which prebiotic evolution occurred.”

— Ilya Prigonine

*Note: It is now known that there was nowhere near “billions of years” available for abiogenesis. Life appeared nearly synonymously with the cooling of the earth to the point of habitability.

The Return of the God Hypothesis

Stephen C. Meyer, Whitworth College:

via sm_returnofgod.pdf.

Book Review: Programming of Life by Donald E. Johnson – Apologetics 315.

Professor Johnson is a heavy-hitter, with earned Doctorates in Computer Science and Information Theory, as well as in Chemistry. If there was a plausible way that information could arise naturalistically, he would know it. The reason he doesn’t is because it has failed every test, and is not believable.


Our Alien DNA | The Daily Grail.

Of course I don’t believe the designer was an alien, but the discoveries of overlapping codes and statistically unlikely prime number products in biology is interesting.

In an article entitled “Survival of the Flight Test: Airplanes Evolve, Too,” Live Science reporter Tanya Lewis offers the startling claim that airplanes evolve the same way living organisms do. Come again? That’s right, but she’s just echoing a paper, “The Evolution of Airplanes,” published in the Journal of Applied Physics by mechanical engineers led by Adrian Bejan of Duke University. Their abstract sounds like a throwback to 19th-century orthogenesis:

via Good Grief. No, Airplanes Don’t “Evolve” by Natural Law. – Evolution News & Views.



“Horgan: Lawrence Krauss, in A Universe from Nothing, claims that physics has basically solved the mystery of why there is something rather than nothing. Do you agree?

Ellis: Certainly not.  He is presenting untested speculative theories of how things came into existence out of a pre-existing complex of entities, including variational principles, quantum field theory, specific symmetry groups, a bubbling vacuum, all the components of the standard model of particle physics, and so on. He does not explain in what way these entities could have pre-existed the coming into being of the universe, why they should have existed at all, or why they should have had the form they did.  And he gives no experimental or observational process whereby we could test these vivid speculations of the supposed universe-generation mechanism. How indeed can you test what existed before the universe existed? You can’t.

Thus what he is presenting is not tested science. It’s a philosophical speculation, which he apparently believes is so compelling he does not have to give any specification of evidence that would confirm it is true. Well, you can’t get any evidence about what existed before space and time came into being.  Above all he believes that these mathematically based speculations solve thousand year old philosophical conundrums, without seriously engaging those philosophical issues. The belief that all of reality can be fully comprehended in terms of physics and the equations of physics is a fantasy. As pointed out so well by Eddington in his Gifford lectures, they are partial and incomplete representations of physical, biological, psychological, and social reality.

And above all Krauss does not address why the laws of physics exist, why they have the form they have, or in what kind of manifestation they existed before the universe existed  (which he must believe if he believes they brought the universe into existence). Who or what dreamt up symmetry principles, Lagrangians, specific symmetry groups, gauge theories, and so on? He does not begin to answer these questions.

It’s very ironic when he says philosophy is bunk and then himself engages in this kind of attempt at philosophy. It seems that science education should include some basic modules on Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Hume, and the other great philosophers, as well as writings of more recent philosophers such as Tim Maudlin and David Albert.”

Physicist George Ellis Knocks Physicists for Knocking Philosophy, Falsification, Free Will | Cross-Check, Scientific American Blog Network.