Likelihood of Success

Ron Coleman’s pretty good blog

Growth of religion among scientists

Posted by Ron Coleman on August 14, 2007

Religion among the overeducated grows and grows. We’ve already talked about the Church of Global Warming; it is the high fundamentalism of the true unreality-based community. And there is more: As long as you don’t call it religion, they’ll believe any version of the Hand of God coming out of the heavens to shake and bake Creation — so long as it’s not called Creationism:

Recent probes inside comets show it is overwhelmingly likely that life began in space, according to a new paper by Cardiff University scientists….

The Cardiff team suggests that radioactive elements can keep water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years, making them potentially ideal “incubators” for early life. They also point out that the billions of comets in our solar system and across the galaxy contain far more clay than the early Earth did. The researchers calculate the odds of life starting on Earth rather than inside a comet at one trillion trillion (10 to the power of 24) to one against.

Professor Wickramasinghe said: “The findings of the comet missions, which surprised many, strengthen the argument for panspermia. We now have a mechanism for how it could have happened.”

(Via Insty.) Now we can sleep at night! We can admit the preposterousness of the suggestion that life spontaneously began and then, after a few tough winters, turned into Albert Einstein, Merv Griffin and Alex Rodriguez on this lonely sphere, because we have an alternative “scientific” explanation: It “could have happened,” see, that life came to earth on magic flying incubator rocks, which are uh-infinity old.

How do “radioactive elements … keep[ing] water in liquid form in comet interiors for millions of years… mak[es] them potentially ideal ‘incubators’ for early life.” (“Potentially”?)

One theory for the origins of life proposes that clay particles acted as a catalyst, converting simple organic molecules into more complex structures.

I am not a good enough clay physicist to tackle that one. In all seriousness, it is fascinating. But, in reality, it really answers nothing, both literally and philosophically. How anyone could live in this world and experience it, and any of the people in it, and believe they are merely bouncing molecules happily pounding out civilization, beauty and love — much less suggest the sophomoric, doper-type fantasy that Creation is really some dude’s computer game — is, to me, an assertion of faith over reason and intellect; a muting of the music of nature and the soul that is about as depressing as you can get.

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15 Responses to “Growth of religion among scientists”

  1. Magic flying daddy-rocks

    Some people will believe anything!

  2. Jack. said

    Careful Ron, you’re getting awfully close to a Flying Spaghetti Monster.

    So Comet really did create man from clay?
    Is that your assertion?

    Because if it is have you considered the indisputable logic that the universe is really a fairy tale told by a drunken monkey who meant to write Shakespeare and ended up Darwin?

    Well, there’s no accounting for tastes, is there?

    Actually I’m waiting until modern science postulates the theory that everything short of something is probably nothing and doesn’t really not exist on purpose. Or maybe I’ll just wait until the movie comes out.

    By the way, just so there is no misunderstanding, I like the GEICO caveman commercials. They make me laugh. So I’m not one a’ those kinda people.

  3. vicstich said

    Your excitement at your own determined ignorance of what you are talking about is always amusing, if not a little sad.

    You don’t have the slightest idea what these guys are talking about or why, but you know it’s all crazypants talk because, of course, you gots it all figured out when you realized a big man coulda done it. Why waste all this time THINKING, poindexters!

  4. Sorry Ron, I don’t have any problem with being the result of a long string of random events. It makes me very special, but in a different way than I think would comfort you.

    The panspermia theory doesn’t really provide any answers for those looking for an ‘out’ on the question of creation. It just moves it back a step, still unanswered.

    The clay hypothesis is at least 40 years old. It basically posits that various forms of clay provide easily re-arranged molecules that could, conceivably, combine with organic molecules in an interesting, and perhaps life-forming way. Nothing proved, of course, but the idea is not yet repudiated–at least as far as I can tell from my reading.

  5. You make a fair point, Vicstich. I don’t think I am entirely guilty of anti-intellectualism, as a general rule. In fact I hedged a bit and admitted that, well, it is pretty interesting. I am completely unqualified to go into the science of it.

    But I still am struck by two things, and this is the point of my post: (1) Scientists are stuck with the utter impossibility of explaining the origin of life (much less the evolution of species) given the young age of the earth, so (2) they come up with highly speculative “man in the moon” scenarios for the “seeding” of terrestrial life in which several strings of unproved speculation — clay + radiation + water + eons = life being only one of them — are stacked up and breathlessly reported as a major step forward in unlocking the (obviously mechanistic) Answer that will relieve Mankind (or perhaps hominidkind) of all moral responsibility in a godless world. Thus at the same time any attempt to suggest a Divine origin of a universe that is a marvel in every conceivable way is mocked as the ravings of fundamentalists.

    John, I remember the clay hypothesis, too, from way back. Forty years and they haven’t cooked up an Adam or an Eve with the stuff, but what would constitute “disproof”?

  6. HokiePundit said

    I knew staying awake through Clay Physics would come in handy one day. It’s a pity you didn’t think ahead, Ron.

  7. I made the mistake of stepping out to the cafeteria to get a steaming bowl of primordial soup, Hokie. Mmm — rich protein broth. Knocked out a few amino acids actually, but could not get them to do anything.

  8. Jack. said

    “You don’t have the slightest idea what these guys are talking about or why…”

    That makes all of us. Them included.

    “Why waste all this time THINKING, poindexters!”

    Oh, Jesus…

  9. vicstich said

    “But I still am struck by two things, and this is the point of my post: (1) Scientists are stuck with the utter impossibility of explaining the origin of life (much less the evolution of species) given the young age of the earth,”

    You’re the one who has declared it impossible. Do you have any evidence to back that up though? Can you demonstrate that it is, in fact impossible? Because the physical evidence is, all of it, so far consistent with the emergence of life from simple organic compounds at a particular time on earth. We don’t know anywhere near enough to say that this is what happened, or exactly how, but there is so far no sign of your idea that it is “impossible.” What we have all are sorts of possibilities people have thought of that so far fit the evidence, along with a determination to keep testing and learning and seeing if we can nail down what truly is and isn’t plausible and possible.

    That’s not to say that a big man couldnta dun it too, but then a big man couldnta dun anything, so that’s not a particularly enlightening way to find out how anything happened. Your arguments aren’t much different than those who objected to people trying to explain how and why it rains.

    And besides: why should anyone listen to the judgment of a person on evolution who not only doesn’t understand it, but actually parades their disinterest in learning about it as a virtue? Can you tell me the technical name of the specific pattern of fossil and genetic record? Can you accurately model the behavior of simple organic compounds and judge what reactions are likely and which are not in given environments? If not, in what position are you to weigh the plausibility of abiogenetic or evolutionary claims if you don’t even know what they are or what the evidence for them even is?

    “so (2) they come up with highly speculative “man in the moon” scenarios for the “seeding” of terrestrial life in which several strings of unproved speculation — clay + radiation + water + eons = life being only one of them — are stacked up and breathlessly reported as a major step forward in unlocking the (obviously mechanistic)”

    Yes: when we discover such things about the universe, it increases our understanding, and potentially helps give us new leads on what early life could have been like and how and why it might have appeared in certain places and not others, certain times and not others. Parts of it are indeed speculative, though that seems to be a very odd complaint given that virtually every effort in this search, and specifically the thing you are whining about, is an effort to nail down and test that speculation against evidence and experience with chemistry.

    What are you doing meanwhile? Nothing: you’ve got it all figured out, so no need to get up out of the easy chair and think or examine anything. But hey, you are MAJESTIC in that easy chair, right? Marvelous!

    “Answer that will relieve Mankind (or perhaps hominidkind) of all moral responsibility in a godless world.”

    Ah: so now it comes out. If this is really your objection, why not be honest about it? If this is your objection, then you making claims about possibility and evidence are facetious, because you are not ultimately interested in or dealing with scales of evidence at all.

    Of course, this objection is also bs. This is your projection on others, not what I or any of the scientists involved in these projects (which include christian believers, just not of your exact sect) believe or want.

    “Thus at the same time any attempt to suggest a Divine origin of a universe that is a marvel in every conceivable way is mocked as the ravings of fundamentalists.”

    It deserves to be mocked WHEN it is suggested that it is a scientifically important or insightful alternative. And since that is exactly what you are doing… especially when it is as an excuse for ridiculing those who are doing actual work while you do nothing. What’s not to mock there?

    And frankly, “poof!” is not exactly a marvelous “explanation” in my book. In fact, it looks sort of childishly dull, explaining, ultimately, nothing at all.

  10. Kevin D. said

    I’m part comet!? Does that mean I have powers? I’m away to fight crime and find out. If you don’t hear from me again, it probably means “no” on the powers thing.

  11. Jack. said

    “In fact, it looks sort of childishly dull, explaining, ultimately, nothing at all.”

    Excelsior! I’m with you.

    I like the parts about comets too.
    They are shiny and pretty and explain a lot about biological systems that God never could.

    Does this mean that my panspermia will also impregnate clay?
    Cause if it does, I’m making me a golem and calling him Captain Marvel!

    Unless that name is already taken.
    If it is then just forget the whole thing.

    Of course how you use your panspermia is your affair.
    It’s a free country Mr. Wizard.
    Go for it!

  12. Suspect said

    Isn’t it odd that clay is said by some to be the catalyst for life and the Bible stated that God fashioned man out of clay and breathed life into him?

    That should make you pause to think. Where did these ancient Jews get this stuff? In the Bible it also said that the Earth is a sphere hanging in nothingness. That during a time where it was accepted that the earth was flat.

    Just something to get the ol’ gray matter working. Huh?

  13. Bob Miller said

    ” Ron Coleman Says:
    August 15th, 2007 at 7:57 am
    I made the mistake of stepping out to the cafeteria to get a steaming bowl of primordial soup, Hokie. Mmm — rich protein broth. Knocked out a few amino acids actually, but could not get them to do anything.”

    It’s no accident that planets and moons and stuff are shaped like matzo balls.

  14. Jack. said

    “Isn’t it odd that clay is said by some to be the catalyst for life and the Bible stated that God fashioned man out of clay and breathed life into him?

    That should make you pause to think. Where did these ancient Jews get this stuff?”

    I Suspect that what you Says may be right.

    But let’s say, just for the sake of argument, that the writers of the Torah and others sections of the Bible either observed or recounted things described to them for which they had no specifically scientific/technical language to address, and so therefore either wrote such descriptions in a spiritual language or in a spiritual language which might also simultaneously contain proto-scientific terminology.

    That is to say suppose the Ancient Hebrews were attempting to describe real events in language not so much suited to a technical description but rather in a language which could give an implication of the general processes/events. characters involved, but which by our standards would not fulfill technical considerations (or maybe it does fulfill technical considerations, but such technical considerations are encoded within the spiritual language, as Isaac Newton believed to be the case).

    If that is the case, and although it is speculative (Isaac Newton being but one of many famous historical scientists who believed, postulated, or attempted to discover such a condition, language and/or code within scriptures) as an issue, rather than saying modern science and ancient scriptures are at odds, it would be more accurate to say that modern science and ancient scriptures run parallel in methods of describing reality, and that within scriptures might be important scientific clues (in proto-scientific form perhaps) which could be pursued and exploited for the benefit of men, and that conversely modern science can help to flesh out and flush out the reality clues encoded within such scriptures.

    Therefore in developing scientific postulates for later empirical testing it might be instructive to look at ancient scriptures as providing some clue as to how things might in reality operate, what processes might be involved, and what the implications of the pursuit of any particular scientific endeavor or experiment might be.

    Then by cross correlation discover if there is a measure process by which modern science can be improved and refined, both effectively and in efficiency, and to see guide modern science towards the best possible practical and moral outcome while avoiding unnecessary mistakes.

    That is certainly one possibility which could be discovered through experimentation and development of a correlation process undertaken over time.
    That is to say science and scriptures don’t necessarily have to prove each other out in order for both to benefit the other as to a closer and correct mutual interpretation of reality in this world. By providing clues to science the scriptures would serve as a type of implicational template (in both the physical and moral senses) to reality and by examining the processes, forces, and operational methods of how things work science would provide clues for perhaps a more accurate interpretation of what scriptures might be truly implying.

    Then again everything might just be nothing more than monkeys slinging shit everywhere at random and sooner or later there you have it, Microsoft Vista.
    Of course, if that is the case, who among us really wants Microsoft Vista as your vision of reality?

  15. […] by Ron Coleman on August 21st, 2007 …. when they talked about the magic of clay soup, shaken and stirred liberally, resulting in the creation of […]

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