Moshe Averick: the origin of life and atheism-of-the-gaps

Can atheism explain the origin of life?
Can atheism explain the origin of life?

An amazing must-read article from a Jewish scholar named Moshe Averick, published in the Times of Israel. (H/T Mysterious Jacob via Mysterious Chris)

This is literally the greatest thing you will read all day, so everyone reading this sentence – please click the link, after you read my excerpts and snarky comments below.

His thesis:

The history of scientific endeavor to discover a naturalistic origin of life reads like a laboratory version of a demolition derby. A researcher roars into the arena to propose a new theory and is summarily rammed and demolished by another theory driven by its respective theoretician who in turn is rammed and demolished by the next eager contestant.

Here are some of the naturalistic theories that have been proposed and demolished… frequently by other naturalists!

RNA-world theory:

  • Dr. Robert Shapiro, Professor Emeritus of Chemistry at NYU on the popular RNA-World theory: “Picture a gorilla at an immense keyboard [that] contains not only the symbols used in English and European languages but also…from every other known language and all of the symbol sets stored in a typical computer. The chances [of functional RNA molecules forming by themselves] can be compared to those of the gorilla composing, in English, a coherent recipe for the preparation of chili con carne…the spontaneous appearance of RNA chains on the lifeless Earth would have been a near miracle.”

Shapiro is a naturalist himself.

Metabolism First theory:

  • Dr. Leslie Orgel – a proponent of the RNA-World theory – on the Metabolism First theory proposed by the aforementioned Dr. Shapiro: “Theories of the origin of life based on metabolic cycles cannot be justified by the inadequacy of competing theories: they must stand on their own…solutions offered by supporters of …metabolist scenarios that are dependent on ‘if pigs could fly’ chemistry are unlikely to help.” Dr. George Whitesides of Harvard University, one of the world’s greatest living chemists, made the following comment on the Metabolism First theory: “It seems to me to be astonishingly improbable.”

For details on why these naturalistic theories are dismissed by naturalists, you should read Stephen C. Meyer’s absolutely amazing book “Signature in the Cell” will recognize much in this article. Please if you don’t have Dr. Meyer’s two books on the origin of life and the Cambrian explosion (“Darwin’s Doubt”), you really need to get them.

The article continues smashing a few more lame naturalistic scenarios, and then this tour-de-force:

The present state of Origin of Life research is best summed up by Dr. Eugene Koonin, a highly respected microbiologist and veteran researcher in the field. From his 2011 book, The Logic of Chance:The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution: “The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science…Origin of Life research has evolved into a lively, interdisciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the “dirty” rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure – we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of lifethese make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle.”  Dr. Paul Davies, Origin of Life expert and physicist at Arizona State University concurs: “You might get the impression from what I have written not only that the origin of life is virtually impossible, but that life itself is impossible…so what is the answer? Is life a miracle after all?”

Put quite simply: The proposition that the gaping chasm between non-living, inorganic chemicals and a living bacterium could be bridged by an unguided naturalistic process is so patently absurd that it can be rejected out of hand. Despite the abundant availability of raw materials such as mud, stones, straw and rocks in a rain forest, one does not need to “prove” that a mud hut in a clearing in that forest is the product of intelligent intervention. An appropriate metaphor for a bacterium would be more like finding Buckingham Palace.

It is obvious that life was created by an intelligent designer outside of the natural world and the reason why the origin of life “seems almost like a miracle,” is because itis a miracle.

However, atheist/materialist scientists refuse to give up so easily. Dr. Koonin himself has proposed a possible solution and escape hatch from having to accept a Creator of life: “The Many Worlds in One version of the cosmological model of eternal inflation might suggest a way out of the origin of life conundrum because, in an infinite multiverse with a finite number of macroscopic histories (each repeated an infinite number of times), the emergence of even highly complex systems by chance is not just possible, but inevitable.” (The Logic of Chance)

“The way out of the origin of life conundrum [is that] in an infinite multiverse…the emergence of even highly complex systems by chance is not just possible, but inevitable.”

Translation: The odds of rolling a six a thousand times in a row with a single die is 1 in 6 to the 1000th power, or 1 chance in 6 x 10 to the 999th power. The size of this number is beyond our comprehension but to provide some kind of baseline keep in mind that the number of atoms in the entire universe is roughly 10 to the 80th power. Despite this, as Koonin points out, if I am able to roll the die an infinite number of times, it is not only possible, but inevitable that it will happen. Although reason and scientific investigation have informed us of the virtual impossibility of life having formed on our planet by an undirected naturalistic process, the “way out of the origin of life conundrum” – that is to say, the way to avoid the obvious answer that life was created – is to propose a multiverse. With an infinite number of trials and errors available, it is not only possible but inevitable that life will form no matter how fantastic the odds against.

He is right of course. With an infinite number of trials and errors not only is the formation of life inevitable but it is just as inevitable that at least one of each of the following has formed by pure chance and can be found on our planet today: iPhone 5, Toshiba Satellite Laptop Computer, Schwinn Discover Men’s Hybrid Bike, full color poster of Jimmy Hendrix playing at Woodstock, Martin D-35 Acoustic Guitar, Mylec Eclipse Jet-Flow Hockey Stick, Revell 1:48 scale P-51D Mustang model airplane, and last but not least, a 2013 Rolls Royce Phantom Sedan (retail price- $465,000). I don’t believe it, no one reading this article believes it, Eugene Koonin does not believe it, and even Richard Dawkins doesn’t believe it.

Read the whole thing.

In my opinion, all of this loud worship of science from people like Dawkins, Atkins and Krauss is just a smokescreen. Atheism is first and foremost about dispensing with cosmic authority and moral accountability. If they have to believe in eternal universes, unseen aliens, untestable multiverses, undiscovered Cambrian precursor fossils, and even the freaking Flying Spaghetti Monster in order to see God’s handiwork in nature, then they will do it.

Note: this concluding rant applies to village atheists like Christopher Hitchens, Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins, not to exceptional academic non-theists like Peter Millican and Graham Oppy.

If you want to read a really good article on exactly how improbable the simplest living organism is, click here.

The really astonishing about the case for theism is that we have a half-dozen scientific arguments like this… this isn’t even our best one! It’s so strange because I find myself living in a world filled with atheists who basically believe in the Easter bunny even as they profess this great affection for the very thing that is exposing their madness – science! Like a person jealously hugging a chunk of radioactive material to himself and then claiming that it protects him from radiation sickness. So surreal. 

Shabbat shalom, Moshe Averick, and Mazel Tov!

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