Wednesday, September 22, 2010
Is Evolution Scientific (Part One)
The real problem is that abiogenesis is the only one of these that Ray does even a half-passable job with. As he notes, there isn't any detailed theory of abiogenesis. Thus there's so much less for him to get wrong. Yet he does his best to get wrong what he can. He quotes Fred Hoyle's calculations for the likelihood of abiogenesis, without considering, first, that abiogenesis does not imply the assembly of a complete living cell from simple chemical precursors. He considers neither Jack Szostak's theories on "RNA world" nor the success of University of Lancaster researchers in synthesizing RNA from simple molecules nor the success of Scripps Institute researchers in assembling strands of RNA that can self-replicate without the aid of other complex molecules. He doesn't consider that there may be many possible combinations of amino acids that can do the job of a particular enzyme, or part of that job: Hoyle was computing the odds of getting a particular sort of modern cell, rather than any self-replicating system whose complexity could increase through reproduction, mutation, and natural selection.
Now, all of the above points that Ray fails to consider don't constitute, put together, a theory of abiogenesis or proof that it is possible. So even if Ray had considered them, his conclusion would not have been affected, since, as in the previous chapter, Ray wants to prove God by finding gaps God could hide in. Ray, confusing certainty with evidence, assumes that every question has an obvious answer, and have it today, and if the obvious answer isn't "naturalistic," it must be supernatural creation. And again, one must wonder why today is so much more special than past times when scientists could not explain, e.g. how embryonic development occurred, or why it rained. "Science doesn't know (yet)" is not "scientific proof of God."