Harvard to investigate origin of life - Mercedes-Benz Forum

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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:21 AM Thread Starter
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Harvard to investigate origin of life

I just read that Harvard will begin to study the origin of life as an investigation of the whole intelligent design hypothesis.
It seems that the most they can conclude is that a certain mechanism was possible. I do not see how a definite conclusion is possible. Besides using all the brain power that Harvard can muster may demonstrate the liklihood that there was intelligence behind the origin of life.

Now, if certain members who frequent this forum could prove the origin of life, it would definitely prove that life arose by Chance ( a true lack of intelligence).javascript:AddText('[:)]');
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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 10:50 AM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

I guess we'll have to go at ID over here to.
Let's suppose we discover that human life evolved from some DNA implanted on this planet by species X from planet Y. This does not in any way support the existence of God because the scientist is still going to be exploring where species X came from and what principles allowed species X to evolve.
For example, I think we all agree that Mercedes are intelligently designed. However, it is not a scientific answer to the question of 'How come there are Mercedes and how do they function?' to say, 'Because Herr Benz designed them that way.'

The whole topic seems to be a confusion of a scientific answer to a material question: How does life or the universe evolve? with the metaphysical question, Why is there something and not nothing?
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 11:04 AM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

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kerry edwards - 8/22/2005 9:50 AM

The whole topic seems to be a confusion of a scientific answer to a material question: How does life or the universe evolve? with the metaphysical question, Why is there something and not nothing?
I agree -- it's unproductive to confuse these issues, since one inspires scientific theory based upon empirical evidence, while the other inspires interesting, but wild conjecture.

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 01:22 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

Like I have said before, it goes back to Hawkin's idea that God may be nothing more than a set of forces in the universe that we have simply not discovered or defined yet. We know that there are two unexplainable phenomena at this point - how life arises from inert matter, and how thought arises from tissue. It is possible that both are the product of some unknown force in the universe of "intelligence" that may be present in things as small as amoeba and as large as galaxies. To quote, (more or less) Hawkins "God may be nothing more than something that we simply haven't worked the physics out for yet". I think it is totally possible for Harvard to do so. Nothing could lead to a peaceful world more than putting to rest centuries of mythology.


Recall that earlier generations faced down fascism and communism not just with missiles and tanks, but with sturdy alliances and enduring convictions. They understood that our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. Instead, they knew that our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 01:49 PM
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Interesting book

I invite you all to check out this fantastic book that was written by a French Scientist in the 1960's.

It's called, The Bible, The Qur'an and Science

Here's the link: http://home1.swipnet.se/islam/quran-bible.htm

The Holy Scriptures are examined in light of modern knowledge. You can't disagree with modern knowledge and you can't disagree that what's written in the books is actually written, so give it a read. Educate yourself.

The book is pretty detailed and pretty objective.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:38 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

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kvining - 8/23/2005 8:22 PM

Like I have said before, it goes back to Hawkin's idea that God may be nothing more than a set of forces in the universe that we have simply not discovered or defined yet. We know that there are two unexplainable phenomena at this point - how life arises from inert matter, and how thought arises from tissue. It is possible that both are the product of some unknown force in the universe of "intelligence" that may be present in things as small as amoeba and as large as galaxies. To quote, (more or less) Hawkins "God may be nothing more than something that we simply haven't worked the physics out for yet". I think it is totally possible for Harvard to do so. Nothing could lead to a peaceful world more than putting to rest centuries of mythology.
There must be things we have yet to discover. If we don't fry ourselves arguing over trivia, it's an exciting prospect.

These two problems - how life arises, and how thought (consciousness) arises, are orders of magnitude apart in difficulty (imho). The 'life' one is relatively straightforward - it is a matter of discovering the conditions that allow the support of self-replicating molecules, followed by natural selection of the molecules that replicate best (yes, I know it is circular). The principle are straighforward, the technical details are formidable, but it is well withing the scope of our current understanding.

The second problem is the toughest one I know of. Kerry will tell you.

How does 'atoms bumping togther' generate consciousness i.e subjectivity? The sensation of blue, green, hot, cold? There seems to be NO WAY to get from the material description of the world to the thing that experiences the world - our minds. Physiological arguments, and arguments about rods and cones, sensory neurons etc etc are red herrings. Those are descriptions of a machine, not of a mind.



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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:42 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

No linkee?
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:43 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

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jjl - 8/22/2005 6:38 PM
There must be things we have yet to discover. If we don't fry ourselves arguing over trivia, it's an exciting prospect.

These two problems - how life arises, and how thought (consciousness) arises, are orders of magnitude apart in difficulty (imho). The 'life' one is relatively straightforward - it is a matter of discovering the conditions that allow the support of self-replicating molecules, followed by natural selection of the molecules that replicate best (yes, I know it is circular). The principle are straighforward, the technical details are formidable, but it is well withing the scope of our current understanding.

The second problem is the toughest one I know of. Kerry will tell you.

How does 'atoms bumping togther' generate consciousness i.e subjectivity? The sensation of blue, green, hot, cold? There seems to be NO WAY to get from the material description of the world to the thing that experiences the world - our minds. Physiological arguments, and arguments about rods and cones, sensory neurons etc etc are red herrings. Those are descriptions of a machine, not of a mind.
Here's an interesting question:

Do we actually have consciousness or do we just think we do?

Thanks,

Jeff
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 04:44 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

Quote:
jdbower - 8/22/2005 3:43 PM

Do we actually have consciousness or do we just think we do?
I know I don't.

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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old 08-22-2005, 05:07 PM
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RE: Harvard to investigate origin of life

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kerry edwards - 8/22/2005 5:50 PM

I guess we'll have to go at ID over here to.
Let's suppose we discover that human life evolved from some DNA implanted on this planet by species X from planet Y. This does not in any way support the existence of God because the scientist is still going to be exploring where species X came from and what principles allowed species X to evolve.
For example, I think we all agree that Mercedes are intelligently designed. However, it is not a scientific answer to the question of 'How come there are Mercedes and how do they function?' to say, 'Because Herr Benz designed them that way.'

The whole topic seems to be a confusion of a scientific answer to a material question: How does life or the universe evolve? with the metaphysical question, Why is there something and not nothing?
Sure, the mechanistic origin of life has nothing to do with God, in those terms. The ID approach is, for example, to argue that the interaction constants in physics i.e. the relative 'strengths' of the four forces (electromagnetic, gravitational, strong nuclear, weak nuclear) are 'carefully picked' such that tiny deviations from their observed values in this universe would mean that life could not evolve e.g stars not form. The interesting part, I suppose, is exploring the features of the alternative universes as a wacky academic exercise, but I can't see how this says that God had a hand in it. After all, for all we know these constants are absolutely determined by other physical laws we don't understand as yet.
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