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Basic Worldview:
102 Atheism vs. Theism

Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1

Prelude: "Atheism/Theism" vs. "Science, the Bible, & Creation"
Atheism: Introduction and Charges
Charge 1, Deduction and Induction
Charge 2, Question 1
Charge 2, Questions 2 and 3
Charge 2, Summary and Question 4
Charges 3 and 4, Definitions
Empirical Evidence
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 1
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 2
Scientists Acting as Mechanisms, Article 3
Occam's Razor and Conclusions
Footnote 1
Footnote 2 and 3
Proof of Life
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 1
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 2
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 3
Not Theories, Unsubstantiated Hypotheses 4
Scientists: Life on Earth Imported from Outer Space
Atheisms Circle of Reasons
Is God a White Crow?

Scientists acting as Designers or Mechanisms
In Place of the Supposed Natural Mechanisms, Which are Absent and Unknown

Up until this point in our proof, we have remained somewhat general in our terminology. We have referred somewhat vaguely to the work of scientist in laboratories attempting to recreate the origination of a living cell. We have also classified this work as itself an evidence that intelligent agency is necessary as part of the process since the scientists themselves act as intelligent agents conducting the experiments.

One criticism of our proof may be offered in terms of scientific methodology. The argument could be suggested that the work of scientists during experimentation does not constitute the involvement of intelligent agency in the outcome of those experiments. The scientists are simply recreating natural environments under which cell origination can take place under the direction of unintelligent natural mechanisms in those environments, or so the argument goes. And such a criticism would be valid, too, provided that two essential conditions were met.

The first condition is this: the environments recreated in these experiments would have to be producible by exclusively unintelligent natural processes. If an environment is highly contrived or unnatural and contains elements not likely to occur naturally by unintelligent causes, then the experiment implies intelligent agency. Now, with regard to this first condition, we concede that some of these recreated environments are not contrived but are completely producible by unintelligent natural forces. There is nothing inherently unnatural or extraordinary, for example, about a tide pool with ultraviolet light (to mimic sunlight) shining down on it.

However, as our second section below will demonstrate, atheistic scientists admit that a great many of these experimental environments are themselves so highly contrived that they go far beyond what is available in nature and are thus, insufficient to establish what could occur in an actual natural environment. As such, many of these types of experiments, in general, do not pass this first condition. Here is our first quote from that section, taken from an article in American Scientist.

1) [A]biotic chemistry, which aims to reproduce in the laboratory the chemical events that initiated the emergence of life on earth some four billion years ago. Besides amino acids and other organic acids, experiments in abiotic chemistry have yielded sugars, as well as purine and pyrimidine bases, some of which are components of the nucleic acids DNA and RNA, and other biologically significant substances, although often under more contrived conditions and in lower yields than one would expect for a prebiotic process. - American Scientist article

If scientists are recreating environments that do not simply mimic nature but create conditions far more ideal than those found in nature, then all such experiments are demonstrating is that natural environments are not sufficient to produce a living cell but that for a living cell to develop it takes intelligent design to create a better environment and endow it with traits that surpass natural conditions. In such cases the scientist's intelligent design of an unnatural environment itself becomes the mechanism of cell development. And thus, these experiments would imply the necessity of an intelligent agent for life to originate.

The second condition is this: the development of the cell, proto-cell, or cell component that is the focus of the experiment would have to be created exclusively by unintelligent mechanisms existing naturally within that environment. However, when we look at some of the experiments currently being hailed as demonstrations that life could evolve by unintelligent causes, we find that the assembly of cell components is not resulting from any supposed natural mechanism inherent to any natural environment. Instead, cell components are being assembled, not from natural mechanisms, but by the intelligent intervention of the scientists themselves.

Thus, the charge asserted in our proof, that these experiments only provide evidence of the necessity for intelligent agency, still stands.

The following article is divided into three sections, each one demonstrating the intervening influence of the scientists themselves as opposed to the hypothetical and vague natural mechanisms they propose are responsible for the origin of life. The first section focuses on an article published by the MIT News Office at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Mass. This article describes the cutting edge experiments conducted by MIT researches including their Department of Chemistry. The second section focuses on an article titled "The Beginnings of Life on Earth" published by American Scientist. And finally, the third section focuses on an article entitled "First Cell" that was published by Discover.

It should be noted that all three articles were hyperlinks from Talkorigins.org, a website dedicated to the defense of naturalistic evolution (i.e. atheistic evolution) and to debunking creationism's main criticisms. These links can be found by going to the Talkorigins' Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), following the link to the section on "Probability of Abiogenesis FAQs" and then clicking on the article titled, "Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations." Given the purpose of that website and the fact that this particular section was dedicated to defending the notion of life from non-life (i.e. abiogenesis), we assume that these articles and the experiments they describe represent some of the very best available for the defense of the proposition that life can evolve from unintelligent causes.

Here then, are some very prominent examples of how scientists themselves act as the mechanism of cell component assembly, rather than the hypothetical unintelligent natural mechanisms they propose. Keep in mind as you read that these experiments are being performed by the top scientists in this field of research.

MIT Article

1) Led by Professor Julius Rebek, Jr. of the Department of Chemistry, they have created an extraordinary self-replicating molecular system that they say might be regarded as a "primitive sign of life." - MIT article

2) How the whole business of molecular replication got started has been and remains one of the central mysteries of the origin of life. The origin of life is a classic "chicken-and-egg" dilemma. In the presumed molecular evolution on primitive Earth, what came first, proteins or the nucleic acids RNA and DNA? And remember that the enzymes necessary to make proteins are themselves proteins, where did they come from? Amazingly, the laboratory-made molecule that Professor Rebek and his colleagues have created can reproduce itself without the "outside" assistance of enzymes. -MIT article

There's a chicken an egg dilemma with enzymes, proteins, and DNA/RNA, and until the problem is solved, naturalistic evolution (i.e. evolution without an intelligent designer) is at a roadblock. To solve this problem, these MIT scientists engineered a new type of molecule, one that they could not find in the natural world. This newly created molecule that cannot be found in the natural world is capable of self-replication without enzymes. In short, evolution theory required the existence of a type of molecule we don't find in nature. So, these scientists engineered this formerly nonexistent molecule and are now heralding their newly engineered creation as evidence that unintelligent natural forces could produce such a necessary molecular stepping-stone.

So, how did they create this new molecule? The scientists created the new molecule by reacting two other existing molecules. If it is at least slightly probable that such a reaction could have occurred in an unintelligent natural environment, then it might be fair to say that such a self-replicating molecule could have been produced without intelligent agency. If such a reaction is NOT likely to have occurred in the natural environment, then the intelligent agency of the scientists becomes a mechanism necessary to produce this vital step in the evolution of a living cell.

However, it begs the question. If the process, which produces such a molecule, is likely to occur in the natural environment, then why did scientists have to engineer it in the first place? Why didn't they just go extract it from some existing natural source? As we will see later in the article from Discover, other compounds such as DNA or lipids are often extracted from naturally occurring substances such as salmon sperm and egg yolks (respectively.) So, why not just extract such a self-replicating molecule from a naturally occurring substance?

The answer is obvious, because nature does not produce such a molecule. If nature does not produce such a molecule, then how can we say it is likely that such a molecule could have been produced in an unintelligent natural environment? This fact is only strengthened by the fact that the primitive earth is only likely to have been more hostile, not more conducive, to the production of such molecules. So, if such a molecule can't be found in the organically friendly modern earth, then how can it be proposed to be a likely inhabitant of the ancient, primordial earth?

In short, scientists have engineered a type of molecule that nature does not. And in doing so, these scientists have created an experiment, which demonstrates that intelligent agency is required to fill in the gaps that nature itself does not.

You see what such scientists are doing? They are asking us to believe it is likely that nature could produce a type of molecule that we do not find produced in nature and so have had to engineer ourselves. So much for the MIT experiment. All the MIT scientists did was to demonstrate that natural (atheistic) evolution requires molecules that nature doesn't produce but that an intelligent agent can.