The Sisson Memo, Reprise

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3 Responses

  1. Seth Gordon says:

    …the chance that DNA hit upon the necessary sequence at random is 10–120 – a number so small that Hoyle says that this sequence came about “not by random chance.”

    This is a strawman argument, because nobody is claiming that the entire gene for histone appeared in a single generation. They are claiming that organisms with the gene for histone evolved from organisms with a gene for some other protein (which may not have served the same function that histone serves in modern organisms).

    One can make a self-replicating peptide (a molecule similar to a protein, but smaller) with as few as 32 amino acids. Based on current estimates of the volume of the Earth’s early oceans and the concentration of amino acids in them, this and other simple self-replicating peptides could have arisen spontaneously in less than a year. See this essay for more details, with copious references.

    “Ah,” you say, “but nobody has ever seen a bacterium evolve from one of these self-replicating peptides in the laboratory, so there is no proof of evolution!” First, since the theory of evolution holds that the development of blue-green algae took hundreds of millions of years to evolve from the first proto-life, such a development in the lab would count more against the current theory of evolution than for it. Second, the “you haven’t seen it happen in the lab” argument applies with equal force against Intelligent Design—the Designer has not deigned to prove its existence by serving us a brand-new organism under laboratory conditions.

  2. Yaakov Menken says:

    Seth, thank you for the comment. That article is an interesting read — but he seems to evade rather than address the issue throughout. Given no reason for a peptide to assemble a particular large protein, the fact that the building blocks are not nearly so improbable has minimal, if any impact upon the likelihood that they would assemble as necessary.

    Furthermore, he was awfully lucky on his coin-flipping test. If something has a one in sixteen probability, he is as likely to wait 30 times as twice before getting the result he wants. Meanwhile, out here in the real world we make decisions based upon probabilities. Even his better numbers are far less likely than the likelihood that all of the tests and medical problems are coincidental, and smoking doesn’t cause cancer after all. It is certainly far less likely than the likelihood his next plane flight will end in a crash. So is he willing to stake his life on something he regards as so likely to end in death?

    As for the Designer not deigning to prove his existence in the lab — on the contrary. You are assuming the Designer would want to show Himself so obviously, which contradicts all of Jewish thought. Crick’s “Directed Panspermia” certainly only happened once, at least on this planet!

  3. Charles B. Hall says:

    Here is one more opinion on this issue, from Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb, the executive vice President of the Orthodox Union:

    http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/pages/rosnerGuest.jhtml?itemNo=665660

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