Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

Discussions on creation beliefs within Christianity, and topics related to creation.
theophilus
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Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#1

Post by theophilus » Thu Apr 25, 2013 9:30 am

How did life originate? Most people believe that it began with a process called abiogenesis, the development of living organisms from nonliving mater. According to this belief a very simple life form came into existence and over millions of year its descendants changed through the process of evolution to produce the large variety of life that exists today.

Not everyone believes in abiogenesis and evolution. Some people believe the Bible’s account of how life originated; it was created by God only a few thousand years ago.

Believers in abiogenesis and creation both agree that new varieties of life are constantly being produced by a process called natural selection. An examination of how this process works might show whether abiogenesis or creation is the most likely starting point for it.

When some individuals are better adapted to their environment than others they are more likely to survive and produce offspring. If members of a species are found in a variety of different environments the characteristics that aid survival may be different in different areas and over time the organisms in each location will come to differ from each other as well as from the parent species.

Perhaps the most obvious example of natural selection is the many breeds of dogs that are all descended from a common ancestor. Some breeds are the result of deliberate breeding by people who wanted dogs that had specific characteristics. This is artificial selection rather than natural selection but it works the same way; dogs having the desired characteristic are allowed to reproduce but others are not.

The selection process is similar to what a sculptor does when he makes a statue out of a block of marble; he cuts away all of the unwanted parts of the marble but doesn’t add any material from outside. Natural selection works by the elimination of unwanted or undesirable genes. No new genes are produced. The common ancestor of dogs must have possessed all the the genetic information that is found in all breeds of dogs. This process goes back further; dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes, and jackals have a common ancestor that possessed greater genetic diversity.

There is no way this process could have started with a simple one celled organism. (I mean simple in comparison with the life that exists today; even the simplest form of life is extremely complex.) Natural selection wouldn’t work because there would be too little to select from; it would be like a sculptor trying to make a large statue out of a grain of sand.

But what about the Bible’s account of creation?
And God said, “Let the earth bring forth living creatures according to their kinds—livestock and creeping things and beasts of the earth according to their kinds.” And it was so. And God made the beasts of the earth according to their kinds and the livestock according to their kinds, and everything that creeps on the ground according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:24-25 ESV
God created different kinds of life. If each of these kinds had a large gene pool with the potential for producing many different varieties of descendants their creation would lead to the process of natural selection we see today.

We aren’t told how many kinds there were but the number was small enough for Noah to take a pair of each kind onto the ark. Some people don’t believe the flood occurred because the ark wouldn’t have been big enough for all of the varieties of life that exist today. When you take the results of natural selection into account you can see that the number of animals Noah needed was very small.

The term natural selection was first used by Charles Darwin in Origin of Species, which was published in 1859. Our knowledge of genetics began with experiments performed by Gregor Mendel. The results of these experiments weren’t published until after his death in 1884 so Darwin knew nothing about them when he did the research for his book.

Darwin saw natural selection taking place but because he didn’t understand how heredity works he misinterpreted what he saw. He thought that the process produced completely new characteristics and therefore was evidence that his theories about the origin of life were true. Today almost everyone shares this belief and few people realize that the things we have learned about genetics since then have produced evidence that the belief isn’t true.
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#2

Post by PaulSacramento » Thu Apr 25, 2013 10:31 am

It should be noted that natural selection is what most evolutionary biologists say leads to certain mutations being passed on and others being disregarded.
While mutations are random, they state that it is the process of natural selection that selects which mutations are beneficial and to be passed on, perhaps eventually leading to a new species.
Now, in some views the natural selection process seems to be guided or some think that the process we call natural selection happens by more than just chance with no direction.
It may be the natural selection will be disregarded for some better(?) or more accurate term for how random mutations are selected.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#3

Post by RickD » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:34 pm

theophilus wrote:
Not everyone believes in abiogenesis and evolution. Some people believe the Bible’s account of how life originated; it was created by God only a few thousand years ago.
Theophilus, please post the bible verse(s) that shows that the bible says life was created only a few thousand years ago. Please, back up your claim. I want to see where the bible actually says that, not where you read it out of scripture by assuming your young earth belief is true.
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#4

Post by Ivellious » Thu Apr 25, 2013 12:53 pm

I have a few points/corrections to make.
Most people believe that it began with a process called abiogenesis, the development of living organisms from nonliving mater.
Don't fool yourself here. In America, I guarantee you this is not true. The vast majority of Americans are theists and very few would likely say that they whole-heartedly believe that abiogenesis was the origin of life on Earth. In Europe and Australia and Japan you might get closer to a 50/50 split, but still, "most" people do not accept abiogenesis as their belief on the matter.
Perhaps the most obvious example of natural selection is the many breeds of dogs that are all descended from a common ancestor. Some breeds are the result of deliberate breeding by people who wanted dogs that had specific characteristics. This is artificial selection rather than natural selection but it works the same way; dogs having the desired characteristic are allowed to reproduce but others are not.
Just to clarify, like you say dog breeding is not really natural selection, as it has nothing to do with survival or natural means of finding a mate to produce offspring with. A better example of natural selection is probably cats. Cats are all descended from the same ancestors but have spread across the globe and naturally been selected for various shapes and sizes. The first domestic cats were even naturally selected for because they adapted to eating the vermin that lived near human settlements.
The common ancestor of dogs must have possessed all the the genetic information that is found in all breeds of dogs. This process goes back further; dogs, wolves, foxes, coyotes, and jackals have a common ancestor that possessed greater genetic diversity.
This is absolutely false. Are you claiming that all canines came from some genetically superior super-dog and that for some ridiculous reason scientists believe that natural selection forced it to "cut away" chunks of its DNA to make lesser breeds? Yikes.

In reality dogs in particular are all rather closely related DNA-wise. The evolutionary explanation would probably be more akin to this: Long ago there was an ancestral four-legged beast that generally resembled a dog. Over time this species migrated around and split off into several sub-populations that underwent separate evolutionary paths. The DNA in the ancestral dog was manipulated and altered over time through mutations and certain alterations were selected for via natural selection. These sub-groups then formed their own sub-populations as they were separated and so on and so on. No super-dog needed, just alterations of the pre-existing DNA to cause changes in size, jaw shape, paw size, diet, ear shape, etc.
There is no way this process could have started with a simple one celled organism. (I mean simple in comparison with the life that exists today; even the simplest form of life is extremely complex.) Natural selection wouldn’t work because there would be too little to select from; it would be like a sculptor trying to make a large statue out of a grain of sand.
But again, you presume too much. You presume that evolution works only by whittling down DNA. In that case in a few million years we will be screwed because all life will eventually get chopped down to nothing by this natural selection-sculptor. Logically your view of evolution makes no sense, but luckily that's not the theory of evolution that any biologist uses.
When you take the results of natural selection into account you can see that the number of animals Noah needed was very small.
The funny thing about this explanation is that it, too, makes no sense in the light of natural selection. You essentially give natural selection a few thousand years to take two individuals of each "kind" and create billions of unique species. Now how does that work again?
Darwin saw natural selection taking place but because he didn’t understand how heredity works he misinterpreted what he saw.
It is true that Darwin had a slightly incorrect view of heredity, as did practically everyone back then. Still, all that Darwin really needed to say about heredity in his book was that some form of heredity was needed to pass down traits in order for natural selection to be a viable model. And based on his extensive experience with domesticated animals and artificial selection, his hypothesis was correct. I don't think he misinterpreted anything about heredity as it pertained to natural selection, considering all he said was that there must be some way that animals and plants pass on their traits to their children.
He thought that the process produced completely new characteristics and therefore was evidence that his theories about the origin of life were true.Today almost everyone shares this belief and few people realize that the things we have learned about genetics since then have produced evidence that the belief isn’t true.
Well again, I would caution you against saying that somehow you are in the minority here...In America, most people share your opinion. In other developed nations not so much, but in America you are in the majority.

Second, Darwin never said anything about the origin of life, and that question is not a question being studied by evolutionary biologists. While somewhat related, evolution has no stake in abiogenesis being true or untrue. Just saying.

Also, I'd like to see your evidence that no new genetic information has ever been added to the gene pool since the dawn of time. Because if that's the case, all life on Earth is in trouble once our ever-shrinking DNA pool gets shredded by natural selection.
It may be the natural selection will be disregarded for some better(?) or more accurate term for how random mutations are selected.
Paul, are you suggesting that some new term will be made to encompass some kind of divine guidance for natural selection? Or that you think natural selection itself is untrue and we need a completely new alternative theory as to how life evolves? I'm just a bit confused by this line.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#5

Post by PaulSacramento » Thu Apr 25, 2013 1:02 pm

Paul, are you suggesting that some new term will be made to encompass some kind of divine guidance for natural selection? Or that you think natural selection itself is untrue and we need a completely new alternative theory as to how life evolves? I'm just a bit confused by this line.
I think that the process of NS is not as unguided as most evolutionary biologist think.
I think that the evidence points to SOMETHING that causes the most beneficial mutations to be the ones that are "kept" and passed on, whether that is natural selection as Darwin thought of it, or how evolutionary biologists see it NOW or whether the future will shows us differently I do not know BUT to me, it doesn't seem like the process is "by chance" at all.
Maybe there is something that drives what we call natural selection.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#6

Post by Danieltwotwenty » Thu Apr 25, 2013 3:44 pm

Is it just me or is there a pattern of theophilus posting and then not responding to people............... y:-?
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#7

Post by RickD » Thu Apr 25, 2013 4:27 pm

Danieltwotwenty wrote:Is it just me or is there a pattern of theophilus posting and then not responding to people............... y:-?
Daniel, posting and then not responding is one thing. But creating a thread and then not responding is just inconsiderate. I know we've all probably done it one time of another(I certainly am guilty), but when we make a claim in a thread we start, we need to be willing to back it up. Especially if we claim the bible says something.

So theophilus, please respond to posts regarding threads you start.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#8

Post by theophilus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:03 am

RickD wrote: Theophilus, please post the bible verse(s) that shows that the bible says life was created only a few thousand years ago. Please, back up your claim. I want to see where the bible actually says that, not where you read it out of scripture by assuming your young earth belief is true.
Chapter one of Genesis describes the creation of life. Chapter two gives more details about one part of that creation, the creation of humans. A study of the genealogies in the Bible shows that this took place only a few thousand years ago.

Here is something I came across today that relates to this subject:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-ans ... n-campaign
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#9

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:27 am

theophilus wrote:Chapter one of Genesis describes the creation of life. Chapter two gives more details about one part of that creation, the creation of humans. A study of the genealogies in the Bible shows that this took place only a few thousand years ago.

Here is something I came across today that relates to this subject:

http://www.answersingenesis.org/get-ans ... n-campaign
While I'm broadly in your camp, theo, it's not that simple. You are making a LOT of assumptions that you have to prove. Were there any gaps in the genealogies, and if so, how many? How do you know? What does the word yom refer to? Is it to be taken literally, either literally to a twenty-four hour day or literally to an undefined period of time? Or is it to be taken figuratively, either figuratively as a day referring to some undefined period of time or perhaps in a broader figurative scheme (e.g., the framework interpretation)?

If there are gaps in the genealogies (which I think is almost certainly the case), and if yom does not refer literally and directly to a normal twenty-four hour day, then you can't say that the Bible teaches that the world was created only a few thousand years ago. I happen to think that yom does refer to a normal twenty-four our day and that it is literal and not figurative speech. But that's the conclusion I came to after an exhaustive study of the use of the word throughout the entire Pentateuch, and even there, I am making a bunch of assumptions (though pretty much all conservatives would agree with those; namely, those related to the arguments that Moses wrote the Pentateuch).

My advice to you is to make your arguments rather than throwing out a few one liners and linking to AIG. With respect, that type of "argument" doesn't take those on this board who disagree with you very seriously. Do you really think they haven't read those verses and aren't familiar with AIG? If you aren't aware of the OEC interpretive models here, you should just say, "Well, it seems to me that the Bible says the world was created in seven days and that the genealogies go back about 6,000 years. I take it you are very familiar with that and yet disagree, so can I ask you how you understand those passages?" And if you are familiar with the OEC interpretive models, you should address them directly.

Just my $.02. :)
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#10

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:50 am

The issue of the Genesis genealogies being about ALL mankind and not just the tribe of Israel is that it doesn't explain the civilizations that are older than the biblical genealogies seem to be.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#11

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 8:57 am

PaulSacramento wrote:The issue of the Genesis genealogies being about ALL mankind and not just the tribe of Israel is that it doesn't explain the civilizations that are older than the biblical genealogies seem to be.
See what I mean, theo? All kinds of assumptions you have to deal with. Just like if Paul were to press his argument here, he's have to acknowledge and deal with his assumptions. :)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#12

Post by theophilus » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:27 am

Jac3510 wrote:Were there any gaps in the genealogies, and if so, how many?
There could have been gaps in the genealogies and in my opinion there probably were. In fact I wrote about that in my blog:

http://clydeherrin.wordpress.com/2012/0 ... ake-place/

My point was the the Bible contradicts the belief that the development of life took millions of years.
What does the word yom refer to? Is it to be taken literally, either literally to a twenty-four hour day or literally to an undefined period of time?
Is there any reason it shouldn't be taken literally? They might not have been 24 hours long. Here is a post I made on this subject:

http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... =7&t=38003
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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#13

Post by PaulSacramento » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:31 am

Jac3510 wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:The issue of the Genesis genealogies being about ALL mankind and not just the tribe of Israel is that it doesn't explain the civilizations that are older than the biblical genealogies seem to be.
See what I mean, theo? All kinds of assumptions you have to deal with. Just like if Paul were to press his argument here, he's have to acknowledge and deal with his assumptions. :)
Indeed, the assumption that carbon dating and the various other methods used to date things like the Gobekli Temple in Turkey for example.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#14

Post by Jac3510 » Fri Apr 26, 2013 10:54 am

theophilus wrote:
Jac3510 wrote:Were there any gaps in the genealogies, and if so, how many?
There could have been gaps in the genealogies and in my opinion there probably were. In fact I wrote about that in my blog:

http://clydeherrin.wordpress.com/2012/0 ... ake-place/

My point was the the Bible contradicts the belief that the development of life took millions of years.
What does the word yom refer to? Is it to be taken literally, either literally to a twenty-four hour day or literally to an undefined period of time?
Is there any reason it shouldn't be taken literally? They might not have been 24 hours long. Here is a post I made on this subject:

http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... =7&t=38003
Day-Age advocates do take the word literally. They just say that "day" in this instance is a bad translation. The word yom can literally refer to an unspecified period of time.

I don't think in this case it ought to be. I think it ought to be translated as "day," and that for a variety of reasons I won't bother getting into here. My point is just that you can't just assert that the universe was created in six days and that be the end of it. It's rather disrespectful of your OEC brothers to leave it at that, especially when you are posting on a board dedicated to an OEC interpretation of Genesis 1.

edit:
PaulSacramento wrote:Indeed, the assumption that carbon dating and the various other methods used to date things like the Gobekli Temple in Turkey for example.
Those, too, but I was thinking about the assumptions you are making about how the text ought to be interpreted in the first place. ;)
Proinsias wrote:I don't think you are hearing me. Preference for ice cream is a moral issue
And that, brothers and sisters, is the kind of foolishness you get people who insist on denying biblical theism. A good illustration of any as the length people will go to avoid acknowledging basic truths.

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Re: Abiogenesis, creation, and natural selection

#15

Post by RickD » Fri Apr 26, 2013 11:03 am

jac wrote:
Day-Age advocates do take the word literally. They just say that "day" in this instance is a bad translation. The word yom can literally refer to an unspecified period of time.

I don't think in this case it ought to be. I think it ought to be translated as "day," and that for a variety of reasons I won't bother getting into here. My point is just that you can't just assert that the universe was created in six days and that be the end of it. It's rather disrespectful of your OEC brothers to leave it at that, especially when you are posting on a board dedicated to an OEC interpretation of Genesis 1.
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