Monday, February 10, 2014

Answering Kirk Hastings: Seventh Question for Darwinists

This post is part of the ongoing saga to answer the questions asked by Kirk Hastings of the defunct Evidence 4 Faith podcast. This post addresses the fifth question of Kirk's "Top Ten Questions for Darwinists."

7) If Darwinian evolution is true, then why did life ever evolve at all? Simple matter and energy have no need of it in order to continue to persist and function, and all living things only live a relatively short period of time, die, and then cease to exist. According to the rules of evolution, this is highly inefficient, and totally unnecessary to the continued existence of the universe. In the end, complexity only serves to complicate "survival". Then why does evolution seek this kind of complexity at all?

Yet again, Kirk is anthropomorphizing and assuming an agenda where none exists. Why would a volcano “bother” to erupt if the magma will merely cool into rock on the surface? The answer is that the volcano never “bothered” to do anything, it is merely the end result of natural phenomena that had no special agenda in and of itself.

“Simple matter and energy have no need of it in order to continue to persist and function,”

Rock has no special need of being melted, yet that’s exactly what happens under the surface of the Earth. Kirk is doggedly insisting that there’s an agenda implied by science where none exists. To answer his question however, it’s being theorized that life arose because it was an efficient means of heat dissipation. This theory, one of many, speculates that non-living matter was organized into the first self-replicating chemicals as a result of the action of heat dissipation. To call back to Kirk’s question about the second law of Thermodynamics, this supposed “Got-ya!” law of physics may in fact be the explanation for the origin of life itself.
As Derek Lowe wrote in the excellent blog post Thermodynamics of Life
...the development of self-organizing and replicating systems would be "baked in" to thermodynamics under the right conditions. Combine that with the organic chemistry that seems to obtain under astrophysical conditions, and we should, in theory, not be a bit surprised to find living creatures hopping around, full of amino acids and carbohydrates, using sunlight and chemical energy to do their thing.

The lack of a “why” to the existence of life is frustrating to be sure, but the universe does not owe us a purpose or meaning. The fact that rocks don’t “need” life around is irrelevant.

“all living things only live a relatively short period of time, die, and then cease to exist”

Again, this is a non-argument. It basically boils down to Kirk whining “I’m not immortal so God must exist!” which is an absurd apologetic at best. If life exists as a consequence of thermodynamics, there’s no particular reason for an individual organism to have a prolonged life, because the dead matter is simply food for other organisms. The process of thermodynamic heat transfer is still happening, regardless of if a particular organism is alive and doing the work itself, or dead and being consumed by other organisms.

If life is not a natural consequence of thermodynamics, there’s still no particular reason for a particular organism to have a long life or a short life.

“In the end, complexity only serves to complicate "survival".”

That portion of the question is entirely too vague to be of any value. What “complexity” that supposedly complicates survival is Kirk referring too? A weed is more complex than a bacterium, and the weed will typically live longer than an individual bacterium. It can also sustain more damage in relation to biomass than the bacterium. Eat a dandelion leaves and the root will still grow. Eat the top half of a bacteria, and the bottom half won’t do anything other than die.

“Then why does evolution seek this kind of complexity at all?”

It doesn’t. Complexity arises from random genetic mutations. Sometimes that complexity gives an organism and advantage over others. Most of the time it does not. Kirk is insisting upon a decision process, a logic, a driving force that does not exist and is neither implied nor required by evolutionary theory. Rhetorical anthropomorphization sounds good when speaking to people who already agree with you, but in an actual discussion about the topics at hand, it just reveals that Kirk simply does not understand the theory of Evolution in any way, shape or form. He opposes that which he does not understand. In the end his arguments against Evolution are as absurd and ill-informed as the Romans who executed Christians because they thought taking Communion was an act of cannibalism.

Return to the Index
Eighth Question for Darwinists

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