I try to avoid the content Jack Hudson’s blog. He doesn’t write anything of value and he hasn’t any credentials in the areas that seem to be slightly interesting to him (namely biology), but I often poke over there to see if I can find any interesting bloggers in his comments. Unfortunately, this involves me skimming his posts. (After all, if he writes about a topic that doesn’t interest me, I may not be interested in whoever might comment on it.) And once in awhile, I fully read his shorter rants. Take a look at one his his recent examples:
Often when I argue that cells are infused with information driven molecular machinery and that this observation constitutes the basis for a readily falsifiable theory on why the cell is the product of the effort of a mind, opponents will accuse me of over-extending the use of the word ‘machine’. That is why I appreciate animations like the one below – it clearly depicts a molecular motor, that has been an integral part of cells since the beginning of life. It is clearly a mechanism composed of multiple integrated and highly interdependent parts that both convert energy into work, and provide the fuel on which the rest of the cell subsists.
The ATP synthase is definitely an information driven molecular machine, and the best explanation of its existence is that it was designed by a mind.
I can be brief here: biology is all about shape. Again and again, anyone who has studied the subject will quickly recognize that the only way anything gets done is through the interaction of molecules of the correct shape. The only exception is when we’re talking about ion gradients or something sufficiently similar where the cause of action is an electrochemical gradient (or, again, something sufficiently similar). And even then, shape is often still relevant in moving stuff from one place to another.
When it comes to ATP synthase, the basic idea is that a phosphate molecule binds to an ADP molecule and causes a conformational change. This isn’t information (which, incidentally, is a concept Jack has never been willing to define in scientifically coherent terms). It’s a change caused by certain molecules of a certain shape with certain properties, coming together to form a new shape with new properties. And if we back the train up a little bit, we’ll see that that is the case for the previous molecules, and the previous molecules to those, and the previous…and so on until we aren’t talking about much more than very basic chemical bonds.
But wait! I made the mistake of reading another post (it was at the top of the page). It doesn’t have to do with biology, but I still want to address it:
I was reading a post recently by New Atheist Jerry Coyne criticizing a book by philosopher J. P. Moreland called Christianity and the Nature of Science. I haven’t read the book myself, so I can’t speak directly to Coyne’s criticisms, but I can speak to the logic of his main argument. Essentially he argues (contra Moreland) that theology has not arrived at “some truth concerning the world”. How does he know that? Well according to Jerry Coyne, he knows that because so many religions disagree on the nature of God:
Jack then goes on to quote Coyne making the point that theology has huge disagreements in it as evidenced by all the different religions and denominations. He continues:
As is typical of Jerry Coyne as well as New Atheists generally, what is missing here is logic. He doesn’t ever justify why the existence of various beliefs about some topic undermine the fact that we can know something true about said topic. Take a study like political philosophy. It has been fairly well established that constitutional democracies that respect individual rights are far superior to any number of other political systems in terms of freedom, personal prosperity, health and scientific and technical advancement. Despite this fact, many of the same political systems that have always existed still exist…
If Coyne’s logic were accurate, then we would have to conclude that nothing has been learned about what constitutes a good political system. Of course such a conclusion is absurd.
This would be risible if he wasn’t so serious. When it comes to political systems, we can measure their effects and compare them. In Jack’s example, he cites freedom, personal prosperity, health, and scientific and technological advancements. What is the equivalent in his analogy? What can we objectively measure that comes out of theology? It isn’t sufficient that we compare two things which happen to have something in common. That is, it doesn’t get us anywhere to compare theology and political systems merely because they are both varied. If that was enough, he could have just chosen Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and pointed out all the available flavors. Furthermore, it isn’t like political systems are designed to give the same results. Some are geared towards one ideal, others to another ideal. Moreover, we aren’t even talking about a common methodology or field of study which is meant to lead us to the best choice, anyway. None of Jack’s analogy works. None.
So Jerry Coyne does have a significant point. If theology was a legitimate method for arriving at truth, we should expect consistency from it from independent sources. That doesn’t happen. It isn’t like calculus where 3 people (one from Asia) were able to discover/invent it without looking at each others’ paper, or evolution where 2 people came up with the same basic idea apart from each other. No, instead we have a tiny, little field that is hardly any different from literary criticism except that its focus is smaller and less useful.