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Stephen Hawking’s God-Haunted Movie

The great British physicist Stephen Hawking has emerged in recent years as a poster boy for atheism, and his heroic struggles against the ravages of Lou Gehrig’s disease have made him something of a secular saint. The new bio-pic A Theory of Everything does indeed engage in a fair amount of Hawking-hagiography, but it is also, curiously, a God-haunted movie.

In one of the opening scenes, the young Hawking meets Jane, his future wife, in a bar and tells her that he is a cosmologist. “What’s cosmology?” she asks, and he responds, “Religion for intelligent atheists.” “What do cosmologists worship?” she persists. And he replies, “A single unifying equation that explains everything in the universe.” Later on, Stephen brings Jane to his family’s home for dinner and she challenges him, “You’ve never said why you don’t believe in God.” He says, “A physicist can’t allow his calculations to be muddled by belief in a supernatural creator,” to which she deliciously responds, “Sounds less of an argument against God than against physicists.”

This spirited back and forth continues throughout the film, as Hawking settles more and more into a secularist view and Jane persists in her religious belief. As Hawking’s physical condition deteriorates, Jane gives herself to his care with truly remarkable devotion, and it becomes clear that her dedication is born of her religious conviction.

Though the great scientist concluded his most popular work with a reference to “knowing the mind of God,” it is obvious by the end of the film that he meant that line metaphorically. The last bit of information that we learn, just before the credits roll, is that Professor Hawking continues his quest to find the theory of everything, that elusive equation that will explain all of reality.

Do you see why I say the entire film is haunted by God?

As I have argued elsewhere, it is by no means accidental that the modern physical sciences emerged when and where they did, namely, in a culture shaped by Christian belief. Two suppositions were required for the sciences to flourish, and they are both theological in nature, namely, that the world is not divine and that nature is marked, through and through, by intelligibility. As long as the natural world is worshipped as sacred-as it was in many ancient cultures — it cannot become the subject of analysis, investigation, and experimentation. And unless one has confidence that the world one seeks to analyze and investigate has an intelligible structure, one will never bother with the exercise. Now both of these convictions are corollaries of the more fundamental doctrine of creation. If the world has been created by God, then it is not divine, but it is indeed marked, in every nook and cranny, by the intelligence of the Creator who made it.

We recall the opening lines of St. John’s Gospel: “In the beginning was the Word…and all things were made through the Word.” The universal intelligibility of nature is a function of its being brought into existence by an intelligent Creator. The young Joseph Ratzinger stated the relationship as follows: the “objective mind” discoverable in finite reality is the consequence of the “subjective mind” that thought it into reality. Ratzinger furthermore observes how a peculiarity of our language discloses the same truth. When we come to know something, we speak of “recognizing” a truth, but the word “recognition” (re-cognition) implies that we have thought again what had already been thought by a more primordial intelligence. Long before Hawking used the phrase, Albert Einstein characterized his own science as a quest to know the mind of God, and in so doing, he was operating out of the very assumptions I’ve been articulating.

In light of these clarifications, let us look again at the central preoccupation of A Theory of Everything, namely, Hawking’s quest to find the one great unifying equation that would explain all of reality. It is always fascinating to go to roots of an argument, that is to say, to the fundamental assumptions that drive a rational quest, for in so doing, we necessarily leave the realm of the purely rational and enter something like the realm of the mystical. Why in the world would a scientist blithely assume that there is or is even likely to be one unifying rational form to all things, unless he assumed that there is a singular, overarching intelligence that has placed it there? Why shouldn’t the world be chaotic, utterly random, meaningless? Why should one presume that something as orderly and rational as an equation would describe the universe’s structure?

I would argue that the only finally reasonable ground for that assumption is the belief in an intelligent Creator, who has already thought into the world the very mathematics that the patient scientist discovers. In turning his back on what he calls “a celestial dictator,” Stephen Hawking was indeed purging his mind of an idol, a silly simulacrum of God, but in seeking, with rational discipline for the theory of everything, he was, in point of fact, affirming the true God.

Bishop Robert Barron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and the founder of Word on Fire.

With Ice Growing at Both Poles, Global Warming Theories Implode

Published on October 1, 2016

“With the evidence discrediting UN global-warming theories literally piling up on both ends of the Earth and everywhere in between, alarmists face an increasingly Herculean task in their bid to shackle humanity to a “climate” regime at next year’s UN summit in Paris. However, to protect the public — and especially the poor — from the devastation such a planetary scheme would entail, Americans must continue to expose the baseless alarmism underpinning what countless scientists now refer to as the “climate scam.”

“The biggest problem with Worby’s claim, however, is the fact that the undisputed global temperature record shows there has been no warming for about 18 years and counting — contradicting every “climate model” cited by the UN to justify planetary alarmism, carbon taxes, energy rationing, massive wealth transfers, and more. Dozens of excuses have been concocted for what alarmists refer to as the “pause” in warming, as many as 50 by some estimates. The Obama administration’s preferred explanation, for which there is no observable evidence, is often ridiculed by critics as the “Theory of the Ocean Ate My Global Warming.””

“In an ironic incident that sparked laughter around the world, a team of “climate scientists” who set out to show how Antarctic ice was supposedly melting ended up getting their ship trapped in record-setting ice — in the summer! Millions of taxpayer dollars and massive quantities of fossil fuels and CO2 emissions were required to rescue the stranded and embarrassed warming alarmists after their misguided adventure.”

Developmental Gene Regulatory Networks: the DNA Puppet Masters

from Darwin’s Doubt, by Stephen Meyer

Eric B. Nash :

dGRN (developmental gene regulatory networks) operate during high level embryonic development. This is referred to as epinenetic, meaning beyond genetic. I saw copies of these networks, like intricate sketches, by a researcher called Eric Davidson from Caltech, who did experiments on sea urchins. These networks with their timed sequencing functionality–like the exact iteration in cell division when a cell would be coded as, say, a posterior spine (in the case of a sea urchin)–and they were extremely complex, much like schematics one might see for circuits in electronics.

The interesting thing is that these high level embryonic developmental regulatory networks were shown to be beyond mere genes, mere DNA coding. There was a separate network that controlled (or orchestrated) early body-shaping processes. These networks used the coding in DNA, but the regulatory networks called out *when* that coding would be applied to the further development of a large group of cells.

Because networks are systems with knock-on effects downstream, mutations would have to be multiple and coordinated. This is why fruit fly experiments yielded deleterious effects. Sure, you can induce mutations and come up with all kinds of crazy body plans. But for beneficial mutations to occur–or limb-erasing ones, for that matter–mutations would have to be tweaked in a targeted way at multiple sites in the regulatory network *at the same time.* This kind of thing would be a very fine tune-up (or tune down in snakes’ cases). The probabilities are infinitesimally low.
(“The Origin of Body Plans” )

DGRN undoes neo-Darwinism.
Stephen J. Gould, the revered paleontologist from Harvard, came up with “punctuated equilibrium” based on the fossil record. Species would arise very quickly with a fully formed body plan and live millions of years basically unchanged, then disappear abruptly. Thing is, the quick appearance of new body plans defies any “small steps” explanation based purely on population genetics.

The likelihood of multiple coordinated mutations to the dGRN is impossibly low even once, and to believe that this kind of thing could happen tens of thousands of times such that a whale would come from a hippo is not evidence based; it’s faith pure and simple.
An anthology of articles came out in 2003 (?) in which different scientists challenged the neo-Darwinian explanation, and dGRN contributed to this. They called for new approaches to the riddle of speciation.
Interestingly, their commitment to scientific naturalism remained. They were esteemed highly enough that they could get away with issuing this challenge, but wouldn’t stray from the party line that evolution accounts for the diversity of life and natural history.
Eric B. NashThe above summary was drawn from chapter 13 (titled The Origin of Body Plans) of Darwin’s Doubt,
The next chapter is The Epigenetic Revolution. There’s a reference to an anthology of articles. Here’s the link to the anthology info:
Eric B. Nash “Why, for instance, did the basic body plans of nearly all metazoans arise within a relatively short time span, soon after the origin of multicellularity? Assuming that evolution is driven by incremental genetic change, should it not be moving at a slow, steady, and gradual pace? And why do similar morphological design solutions arise repeatedly in phylogenetically independent lineages that do not share the same molecular mechanisms and developmental systems? And why do building elements fixate into body plans that remain largely unchanged within a given phylogenetic lineage? And why and how are new elements occasionally introduced into an existing body plan?”

This is from ch.1 one of that anthology, which can be read at:…/9780262134194_sch_0001.pdf

Nancy Northrup As biologist Douglas Axe points out in his book Undeniable the Cambrian Explosion isn’t just a matter of the quick appearance of new body plans, it is also a massive increase in information that produced those body plans. That increase of information is not accounted for in the neo-darwinian myth.

And this: “But for beneficial mutations to occur, mutations would have to be tweaked in a targeted way at multiple sites in the regulatory network *at the same time.*

This kind of thing would be a very fine tune-up. The probabilities are infinitesimally low.” I believe the tweaking occurred at the quantum level because Life is Quantum:…/quantum-biology-the-uncanny-order-of…/

Life is quantum

Weird quantum effects are so delicate it seems they could only happen in a lab. How on Earth can life depend on them?|By Aeon

Comments re: Understanding God’s Existence

Understanding God’s Existence


That something that obeys the laws of physics will happen is, by definition, infinitely more probable then that something that does not obey the laws of physics will happen. You are just making stuff up.

RON wrote:

Not if the Being who spoke lives in a Realm with no physics. God created the Heavens and earth, but he doesn’t live in a realm of cause and effect, so He had no need of being created. Those “Quantum Fluctuations” are what ? Lets see: They are a set of Laws or forces or Laws of Nature = Quantum Fluctuations

They are:

1. Not Pysical
2. Act on the Physical
3. Created the Physical from nothing
4. Predates the Universe

Now who does that sound like ? Well the God of the Bible of course,

1. God is a Spirit
2. God acts on the Physical
3. God said, let there be light
4. God is Eternal

John Faulkner–RON
Where did you learn that this is what happened? Was there any evidence?

Quantum fluctuations are physical, obviously, they are fluctuations in the energy density of a field, They are just not stable enough to become particles. Particles are not created from nothing, they are the stabilized form of a quantum fluctuation.

The rest of your logic falls at the feet of reason. A being cannot exist in a realm without physics. There is certainly no evidence for such a being, and therefore no reason for you to suggest such a thing is true. Such a being, if they existed, could not affect anything, because there is no mechanism by which magic can do work. Such a being cannot speak without a mouth.

RON John Faulkner
No they are not, because they are not seen. “They” are God. Sure a being can exist that way, God does.

God exists in timeless eternity

How does God acting before time began get around the problem of God’s creation ? There are two possible interpretations of these verses. One is that God exists outside of time. Since we live in a universe of cause and effect, we naturally assume that this is the only way in which any kind of existence can function. However, the premise is false. Without the dimension of time, there is no cause and effect, and all things that could exist in such a realm would have no need of being caused, but would have always existed. Therefore, God has no need of being created, but, in fact, created the time dimension of our universe specifically for a reason – so that cause and effect would exist for us.

However, since God created time, cause and effect would never apply to His existence.Beyond the Cosmos: What Recent Discoveries in Astrophysics Reveal about the Glory and Love of God

God exists in multiple dimensions of time

The second interpretation is that God exists in more than one dimension of time. Things that exist in one dimension of time are restricted to time’s arrow and are confined to cause and effect. However, two dimensions of time form a plane of time, which has no beginning and no end and is not restricted to any single direction. A being that exists in at least two dimensions of time can travel anywhere in time and yet never had a beginning, since a plane of time has no starting point. Either interpretation leads one to the conclusion that God has no need of having been created.

Why can’t the universe be eternal ?

The idea that God can be eternal leads us to the idea that maybe the universe is eternal, and, therefore, God doesn’t need to exist at all. Actually, this was the prevalent belief of atheists before the observational data of the 20th century strongly refuted the idea that the universe was eternal. This fact presented a big dilemma for atheists, since a non-eternal universe implied that it must have been caused. Maybe Genesis 1:1 was correct! Not to be dismayed by the facts, atheists have invented some metaphysical “science” that attempts to explain away the existence of God. Hence, most atheistic cosmologists believe that we see only the visible part of a much larger “multiverse” that randomly spews out universes with different physical parameters.

Since there is no evidence supporting this idea (nor can there be, according to the laws of the universe), it is really just a substitute “god” for atheists. And, since this “god” is non-intelligent by definition, it requires a complex hypothesis, which would be ruled out if we use Occam’s razor, which states that one should use the simplest logical explanation for any phenomenon. Purposeful intelligent design of the universe makes much more sense, especially based upon what we know about the design of the universe.

What does science say about time?

When Stephen Hawking, George Ellis, and Roger Penrose extended the equations for general relativity to include space and time, the results showed that time has a beginning – at the moment of creation (i.e., the Big Bang). In fact, if you examine university websites, you will find that many professors make such a claim – that the universe had a beginning and that this beginning marked the beginning of time (see The Universe is Not Eternal, But Had A Beginning). Such assertions support the Bible’s claim that time began at the creation of the universe.

God has no need to have been created, since He exists either outside time (where cause and effect do not operate) or within multiple dimensions of time (such that there is no beginning of God’s plane of time). Hence God is eternal, having never been created. Although it is possible that the universe itself is eternal, eliminating the need for its creation, observational evidence contradicts this hypothesis, since the universe began to exist a finite ~13.8 billion years ago. The only possible escape for the atheist is the invention of a kind of super universe, which can never be confirmed experimentally (hence it would be metaphysical in nature, and not scientific).

Earth May Be a 1-in-700-Quintillion Kind of Place

When Pigs Fly and Monkeys Type

by Dr. Gerald Schroeder   October 2, 2007

It is time to lay to rest the misguided, but popularly believed un-truth that gradual, step by step random mutations could have climbed the mountain of improbability and produced the magnificent abundance of the earth’s biosphere. Accomplishing this goal requires suffering through a bit of 8th grade multiplication, some high school biology and a touch of cosmology. But it is worth the effort to bury once and for all the ill-conceived idea that random mutations produced life or anything even tenuously related to life.

Stephen Hawking in his A Brief History Of Time taught the world that given enough time, monkeys hammering away on typewriters could type out a Shakespeare sonnet. It is a nice adage but totally off base, at least within the reality of our world.

Having gone to MIT I don’t know many sonnets. In fact when I thought about this I only knew the opening line of one, “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day.” There are a bit fewer than 500 letters in that sonnet [All Shakespeare’s sonnets are about the same length; all by definition 14 lines long.] Let’s consider a grab bag with the 26 letters of the English language in it.

I reach into the bag blindfolded and pull out a letter. The likelihood that it will be ‘s’ for the first letter of the sonnet is one chance in 26. The likelihood that in two draws I will get an ‘s’ and then an ‘h’ is one chance in 26 times 26. And so on for the 500 letters. Neglecting spaces between the words, the chance of getting the entire sonnet by chance is 26 multiplied by itself 500 times.

That number comes out to be a one with 700 zeroes after it. In conventional math terms, it is 10 to the exponent power of 700. To give a sense of scale for reference, the known universe including dark matter and black energy weighs in the order of 10 to the power 56 grams; the number of basic particles [protons, neutrons, electrons, mesons] in the known universe is 10 to the power 80; the age of the universe from our perspective of time, 10 to the power 18 seconds.

Convert all the universe into micro-computers each weighing a billionth of a gram and run each of those computers billions of times a second non-stop from the beginning of time and we still will need greater than 10 to the power 500 universes, or that much more time for even a remote probability of getting a sonnet; any meaningful sonnet. Chance does not produce intelligible text and certainly not a sonnet, not in our universe.

But so convincing is the Hawking argument that the students at the Plymouth University in England convinced the National Arts Council to put up 1500 Sterling, about $3000, to try monkey typing skills. They rented a monkey house for a month. Six monkeys hammered away on a computer key board and failed to produce a single English word.

Surprised, since the shortest word in the English language is one letter long? Surely the monkeys must have hit an ‘A’ or an ‘I’ in all their efforts. But think about it. To a make an ‘A’ a word requires a space on each side of the ‘A’. That means typing: space, ‘A,’ space. If there are about 100 keys on the computer key board, the probability is one chance in a 100 times 100 times 100 which comes out to be one chance in a million. Random guessing in a spelling bee is always a losing proposition. And that is for a single letter word.

But what about life? Could random mutations have actually produced the ordered complexity of life, or even a viable protein? Mutations that are to be passed on to the next generation must occur in the genetic material of the reproductive line, which is in the DNA of sperm or egg. That mutation results in a variant (mutated) protein which might produce a new more effective type of organ, say a better muscle or the beginning of a transition from fin to foot. That would be the neo-Darwinian concept. But let’s look at that process rigorously. When we do we’ll see it does not work if randomness is the only driving force.

The building blocks of all life are proteins. Proteins are precisely organized strings of amino acids. Information held on the DNA determines the order in which the amino acids join together to form the end-product, the protein. So if the DNA mutates, we get a different amino acid and hence a different protein. Now comes the problem of mutations in the theory of neo-Darwinian randomness.

The genetic system of all life is totally coded. An example of code would be the Morse code sounds, ‘dot dot dot dash’ which look, sound or seem nothing like the letter ‘V’ for which they code. If you did not know that this sequence of sounds represented a ‘V’ you’d not have a clue as to its meaning. And so it is with the data on the DNA.

Though the data on the strands of DNA (the chromosomes) in our cells carry the information for the amino acids and proteins that are to form, the data on the DNA are held as assorted groupings of four different nucleic acids. Nucleic acids have absolutely zero physical resemblance to either amino acids or proteins. The information is totally coded.

In nature, this lack of similarity between code and final product ensures that there is no logical feedback from protein or amino acid to DNA. Information flow is one way: DNA to amino acid to protein. New mutant variations of proteins can arise only through mutations at the DNA that have no physical hint of the final protein product.

In all known life, there are only 20 different amino acids. Stringing them together in varied sequences produces varied proteins, just as intelligently stringing letters together in varied sequences will produce varied sentences and sonnets. Scientific literature suggests that all of life is made from combinations of fewer than a million different proteins. Other proteins are either useless [neutral, adding no selective advantage for survival] or lethal. But let’s say our estimate is off. In place of 1,000,000 viable proteins, let it be 100 million or billion or trillion viable proteins.

Here are the crucial numbers:

Proteins vary in length from strings of a few hundred to a few thousand amino acids. Consider a relatively short protein, such as 200 amino acids long. Into each of the 200 spaces any one of the 20 amino acids can fall. That means the total number of possible combinations is 20 times 20 times 20 repeated 200 times. The result is a one with 260 zeros after it, or 10 to the power of 260 or a billion billion billion repeated 29 times.

From this vast biological grab bag, we are told that in nature, by random chance, mutations has been able to form the fewer than a million proteins that don’t kill the organism. This did not, and could not, and will not happen by chance. And every biologist enamored with neo-Darwinian evolution knows it.

Their feeble reply is that there must be other factors that limit the types of mutations that can occur. There certainly are…but not as randomly as the materialist biologist would have it.

The unrealistic possibility that the selection of viable proteins could have occurred by unguided random mutations in the DNA led Simon Conway Morris, professor of evolutionary paleobiology at Cambridge University, Fellow of the Royal Society of England, and possibly the world’s leading paleontologist, to write his book, Life’s Solutions (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

In it we read: “Life is simply too complex to be assembled by random reactions on any believable time scale. …  evolution [has the] uncanny ability to find the short cuts across the multidimensional hyperspace of biological reality. …”

This opinion is also found in the writing of Nobel laureate, organic chemist and a leader in origin of life studies, Professor de Duve, in his excellent book, Tour of a Living Cell:

“If you equate the probability of the birth of a bacteria cell to chance assembly of its atoms, eternity will not suffice to produce one. … Faced with the enormous sum of lucky draws behind the success of the evolutionary game, one may legitimately wonder to what extent this success is actually written into the fabric of the universe.”

Life written into the fabric of the universe. Sounds like design to me.

Noble laureate, Professor of Biology, Harvard University, the late George Wald, may have provided us with the answer to this wonder when he wrote “Life and Mind in the Universe” in the International Journal of Quantum Chemistry: Quantum Biology symposium 11 (1984):

“It has occurred to me lately –  I must confess with some shock at first to my scientific sensibilities – that both questions [the origin of consciousness in humans and of life from non-living matter] might be brought into some degree of congruence. This is with the assumption that mind, rather than emerging as a late outgrowth in the evolution of life, has existed always as the matrix, the source and condition of physical reality – that stuff of which physical reality is composed is mind-stuff. It is mind that has composed a physical universe that breeds life….”

This is science, not theology, speaking. But it is also theology.

“In the beginning was the logos [logos –logic, intellect, word]” (John).

A few hundred years earlier, “With the word of God the heavens were made.” (Psalm 33).

And a few hundred years before that, “B’raisheet (with wisdom) God created the Heavens and the Earth” (Genesis 1:1). [Not ‘In the beginning.’ That is the erroneous mis-translation of the Hebrew word B’raisheet introduced by the Septuagint]

If indeed wisdom, logic and mind are the essence of existence, then the conundrum of the origin of the life’s design is solved. The Intelligence behind the design is ubiquitous in every particle of the world and most evident in the brains and minds of humans as we puzzle over our cosmic origins.

Gerald Schroeder’s thesis influenced Flew’s shift from Atheism to Theism

Antony Flew is—or was—perhaps the world’s most famous atheist. For almost a half-century he was in the forefront of those who publicly and forcefully denied the existence of God. And then something strange happened at his last debate in May of 2004.

Flew was, as usual, supposed to take the side against God. In this debate, Gerald Schroeder was to be sitting opposite to Flew, arguing for the truth of theism. “To the surprise of all concerned,” Flew remarks, with an air of whimsical understatement, “I announced at the start that I now accepted the existence of a God.”

As it turns out, his opponent, Schroeder, was partially to blame for this great turnaround. “I was particularly impressed with Gerry Schroeder’s point-by-point refutation of what I call ‘the monkey theorem.’ … After hearing Schroeder’s presentation, I told him that he had very satisfactorily and decisively established that ‘the monkey theorem’ was a load of rubbish…”

Benjamin Wiker

Gerald Schroeder:
BSc, MSc, and PhD all earned at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology PhD in two fields: Earth and Planetary Sciences; and, Nuclear Physics.
Formal theological training includes fifteen years of study under the late Rabbi Herman Pollack, Rabbi Chaim Brovender and Rabbi Noah Weinberg.

Seven years on the staff of the M.I.T. Physics Department prior to moving to Israel and joining the staff of the Weizmann Institute of Science and then the Volcani Research Institute and the Hebrew University Isotope Separation Mass Spectrometer facility. Currently teaches at the Aish HaTorah College of Jewish studies in Jerusalem.

In the first full year of its publication, The Science Of God was on the Barnes & Noble list of non-fiction best sellers and was’s best selling book in the field of physics/cosmology for that entire year.
Dr. Schroeder has approximately 60 publications in peer-reviewed scientific journals. He lives in Jerusalem with his wife and 5 children.

Folsum Street Leather Fair:

What happens when sex goes public and religion is silenced?

Not one San Francisco city official denounced this year’s Folsom Street Fair poster featuring nearly nude leather-clad chaps mocking DaVinci’s Last Supper of Christ, complete with the table strewn with sadomasochistic sex toys.

Not one San Francisco city official denounced the fair itself. Given the full frontal nature of the event, with many children present, some citizens were outraged. Matt Barber, policy director for cultural issues from Concerned Women of America, told World Net Daily,

“The most unimaginable and vile acts of debauchery are commonplace during the fair. Senator Larry Craig was arrested and driven out of the Senate for allegedly soliciting public ‘gay’ sex, yet during this event the city of San Francisco suspends the law and allows ‘gay’ men and women to parade the streets fully nude, many having sex – even group orgies – in broad daylight, while taxpayer-funded police officers look on and do absolutely nothing.”

So does anything shock and outrage San Francisco city officials? Yes, namely the Battle Cry for a Generation three-city tour. Every year it arrives in San Francisco with 25,000 Christian teens for a rally that includes Christian bands and street evangelism intended to counter a popular culture that event organizers describe as “glamorizing violence and sex”.

Violence and sex on the streets of San Francisco? Where did they get that idea? SFGate reported that Assemblyman Mark Leno, D-San Francisco, referred to the Christian teens as protesters and elaborated by saying “they’re loud, they’re obnoxious, they’re disgusting, and they should get out of San Francisco.

In years past the Board of Supervisors have passed a resolution condemning the ‘act of provocation’ by what it termed this ‘anti-gay,’ ‘anti-choice’ organization that aimed to ‘negatively influence the politics of America’s most tolerant and progressive city.'” When the Christian teens held a rally on the City Hall steps, hundreds of protesters chanted, “fascist mega-pep rally” and demanded they leave.

When House Speaker Nancy Pelosi was asked if she was personally offended by the mocking of the Last Supper, her press secretary offered a dismissive quip. ‘As a Catholic, the speaker is confident that Christianity has not been harmed.’

Can Anybody Win The Evolution 2.0 Prize?

Science, God, and Happy Chemical Accidents

November 9th, 2015 by Perry Marshall

There’s a million codes out there. HTML, bar codes, zip codes, Java, English and Chinese.
Out of a million codes, 999,999 are designed by humans.

There’s one code we don’t know the origin of – and that’s DNA. We don’t know of any codes that are not designed. This implies design in DNA.

That’s an unsolved science mystery. So I and a group of Private Equity Investors have formed a company, Natural Code LLC, to offer a multi-million dollar technology prize for Origin Of Information.

Mitchell Hackerman posted a GREAT question about the Evolution 2.0 Prize:

“So you wrote the book Evolution 2.0 and want to know of a code that wasn’t developed by Intelligence?

Well, there’s no way to prove either way; while we may not have codes we know of that haven’t been developed by intelligent life, that doesn’t mean DNA wasn’t formed via some biologic accident.

We can only say that since code is always developed via intelligence, it’s only reasonable to consider human DNA and/or or code was formulated by intelligence.

In the end, there is no way to prove either way for certain, so of course, no one can win your prize money. Nor could you win prize money to prove DNA didn’t spontaneously develop. You still don’t have enough information to conclude it can’t or hasn’t developed spontaneously.”

Mitchell, thank you for being so forthright. You could be correct. For all we know, life might have been a spontaneous biologic accident. That is exactly what Richard Dawkins says in his book The Selfish Gene:

“In once sense, it is a bigger gap” and that the origin of life may have been an “extremely improbable event” (p. 135).

There’s only one problem with that approach:

It’s not science.

What is science?


SCIENCE: 1. a branch of knowledge or study dealing with a body of facts or truths systematically arranged and showing the operation of general laws: the mathematical sciences.

2. systematic knowledge of the physical or material world gained through observation and experimentation.

If you cannot test it, reproduce it, falsify it, observe it, validate it from first principles, model it, simulate it on a computer or validate it mathematically, then it’s not science.

If life is something that happened literally accidentally, perhaps only once in the history of the entire universe… then in order to accept that theory, we have to abandon the scientific method. Because none of our experience confirms that accidental events can create information.

If we’re sticking with hard science, no current theory of life’s origin qualifies.

One of my friends is a prominent scientist who simply refuses to talk about Origin of Life, because he’s honest enough to admit that we know next to nothing about where life came from.

So if we’re going to be consistent and insist that we only teach science in science classrooms, then not only should discussions of God be banned, but all the other theories of life’s origin should be banned too.

The creationist believes in God with a capital G.

The atheist believes in Chance with a capital C.

I fail to see the difference. (Except that creationists generally admit their belief is based on faith, and atheists usually don’t.)

In formal scientific literature, the most truthful statement I’ve ever found is from Hubert Yockey, in his book Information Theory, Evolution and the Origin of Life (Cambridge University Press 2005). On page 176 he says:

“I have no doubt that if the historic process leading to the origin of life were knowable, it would be a process of physics and chemistry. Thus the process of the origin of life is possible but unknowable.”

Page 181: “The fact that there are many things unavailable to human knowledge and reasoning, even in mathematics, does not mean that there must be an Intelligent Designer.”

From a scientific perspective, Yockey’s answer is perfectly valid. I salute him for his candor. But it leaves the elephant stomping around in the room. It assumes our absence of knowledge is a brick wall.

But what if this is solvable – scientifically?

It might be solvable. So I am willing and eager to stick to the normal rules of science – methodological naturalism – and not abdicate to a “God Of Gaps explanation” every time we hit a wall in our understanding.

This is VERY important. Why?

Because no working scientist gets to say “God did it, that explains it” then take a 3-martini lunch. Scientists have to earn their paychecks. We must respect their jobs and their profession.

MANY religious people pit theology against science. The way many Christians, creationists and Intelligent Design advocates frame the issue, they’re practically giving scientists the finger.

It took me quite awhile to see how big this problem is. But I now see it very clearly. This is not OK.

That’s why it’s vital to search for an Origin Of Life model that is properly scientific. That is the motivation behind the prize.

Creating and funding this prize has been a very complex and expensive undertaking. Forming a corporation, hiring lawyers, conforming to securities laws, pitching investors, etc. etc. etc. Only a person who has formed an entity and legally taken on equity investors, dealt with federal regulations etc. can fully appreciate this.

Some of my friends think this is brilliant. Others think I’m crazy.

I did not create and fund this prize to “give scientists the finger.” I founded this prize so that we can put Origin Of Life on proper scientific footing.

Why? Because there may well be a principle of self-organization in nature, or consciousness, or some unknown law of physics, that explains information.

Origin of Information is one of the most valuable and fundamental questions in the entire history of science. If this is discovered, it will be one of the ten most important discoveries of the 21st century. It may be one of the biggest science discoveries of all time.

I believe there’s a 10% chance of solving this in my lifetime.

Of course we can choose to give the current (non-empirical, non-testable, non-scientific) Origin Of Life theories a free diplomatic bag of immunity. If so, why don’t we just ignore science entirely… and make up whatever we want to believe?

Secular people of all stripes are free to do that. People are welcome to believe life was a “happy chemical accident,” as long as they acknowledge that’s not science.

But they can’t have their cake and eat it too. They can’t claim to “wear the robe of science” as though it somehow supports their skepticism. And they cannot ban God from the debate, embrace a story about warm ponds and lucky lightning strikes, and claim to be fair and honest about science.

By the way, I know many deeply religious people who are also extremely uncomfortable with “God of the Gaps” arguments. They also only accept naturalistic models as real science. The BioLogos foundation is a good example.

Meanwhile, if you want to dismiss “design” in biology, you must solve information first. Until then, the inference to a Designer is still on the table.

Arthur C. Clarke said, ”Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

And I say, “Any sufficiently improbable event is indistinguishable from miracles.”

Therefore I see no empirical advantage that any of the current explanations have, vs. invoking God. Both are faith based.

The only proper scientific approach is to hypothesize that there is an undiscovered principle that explains life and information.

This is why I am totally serious about this prize. Origin Of Information may be solvable. If it is, the discovery will meet the criteria I’ve outlined in the Evolution 2.0 Prize.

May the best man – or woman – win.


I believe we have good reason to believe we have common ancestry with primates. The 287,000 transposable elements in our DNA that we share with other primates would suggest this is the case. The larger question though is what does this say about our identity? I believe that spiritually speaking we are made in the image of God and that is (potentially at least) the true source of our identity.

How Physics Lost Its Fizz

[Great new insight into Physics having reached a conceptual dead-end, it’s no longer science.]

Physics, which decades ago seemed capable of answering the deepest mysteries of existence, is now just recycling once-exciting ideas

Physics, more than any other field, lured me into science journalism. Although I majored in literature in college, I took courses in physics and astronomy and gobbled up books on the mysteries of quantum mechanics and cosmology.

For a lapsed Catholic like me, physics represented a kind of scientific theology, an empirical, rational way of probing the mysteries of existence. Physicists were discerning resonances between the smallest and largest scales of reality and spinning out astonishing conjectures about our universe and even other universes.

My favorite scientific theologian was John Wheeler. Musing over how observation seems to influence the outcome of quantum experiments, Wheeler challenged conventional objectivity and materialism, and hinted that we humans might not be just a cosmic afterthought. We live in a “participatory” cosmos, he proposed, which emerges from the interaction of consciousness and the physical realm.

Wheeler pointed out convergences between quantum mechanics and information theory. Invented in 1948 by Claude Shannon, information theory is a method for quantifying the improbability—the surprisingness, you might say—of a message. Wheeler conjectured that the “it” of objective, physical reality stems from “answers to yes-or-no questions, binary choices, bits.” He summed up this notion in the koan-like phrase “it from bit.”

Wheeler helped popularize the anthropic principle. Originally postulated by Brandon Carter, the principle purports to answer one of the deepest of all questions: Why are the laws of physics as we find them rather than some other way? What explains the precise strength of gravity and other constants of nature? The universe seems so, well, arbitrary. According to the anthropic principle, the universe must be as we observe it to be, because otherwise we wouldn’t be here to observe it.

Moreover, our universe might be one of many. The big-bang theory led some physicists, including Einstein, to suggest that our cosmos will eventually stop expanding, collapse back in a “big crunch” and rebound in yet another big bang. According to the oscillating-universe hypothesis, this cycle of cosmic death and rebirth is never-ending. Friedrich Nietzsche tormented himself with a similar idea, which he called “eternal recurrence.” Everything we do, he feared, happens over and over again, ad infinitum.

Quantum mechanics–which implies that a fleck of light or matter, when we’re not looking at it, dwells in a haze of probabilities–yielded an even weirder multiple-universe theory. In the late 1950s, Hugh Everett proposed that each particle wanders down every possible path—in other universes.

Everett’s many-worlds hypothesis evoked “The Garden of Forking Paths,” the spooky tale by Jorge Luis Borges, who, like Nietzsche, was one of my favorite writers. (I’ve always wondered whether quantum mechanics inspired Borges, who in turn influenced Everett.)

In the late 1980s, John Barrow and Frank Tipler proposed the omega-point hypothesis, a fusion of artificial intelligence and cosmology. In the not-so-distant future, Barrow and Tipler speculated, our machines will become superintelligent, autonomous beings, which will quickly embark from Earth and begin colonizing the galaxy. The machines will eventually transform the entire universe into a gigantic thinking machine.

When the universe stops expanding and collapses toward an infinitely small point, the density and computational power of this cosmic brain will spike toward infinity. This all-powerful, Godlike computer will be able to simulate any possible reality. I once asked Tipler if our reality could be a simulation created by pre-existing omega point. That’s possible, he said, but not likely, given how much suffering there is in our world. Now that is scientific theology.

What can physicists do to top these far-out visions? Not much, if books written over the past decade by Sean Carroll, Michio Kaku, Max Tegmark, Leonard Susskind, Lisa Randall and other physicist/popularizers are any guide. For the most part, they merely recycle the once-startling propositions of Einstein, Carter, Everett, Wheeler, Barrow, Tipler–and Nietzsche and Borges, for that matter.

The old oscillating-universe theory is revived in Endless Universe by Paul Steinhardt and Neil Turok and in Cycles of Time by Roger Penrose. In The Beginning of Infinity, David Deutsch dusts off Everett’s many-worlds hypothesis. And in his co-written bestseller The Grand Design, Stephen Hawking touts a multiverse model based on string theory, which I once found fascinating but now view as “science fiction with equations.”

String theory postulates that reality consists of undetectable strings wriggling in undetectable extra dimensions, and it comes in an almost infinite number of versions. Trying to turn this bug into a feature, Hawking asserts that all the universes “predicted” by string theory actually exist; the anthropic principle explains why we find ourselves in this particular cosmos.

In his bestseller The Hidden Reality, Brian Greene extols all the many varieties of multiverse. Nietzsche’s chilling vision of eternal recurrence, repackaged by Greene, becomes cute. In an infinite, eternal multiverse, Greene conjectures, everything must happen countless times. Somewhere out there your doppelgänger is reading this sentence, and elsewhere “she has skipped ahead or feels in need of a snack.”

Greene’s suggestion that our universe may be a simulation run on the computer of an alien civilization is also old hat. These ideas, in fact, are just pseudo-scientific versions of stoner thought experiments: What if our whole world is just a grain of dirt in the pocket of a giant? And there is a whole universe inside one grain of dirt in our pockets? What if our world is really just an experiment created by evil machines? And so on.

Physicists’ fantasies about parallel and virtual realms are not just stale. Increasingly, they strike me as escapist and even irresponsible, because they are so lacking in evidence. Scientists shouldn’t have to serve the public good any more than poets or musicians. But if theories are being passed off as science, shouldn’t they have at least a remote chance of being empirically corroborated? Otherwise, how do they differ from pseudoscientific ideas like intelligent design?

Susan Sontag’s 2002 essay “Looking at War” captures my jaded attitude toward speculation in physics, and especially the notion that our cosmos is virtual. Sontag castigated philosopher Jean Baudrillard, among others, for claiming that there is no reality anymore; there are only media “representations,” “spectacles” and “simulated realities.” This sort of philosophical claptrap, Sontag argued, is reprehensible in a world filled with real people suffering from real injustice, tyranny and wars.

To recapture its fizz, physics desperately needs not new ideas but new facts. Discoveries, not inventions. Ideally, physicists will stumble on something so startling that they abandon their pursuit of multiverses, strings and other fantasies and return to reality.

In the late 1990s, astronomers studying supernovas deduced to their astonishment that the expansion of the universe is speeding up. But this discovery, the most exciting since I became a science writer, has not forced radical revisions of the big-bang paradigm. Similarly, the Higgs boson, detected a few years ago by the Large Hadron Collider, merely confirmed the standard model of particle physics. Ho hum.

Things have gotten so bad that physicists are openly fretting about the future of their field. In a recent TED Talk, “Have we reached the end of physics?”, Harry Cliff states that “for the first time in the history of science, we could be facing questions that we cannot answer, not because we don’t have the brains or technology, but because the laws of physics themselves forbid it.”

I still keep an eye on physics, but I doubt it will ever thrill me as it once did. My go-to source for fizzy ideas now is research into the brain and mind. Science’s wildest frontier is inside our heads.

Self-Plagiarism Alert: This essay is adapted from one originally published in The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Further Reading:

Was I Wrong about ‘The End of Science’?

End-of-Science Meme Infects Edge Website! Again!

Why There Will Never Be Another Einstein.

If You Want More Higgs Hype, Don’t Read This Column.

Could Nobel Prize for “God Particle” Be Last Gasp for Particle Physics?

Cosmic Clowning: Stephen Hawking’s “new” theory of everything is the same old CRAP.

Is speculation in multiverses as immoral as speculation in subprime mortgages?

Why Information Can’t Be the Basis of Reality.

Why I Still Doubt Inflation, In Spite of Gravity Wave Findings.

Science Will Never Explain Why There’s Something Rather Than Nothing.

Is David Deutsch’s Vision of Endless Understanding Delusional?

See also my Q&As with physicists Steven Weinberg, George Ellis, Carlo Rovelli, Edward Witten, Garrett Lisi, Paul Steinhardt and Lee Smolin.