Testing Evolution – Why I Did It

Stages of Mitosis

This is part of a series: Testing Evolution

As a child, I loved to read about science and technology.  I couldn’t get enough.  I remember going turkey hunting with my dad, and I brought a book along – part of a 13-volume series on aviation history.  He says that I was so focused on the book that when he eventually shot a turkey, I was quite startled by the noise.

My parents are both devout Christians who do a good job of living out their faith.  They’re far from perfect, but the more I learn about other peoples’ marriages and families, the more grateful I am for a stable family, with loving parents who know how to raise kids well.  Their success in marriage and parenting is a living testament to the fact that the OEM really knows how to make families work.

My parents are also Young-Earth Creationists.  Of course, they raised me to believe that, too.  Inevitably, I had to choose between what they taught me, and what most scientists believe.  When I started looking for answers, I was probably 15 or 16 years old.  My parents weren’t able to help much – neither of them knew much about science.  It’s just not their thing.  Their main reasons for being Young-Earth Creationists were and are:

  1. The Bible says so
  2. To them, the Atheists’ explanation for the appearance of life sounds ridiculous

Normally, when I read of people who were raised Creationists, and started doubting, the story goes something like this:

  • They were taught by their parents, friends, family, etc. to believe that God created the universe and life, by his own absolute power, possibly only several thousand years ago
  • They were taught in school that life appeared by natural processes and evolved into its present form over billions of years
  • Over time, they believed their parents less and less, and believed their science teachers more and more
  • They eventually rejected their parents’ beliefs and adopted their teachers’ beliefs

For me, it went more like this:

  • I was taught by my parents, friends, family, etc. to believe that God created the universe and life, by his own absolute power, several thousand years ago
  • I read in many science books that life appeared by natural processes, and evolved into its present form over billions of years
    (I was homeschooled for most of my childhood, but I went to the local high school for the last couple of years, and got a dual diploma)
  • I read up on the Creation/Evolution controversy.  I went out of my way to find well-written, well-reasoned defenses of each of the two main sides
  • I tested the thing I was considering believing – Agnosticism bordering on Atheism.
    I did this by testing evolution
  • I found that the Evolutionists were wrong
  • At about the same time, I started testing the thing I currently believed – Christianity, including Divine Creation
    How?  I tested whether God really hears and answers prayer, in a way that can be clearly distinguished from chance, and a dead god not answering
  • I found that the Bible is right

In this post series, I’m focusing on my test of Atheism.  I may eventually write a series on my test of Christianity.

This is part of a series: Testing Evolution

Photo credit:
Daniel Williamson – OpenStax CNX (online biology textbook)

Why I Believe – The Fall of Evolution

Aging Face

This is part of two series:

  1. Testing Evolution
  2. Why I Believe
Summary:
  1. Evolution is the best explanation that atheists have ever had for life, and it’s probably the best they’ll ever have
  2. I figured out a way to test evolution
  3. Its mechanism mainly causes devolution and eventually extinction
  4. Evolutionary biologists have known about this phenomenon for awhile
  5. Their reason why this isn’t the death of evolution doesn’t hold water
  6. Thus, it’s unreasonable to believe that there is no creator god, and it is reasonable to believe that there is a creator god
  7. The only question left is who this god is, and that’s pretty easy to answer

Here’s my evolution simulator.  It’s a web app, but my Github project page doesn’t serve it as a normal web page.  To run it, download it as a .zip file, extract it, and open “Muller’s Foundry.html”.  It’ll open in your web browser, like a web page, but the URL will be on your local machine, in the form file:///path/to/folder/Muller’s Foundry.html

Screenshot of Muller's Foundry

Continue reading Why I Believe – The Fall of Evolution

Defining Life – Putting it All Together

Human egg being fertilized

This is part of a series: Define Life

I’ve listed the most common views on exactly what life is – now I’ll try to do better. But first, I’ll list my biases:

  1. In my opinion, there are a couple of inventions that will likely be created within the next 100 years which I think should be considered life. However, most people who I’ve met disagree. These inventions are:
    • Clanking replicators
      Self-sustaining, fully automated factories made of current human technology, or something not much more advanced. Each “cell” will be easily big enough to see, and would probably come in the form of a small building or a group of robots that can collectively sustain themselves, and even reproduce.

    Continue reading Defining Life – Putting it All Together

Defining Life – Is it Only Physical?

This is part of a series: Define Life

As recently as 150 years ago, one of the most common scientific views of life was Vitalism. This view says that there’s something special about living things that distinguishes them from non-life, and causes them to do things and make substances that are found nowhere in nature. That “something”, they said, was its life force.

As scientists began to discover the chemical makeup of life, this view fell into disfavor. Today, if someone calls a biologist a vitalist, he usually means it as an insult.

In its place, most scientists now believe in a form of physicalism, which says that life is a machine. Furthermore, they tend to focus on the individual parts of living things much more than the whole. For example, it’s common to hear about someone discovering a gene that causes a disease or disorder, such as the most common type of mental retardation. But it’s much less common to hear about someone discovering exactly how and why that gene has its effect.

How did this happen? There were 2 main causes:

Continue reading Defining Life – Is it Only Physical?

Defining Life – Is It A Process?

Pond Scum Conduit

This is part of a series: Define Life

I found an interesting view on what life is: Life is a Process, Not a Thing – The Mantle. In it, JoJo Brisendine argues that life is best understood not as a system that copies and spreads a particular strand of DNA, but as a system that neutralizes free energy.

It’s a reductionist view that emphasizes the flow of energy in living things above all, and says that every other part and phenomenon related to life is a natural result of that process. It’s a reaction against 2 other views:

  1. Ferris Jabr – Life is nothing more than a concept – life does not really exist
  2. The currently popular view among evolutionary biologists that RNA is the original self-copying molecule that eventually turned into us

Continue reading Defining Life – Is It A Process?

Defining Life – Does Its Origin Matter?

Diatom with beautiful symmetry

This is part of a series: Define Life

Over the past week, I asked a few people my question:

“If an inventor says that he’s created a new kind of life, how can you know if he’s right?”

The results were rather interesting. Even with a small sample size, I had quite diverse answers. When I think of life, I usually think of it in the same way that I think of cars, computers, houses, etc. I think of it as a type of machine or system. Thus, when I ask about an inventor making a new kind, I ask it expecting the same kind of response that I’d expect if I asked how one could recognize a completely new kind of computer. I expect some attempt to define what processes, characteristics or functions separate life from non-life. I expect to hear only about the properties of the creatures themselves.

One person looked at it in this way, but most of the people who had an opinion thought of life in a fundamentally different way. For them, life is defined not only by the machinery of biology, nor is it only defined by the things that only living things can do. They also believe that life only counts as life when it has the correct origin.

Continue reading Defining Life – Does Its Origin Matter?