Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Accidental

I've heard a lot of debates between Christians and atheists where the Christian has presented the options for the origin of life on earth as being either (a) intentional design by a creator, or (b) an accident. That is, the word 'accident' is used as if it is the opposite of the word 'design'. I don't think it is, and I think this is a biased way of phrasing the question.

The word 'accident' carries with it loads of negative connotations. People die or are injured in car accidents. Accidents are generally when something goes wrong. The word accident does not just convey the idea of a random event, but it carries the connotation of an unfortunate random event. The word actually implies that there is some right-occurrence which could have happened, but did not happen, and the wrong-occurrence happened instead. The claimed dichotomy between design and accident is false.

The naturalistic atheist does not claim that life evolves by a sequence of unfortunate random events, if anything, the opposite is true. Live evolves because of beneficial, positive random events. Not accidents. There is a better word for this: Serendipity.

Of course the question remains, is life the product of design or serendipity? But that is a better question than is usually presented in these debates.

2 comments:

Edward T. Babinski said...

I like the term you suggest, serendipity. A film of the same name was a rom com if I recall and not too bad.

What it comes down to is where or not there was a strict or perhaps very loose tinkered together overall plan to this cosmos that includes eternal human happiness as the ultimate goal. At least that's what we humans want to know.

Just consider the "plan" if you can call it that, behind your own appearance in the cosmos. Men produce enough sperm on a daily basis to repopulate the earth in six months. However, many of those sperm are deformed, many have two heads, or two tails, or squiggly tails, or heads that are too large or two small, etc. Was that part of some design or fine-tuned plan to make you? And in the average human ejaculate there are two hundred million sperm. If God wanted specifically to make ‘you’ then only one sperm would have been required. Two to decide between a specific boy or girl. But two hundred million? Talk about a roll of the biological dice that made ‘you.’

Sperm are also subjected to physical stresses during ejaculation and contractions of the female tract, and may sustain oxidative damage, or even encounter the defenses of the female immune system meant for infectious organisms.

Also, in a 5 year study of 11 female volunteers Baker and Bellis (1993) examined the characteristics of sperm loss from the vagina following coitus (also called ‘flowback’). They found that flowback occurred in 94% of copulations with the median time to the emergence of ‘flowback’ of 30 min (range 5—120 min). Furthermore they estimated that a median of 35% of spermatozoa were lost through flowback but that in 12% of copulations almost 100% of the sperm inseminated were eliminated. Does the high flowback ratio sound like efficient design? This suggests that less than 1% of sperm might be retained in the female reproductive tract and this supports the notion that only a minority of sperm actually enter cervical mucus and ascend higher into the female reproductive tract.

Even being the first sperm to reach the egg assures nothing, since the eggʼs wall is too thick at that point and has to be weakened first by a couple thousand sperm attempting to breach it. And on occasion two or more sperm enter the egg before it begins to reharden, in which case the fertilized egg divides a few times then stops, or it may grow to the point of early implantation, implant on the uterine wall and then result in a miscarriage. Sometimes after the sperm enters the egg it triggers a second set of female chromosomes to be produced, and the fertilized egg dies. Sometimes the sperm enters the egg but does not go on to form a pronucleus, leaving only the eggʼs chromosomes functional, and again the process of development shuts down.

In short, your genetic compliment appears to be the result of trivial differences between hundreds of millions of dead sperm, i.e., purely statistical odds. SEE INFOGRAPHIC, “THE ODDS OF YOU BECOMING YOU”. CONTINUED

Edward T. Babinski said...

CONTINUED
Now letʼs talk about eggs. During childhood a girlʼs ovaries absorb almost half of the million immature eggs with which she was born. Of the four hundred thousand eggs present during her first menstrual period, only 300 to 500 of them will develop into mature eggs across her reproductive life span. Her body reabsorbs the rest before they complete development. Again, does that sound like efficient design, or a case of the roll of the dice?

Even the circumstances by which oneʼs parents meet, and the time of year or day they make love, and the position they are in during coitus, along with a host of other circumstance, can affect which sperm reaches which egg. So it appears like a crap shoot. Also, what lessons can one be sure that God is teaching us when a baby dies in the womb, or dies during birth, or is born with defects? Up to the mid 1700s half of all children who were born died before reaching the age of eight (according to Buffonʼs estimate). So if we canʼt be sure of what God may be teaching us when lightning strikes one tree or power line rather than another, then what can one say with certainty concerning why one particular egg happened to become fertilized by one particular sperm, or why spontaneous abortions or birth defects occur?

Now letʼs take our discussion to a highest level. If the conception of each individual seems like a crap shoot or toss of the genetic dice due to a plethora of circumstances that do not seem personally planned, then what about the evolution of a species? What if God lets evolution be evolution just as He lets sperm be sperm and eggs be eggs, and lightning strikes be lightning strikes? The human species constitutes one of a small number of extremely large-brained species of mammals on earth, including cetacea (whales, dolphins), elephants, early apes and upright hominids. All with larger brains than average. However many species of cetacea, elephants, early apes, and upright hominids, became extinct, rather like the aforementioned hundreds of millions of eggs and sperm with different compliments of genes that naturally perish during coitus leaving either nothing behind or a single fertilized zygote.