Where do comets come from?

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I’ve been thinking about comets a lot lately, trying to image C/2009 G1, reading “The Hunt for Planet X”, wondering why Galileo was so wrong about them and recently reading a Young Earth creationist blog post on them. The latter referred to a very interesting pre-publication article. And I’d like to discuss this article, as this illuminates not only the origins of comets but also how science is done.

Where do comets come from? They scream in from the outer dark, briefly flash across the skies to our wonder then return to the dark. Actually, there are multiple answers to this question. We can divide comets into two basic types, long period comets and short period comets. Long period comets have their origin deep within the outer reaches of the solar system, they will return to the warm embrace of the Sun on geological time scales, if at all. Short period comets come from within the solar system, and can be further divided into Jupiter Family comets, with an orbital period of 20 years or less whose orbits extend not much further than that of Jupiter, and Halley Family comets, with periods of between 20 to 200 years.

Source Hubble Space Telescope:

But this is only part of the answer to “where do comets come from?” Comets are basically dirty snowballs, and as the Jupiter Family comets swing close to the Sun, a little bit of them evaporates. The spectacular (or not so spectacular) tails that awe us are composed of comet material boiling away into space [1]. It’s obvious that comets can’t last forever, and eventually the ice will evaporate away, leaving an inert core of rubble and dust which can no longer be called a comet (or in extreme cases disintegrate into a stream of rubble).

We have examples of comet death in the spectacular decay of comets such as 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3 and the asteroid/comets with feeble tails. The time for a Jupiter family comet to melt away is much shorter than the age of the solar system (around 300,000 years compared to the age of the solar system, around 5 billion years, Earth is around 4.5 billion years old). Any comets present in short period orbits at the formation of the solar system will be long gone by now, but we obviously have active short period comets. Where do they come from?

Source: Wikipedia

One of the first proposals was that the short period comets, like the long period comets, come from the icy dark that surrounds the solar system, and represent long period comets captured into short period orbits by interactions with the planets. However, while some short period comets may come from this source, it’s unlikely that most of them do.

Firstly the short period comets are more or less confined to the orbital plane of the solar system (but not as much as the planets), where as long period comets come from all over. Secondly, simulations showed that too few comets could be captured this way to explain the number of comets we see.

On the basis of dynamic simulations, it was predicted that there was a band of icy objects lying beyond the orbit of Neptune, and comets were the results of small icy bodies being bounced into the inner solar system by gravitational interactions with the planets and other icy bodies. A hunt for these objects soon found them [2], and the discovery of the Kuiper Belt a spectacular vindication of cometary theory. Now, cometary objects at that size are too small to be seen, even by the Hubble telescope, but counts of larger objects found that the size distribution followed a power law (with of course, more objects at smaller sizes than at larger sizes), and extrapolation of the best surveys indicated there was more than enough objects in the Kuiper Belt to account for the number of comets we see today.

Which brings us to this paper by Volk and Malhotra. They have done one of the most exhaustive simulations of cometary dynamics to date, to estimate the necessary population of Kuiper Belt objects needed to produce the number of comets we see today, with some of the best estimates of the actually Kuiper Belt population.

And they come up with a shortfall, there appears to be too few small icy objects in the Kupier Belt to account for the number of comets we see. Now, I’ve been simplifying things a bit. The cometary group they were studying is a subset of the short period comets, the Jupiter family comets. These are the most numerous short period comets. Also, the Kuiper belt is not homogeneous, being made up of the classic Kuiper Belt, the Scattered Disk and various bodies in orbital resonance, such as the Plutinos. The work of Volk and Malhotra refers to the origin of Jupiter Family Comets from the Scattered Disk. Anyway, they concluded that there is over two order of magnitude fewer objects in the scattered disk than is needed to provide the number of comets we see today. The Young Earth creationists have seized upon this, if we have too many comets they say, and comets cannot survive a long time, therefore the soar system must be young. Lets leave aside the numerous problems with this argument and look at the actual paper for a moment.

Source: NASA and A. Feild

The authors calculate that around 1 x108 objects are required to provide the number of comets we see today, but they estimate that there are only 3x105 comet-sized objects in the Scattered Disk of the Kuiper Belt. This is a fairly large discrepancy, but then we come to the confidence interval. The 95% confidence interval, that is the region where we are statistically confident there is a 95% chance the true number of comet sized objects lies in that region, runs from 1x105 to 2x108.

Oh.

In other words, our degree of uncertainly about the true number of Kuiper belt objects is so large, that it may very well be sufficient to explain the number of comets we see. Now, I am not a professional astronomer, nor do I play one on TV. But I do do a heck of a lot of curve fitting and statistics, so I am qualified to comment on this.

Why it’s hard to count faint Kuiper belt objects Source: Fig1 Bernsetin et al., 2004.

Why is there such a large error range? As I mentioned before, we can’t actually see comet sized objects in the Kuiper Belt, even with Hubble. We have to estimate their number by extrapolating from the size distribution of objects we can see. Early estimates gave lots of objects, later surveys, looking at dimmer objects, gave a smaller estimate. The Volk and Malhotra article uses a Hubble survey estimate, which looked at the faintest objects yet. However, it is very easy to miss objects, as the history of astronomy shows when we have missed very large icy objects (automated systems may miss faint objects, the survey may be looking where objects aren’t etc.). So the Hubble estimates come with very large error bars. Other deep surveys (although not as deep as Hubble) find more objects.

Estimates of small Kuiper belt objects from one of the most recent surveys ( Source: Fig6, Fraser et al., 2008). Note the large error bars.

The very best we can say is that we do not have enough data to make a definitive estimate of the number of comet-like Kupier objects, and we will have to wait until better, deeper surveys are done.

The creationist says

“The simplest explanation as to why we can still see short-period comets is that the solar system is young.”

No. Making the solar system young does not solve this (non)issue. Apart from requiring physics (the kind that allows our digital watches to run, mobile phones and car GPS’s to work) to be badly broken (we would have notice d by now if physics was that badly wrong), it explains nothing about comets that we would like to know. Why is the median age of Jupiter family comets 300,000 years, (not possible in a 6-10,000 year old solar system) and where do the nearly exhausted comets come from if the solar system is much younger than the median comet lifetime? Why are there 2:3 and other resonances in the Kuiper belt, resonances that will take millions of years to form? If the solar syetm is only 6-10,000 years old, why are comets in the inner solar system at all (and why do comets have the chemical composition of Kuiper Belt objects?)

There are a number of ways we can resolve the comet “problem”. Better estimates of Kuiper belt objects may show there are enough objects, other parts of the Kuiper Belt may supply comets, comet fragmentation (as seen with 73P/Schwassmann-Wachmann 3), as the objects move from the Kuiper Belt to the inner solar system, may provide more objects. There are a number of different ways which we can resolve this, none of which break normal physics, and you can bet that astronomers will investigate them.

Now, let’s have a look at how science operates. The Kuiper belt was a prediction based on our knowledge of comets, and that prediction was spectacularly confirmed. Instead of resting on their laurels, astronomers tried to estimate the numbers of Kuiper Belt objects, to see if it fit with their theories. Despite early agreement, they kept on refining their estimates. And when their estimates seemed problematical, did they hide them? No, they are published in open forums so that people can understand and work on the problem.

On the other hand, creationists only prediction was that the Kupier Belt was a figment of “evolutionists” imagination, when found, they did nothing but carp about it. Creationism has yet to give up on any of its theories, does no original work, and basically acts as a reaction to the findings of researchers.

Whatever the resolution to the Kuiper Belt conundrum, you can bet it will be scientists, not creationists, who will work it out (and that creationists won’t like the answers)

[1] It doesn’t actually boil, but rather sublimes, vigorously.
[2] “soon” involving hundreds of person hours, years of patient watching and poring over plates and digital media, but “soon” in the context of how long it took to discover Pluto, for example.

144 Comments

So.….. creationists aren’t scientists? You know… because they pretend to be scientists, these people who claim to represent a higher moral standard, in fact look more like liars and charlatans. Ironic, isn’t it?

Hey Ian,

I just published a book “Atheism and Naturalism”. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I really benefited from your article debunking creationist claims about the origins of life. It really helped me out when I wrote about the issue in the book. Excerpts from it are available here:

http://godriddance.com/book.php

Sincerely, Ryan

Mark M said:

So.….. creationists aren’t scientists? You know… because they pretend to be scientists, these people who claim to represent a higher moral standard, in fact look more like liars and charlatans. Ironic, isn’t it?

When the military airbases in the Pacific Islands were abandoned at the end of WW-II, many Cargo Cults ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cargo_cult )developed among the indigenous populations. The Creationists are doing science almost exactly in the same way Pacific Island tribes did airfields.

Cargo cults: Wooden control and aerial towers erected? Check. Jungle vines strung between them? check. Long rectangle cleared? Check. Oil lamps lit on either side? Check. Seat for the high priest etected? Check? Coconut shells fashioned into head phones? Check. Recite prayers. “Come in Flight 21” “Come in flight 21” “Flight 101 cleared for landing” “Roger! Flight 72 cleared for take off” Why no cargo is appearing out of the sky? Our ancestor Gods must have beeen miffed. Order ritual sacrifices.

Creation science: White coats? check. Big horn rimmed glasses? Check. Define complex terms that nobody can understand? Check. Print periodicals filled with difficult to understand text? check. Why discoveries and inventions are not pouring out of our labs? The dupes in our congregation are not giving enough donations. Order more fund raising.

Even if there are two orders of magnitude too few comets to keep the JFC class supplied with the observed numbers and we adjust the age of the solar system downward two orders of magnitude that leaves us with a 45 million year-old solar system which is still 3-4 orders of magnitude older than young earth creationism holds.

Young earth arguments are low hanging fruit.

Nice article on comets until you turned it into a creationist hate. I look at the post here thus far - the first one is pure creationist hate and is incorrect when it claims creationist are not scientist - some are - but no one jumps up and down bad mouthing the poster for ignoring obvious facts. The second post is by no means promotion of such hate, but it is an outright promotion of atheism - yet no one mentions that pushing and promoting a religion is something science does not do. I find that interesting, for the people who do that exact same thing, only who say “I believe God is”, are lambasted as morons - thus it looks very much like we are at a web site that promotes a religious belief system at the expense of all other.

The third post is pure creationist hate. The forth post is not pure hate or promotion of a belief system. It does not reflect the outright bigots of some earlier post in that it does not speak of the “creationist” but instead narrows the field to “young earth creationism” which seems very fair as a great many who believe in God, and believe God created the universe, do not go for the argument the earth is young, a matter which is easy to demonstrate.

Why is it that we see all this hate being promoted here? Why is it that we find the religion of atheism being promoted here? What is the connection between the promotion of hate, the elevation of atheism, and those who push “evolution”, such as, for example, this web site?

Excellent summary, Ian. Thanks.

Oops! I was in the wrong window when I mistakenly posted this on the other thread.

Ian Musgrave Wrote:

And when their estimates seemed problematical, did they hide them? No, they are published in open forums so that people can understand and work on the problem.

And these open forums also become the source for many of the quote mines by the creationists.

(1) Either scientists are in total confusion and don’t know what they are doing, or (2) the discussion is truncated by the quote mine at a convenient place that makes it appear that there are fatal discrepancies that are being covered up by the science community.

There is a nice example of the latter over on the Sadly, Another Honest Creationist thread.

Tell us what creationists have done recently to deserve any respect, Troy.

Tell us why we should respect a group of people who use their faith as an aegis for their stupidity, and often money, as well as use their faith as a license to lie, cheat and slander people, in order to please God. And then there’s the fact that creationists want their interpretation of the Bible taught in place of science in science classes, and have been resorting to underhanded and despicable, if not illegal backroom deals with like-minded political cronies in order to do this, to the detriment of students everywhere in the US.

Troy said:

Nice article on comets until you turned it into a creationist hate. I look at the post here thus far - the first one is pure creationist hate and is incorrect when it claims creationist are not scientist - some are - but no one jumps up and down bad mouthing the poster for ignoring obvious facts. … Why is it that we see all this hate being promoted here? Why is it that we find the religion of atheism being promoted here? What is the connection between the promotion of hate, the elevation of atheism, and those who push “evolution”, such as, for example, this web site?

Welcome to the Internet, Troy. This is a rough-and-tumble place where some people - gasp - speak their opinions!

This spot you’ve stumbled into - the Panda’s Thumb - is a place where

The authors are people associated with the virtual University of Ediacara (and thus the talk.origins newsgroup), and various web sites critical of the antievolution movement, such as the TalkOrigins Archive, TalkDesign, and Antievolution.org.

That means this blog, being critical of anti-evolution groups, such as creationists, will often contain comments that are, well - critical of creationists.

The main “connection between the promotion of hate and the elevation of atheism” is made by creationists, who like to continually change the subject from Science to God.

This is no place for one as sensitive and wise as you are, Troy. Perhaps you should go home. In fact, isn’t that your Mother calling?

Dave

Troy wrote:

“Nice article on comets until you turned it into a creationist hate. I look at the post here thus far - the first one is pure creationist hate and is incorrect when it claims creationist are not scientist - some are…”

I don’t see any hate here at all, except coming from you. If you are not a creationist, why do you care what others think of them? Can you defend their position in regards to these matters? If so, why have you not tried? Do you admit that the earth and the solar system are much older than any YEC will admit to or not? If not, why?

You ran away without answering any of my questions last time. You tried to claim that biology textbooks promoted atheism, but you never provided even one example of one textbook that even used the term. Your only “evidence” was that you thought that some book written before 1945 made some claim or other. If you cannot provide any evidence for your claim then an impartial observer would have to conclude that you were incorrect.

Now you claim that “creationist” are “scientist”. Got an example of that? Let me help you out. Real scientists form hypotheses, obtain grants, conduct experiments, publish the results in peer reviewed literature and eventually get accepted into mainstream textbooks. Creationists do not do this. As far as anyone can tell, they don’t even read the scientific literature. Now if you can give an example, then I am sure that everyone will be forced to agree with you, if not, then go peddle your hatred for real science elsewhere.

@ Troy:

Because people have opinions that don’t agree with yours? Is the website supposed to remove comments because they don’t agree with you and express irritation?

I think you’re misusing the word “Hate”, and unfairly tying it to atheism, which you are also unfairly tying to evolution. As you mention, some scientists believe in a universe created by God, which, at this point in time, would necessitate also thinking evolution is the best biological theory, as it’s the theory with the most support.

Like his fellow intellectually-challenged “pal” Slimy Sal Cordova, Troy seems incapable of doing anything else but spew verbal eruptions of breathtaking inanity. And like Slimy Sal, he’s someone who ought to be sent to Gre’Thor ASAP:

DS said:

Troy wrote:

“Nice article on comets until you turned it into a creationist hate. I look at the post here thus far - the first one is pure creationist hate and is incorrect when it claims creationist are not scientist - some are…”

I don’t see any hate here at all, except coming from you. If you are not a creationist, why do you care what others think of them? Can you defend their position in regards to these matters? If so, why have you not tried? Do you admit that the earth and the solar system are much older than any YEC will admit to or not? If not, why?

You ran away without answering any of my questions last time. You tried to claim that biology textbooks promoted atheism, but you never provided even one example of one textbook that even used the term. Your only “evidence” was that you thought that some book written before 1945 made some claim or other. If you cannot provide any evidence for your claim then an impartial observer would have to conclude that you were incorrect.

Now you claim that “creationist” are “scientist”. Got an example of that? Let me help you out. Real scientists form hypotheses, obtain grants, conduct experiments, publish the results in peer reviewed literature and eventually get accepted into mainstream textbooks. Creationists do not do this. As far as anyone can tell, they don’t even read the scientific literature. Now if you can give an example, then I am sure that everyone will be forced to agree with you, if not, then go peddle your hatred for real science elsewhere.

Troy, you’re wasting your time. No matter how many holes you shoot through evolutionary theory, they refuse to listen.

It reminds me of the bacterial flagellum that Behe described and used to argue his thoughts on irreducible complexity.

Regardless of which side you’re on, there’s two facts that NO ONE can deny and evolutionists just brush over:

1. The locomotion device is a nano-machine. It’s a marvel of nano-engineering.

How can you honestly look at this molecular motor, which includes a propeller and motor complete with gears, stator, etc, and think it got there by natural selection? Just LOOK AT IT. Go Google Image it to see what I’m talking about if you’re not familiar with it.

2. This locomotion device has unique proteins. Also, if you take any one away (borne out by experiments), it stops working. Evolutionists have NO ANSWER for the UNIQUE PROTEINS. The best they can come up with is “well, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that maybe we’ll find them some day”.

Matthew,

You are sadly mistaken. Perhaps you have been listening to too much creationist propaganda.

First, a flagellum is not a nano machine. Just look at it. It looks nothing like a nano machine to me. You see if you think that your opinion is evidence of anything, them my opinion counts just as much as yours and I say you are wrong.

Second, the flagellum is not irreducibly complex. You can take away lots of parts and it still functions, for locomotion and for other functions as well. This is what we have learned from the comparative evidence. How do you explain the homologies between flagellar proteins and other genes?

You see Matthew, you are not goiing to get anywhere in exactly the same way that Troy is not going to get anywhere and for exactly the same reason. You have no evidence to substantiate any of your claims. Why should anyone care what you believe if you have no evidence?

The bacterial flagellum? Seriously? You’re still on that? Wow, you have some catching up to do, Matthew.

My dear delusional Matthew -

The “fact” that the bacterial flagellum is a “nano-machine” is one that’s been refuted time and again by quite a few, starting with Ian Musgrave, and including, of course, Ken Miller:

Matthew said:

Troy, you’re wasting your time. No matter how many holes you shoot through evolutionary theory, they refuse to listen.

It reminds me of the bacterial flagellum that Behe described and used to argue his thoughts on irreducible complexity.

Regardless of which side you’re on, there’s two facts that NO ONE can deny and evolutionists just brush over:

1. The locomotion device is a nano-machine. It’s a marvel of nano-engineering.

How can you honestly look at this molecular motor, which includes a propeller and motor complete with gears, stator, etc, and think it got there by natural selection? Just LOOK AT IT. Go Google Image it to see what I’m talking about if you’re not familiar with it.

2. This locomotion device has unique proteins. Also, if you take any one away (borne out by experiments), it stops working. Evolutionists have NO ANSWER for the UNIQUE PROTEINS. The best they can come up with is “well, it’s not out of the realm of possibility that maybe we’ll find them some day”.

For your “benefit”, I am posting this link to an article published in 2004, in which Ken Miller discusses the absurdity of referring to the bacterial flagellum as a “nano-machine”:

http://www.millerandlevine.com/km/e[…]article.html

For those of you who don’t know, a “cruder” version of the bacterial flagellum works quite well as a toxin delivery device.

Live Long and Prosper (as a DI IDiot Borg drone),

John Kwok

Would that be the same bacterial flagellum that was done to death at the Dover trial, at which the assertion by Behe that it was “irreducibly complex” was absolutely destroyed by competent scientists who referred only to the evidence? That bacterial flagellum?

No, seriously. Here we see the genesis (now there’s the word) of another creationist argument-zombie, like the Second Law of Thermodynamics schtick they’ve been resurrecting for a generation or more now. No matter how many times it’s killed, it won’t die. Twenty, thirty years from now, they’ll still be chanting “the bacterial flagellum” in chorus, while everyone who actually knows anything about it groans aloud.

Again, still not answering the questions. No answers for the unique proteins by itself is enough, but that coupled with taking 1 away and it stops working = no way it could’ve evolved by Natural Selection.

By the way, I am not arguing for irreducible complexity, or arguing against micro-evolution (which I believe in). Micro-evolution explains why we have all the great variation and adaptability we see today. If God had not made creatures this way, we’d have a lot more extinct species and a lot less variety today.

MACRO-evolution, and the origin of life, is where I disagree with evolutionists. For example, you can have all kinds of types of dogs (doberman, golden retriever, chihuahua, etc) - but you’ll never see a dog change into a chicken, for example.

Item # 3 which people who don’t believe in a God have no answer for. Quote:

3. “As a chemist, the most fascinating issue for me revolves around the origin of life.

Before life began, there was no biology, only chemistry – and chemistry is the same for all time. What works (or not) today, worked (or not) back in the beginning.

So, our ideas about what happened on Earth prior to the emergence of life are eminently testable in the lab. And what we have seen thus far when the reactions are left unguided as they would be in the natural world is not much. Indeed, the decomposition reactions and competing reactions out distance the synthetic reactions by far.

It is only when an intelligent agent (such as a scientist or graduate student) intervenes and “tweaks” the reactions conditions “just right” do we see any progress at all, and even then it is still quite limited and very far from where we need to get. Thus, it is the very chemistry that speaks of a need for something more than just time and chance.

And whether that be simply a highly specified set of initial conditions (fine-tuning) or some form of continual guidance until life ultimately emerges is still unknown. But what we do know is the random chemical reactions are both woefully insufficient and are often working against the pathways needed to succeed. For these reasons I have serious doubts about whether the current Darwinian paradigm will ever make additional progress in this area.”

- Edward Peltzer Ph.D. Oceanography, University of California, San Diego (Scripps Institute) Associate Editor, Marine Chemistry September 2, 2008

John Kwok, that argument is a joke (no offense).

So the flagellum also contains within it a structure similar to a microsyringe found in some bacteria. That’s nice.

But having found this sub-structure, Ken Miller merrily concludes that the microsyringe must have evolved into the flagellum.

Such pathetic lapses in logic are everywhere in the evolutionary literature.

John, what exactly had to happen to that microsyringe to transform it into a flagellum?

To see what’s at stake, consider what exactly has to happen to a motor to transform it into a motorcycle.

Sure, there are a number of steps that can transform a motor into a motorcycle.

And there probably are a number of steps that can transform a microsyringe into a flagellum.

But what are those steps? How gradual is the progression? And is it reasonable to think that those steps could be taken apart from design?

Not having a clue about how these systems did or might have evolved, evolutionists never answer such questions.

Matthew,

We do know where genes and proteins come from. They come from gene duplication followed by mutational divergence. In fact, we know where many of the flagellum proteins come from. We don’t know specifically where every protein comes from. Where do you think they come from? Got any evidence?

It has already been demonstrated that your nonsense about taking away a protein and the flagellun will stop working is fallacious. Stop making that falsified claim if you want anyone to take you seriously.

The physical laws of the universe would be the same, it’s true. The conditions that effect chemical reactions would not be the same, however. Earth was a different place when life began to emerge than it is after life has emerged and has effected the chemistry of the environment, which in turn effected the chemistry of life, etc.

The thing is, all arguments that claim the complexity is the issue are inherently unscientific. If the universe is irreducibly complex, then why are we even trying to understand it? While the universe is complex, we’ve made headway into understanding that complexity and codifying it. Pointing to the complexity is a philosophical rehash of Paley, and something to be mindful of when attempting to understand the universe, but not a refutation of evolution.

Arguments of this nature could have been used against Newton – he had several problems to work out in his physics, and the physical universe is clearly complex. Still, scientists carried on, and while Newton’s theory isn’t the end-all of physics, it’s still used today, just with a deeper understanding of some of the assumptions you have to make in using it. One could have pointed to the complexity of the universe, and stated “Obviously, Aristotle had it right. Objects want to stop. Just look at them. I push this rock, and it stops. So, objects must be acted upon in order to move”, but they would still be wrong.

DS,

This is what bothers me so much about evolutionists.

And I’m sure Evolutionists and Creationists look at each other the same way - they think the others are morons.

It’s as if all evolutionists have intelligence but no wisdom (common sense).

DS how can you honestly believe in evolution as the reason we’re here. Ever seen a sunset? Smelled a flower? Listened to a bird?

One HUGE problem I have always had with Natural Selection being the reason of us being here is this - Nature without a God has no power to choose, and is incapable of looking to the future.

It acts on the spur of the moment based on its current environment.

And yet, this limited process is supposed to produce marvels of biological complexity and diversity that far exceed the capacities of the best human designers, such as the bacterial flagellum?

How can you honestly believe that these things (including the flagellum, just ONE example) are here by random chance?

Intelligence but no common sense…

Matthew comes from the world of creationism, where facts are fabricated to fit, allegations cannot be dislodged by evidence, and false claims become wrong not on their merits, but when so many people become aware the’re wrong that they lose effectiveness.

Ultimately, he falls back on argument by incredulity (colored somewhat by “argument by copying other creationists’ incredulity”). However, he DOES seem to have learned the Behe Technique: Demand infinite evidence for current theories regardless of existing evidence, while proposing no alternatives whatsoever, much less testable alternatives. And when infinite evidence is not forthcoming, dismiss the entire structure as unsupported.

An analogy would be, if your religion says boats don’t float, ignore all the floating boats while demanding an exact specification of every water molecule in the ocean. See, “floatists” really DO NOT know what they’re talking about!

Remember, I’m not arguing for irreducible complexity. I see both sides of that argument.

My point is, there are a lot of UNANSWERED questions about evolution being the reason we’rre here. Again, I agree with natural selection and micro-evolution.

All I’m saying is, if you look at all the questions, (which, in fairness, if you haven’t looked into, how would you know of them?) - across ALL the sciences, there are some BIG holes in evolution as the origin of life…

Sigh. Once again, we have the “post facto miracle” argument. In an infinite universe an infinite number of infinitely unlikely things is guaranteed to happen. Pick any one, express amazement that anyone could possibly believe it happened “by accident”, and claim it’s a miracle. No matter how often they deny that every bridge hand is a miracle, they keep claiming that each bridge hand is so unique only a moron could think it happened by chance.

there are some BIG holes in evolution as the origin of life

And again, an utter inability to distinguish between how life started, and how life changes. To the creationist, evolution can ONLY be “the origin of life” because their fable makes origin the ONLY event, and changes since are minimal and produce nothing new.

See, that’s the problem with Evolutionists ;). They always invent a rescuing device.

Even Talk Origins has no answer for the unique proteins. They’re best shot is this (look it up on their own site if you don’t believe me, under 30 unique proteins article, which they also twist and LIE about, they weren’t talking about just one, across ALL the bacteria):

“It is at least plausible that homologies for those will be discovered later. “

Uh…great. Not an answer though. Talk about faith-based belief ;)

Here, I’ll give you another huge hole:

4. Red blood cells discovered in T-Rex bones = NOT THAT OLD

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn7195

(by the way, that article is old, they did do the chemistry, and they ARE RED BLOOD CELLS).

But wait, because Evolutionists refuse to accept any other evidence other than “the Earth is a bazillion years old”, instead of re-thinking their theory based on this new evidence, what do they do?

“Uh.…well…I guess soft tissue CAN survive for millions and millions of years!”

Riiiggghhhttt.… =o)

Matthew said:

John Kwok, that argument is a joke (no offense).

So the flagellum also contains within it a structure similar to a microsyringe found in some bacteria. That’s nice.

But having found this sub-structure, Ken Miller merrily concludes that the microsyringe must have evolved into the flagellum.

Such pathetic lapses in logic are everywhere in the evolutionary literature.

John, what exactly had to happen to that microsyringe to transform it into a flagellum?

To see what’s at stake, consider what exactly has to happen to a motor to transform it into a motorcycle.

Sure, there are a number of steps that can transform a motor into a motorcycle.

And there probably are a number of steps that can transform a microsyringe into a flagellum.

But what are those steps? How gradual is the progression? And is it reasonable to think that those steps could be taken apart from design?

Not having a clue about how these systems did or might have evolved, evolutionists never answer such questions.

Wrong.

http://www.talkdesign.org/faqs/flagellum.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SdwTwNPyR9w

Why don’t you take it up with Ian Musgrave, since he created this post? But to answer your question directly, it is perfectly conceivable for Natural Selection to have acted upon the proteins in question to create either a “toxin delivery system” or a bacterial flagellum:

Matthew said:

John Kwok, that argument is a joke (no offense).

So the flagellum also contains within it a structure similar to a microsyringe found in some bacteria. That’s nice.

But having found this sub-structure, Ken Miller merrily concludes that the microsyringe must have evolved into the flagellum.

Such pathetic lapses in logic are everywhere in the evolutionary literature.

John, what exactly had to happen to that microsyringe to transform it into a flagellum?

To see what’s at stake, consider what exactly has to happen to a motor to transform it into a motorcycle.

Sure, there are a number of steps that can transform a motor into a motorcycle.

And there probably are a number of steps that can transform a microsyringe into a flagellum.

But what are those steps? How gradual is the progression? And is it reasonable to think that those steps could be taken apart from design?

Not having a clue about how these systems did or might have evolved, evolutionists never answer such questions.

The usual nonsense. Dogs don’t change into chickens, so evolution doesn’t happen. Speaking of chickens, why not ask which came first, the chicken or the egg? That’s always a good one.

The origin of life is an unsolved mystery. Happy now?

Nobody knows how it happened. Many people are trying to find out, and some progress has been made, but the problem, and most of the argument, revolves around just exactly what conditions existed on the early earth, 3.5 billion years ago. Not much about that is known for sure. If that isn’t known, then finding the right conditions for the first self-replicating molecules to appear is a stab in the dark. Not being able to specify in rigorous detail what these molecules were doesn’t help, either.

But once the first cellular life appears, the rest is known in general principle, and in many cases in a fine level of detail. Over those 3.5 billion years, life diversified into its current vast array of species via the processes of biological evolution, driven by natural selection. This means that all life has common ancestry and that there was no separate creation of the species.

That’s what happened. The evidence is impossible to ignore within reason. Deal with it.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Dave Luckett said: At a time when the average industrial or agricultural worker in Europe or America was working 50-60 hours a week, hunter-gatherers were working an average of 25, and using the leisure to create a rich cultural life.

That, after they have been driven away from all the most productive lands by the farmers, the people of the Nod who work with metal, descendants of Cain, I mean, ALL of us! If the bushmen spend less than 40 hours to gather food in the Kalahari scrubland, imagine the life of hunter gatherers in the fertile plains of Nile, Tigris, Euphrates, Indus, Ganges and Yangtze rivers!

Matthew said: There are 10 to the 650th possibilities. Only ONE of them is Hemoglobin. If you change just one, you get Hemoglobin Opathy.

Anything below 10 to the 50th is defined as absurd. 10 to the 650th is roughly the equivalent of winnng the lottery every day for 90 days IN A ROW.

Assuming you are not a Poe then I have a wager for you.

I bet you $1000 that there is more than one amino acid sequence that is hemoglobin*. If you accept, evidence can be posted by myself or others.

If I win you can send $1000 to the NCSE as a donation (i.e. no membership). I am sure someone at the NCSE can verify if you have done so. Just in case of the zero percent chance that you win, post where you want the money sent or post contact info.

*Okay, hemoglobin is more than a amino acid sequence. It is four protein subunits and a heme group. I will take that showing that if any of the two types of the protein subunits that appear in normal human hemoglobin can be changed with the result still remaining hemoglobin will prove my case.

So are you game?

I see you’ve given up trying to post at Pharyngula, again, Troy. What’s the matter? Did they hurt your sensitive feelings over there, so you decided to come back here where you can antagonize people with your hypocritically hate-filled rantings about hate without interference?

That, and you never did explain why science should respect a perniciously anti-science movement like Creationism, or explain what you want taught as a religion-friendly alternative to science in science classes.

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This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Troy said:

I understand this is a hate promoting blog, of that there is no mistaking.

Gee, I mistook it.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

… sorry, I hit “Submit” too early above …

Troy said:

I understand this is a hate promoting blog, of that there is no mistaking.

Gee, I mistook it.

In fact, I thought this was a blog about comets!

Troy, do you think comets spread hate?

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Matthew wrote:

“There are 10 to the 650th possibilities. Only ONE of them is Hemoglobin. If you change just one, you get Hemoglobin Opathy.”

Which one? Are all of the human hemoglobin subunits the same? Are all of the primate hemoglobins the same? Are all of the animal hemoglobins the same? Apparently, you have no idea what you are talking about again.

By the way Matthew, how do you explain the nested hierarchy of genetic similarity between the vertebrate hemoglobins? Why does it correlate precisely with the time of appearance of the vertebrate lineage in the fossil record? I can provide a link with all of the relevant information if you like.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

Matthew said:

Fine I will leave.

But at the end of time when you’re standing with me at the judgement you can’t say I didn’t try to save you guys.

Goodbye.

Why do I always have the feeling whenever someone says something like this, that they will end up as one of the official greeters should any of the rest of us ever arrive?

Keelyn wrote:

“Why do I always have the feeling whenever someone says something like this, that they will end up as one of the official greeters should any of the rest of us ever arrive?”

Why do I get the feeling that whenever someone who doesn’t know what they are talking about loses an argument they threaten you with hell fire as if that will win them the argument?

Seriously, I would never want to belong to any club where this guy was a greeter.

Update

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

I should have clarified in my last post - Official Greeter ‘down there.’ Where ever the hell (and hellfire) ‘down there’ is. Seriously, DS, I would not want to belong to his club, either.

This comment has been moved to The Bathroom Wall.

I should have clarified in my last post - Official Greeter ‘down there.’

I knew this girl once…

Anyhow, I digress.

stevaroni said:

I should have clarified in my last post - Official Greeter ‘down there.’

I knew this girl once…

Anyhow, I digress.

Well, ok - it took awile to penetrate, but now I see we have a comedian. (I think)

SWT said:

And for the record, I’m a practicing member of a mainstream Christian denomination. The atheists and agnostics on PT have been quite courteous to me. The people who have consistently shown the worst behavior toward me (insults, derision, and attacks on my faith) have been creationists.

That is because those of us who are non-religious understand that religion and science probably have their roots in ancient mythology that is lost in the mists of human history and human evolutionary development. And who knows where the tendency to mythologize comes from?

What did I say about trolls, the feeding of? I’ve just moved (spottily, it’s hard to correlate what I see in the editing mode with what is in post mode) a whole bunch of Troy related comments to the Bathroom Wall, those interested can play there.

Stanton said:

Ian Musgrave said:

Sheesh! I take a day off for Mothers Day (that’s what it is here in Australia), and you mob fall to bickering.

Look, it’s very simple. Do not feed the Trolls!. Follow that rule and all will be well.

Perhaps if there was some effort made to demonstrate that trolling wasn’t appreciated here, people would be less inclined to feed the trolls. As far as I can tell, trolls at Panda’s Thumb are free to troll thread after thread after thread with complete impunity.

We tend to err on the “non-censorship” side in these things. Would you rather we be like Uncommon Dissent where dissenting voices are quashed? The price we pay is some trolling, but if the Trolls are ignored, they tend not to be too much of a problem.

Ian Musgrave said:

We tend to err on the “non-censorship” side in these things. Would you rather we be like Uncommon Dissent where dissenting voices are quashed? The price we pay is some trolling, but if the Trolls are ignored, they tend not to be too much of a problem.

It’s a delicate matter of judgment. In viewing the response to contentious apparently-anti-science visitors, one is reminded, often, of the overreaction of some elements of the immune system to viral invasions.

The “Matthew” critter clearly had the technique down and the location of the buttons to press well-memorised. The result was a lot of refutation, largely delivered in a civil manner, that has often been argued to be instructive of newly-arrived lurkers. Then again, it turned a potentially interesting discussion of comets (a personal interest of mine) into a discussion of Matthew. “Poe” is, IMnesHO, the correct evaluation.

“Troy”, on the other hand, appears sincere but sadly inept and largely uneducable.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by Ian Musgrave published on May 9, 2009 4:32 AM.

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