Johnny Cash and Job: Free From the Chain Gang: Commentary on Job 7
Cool Hand Luke: He Beat You with Nothing! The Atheist Search for the Origin of Life, Part 2: There Oughta be a Law

“He Beat You With Nothin!” Cool Hand Luke and the Atheist Search for Life’s Origin: Part 1

God’s goose is cooked if atheist scientists can show that life came into existence all by itself, without any intelligence required. For that reason, atheist scientists are working around the clock to show just that. I figured I’d better take a look and see how they’re doing.

The Great Courses company landed Robert M. Hazen in 2005 to give a lecture series entitled ‘Origins of Life.’ He’ll do. Great Courses doesn’t hire losers. The company says at the outset of every course that it seeks out academic professors stellar in their respective fields and stellar in teaching ability. Hazen has written a few books on the topic. He’ll represent the field well.

Nonetheless, I soon found myself thinking of the movie Cool Hand Luke. “Nothin'! A handful of nothin'. You stupid mullet head, he beat you with nothin!'—the derisive words of the senior jailbird.

Luke didn’t exactly have nothing. He held the 4 of clubs, the jack of hearts, 9 of diamonds, 10 of clubs, and the deuce of clubs. Call that nothing? Never mind that they didn’t add up to anything. He still bluffed his way to the top with ‘nothin.’

“Yeah, well sometimes nothing is a real cool hand,” he drawled, and was thereafter called Cool Hand Luke.

Is it too dismissive, even unkind, to say that the origins of life people have ‘nothing?’ They work very hard and become very enthused. They give every appearance of having something. To the scientism/philosopher/cheerleader/atheists promoting their cause, seeking to ram atheism down everyone’s throat as the be-all and end-all, as though it, too, were good news, they are always two centimeters away from clinching the deal. So how can anyone conclude they have ‘nothin?’

One can start by hearing out Hazen’s opening lecture. “In this lecture series I make a basic assumption, that life emerged by some kind of natural process.” It’s an assumption! Not something he will look into to see whether it is true or not He assumes it is true. “I propose that life arose by a sequence of events that was completely consistent with the natural laws of chemistry and physics. and in this assumption, I'm like other scientists.” They all assume it! All those in his orbit do. Isn’t science supposed to be a process of discovery?

But wait! Is there not a competing model that holds God created the heavens and the earth and all life on it? How does he come to grips with that? “Let me say now for the record: I'm a scientist. I'm not a theologian nor am I a philosopher. This course focuses exclusively on the scientific approach to the question of life's origins.”

Of course! That’s how he deals with competing models—he ignores them! My legal career would have truly taken off if I could have just persuaded the judge to ignore the other side! It just may be that Hazen and those he represents should incorporate those other two disciplines into their work, since the urge to both worship and philosophize is near universal.

No wonder he is not disheartened by his subsequent words—he admits to no other possibility for life’s origin. In that first lecture, he goes on to say: “I have to confess the nitty gritty details of that transformation remains a deep mystery. . . I have to be honest: Even with the scientific approach there is a possibility that we'll never know, in fact that we can't ever know how life emerged. That's because it's always possible that life emerged by an almost infinitely improbable sequence of difficult chemical reactions.. . . it's even possible that earth is the only living planet in the entire universe. and if that's true that any scientific attempt to understand life's origins is doomed to failure.”

Doesn’t that sound pretty close to nothin? Does that bother him unduly? Not at all. He admits to no other channel for life’s emergence! In his view, he may never prove his answer, but it is the answer, nonetheless.

Thus we hear of many things that “must have” happened. Such as: “At some point a collection of molecules must have begun to make copies of itself. Then, those self-replicating cycles of molecules must have experienced competition, which quickly drove the evolution to even more complex assemblages.” Did those things in fact happen? They must have, he concludes, otherwise his pie in the sky research falls flat on its face!

And they say religion is where the dogmatists hang out!

It gets worse. Hazen tells of attending conferences in which half the name badges incorporate the phrase ‘Origin of Life’ and the other half ‘Origins of Life’—plural. What’s with that? Well, it used to be just ‘Origin of Life.’ But, in time, due to a "fascinating shift in attitudes . . . many researchers began to argue that life has arisen frequently in the universe.” Why would they reason that way? Is there good (or any) evidence to that effect? Hazen’s answer: “Without such an assumption [another assumption!] the scientific study of life's origin is probably a waste of time.” Fascinating, indeed, to realize that. Nobody wants to waste their time. Cool Hand Luke didn’t want to, either. So he bluffed that the nothin he had was really somethin and he outfoxed all the other jailbirds!

[Note: I have nothing against Hazen, as will be explained subsequently. I have simply selected him as representative of a certain approach. If it wasn’t him, it would be someone else. Kudos to him for being the point man of his field. It is not as though Great Courses has ever tapped me to lecture on anything.]

To be continued:  here


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Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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