Decoded, by Mai Jia

Has anyone read this book?

Posted on July 25, 2016 at 2:07 PM • 88 Comments

Comments

ZertrinJuly 25, 2016 4:31 PM

Yes I've read the french version about 7 months ago. Not bad but in the end there is no focus on the interesting (read technical) content (as expected). This is a story focused on the life and emotions of this lone genius.

7 months after, I have retained little detailed recollection about the details of the story. Nice but not on my top 15 of favorite books.

Frans BadenhorstJuly 25, 2016 4:43 PM

I read the 'Decoded' when it was released and thought it quite good. It's a novel so human interest and character are more the thing, i.e., it's about a character that is a mathematical genius and a cryptographer, but it's about him. I think this review is quite a good guide, i.e., if you want to decide whether or not to commit to spending time on the novel: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/1485758093?utm_campaign=reviews&utm_medium=widget&utm_source=us.macmillan.com

DanielJuly 25, 2016 8:01 PM

I have not read the book but I strongly disagree with the author's thesis. "Yet almost none of the thousands of translated works has held its own as a novel that book-lovers with no special interest in China will relish."

Rubbish. The 2015 Hugo Award winning "The Three Body Problem" is a brilliant novel by a Chinese writer and one doesn't need to have interest in China to love the book. In my not so humble opinion the best sci-fi novel the century so far, in any language.

WinterJuly 26, 2016 3:28 AM

@Daniel
"The 2015 Hugo Award winning "The Three Body Problem" is a brilliant novel by a Chinese writer and one doesn't need to have interest in China to love the book."

I would like to propose: The Fat Years by Chan Koonchung. Also a SciFi, banned and very, very good.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fat_Years

WaelJuly 26, 2016 3:59 AM

@Bruce,

30% through it. Got it with one click after it was referenced here. I thought it was a novel. Apparently it isn't. Has some inconsistencies, inaccuracies (and spelling mistakes), as well as self contradictions (which I will not comment on because they involve race.) Apart from that, it has many cultural, religious, and superstition references (for the atheists here, I'm aware the last two references are redundant -- so consider your unposted comments received.)

I got the book because the weather is lousy where I'm taking a break. If the weather improves, I might not finish the book this week. Besides, I have a few left in the queue...

Has anyone read this book?

Well, it's not a yes / no answer you're looking for! What might that be? The story of some math prodigy used to break cipher (from the Arabic word sefr, meaning zero) isn't exactly new, nor is it unexpected.

Clive RobinsonJuly 26, 2016 5:49 AM

@ Wael,

(for the atheists here, I'm aware the last two references are redundant -- so consider your unposted comments received.)

Hmm there is a thin thread between theism and atheism on which all of humanity in it's broad spectrum supposadly hangs.

It is interesting to note that two thirds of China's population do not have religious belifes some polls put the number in the US as little as one in seventy five people. Similar low numbers are reported for most western countries. Though some tend to claim all men have a religion even if it is just that of economics or self interest.

It is interesting to note that as mankind evolves in sophistication of material control, that the gods worshiped also evolve in sophistication. Thus beliefs in the gods of Sun, nature, planets and stars has given way to the gods of supra-humanity. As it can be shown that all life on this planet came from the elements from supernova suns and the energy from our own sun those that worshiped the Sun and the stars atleast had some justification, but supra-human beings? are they not the imaginings of story tellers of many kinds, who earn their living by their imaginings?

Thus supta-human gods appear to be hung like the carrot from a stick forever just in front of the ass or donkey's nose. No matter how hard the beast strives the all to human hand that controls the stick keeps the carrot forever out of reach. Strangely it appears to be that many humans need a carrot to keep them moving, the stick forever in another persons control. Thus you have to wonder and reason why, especially with western religions. What causes the need to be led by the nose?

Thus it is what is of most interest to me is the "What is it in the human mind that needs or craves for deities?" to be led by, and "At what point such a craving becomes self harming?" especially when it is very clearly exploited by others for their own benifit...

The Hawks and Doves model does not sit comfortably on this except as a very loose first approximation.

ianfJuly 26, 2016 7:48 AM


I really can't get embroiled in this your “if there is a allegedly almighty god, why doesn't it erase me for denying its existence, and other recurring forms of so-called blasphemy,” so I'll just point you to this wonderful tale of a Jehovah Witness missionary's attempt to explain Western Christian celestial concepts to the godless Chinese. Wonderfully long, too.

http://www.believermag.com/issues/201302/?read=article_scorah

PS. I haven't read the book, but don't understand what the fuss is all about. It's science-fiction, isn't it, that literary genre where, whenever the author writes himself into a corner, the easiest way to get out if it is to transgress/ abolish/ extend the laws of physics by coming up with some hitherto unknown new principle (Wesley Parish has the details). Or, in terms of crypto: it'd be open source, verified to be working, leaving no MITM-vector breadcrumbs behind, only that nobody can understand how it works – but, as long as it works, Hallelujah!

kenJuly 26, 2016 8:36 AM

Yes, I read it when it came out. I believe it came recommended in the Economist or something.

Anyway, it's horribly written. Awful. First I thought it was a novel, but it was so bad that I had to look up whether it was fiction. There's an interesting part on the Chinese cultural revolution, but don't read this book for it.

Avoid it, I'd say, read a decent novel or some wikipedia articles instead. Only a Chinese person with a twisted sense of patriotism could like this book.

This book actually kept me from reading recent asian novels for a while.

TedJuly 26, 2016 8:57 AM

@Clive Robinson

Thus it is what is of most interest to me is the "What is it in the human mind that needs or craves for deities?" to be led by

Hi Clive. I think that is a particularly interesting topic also. I would like to give more thought to your questions about the actual numbers of people who believe what they do, why they believe (or want to believe) what they do, and how these human belief systems are evolving with mankind.

In the meantime, I wanted to offer these moderately condensed history animations for you. The first one shows the diffusion of the world’s five major religions since 3000 BCE. I don’t often consider the events in my life as having been cradled in a history with that kind of dept.

The animation under that covers the rise of civilization to the present day. That one is pretty long, but good if you want to know more about how humanity got to where it is. A family member sent those to me.

Animated map shows how religion spread around the world [2:35]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AvFl6UBZLv4

History of the World: Every Year [16:35]
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ymI5Uv5cGU4&feature=youtu.be

(I ordered the Decoded book. I will start reading it when it is delivered.)

WaelJuly 26, 2016 2:19 PM

@Clive Robinson,

It is interesting to note that two thirds of China's population do not have religious belifes some polls put the number in the US as little as one in seventy five people. Similar low numbers are reported for most western countries.

Statistics aside, there are historical reasons why the western world , to some extent, stopped believing in a supreme being. The first one is the blatant dissonance between scriptures and well established scientific facts. The second being: How would a benevolent all-loving God allow atrocities to happen to innocent people. For example, why would God allow Hitler (or more accurately, Himmler) to do what they did to the "chosen people"? I choose this example because it relates to the book in question.

It is interesting to note that as mankind evolves in sophistication of material control, that the gods worshiped also evolve in sophistication.

There are two main perspectives to this: The Theist perspective and the Atheist perspective. The Atheist perspective can be summarized in the concept of the "God of the gaps", which you're alluding to by "evolving sophistication". The likes of Richard Feynman, Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris whom, incidentally, intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and David Berlinski don't take seriously. It's also worth noting that those who adopt the concept of "God of the gaps" are themselves guilty of what they accuse Theists of: "Science of the gaps"! We can elaborate later...

The Theist perspective branches into several sub-branch perspectives. Again, a subject for another day...

What is it in the human mind that needs or craves for deities?

Excellent question! Perhaps it's instincts or ancient knowledge that was passed from generation to generation. Evolutionists cannot explain instincts or "initial conditions": Who programmed the chick to know how to hatch from the egg and follow its mother along. Examples are abundant. "Natural selection" is not the answer!

Before anyone sends me a link to any of the debates, I can tell you that I watched the majority of them.

Back to the subject proper: What was @Bruce interested to hear about the book?

WaelJuly 26, 2016 3:29 PM

@Clive Robinson,

The likes of Richard Feynman, Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris...

Incomplete sentence. What I meant to say:

The likes of Richard Feynman, Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens, and Sam Harris pushed the concept of the "God of the gaps". Sam Harris is one whom intellectuals like Noam Chomsky and David Berlinski don't take seriously.

Dirk PraetJuly 26, 2016 7:39 PM

@ Clive, @ Wael

What is it in the human mind that needs or craves for deities?

Mysteria fascinosa, numinosa et tremenda. I got that 5-word answer in Latin from a quite brilliant Jesuit priest when I was 17. To date the most concise explanation on the origin of religion I have ever heard.

ianfJuly 26, 2016 10:19 PM


@ Wael: translates to bullshit.


@ Dirk Praet: “the most concise explanation on the origin of religion I have ever heard.

A simulacrum (to stay with Latin) of an explanation, as with the rest of religious claptrap, always hiding behind hypotheticals and Moves In Mysterious Ways answers.

    I have another concise summary of those origins, taken from “The Sirens of Titan” by Kurt Vonnegut: in a colony of chip-in-brain-controlled human slaves on the Moon, some still have traces of old not entirely erased consciousness. One of them attempts to aggregate the combined human wisdom, and comes up with this result: someone thought something up [quoted from inexact memory].

PS. next time someone tries to convince you of elevated status of religion, as extolled by its priests, ask what would prevent the latter from becoming lay preachers, i.e. earning their upkeep like the rest of us, and proselytizing in their spare time, which OF COURSE they would have devoted to their beloved imaginary god.

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2016 1:30 AM

@ Wael,

It's been a very long time since I dabled in "de-latinising". But a loose word for word translation

Mysteria - mystery
Fascinosa - fascination
Numinosa - numerous
Tremenda - Appaling / dreadfull

Thus you could say "A curiosity about the many unexplained bad things that happen", which is why newspapers sell.

Somebody I once knew who started their working life as a journalist (in a pigeon infested shed on a roof) put it this way,

Mrs Jones wins the cake competition at the county fair, is realy only of interest to the competitors and is thus expected page filler for the local news along with "Hatchrs, Matches and Dispatches".

Mrs Jones cake gives the cake competition judges food poisoning and one dies, is front page on the local newspaper and found inside nationals.

Mrs Jones wining cake found to have rat poison in it after compotition judges die, is front page in the nationals and found inside some internationals.

Hence "There is no news like bad news", and newspapers like "greasy spoon cafes" know what their customers want and thus knock it out cheap in great health risk portions.

Religion historicaly was a place of gossip, intrigue, back stabbing, control and down right assasination, where any evil could be justified against outsiders, and executions were the main spectator sport / entertainment. Interestingly since executions ceased to be public or stopped altogether in the west church numbers started to drop. Politics has in part taken some asspects of what religion did away from it. But I was told a number of years ago whilst in the US that there was a correlation between "hanging states" and the religious zeal of those who vote in those states.

It's also been noted by historians that the Spanish plunderers of South America brought priests with them who noted the similarity of their religion to those of the Aztecs etc. In the main it was the control of the population by the priests acting as a political arm for the "godhead" King, and the associated "blood rituals", theater, spiritualism and life reborn after death symbolism. Such similarity very much alowed the ease of subsuming the Aztec religion to that of the invading Spanish priests. The priests however saw it as the universality of God, and did not question that those asspects of their religion had come from other older religions and the baser instincts of mankind.

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2016 2:45 AM

@ Wael,

With regards the "god of gaps" argument I think we are talking at cross purposes.

I think I've mentioned befor it is a theist argument first named by the Right Reverend Prof of mathmatics Charles Alfred Coulson of Oxford University and frequent guest broadcaster at the BBC back on the 1950s. Although other theists had expressed similar ideas for a half century or so prior to that, in particular the origin appears to be with the "We Free" of Scotland.

In essence the "God of gaps" argument is not for atheists but other theists to stop a trend to try and explain God being where mankind could not rationaly explain. The Victorian era in Britain saw a significant upswelling in Science and consiquent break away religions due to the conflict with older doctrine. The basic premise is "God can be found where ever man looks" thus is not hidden in the shrinking pools of the unexplained.

This is most definatly not the point I am making with mankinds gods mature with mankinds understanding. The point I am making is that mankind tends to make a god a target to strive towards, that by necessity must always remain just out of reach (hence the carrot). Thus by necessity a god must evolve as well. Which would be analogous to a teacher and pupil, if it where not for the fact that the pupil is condemed to be the eternal neophyte. Hence "the children of god" is a putative term that is also punitive.

One important aspect of this is the mores of society and it's needs, these give rise to morals that often become codified as law. In religion the orthodox view is inherantly if not rabidly conservative, and has to be dragged kicking and screaming into the current societal norm which is portrayed as decadent, radical or heretical and thus evil or sinful. Thus some parts of the orthodoxy suffer from pridefulness which is also a venal sin, thus conflict and punishment are built in as fundementals in many religions. This can be seen as conflict between those who believe they hold power and thus the stick and those who are actively replacing them and seek to wrest the stick from their hands.

A style of conflict that can be found in many human activities where emotion, vested interests and illicit power and control play an active part. We see this with the current "war on XXX", often portrayed with the "think of the children" or similar base emotion grabber. Likewise the Charlton Heston "Cold dead hand" comment, which was later rebutted by an equally emotive accusation of American phallus size envy by Jim Carrey. It's why I've always stated that illicit power's greatest enemy is the laughter from satire and ridicule.

Dirk PraetJuly 27, 2016 6:00 AM

@ Clive, @ Wael, @ ianf

Thus you could say "A curiosity about the many unexplained bad things that happen"

More or less. It's a plural, nominative neutral noun with three adjectives: "Inexplicable things of a fascinating, wonderful and terrifying nature".

Next to his teaching job, the guy spent most of his spare time as a social worker with disenfranchised immigrants. Most people didn't know he was actually a priest, and outside of school he never talked about religion unless explicitly asked for.

JeremyJuly 27, 2016 7:28 AM

@Clive,

It is interesting to note that two thirds of China's population do not have religious belifes some polls put the number in the US as little as one in seventy five people.

That one in seventy five do not have religious beliefs, or that one in seventy five do have religious beliefs?

Clive RobinsonJuly 27, 2016 8:42 AM

@ Jeremy,

That one in seventy five do not have religious beliefs, or that one in seventy five do have religious beliefs?

It's one in seventy five do not have religious beliefs. That is those --who ever they may be-- polled said they had some kind of religious beliefs. So only a little over 4million declared atheists in the US, we probably have that many in London these days ;-)

WaelJuly 27, 2016 1:31 PM

@Dirk Praet, @Clive Robinson,

Thanks for the translation.

Next to his teaching job, the guy spent most of his spare time as a social worker with disenfranchised immigrants. Most people didn't know he was actually a priest, and outside of school he never talked about religion unless explicitly asked for.

Noble thing to do! Rare quality.

WaelJuly 27, 2016 1:33 PM

@Clive Robinson,

I think we are talking at cross purposes.

Perhaps we were. There is a lot of truth to the rest of your comments.

tyrJuly 28, 2016 8:19 AM


@ Clive, et al,

I prefer the work of Ramachandran for an explanation
of why, there is a module of the human brain that is
designed to imput a spiritual signifigance to the
surround. He located it in individuals who had a
hypertrophied version. In simple terms you can cut
out the "soul" with a scalpel during neurosurgery.

The implications of that are debateable along with
the endless reams of distortion and lies that form
most religious documentation. The most egregious
error was tying the diety into the creation of the
universe. While it seemed plausible when the data
wasn't in the sheer size of the partially known
extent makes that a null hypothesis when you assume
that the recorded diety of bronze age lies is the
one who did it. Whether there are local dieties is
still open for proof but most of the records that
lean that way seem to indicate they are better not
to run afoul of. Islam seemed to think there was
some validity to that view as they killed them if
they would not submit. Christians and Jews were
not required to convert but pagans were exterminated.

Since the word religio means to tie together it was
probably a rude method of forging alliances between
clans/families and a convenient repository for the
bullshit stories humans love to tell about themselves
and others.

There is a great number of folk who cannot bring
themselves to say "I don't know" when asked any
question, so the results are always suspect.

If you are really interested in the mutation of a
belief system the Nag Hammadi translations are a
good place to start, the Dead Sea Scrolls have
become suspect since one of the authorities said
Jesus was a mushroom grown in caves around Kumran.
The official records are very suspect since we
have virtually nothing (christian) but another
teacher from the same era Mani is very well
documented, tax records, name of his dog, etc.

If you examine the zeal of the christians for
destroying the records of other systems and pay
attention to the carefully culled materials they
left intact it doesn't look good if you are
looking for any truth involved.

Looking for truth might not set you free but it
will keep you interested and curious.

WaelJuly 29, 2016 11:16 PM

@Bruce,

I'm more than half way through the book. It's getting pretty interesting. Have you read it? Should I give a summary and commentary and burn it for the rest?

ianfJuly 30, 2016 2:04 AM


Wonderful 2 parables of Clive Robinson's, and only 5kB long: July 27, 2016 1:30 and 2:45 AM, included this:

[…] Mrs Jones wining cake found to have rat poison in it after compotition judges die, is front page in the nationals and found inside some internationals.

Missing from [t]his news-worthiness ladder:

    Mrs Jones winning competition entry now bought up by BrandX., and renamed "Killing You Sweetly Cake" for upcoming launch in upmarket boutique food stores, Harrods and Marks & Spencer. The company's spokeswoman confirmed that eating a pallet load of the product in one sitting would indeed cause sweet-tasting, near instantaneous AND painless death. [National Suicide Prevention Hotline (US): 1‍-800‍-273‍-8255. In the UK, the Samaritans: 116 123. In Australia, Lifeline is on 13 11 14]


@ Wael asks Bruce […] “Should I give a summary and commentary [of the Decoded] and burn it for the rest?

WHY wasn't I sent the MEMO (bypassed by design?) of the apparently proscribed sequence of seeking permission to post impressions – of books alone? (if not of anything/ everything else). Bruce, please resend, or at least repost the URL, thanks.

WaelJuly 30, 2016 5:41 AM

@ianf,

WHY wasn't I sent the MEMO (bypassed by design?)

The memo is public. Summarized as: "Has anyone read this book?".

Bruce, please resend, or at least repost the URL, thanks.

See that line underneath the word "book" in the beginning of the thread? Yes, that one! Click on it and see what happens!

JJJuly 30, 2016 8:57 PM

Nope.
Never read it, never heard of it before.
Also, the comparison of the author with Dan Brown in the linked article caused an allergic reaction on me, so I will probably not read it at all, ever, just to avoid possible worse allergies.

But maybe I can get what the book is all about from the short description.
I have always said that scientists are the wh@res of the world (exceptions are always present of course - just I definitely have not met many of them in the hundreds I have known). They will sell their own mother for fame and money. So, instead of doing what they would love to do in their work, they do what the people that fund them tell them to do or they just try to screw up the world, simply because their own life is screwed up beyond repair.

Speaking of which, I have spotted some other names above that make me sick (Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, et al.). Really nasty stuff guys... Don't post those names in public places. Someone might be eating in front of his computer.

So, I guess that's what the book is all about. Someone technically oriented, possibly a scientist, that sells his soul trying to collect some cash, destroying pieces of the world and himself in the process. Been there, seen that. Don't think I have the mood to re-live it. If that's not it, I'd be happy to know.


---------------------------


@Wael
Statistics aside, there are historical reasons why the western world , to some extent, stopped believing in a supreme being.

As far as I am concerned, the western world never believed in any supreme being, at least in The supreme being described in the Bible. There are many things making me believe this without doubt, but I could reference the complete (or to be completed soon) extermination of the aborigines of three continents (America, Africa and Australia) and now Asia. And it so happens that those were the only continents "western world" Europeans weren't settled in already. And, to be honest, considering all the "supreme beings" man has ever made up (including bloody Baal, who is the favorite of some of the famous people pretending to be atheists nowadays), I don't think there is any of them (even blood-thirsty Baal) that would approve massacres at that scale. So, no. They didn't stop believing in a supreme being at all. They never even started.

The first one is the blatant dissonance between scriptures and well established scientific facts.

Well established scientific facts, like "GMOs are good for our health", "GMOs are safe to eat", "DDT is safe to bath in", "cell phones don't cause increased cancer risk", "Jews are inferior beings", "Germans are a superior race", "life coming from non-life is mathematically inevitable", "single-cell organisms evolved into humans with natural selection", and whatever other bull the rich rulers of science decide that is "truth" tomorrow? Because those were "well established scientific facts" once upon a time too - some of them are still supposed to be. For a man of no-faith, you surely put a lot of faith to people that become every rich man's wh@re. And excuse my language here, but I can't express it more politely... Or is it that you want a book that was written for people living 4000 years ago, for purely spiritual reasons to teach quantum mechanics?

The second being: How would a benevolent all-loving God allow atrocities to happen to innocent people.

First off, He might not be benevolent. Yes, you heard well.
Again you make the error of believing other people.
I think it is stupid to believe your pastor or some science charlatan teaching classes in a university.
You have a book (the Bible) of a history lasting 4000 years describing the actions and the intentions of this God.
And, on top of that, that book says that you can get to know this God more closely than that.
Certainly, this is not an easy read. It refers to people, cultures and customs of another era and it was translated in your language, loosing much of the original meanings of the Jewish and Greek texts (not to mention that there are translations out there that are really terrible and misleading). And also, the extent of the texts and the references in them need a lifetime of research to allow someone to get a full picture of what this text is all about. To tell you the truth, I had help on that. I don't know if I could ever make it on my own.
Regarding the innocent people, you have not the ability to know who is innocent and, from a atheistic/materialistic perspective, what does "innocent", "good", "bad", "evil" even mean? What is the thing that makes something good? Some self-centered view of what's best for our species? In that case, doesn't that make Hitler a good guy and the Jews the bad guys (just as R. Dawkings has pretty much admitted many times already)? And because I don't want to narrow my vision to the super-low extent that my society wants me to, I would prefer not to talk about Hitler, but to talk about the Germans (or for the Europeans in general, as I did before). As hard it is to believe, it was not Hitler killing millions of people alone, but it was the Germans as a society killing people. And it was done in perfect accordance with their law and their (evolutionary) scientific views.

For example, why would God allow Hitler (or more accurately, Himmler) to do what they did to the "chosen people"? I choose this example because it relates to the book in question.

That is the funniest of all your questions! This reveals your ignorance about the views of your own culture about God (which views, to tell you the truth, are heavily distorted and twisted, but you even miss those twisted versions). For your info, Jews are not God's chosen people any more and what happened to them was : 1) a punishment from God Himself, 2) foretold by many prophets in attempt to make the Jews repent, 3) the exact curse and punishment the Jews themselves willingly accepted for themselves in case they strayed away from God in the future (which they did in full extent later on). You can read the curses in your Bible. It should have been written more than 2500 years before Hitler, but it portraits what Hitler (and Titus, and some other leaders and nations) did to them pretty nicely just after their betrayal against God. The Germans were not the first punishment the Jews got and they wont be the last either. And the same can be safely anticipated for the new chosen people, in case they willingly end-up fighting against their God after getting all the "chosen people" benefits.

WaelJuly 30, 2016 10:37 PM

@JJ,

As far as I am concerned [...] "chosen people" benefits.

You're barking up the wrong tree.

JJJuly 31, 2016 9:08 AM

@Wael

You're barking up the wrong tree.
Maybe I am. I just try to express what I see as true. But I think I have answered some of your questions. If you want you can elaborate more on why I am barking up the wrong tree. Definitely, my approach is not the best for convincing someone about something, but I don't think I try to do that here. I just spit out what I view as truth. No special filtering or processing was applied. You get the raw and 100% natural thing out of it. Maybe it sounds offensive to some people, although I was not aiming at that, or it seems not suited for the discussion. But someone might like my post.

And to make things clear, I don't blindly hate the majority of Europeans, Germans, Jews and scientists. But I am not quite excited with their current mindset either... Nothing personal or racist about it. I simply judge their actions using my standards. On the other side, I tend to like many of them that stand out.

And regarding the "carrot and the donkey" picture that others have mentioned, I think it is totally out of reality.
I could understand why the "carrot" would be labeled as something unreachable by someone allergic to God like R. Dawkins, but for normal human beings it's not. Apostle Thomas was an example of someone asking proof from God for anything he needed. And, today, assuming that the carrot is the union with God, one can find people united with God, having many extraordinary gifts, performing miracles and giving valid prophecies, just like the prophets in the Old Testament used to do. Maybe the western world does not produce saints anymore, but there are other cultures that do. And I have personally met such people. So, if you cannot trust your own ancestors who believed that the carrot is reachable, trust your own eyes. You only have to take a small peek outside of your culture.
If you are willing to live with the consequences of this realization, that is... For someone like Dawkins that seems lead to madness. For others like the Apostles, it seems to lead to a life of hardship, a terrifying death and true union with God. Because it should be very clear that the God of the Bible does not lead you through roads filled with rose petals. Christ made this very clear. The only roses during the route are not valued by many people. But those who do value them and do follow The Road, are promised both unity with God and eternal life. The former can be seen to be fulfilled in the lives of saints. You are free to doubt for the latter. And you are free to doubt the motives and the intentions of God.
But if you some people are thinking that there is no God or that the "carrot" is not reachable, they are simply fooling themselves.

Now, if you are asking if someone uses this as a method to control people, I would say that for the western cultures the answer would be a clear yes. Having someone like the pope or protestant pastors or other denominations interpreting the scripture the way they want does produce this kind of problems. That's why the head of the true Church is Christ Himself and not the pope or some other charlatan. And Bishops only exist to serve the body of Christ and not to command it or to interpret the word of God. There are 2000 years of Church tradition for those things (generated by the whole body of Christ itself) that have made the direction of the Church super solid and totally inflexible to changes. One would expect this kind of "governance" (with lacking authorities and human leaders) to produce anarchy and chaos, but it turns out that the only chaos and anarchy seems to be located in western christian communities where "novel" methods of organization were applied (thanks to the ego and self-importance of some individuals). So, the "control" argument is false as well, since I see no turning wheel in the true Christian faith (not the fraud that pope et al. are selling), and no turning wheel means no control over it.

ianfJuly 31, 2016 9:36 AM


Need so many electrons (n x 3900 characters) been deployed to state what otherwise could easily been expressed as "I'm an idiot, only I don't know it" (ergo, n x 34 characters to be exact), comma, rhetorical question.

JJJuly 31, 2016 11:46 AM

@ianf
No, these do not qualify as rhetorical questions.
Unless you have expanded the meaning of the word to questions that you don't want to hear the real answer.
And I was not planning to do that favor to you anyway.
I am known to bring down without mercy the imaginary "realities" atheists are building for themselves.
I am sure that creates a little upset to them, but it is for the greater good, I would think - and for their own good as well.

And we are all idiots, only we don't know it.
So you are simply stating the obvious there...
If you listened to others, you would have known that already to be true for yourself too.
One's self is a really bad judge of his own intelligence.
Ask R. Dawkins. He obviously has no idea what he is talking about - even in his own field of study; let alone in others, yet he somehow believes he is smart.

Having thrown all the above and starting to feel the flames of battle rising, I feel the urge to state another obvious thing:

Peace bro. I come in peace.
I am statistically sure you are not Dawkins, so you should not be offended, although public figures should embrace criticism anyway.

If you don't like what I write, don't read it.
If my posts qualify as spam, maybe Mr. Schneier can remove them (I have not read the book anyway and I have not paid any special attention to the discussion before posting).
After all, I am hitting a little hard on poor Dawkins here...
I can understand this guy and I feel his problems but he has to solve those problems by himself.

The truth is that there was a reason I didn't put your nickname on my comment.
I was quite sure we would not agree on anything and I was trying to avoid future pointless conversations that are intentionally moving outside the topic (even the -probably- remote in relevance topic that I have opened on this tiny post).
And from the looks of it, not many people are willing to write more than 1 line of comment, so I guess there are not many social and friendly types on this site, as I have imagined.

So, I have accepted the title of the "idiot" which seems to be a universal human trait.
I hope you are happy now.

But I am still wondering:
Do you still think that the questions I was answering above were rhetorical?
Because the question of "what is the meaning of life" would well fit in the group.
I guess that would too be a rhetorical question for you, right?
I would really like a response to that, so that my curiosity gets fulfilled.
Maybe you are Dawkins after all... Who knows...

Dirk PraetJuly 31, 2016 12:12 PM

@ JJ

As far as I am concerned, the western world never believed in any supreme being, at least in The supreme being described in the Bible.

Did you somehow miss the Middle Ages in school history class?

How would a benevolent all-loving God allow atrocities to happen to innocent people.

I take it you have never heard of the Book of Job either?

WaelJuly 31, 2016 2:21 PM

@JJ,

I'll combine my replies to both of your comments (and a comment you made to @ianf) in one. I may take your comments out of order since they lack coherence and logical flow. I'm not fond of replying to barrages of questions and comments in a single post, and it's not my intention to dwell on this subject beyond this response. There is one exception which I will challenge you to prove.

Maybe I am. I just try to express what I see as true.

What you see as true is for your eyes only. If you want to share truths with others, then it needs to be coupled with some logic and references.

But I think I have answered some of your questions.

There were no questions to be answered.

If you want you can elaborate more on why I am barking up the wrong tree.

Sure. You made incorrect assumptions and carried on.

But someone might like my post.

Few like-minded people may like your post, although it's unlikely.

I don't blindly hate the majority of Europeans, Germans, Jews and scientists.

Aren't Germans also Europeans? How do you feel about the rest of the populations and occupations? That's a rhetorical question which requires no answer.

I simply judge their actions using my standards.

Your standards are universally accepted? You questioned what's "good", "evil",... and now you tell me, without elaboration, that anyone who fails to meet your "standards" is not worthy of your respect.

On the other side, I tend to like many of them that stand out.

Give me just one example and the reason you see they (he/she/group) stand out according to your standards.

I could understand why the "carrot" would [...] just like the prophets in the Old Testament used to do.

Beliefs aren't a subject of discussion. Believe what you like -- only you are accountable for your beliefs and actions -- in this life and the hereafter.

Maybe the western world does not produce saints anymore, but there are other cultures that do.

Don't give me a dictionary or wiki definition: What's a saint? Someone who doesn't commit any "sin"? I tell you that someone does not exist.

trust your own eyes. You only have to take a small peek outside of your culture.

What do you know about my ancestors to ask of me to trust them? What if they were devil worshippers, should I still trust them? What do you know about my culture to ask me to look outside of it (and I have, by the way.) It's evident that you yourself have not practiced what your preaching.

God of the Bible does not lead you through roads filled with rose petals.

(Atheists, stay out of this one)... Your God is my God. Our perception of his attributes and nature may differ. That doesn't mean there is more than one.

Christ made this very clear...

That's your belief, and I have no further comments on it.

But if you some people are thinking that there is no God...

You are either new here or you haven't looked up discussions on this subject in the past.

Now, if you are asking if someone uses this as a method to control people, I would say that for the western cultures the answer would be a clear yes. Having someone like the pope or protestant pastors or other denominations interpreting the scripture the way they want does produce this kind of problems. That's why the head of the true Church is Christ Himself and not the pope or some other charlatan. And Bishops only exist to serve the body of Christ and not to command it or to interpret the word of God.

That's an inconsistent, self-defeating statement.

So, the "control" argument is false as well, since I see no turning wheel in the true Christian faith (not the fraud that pope et al. are selling),

I take it you're not Catholic. And which pope are you referencing, there are more than one current "pope"?

Never read it, never heard of it before.

Now you've heard of it.

Speaking of which, I have spotted some other names above that make me sick...

It's ok to listen to what they have to say. I disagree with the majority of their arguments, but some of the arguments they postulated made me think and understand more. Richard Dawkins seems to me the more respected one of the three. He comes across as genuine. I like his manners and demeanor although I disagree with his logic and beliefs (or lack thereof.) Christopher Hitchens, well... It's not nice to talk ill of the dead. Sam Harris is an idiot par excellence. Amazing credentials but a misguided idiot, nonetheless. And with an agenda, too! I don't mean to insult anyone (idiots, that is.)

Don't post those names in public places. Someone might be eating in front of his computer.

I hope you were eating something and choked on it while reading this (for calling me ignorant.) :)

So, I guess that's what the book is all about...

Don't guess! Read, or forever remain silent.

If that's not it, I'd be happy to know.

Be happy. It's a novel; an interesting one with several realistic plots. It came across as a historical / documentary book until I reached the part about breaking PURPLE.

As far as I am concerned...

As far as I'm concerned, you are wrong -- plain and simple.

extermination of the aborigines of three continents (America, Africa and Australia) and now Asia.

That is a fact; a sad one. I leave it to you to investigate how many hundreds of millions "disappeared".

Well established scientific facts...

I'm not going to explain each of the items you listed. These are not "scientific facts". A simple scientific fact could be something like: The Earth orbits the Sun, Earth is older than 5700 years, Sun-light takes 8 minutes and 20 seconds to reach Earth on average... What you listed are "claims" -- not "well established scientific facts"!

"Germans are a superior race"

Zey (they, with a German accent) produced amazing Engineers, Scientists, Physicists, phenomenal Mathematicians, Musicians, Philosophers,... You're right, a civilization that produced giants like Gauss, Kant, Hertz, Leibniz, Planck, Kepler, Heisenberg, ... can't be "superior"! Tell me: What has your civilization brought to humanity? Actually, don't tell me because I couldn't care less. Just ponder on it and reevaluate your thinking.

"life coming from non-life is mathematically inevitable"

Here is your one and only challenge: Prove this statement cannot be true in light of the current state of science.

That is the funniest of all your questions!

It's not a question of mine!

This reveals your ignorance about the views of your own culture about God

What's my own culture about God, enlighten me!

(which views, to tell you the truth, are heavily distorted and twisted, but you even miss those twisted versions).

Heavily distorted and twisted? What views are you referencing here? Again, it's a rhetorical question meant to expose the weaknesses of your argument and the false or unsubstantiated claims and assumptions you make.

Or is it that you want a book that was written for people living 4000 years ago, for purely spiritual reasons to teach quantum mechanics?

I can surmise from your statement that such a book is only valid for people who lived 4000 years ago. Of course I don't expect it to teach quantum mechanics! But it must not contradict basic well-established scientific facts, either! Do you know why?

I am known to bring down without mercy the imaginary "realities" atheists are building for themselves.

I seriously doubt this hollow statement. There is some serious brain power on this blog that you haven't engaged the likes of anywhere. Be cautioned, you'll be eaten alive for desert. Judging from your style and arguments, you don't have a prayer to bring down anything "without mercy".

ianfJuly 31, 2016 3:00 PM


So glad you recognized yourself in my omnidirectionally lobbed petard – was worried for a while you'd play Alfred E. Neumann "who—ME???" games with us.

WaelJuly 31, 2016 6:47 PM

Finished 80% of the book. Not my style... Looked at online reviews, I don't have the patience for long-winded descriptive page after page. The sinister part of me says there are elements of truth to the story and the hero is a real character. His end resembles that of Kurt Gödel and John Forbes Nash Jr. Perhaps the author was infeluenced by these characters. Very unusual writing style. Could be because I haven't touched fiction in a while.... Or is it really fiction? I don't know...

JJJuly 31, 2016 7:26 PM

@Dirk Praet
I have explained very clearly why I think the western world has never been Christian (see the 3 continents extermination comment above). Your example further strengthens my point. In the Middle Ages, European societies were not only non-Christian, but maybe entirely dehumanized as well. The whole situation in Europe before the middle ages and even up until today does not have anything to do with Christianity. And there were other (true) Christian cultures at the same time period but in other geographical locations that were thriving on all social aspects. Clearly, what existed in Europe was not Christianity, judging from what humans did to each other. And even after the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance, despite the humanism that supposedly drove Europeans forward, what has changed? In my view (without being a historian), the only thing that changed was that, instead of Europeans killing each other on an endless witch-hunt, they started killing and looting people on other continents (maybe that's what humanism is all about... that would explain a lot of things). I don't think I can consider this progress on the humanitarian field. But certainly it contributed largely to the financial field which was (and is) the most important of all for Europeans.

And I have never tried to convince anyone that the Christian God is benevolent.
My only point is that He is real.
The rest you can decide from your own experience, if you dare to try and have any.
Job, for example, had no doubt that his God was benevolent.
The why and the how are well described in the book using his own words.
I have said in the previous comment that following God is like carrying a load. Or a cross as Christ Himself said. It is not easy and you don't do it to have fun.
It's not a joyride as protestants want to believe.
It's not a drug like opium or a habit as knitting like anti-theists want to believe.
Once you become a real Christian, huge problems are coming, not joy.
That's what Christ promised, that's what you get. Nothing out of the ordinary about that.
The `why` one would want to experience all these problems when he can easily escape them is also mentioned partially in my above posts.
From the simplest and purely rational point of view, you can end up in 3 situations in your life: 1) not to care whether God exits or not, 2) not to want God to exist, 3) to want God to exist.
Speaking for myself, I am not the type of person that doesn't care for things and, from my experience, number (2) tends to collide very badly with reality, making you a really unhappy person. And I kinda liked the God of the Bible already, despite of the countless problems he sends down my path. It's like being in love. Your spouse might torture you, but you still love him/her. And the great thing in this particular love story, is that it never gets old and worn out. People are boring. God is not. At the end of the day, you barely notice the problems and you only notice God.
Of course, there are many different levels of quality of this love-affair depending on the person.
I am probably not the best example of a Christian, but I do have some of this experience of love.

But God does not make people suffer for no reason. Job's suffering for example had a vital role to play, both for Job and for the history and the theology of the Church.
The same applies for the millions of Christian martyrs.

On top of that, it common experience, I think, that people who have not gone through rough times are not good enough. They often miss compassion and humanity.

And at the bottom-line, this is not paradise we are in right now.
We've kicked our sorry @sses out of that place long ago...
Our original plan was to become gods without God, remember?
No need to mention that this was a really bad plan and that we were screwed from the beginning, but putting aside earthquakes, floods, hurricanes, ice ages, volcanoes, droughts and a lot of other stuff that we can't control even in our wildest dreams, one would at least expect that we would be able to do the simple things. Like to keep it together and not kill each other, for example. Turns out we can't do even that.

So, is God good?
Treating Him as a human, definitely he seems to be better than any of us (I cannot imagine anyone in His place that would have kept us alive so far. Reading through the Bible, I think I would have probably wiped us out long before Abraham saw the light of our sun).
But God is not a human and since He made us out of nothing, He can even destroy us.
He has this authority over us and He will not be bad even if He decides to destroy us all.
He gave us life for a reason. That reason is the definition of "good".
If we don't serve that purpose anymore or if He changes His mind, He can "undo us" and that will not make Him less good.
That may feel bad for some people, but processing it logically makes absolute sense.
Maybe it is helpful to think of God as a human being in order to make Him more familiar to us, but He is not a human.
He might be able to become our closest friend and treat us as equals to Him, but He is not one of us.
So, the bad things that happened to Job were nothing compared to what God is entitled to do to us. But it was obvious that God liked Job and He had His reasons to put him under those tests. And despite the hard times that he got, he is now a winner in the game of life.

Maybe life is about the survival of the fit individuals after all.
It always seemed to me that earth is just a quality control system.
All the parts (people) get tested.
The good parts get collected.
The bad parts are sent in some dump or something...
Not the way evolutionists were envisioning it, but pretty much as it is described cryptically both in the Old and in the New Testament.

And the most amazing thing about the whole process is that God doesn't have to judge us nor to discriminate us!
We do that to our selves by hating Him and trying to stay away from Him.
We throw ourselves into the garbage dump!

OK.
That's all my chatter for now...
I will come back 2 weeks later to have a look.
I am pretty busy lately. ;)

JJJuly 31, 2016 9:42 PM

@Wael
That is a long answer! :)
Thanks for the time.

Let's hope it is not all rhetorical questions in there.

I seriously doubt this hollow statement. There is some serious brain power on this blog that you haven't engaged the likes of anywhere. Be cautioned, you'll be eaten alive for desert. Judging from your style and arguments, you don't have a prayer to bring down anything "without mercy".

Pal, I do not doubt that there are geniuses in this place. I wouldn't be here if there weren't any. But as I have said before, we are all stupid as a species, either we want it or not. Our history and the history of many geniuses are filled with fatal mistakes that seem to emanate from the brain of a child in kinder-garden.
And as far as I am concerned, I am not a smart guy. I have said that too.
But you know the story of David and Goliath.
Things are not the way they seem.
And things do not end up the way you may expect them.

But this is not a competition.
We are all logical beings with flaws.
My intentions were only to have a conversation.
Maybe I have pushed it a bit over the top with Dawkins, but that's one of my flaws, I guess.
The core of any discussion should be the exchange of data in order to find the truth about something.
But I see now that you don't really care about discussion either.

As for the main point of my posts, that cannot be refuted no matter how hard you may try.
That's because I have experience of God and I know He is real more than I can verify your own existence.
And if you are not afraid or allergic to God, you would have that experience too.
It's repeatable science.
And unlike the science you mention, it makes no assumptions. Zero.

What's my own culture about God, enlighten me!

It's the western "christian" culture. The one that is affected by popes and pedophile pastors, by anarchy, oppression and bloody revolutions, the one that made Europe to change its face from bad to worse. Isn't that your culture? Take that as a rhetorical question. If you weren't from that culture, chances are that you would have been eliminated by now. And, even if you had survived, you would probably be in some field somewhere struggling to prepare yourself for the coming winter and not in front of a computer.

Just ponder on it and reevaluate your thinking.

Nothing to reevaluate really.
When the rest of the world is looted and struggles to find food to eat (and I am not talking about my country here - you don't need to know anything about my country), the looters have the balls to make a statue for themselves for the accomplishments they have achieved using someone else's gold, land, food, work force and money.
Nothing different than I expected, really.
You are just confirming my expectations.

But I can give another list as well if you want. It's the one of Nazi soldiers. You don't mention them anywhere and it's a pity. They have done a great job wiping out Europe. That was a great offer to humanity. Don't you think? After all, "the strongest must survive", as Hitler used to say. So, you have what? 50 scientists that may be German (or simply desperate refugees) and who have offered miraculous discoveries to humanity? And what do I have... Lets see... Maybe I can give you a list of at least 6 million mindless 100% German zombie soldiers following a crazy Nazi with a funny mustache and killing whatever moves and breathes? And maybe some tons of ashes, some millions of killed civilians, all of them offered by the generous German war machine? Do you really want us to run with these numbers? It's a clear comparison for me, so let's not move on to that slippery path, please. I have already told you I have nothing against Germans when they don't cause problems. All that is history. Let's not infuriate them with what I say and make them start causing problems again...

For the rest of your questions, I will be happy to answer back, if you want me that is.
It will only have to be after 2 weeks.
I am planning to keep myself heavily occupied with other things in that time.

But you are taking things too personal, if you ask me.
If you are from Germany, you should not be ashamed or anything.
But you must become better as people as we all should.
And I don't mean better at making tools, cars and buses.

Adiós for now.
And if you don't want me back, feel free to say it.
Obviously that is your place on the web for a long time and I came in here and offered you a bad taste of myself.

WaelJuly 31, 2016 11:03 PM

@JJ,

That is a long answer! :)

Not really! It could have been two orders of magnitude longer. Besides, the length of the answer can be directly proportional to the length (and style) of the question. My initial answer was a one-liner, and you asked for an elaboration.

I'll keep this comment short. I'm interested in seeing your response to the request I challenged you with -- you have your two weeks. We can discuss the other points at a later time, if you wish. Just do it one point at a time.

Dirk PraetAugust 1, 2016 5:16 AM

@ JJ

Clearly, what existed in Europe was not Christianity, judging from what humans did to each other.

You may righteously question to which extent the Catholic Church correctly implemented the teachings of Jesus, but for more than a thousand years this was for all practical purposes the way Christianity was implemented in Europe and thus recorded in history.

At the end of the day, you barely notice the problems and you only notice God.

Which is exactly what drove Karl Marx to state that "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". Most people only know the opium part.

Job's suffering for example had a vital role to play, both for Job and for the history and the theology of the Church.

The Book of Job in essence is a remarkably deep and well-written theological metaphor trying to answer the question why the righteous suffer. In Islam, he is known as Ayyub and one of 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Quran.

If you're struggling with the many problems and sufferings in life and the fact that your God may not be (perceived as) a "benevolent" God, you may wish to read up a bit on the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism, the first one of which says "Life is dukkha". It's often translated as "life is suffering", but which is not entirely correct as it means much more.

It also plays an important part in Hinduism, as Siddharta Gautama was definitely neither the first or the last to struggle with the matter.

Mark WelchAugust 8, 2016 4:35 PM

I just finished reading Decoded (in English translation), and like the first respondent here, "Not bad but in the end there is no focus on the interesting (read technical) content (as expected)."

Somewhat non-traditional narrative. I suspect that some aspects of the writer's skill might have been lost in translation.

ianfAugust 9, 2016 8:15 AM


@ Mark Welch “suspects that some aspects of the "Decoded" writer's skill might have been lost in translation.

Let your suspicions solidify into certainty for inner peace of mind. It is a rare translation that was able to retain the spirit and the tone of the original, while being reborn in a new linguistic-cultural-historical setting. And such may be wholly absent in cases of mutating a language expressed with a pictographic alphabet (if not a set of these), each pictogram invested with virtual contexts, into one relying on literal glyphs that merely signify the sounds of the target language. The Japanese Kazuo Ishiguro, brought up in the UK, and (masterly!) writing in English, said directly that, the smaller the cultural overlap, the more any translation becomes a work of art all on its own.

I used to think that, to produce desirable results, the translator had to be bilingual, and brought up in both cultures. But maybe that wasn't all there is to it, as all familiarity breeds contempt, while the goal of veracity to the original requires a hefty dose of self-criticism. In any event, lacking objective tools for comparison—it's not like one could diff two translations of the same text, and receive a readout of their conformance degree to the original—we have to use other, highly subjective methods for such evaluations.

Using that measure, however, there do exist translations by people who were not originally fluent in the source language, that, to readers unable to consume the original, seem to be on a par with the masterpiece originals. Perhaps because these translators are more vary of the subtexts that usually lie beneath the main narrative, and have to be unveiled and woven back into the flow, and less confident of their own amazing ability to re-encode anything into something.

Judging by the reception of this book, there's too much there that's been lost in translation to make it worth the effort, which is why I won't be reading it, only reviews, and, perhaps, Cliffs' Notes, of.


      Earlier in the same thread, Dirk Praet wrote about something else… which prompts me to issue this REQUEST FOR A [‍Y‍es‍/‍N‍o‍] CLARIFICATION.

I note that you apparently have studied all the "holy books" of major religions, Karl Marx, Kropotkin, Eastern mystics, and retained enough of their contents to be able to quote them at will. Earlier, you referred us to Quran for some wisdom, which I personally did not heed.

So I wonder, given that accumulated knowledge baggage, were you ever ABLE TO CONVINCE anyone of a religious bent that your counterarguments—from the same or another ideology or religion—were sounder? (Yes/No will do—just curious).

Dirk PraetAugust 9, 2016 12:50 PM

@ ianf

So I wonder, given that accumulated knowledge baggage, were you ever ABLE TO CONVINCE anyone of a religious bent that your counterarguments ... were sounder?

The short answer to that would be a no. Discussing the matter with educated people of a different religion can be very rewarding in itself. Doing the same with folks locked into the prison of their own minds is an exercise in futility and in general rapidly devolves into ridicule, name calling and outright aggression. Kinda like what we saw here in the "Russians are hacking the DNC" thread.

WaelAugust 9, 2016 1:28 PM

@Dirk Praet, @ianf,

Discussing the matter with educated people...

Objectivity, honesty, politeness, sensitivity, and courage (to realize one's mistakes) are all essential elements for a good discussion, and coupling them with a sense of humor is also ok. One needs to be able to present points of view with rationale, references, sound logic and explanation. When this is the case, the opposing person will hopefully understand (not nessearily agree) as to why someone adopts a certain different or unexpected stance -- on any topic of discussion.

Clive RobinsonAugust 9, 2016 4:30 PM

@ Wael,

One needs to be able to present points of view with rationale, references, sound logic and explanation.

When discussing certain things neither sound logic or rationale are possible because we lack the knowledge that underpins them. Further it may never be possible to know them as you cannot cross back through zero.

As I've noted before, whilst it is possible to argue that a watch has a maker, it does not account for where the watchmaker comes from. You end up in the "turtles all the way down" or "lesser flea" issue.

Further if you come into existance on a downward side of a cusp, it is not possible to say how far down the cusp you are, thus how high the cusp is or what is on the otherside of the cusp.

Thus you have to ask the question of "How do you deal with this boundery or limit on what can be known?". We know that contemplation of the infinite has caused madness in some mathematicians, and others develope beliefs without rational or logical foundation, whilst others just shrug their shoulders.

WaelAugust 9, 2016 5:08 PM

@Clive Robinson,

Thus you have to ask the question of "How do you deal with this boundery or limit on what can be known?".

My comment was genetic to all topics of discussion. I'll cover the rest of your questions from a different perspective when @JJ comes back on August 16th. I want to give him a chance first. I won't extensively talk about watchmakers because we discussed this in the past..

Dirk PraetAugust 10, 2016 9:06 AM

@ Wael, @ ianf, @ Clive

Objectivity, honesty, politeness, sensitivity, and courage (to realize one's mistakes) are all essential elements for a good discussion, and coupling them with a sense of humor is also ok.

I second that. That's why in general I do kind of enjoy my exchanges with @Skeptical on this forum. As opposed to those with certain others for whom anyone - either domestic or foreign - voicing dissent with the USG party line by definition is either a mentally unstable kufar or a Russian agent.

ianfAugust 16, 2016 10:27 AM


Re: @ Wael's promise Clive Robinson to “cover the rest of his questions from a different perspective when @JJ comes back on August 16th.

Cover mares, answer questions. You are soooooo predictable[*] and transparent you don't even know it: this is the second, if not the third, time that I hear[NO "t"] you hide behind some absent, confused, logorrheic entity's back promising to REVEAL ALL once he comes back. Because “he has experience of God and knows He is real more than he can verify your own existence.”

Yet I—hardly some full-time, salaried watcher of what little Wael is up to—already know what you intend to say in response, which youtubabes you want to pimp to us. So I'm breaking the implicit news embargo, and posting these IN ADVANCE here and now—in this fashion you simply won't be able to regurgitate them—unless you have no shame, which can not be ruled out. You wanna come up with something fresh, do some new research (still no guarantee that you'll be able to win the argument – ask Dirk Praet). And with little luck, your eagerly-awaited sad-sack messenger of Otherworldly Wisdoms won't be coming back—recalled as he was for janitorial duties at Court of Ignorance and Superstition—so I'll be free to continue with my Grand Educacational Project.

Thus, without much further ado:

Wael: […] One of these days I'll use the size of the universe to illustrate how improbable "evolution" really is.

[3:33 Mind Bollocking!] Earth size comparison ...

[11:58] Size comparison of the Universe

We're sooooo impressed. There, MISSION ACCOMPLISHMENTS FOLLOWED BY NOM-NOM REFRESHMENTS

PS. were I in your flip-flops, already today I'd prepare to eat huge helpings of humble pie with a side order of gravel


[^*] predictability, most recent instance, of

WaelAugust 16, 2016 10:56 AM

@ianf,

still no guarantee that you'll be able to win the argument

It's really not about winning an argument. It's about sharing thoughts. If you want to be part of the discussion, you're welcome to share your thoughts, and tell us how everything came into existence! If you don't care, then stay out of it and ignore this track.

ianfAugust 16, 2016 11:39 AM


@ Wael, already told you, you IGNORED my track. What do you expect me to do, post in all uppercase? AIN'T GONNA DO THAT (caught you with the hand in a chamber pot, didn't I).

      Besides, as there is no "god,"
      what was the problem, again?

WaelAugust 16, 2016 7:29 PM

@ianf,

• Besides, as there is no "god," * what was the problem, again?

The problem is you don't argue your case, get involved in the discussion, and claim to be disinterested, then discuss it again. Are you in or are you out?

if you're in, then I'll address my nice long story to you, since @JJ got cold feet! Besides -- we've got a score to settle:

We're sooooo impressed. There,

All those nice videos you listed will come into play, hold your horses! You'll soon be depressed after you find out if it's you or I who's superstitious.

If you're out, then say "I chickened out" -- it's okay, I'll understand... Puck-puck-puck-pukaaaaaak ;)

Clive RobinsonAugust 16, 2016 7:37 PM

@ Wael,

Puck-puck-puck-pukaaaaaak

Is that an impersonation of a chicken, a turkey or some other fowl thing? 0:)

WaelAugust 16, 2016 8:08 PM

@r,

If you want to witness real evil, then pay close attention to @Clive Robinson ;)

Is that an impersonation of a chicken, a turkey or some other fowl thing? 0:)

He's so evil, so much so, that he'll attack you and you'd walk out smiling thinking that he praised you ;) At least I'm direct, and thick, too (ask @ianf, if he got off his iThrone.)

WaelAugust 17, 2016 3:20 AM

@JJ,

This is one way to demonstrate the falsehood of this statement: "life coming from non-life is mathematically inevitable"...

You should have kept your word ;)

One of these days I'll use the size of the universe to illustrate how improbable "evolution" really is.

This is a small part, otherwise it would be a lot longer.

Suppose there was an identical planet like ours with only one lonely living mosquito, which lives forever. Meanwhile, on earth, life hasn't begun. This is earth, 4.7 billion years ago.

Now suppose the mosquito's whole purpose in life is to relocate all the water from the identical planet’s Pacific Ocean to another place on the planet, say Asia. Let's assume the land has a hole big enough to contain the water of the Pacific Ocean...

Additionally, the mosquito is so lonely that after each round trip between the Pacific Ocean and the ditch, it flies to earth to see if life had begun. Actually, the mosquito is so desperate that it only hopes to see if a Protein has formed. The mosquito flies slowly. Each round trip between the ocean and the ditch plus the round trip from its’ planet to earth takes a 1000 years to complete.

The mosquito can't carry a lot of water, either! It can only carry one thousandth (1/1000) of a drop of water per trip. This means that the mosquito will need 1000 round trips to relocate a single drop of water. How many years would the mosquito need to finish its task, and will the mosquito find a Protein on earth during this period? Let's find out...

  • Volume of the Pacific Ocean: 660,000,000 Km3
  • Converting it to cubic meters: 6.6 x 1017calc
  • Which happens to be 6.600000 x 1020 liters
  • gtt is the prefix for a drop of water. There are 20,000 drops of water in one liter.
  • There are 1.32 x 1025 drops of water in the Pacific Ocean. (6.600000 x 1020 x 20,000)
  • The mosquito will need 1000 (trips per drop of water) x 1.32 x 1025 (drops of water) = 1.32 x 1028 round trips to move all of the water from the Pacific Ocean of that planet to Asia of that planet.
  • Since each round trip takes a year, the mosquito will need 1.32 x 1028 years to move the entire Pacific Ocean. That's 1.32 x ten thousand trillion trillion years to move the entire Pacific Ocean at a rate of 1/1000 drops per year. Surely a Protein would have formed on earth in this time, which is a longer time than the 4.7 billion year earth has been in existence! It's a lot larger than the age of the universe! This number is (rounding down, too) eight hundred thousand trillion times the age of the universe - surely a measly Protein would have formed on earth, by chance!

Let's see how the Protein formation progressed on earth during this time...

Before we start this exercise, we'll be extra generous with "you", because you'll consent to the non-expanding universe, and we'll concede by accepting some points that are impossible anyway. In spite if that, we'll accept that these points already existed (by chance, of course) before we start the calculation. And that's just to see to what extent the theory of life coming into existence from non-life holds true in spite of us accepting the following "impossible points":

Generous assumptions:

  1. We'll assume that the earth's atmosphere is identical to what evolutionists portray it to us
  2. We'll assume that the twenty kinds of amino acids, that form protein building blocks, preexisted by chance, and in the needed proportions
  3. We'll assume that all of those amino acids are of the left-handed kind (the kind used to build Proteins)
  4. The simplest living organism needs 239 kinds of proteins to live. These proteins must contain, on average, 445 units of amino acids. To simplify the math, we'll reduce this number to 400 amino acids
  5. We'll assume that all of earth's molecules (land, water, and atmosphere) of carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, hydrogen, and sulfur were exclusively used to manufacture and produce the Amino Acids
  6. We'll assume that the amino acids above were already grouped into known groups. And that the amino acids in each group exist in the required numbers and proportions needed to manufacture proteins
  7. We'll assume these groups are immune to the deadly effects of ultra-violet radiation (Evolutionists claim that amino acids were constructed by ultra violet radiation that emanate from the sun.) The strange thing is this ultra-violet radiation, in reality, is a life-killing agent to the life that evolutionists claim that it created! The consensus is the early atmosphere was devoid of ozone... in spite of that, we'll assume that oxygen preexisted just so we continue the with the calculation.
  8. We'll assume that those amino acids combine together in an automatic fashion (and this is impossible because fusing cannot happen without expending a certain amount of energy)
  9. We'll assume that there is a single possibility of exchange in each produced chain -- to give additional chances for error correction
  10. We'll assume that the chain of protein is built at very high speeds. lets give it a speed of 1 thirtieth of a million of a billions of a second. This speed is approximately 150 million billion times faster than protein construction in a living body -- this is to counter some arguments of “serialization"
  11. Assume that all the Amino Acid groups exist by themselves, and that any unsuitable or un-beneficial chain that gets constructed in any group, gets instantly deconstructed and another group gets constructed in its place. We'll also assume that these operations take place at the incredible speed of 30 million trillion operations per second. That means 1024 chains per year. That's a million million million million chains per year.
  12. We'll assume that ideal conditions exist for chances and that external inhibitor factors don't interfere, and that barriers and hurdles don't exist. And as a result of the infinitely large unions that take place, that whenever a valid chain is constructed, the union operation will cease immediately and the chain will remain immutably valid.
  13. We'll assume that when we obtain 239 kinds of proteins of the necessary kind and number for the simplest imaginary live organism, that these Proteins will automatically combine together in the form needed for this imaginary living organism.
  14. This is an easy one: We'll assume the earth is 5 billion years old and the universe is 15 billion years old -- just to simply the calculation, while giving another advantage to "chance"

In the points that we consented to, that all the ingredients on earth of carbon, oxygen, nitrogen, sulfur, and hydrogen were exclusively used for constructing amino acids and the construction operation happened under the best of conditions and was distributed in the most optimal proportions into the special groups. According to these assumptions, all of earth's atoms can produce 1041 groups. That's a hundred thousand billion billion billion billion groups. Referring to assumption 11, above we get 1024 chains per year. If we include all the amino acid groups, then we get 1065 chains. That's a hundred trillion trillion trillion trillion chains.

Let's advance another step and assume (another advantage donated to "chance") the process started from the moment earth existed till today. Namely, the pre-processing has continued for 5 billion years. We'll then obtain 1075 different Amino Acid chains. That's a thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion chains. It's a number consisting of one followed by 75 zeroes! Seems that's a huge number, right? We'll see that's not the case! It's a humble number next to the number that results from calculating the probability of constructing Amino Acid chains out of 20 kinds of Amino Acids.

In the fourth point of concessions, we agreed that we'll use an average complexity of protein to be consisting of 400 amino acids. Although this number is relatively small, the combinations out of it is a number so huge that we cannot imagine its magnitude. This number is 20400 which is 10520.

The question now is how many valid chains can we expect to obtain out of this huge number? It's a hard question to answer (explanation skipped just to keep it short, but available and workable.) The least bound probability happens to be 1 in 4400. That's 1 in 10240. This is such a huge number that we need yo repeat saying "trillion" twenty times. That means in order to obtain a molecule, by pure chance, fit to be a protein we'll have to wait for a number with 240 zeroes.

In point 9, we consented that we'll allow a single exchange operation in each of these chains. In other words, we allowed for error correction. When we account for that, we reduce 4 zeroes from the probability. We are still looking at a number with 236 zeroes!

To summarize the calculations:

  1. The number of amino acid chains that can be produced using all the atoms of the earth for that purpose, starting from the beginning of earth till today is 1075 chains.
  2. It's possible to form 10520 different chains of amino acids, each containing 400 amino acids. And this is by using 20 different amino acids.
  3. The probability of obtaining a single valid protein molecule from these random unions is 1 in 10236

Considering these calculations, the number of proteins that can be obtained out of the 1075 chains we have is easy! It's a division operation: 1075 / 10236 = 10-161

This simply means that the millions of trillions of amino acids, and through five billion years could not produce a single protein molecule. And the probability of producing a single protein through these random operations is not one in a hundred, it's not one in a thousand, and not even one in a million! The probability is one in a hundred thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion.

The poor mosquito did not find her Protein on earth. Let's give earth more time, and retire the mosquito and replace it with a single cell organism (that appeared by chance, of course.) This organism is much slower than the mosquito. It also can't carry as much! It can only carry one atom at a time! Let's slow that organism down a lot. It will move at the extremely humble speed of 1 cm per year.

  • Current Size of the universe: Approximately 91 billion light years
  • Speed of light: Approximately 300,000 km/s
  • Number of atoms in the observable universe (upper bound): 1082
  • Number of amino acids: over 500
  • 1 angstrom: 10-10 meters
  • 1 light year: 1.461 x 1015 meters
  • 1 parsec: 3.086 x 1016 meters
  • Planck epoch: The earliest period of time in the history of the universe; from 0 to approximately 10-43 seconds
  • One trillion: 1 x 1012
  • Short scale and long scale
  • Time = Distance / Speed
  • Length of the diameter of the universe = 91 x 109 light years x 9.461 × 1015 meters/light year = 5.26 x 1025 meters
  • Speed = 1 cm / year = .01 meters / year
  • Time for going from beginning to end of the universe = 5.26 x 1027 .The organism will take 5.26 thousand trillion trillion years to make a one way trip across the universe. Lets round it up to 6 thousand trillion trillion years.
  • A round trip will then take 12 thousand trillion trillion years.

Now let's assign a formidable task to this poor single cell organism: We'll ask it to move all the atoms in the observable universe from one end to the other! How long would that take?

Simple! Multiply the number of atoms by the round trip time:
(12 x 1027) x (1082) = 12 x 10107 years
That's 1200 billion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion years.

In other words, for chance to bring about a single protein molecule, it needs the same period of time that our the organism takes to move all the atoms of the universe from one end to the other this many times: ten thousand trillion trillion trillion trillion trillion times!

Epilogue:

We did not consider in this calculation the extremely complex composition of a living being's body. We didn't even consider the composition of a single cell. What we did is to calculate the probability of a Protein - an essential substance even for the most primitive living organisms - coming into existence by chance or "randomly". We did not consider the Information stored in DNA. We did not even consider how our universe came into existence. If we did, we'd be looking at numbers that dwarf the above numbers by huge orders of magnitude.

  1. We accelerated things up
  2. We slowed things down
  3. Rounded up to help "blind chance"
  4. Rounded down to help "blind chance"

Still! No luck! Quite a propositions' proposition, wouldn't you say? Would you call someone who doesn't believe in these numbers "superstitious"?

Now, one should appreciate the insignificance of a statement like: "After billions of years of evolution"! What's "billions" compared to the numbers above?


Main References:

Some material in this used the a book by a Turkish author: Shams Edeen Aq Balout, "Darwin's Theory of Evolution". I believe it's only available in Arabic and Turkish.
http://arareaders.com/books/details/9255

WaelAugust 17, 2016 9:42 PM

@ianf,

were I in your flip-flops, already today I'd prepare to eat huge helpings of humble pie with a side order of gravel

Want some leftovers? The pie is untouched! The gravel? You'll pass that, next visit to your beloved iThrone :)

WaelAugust 18, 2016 10:00 PM

@Clive Robinson,

You end up in the "turtles all the way down" or "lesser flea" issue.

I thought we killed that pesky FleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFlea

Read the fine print :)

Want to pick it up from where we left?

Clive RobinsonAugust 18, 2016 11:21 PM

@ Wael,

You forgot the dog, upon which the pesky did bite. And yes I followed your miniscule lead.

WaelAugust 18, 2016 11:30 PM

@Clive Robinson,

You forgot the dog,
Yup! And I screwed something else up, but couldn't correct it. Now you gave me the chance! Thank you!

DogFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFleaFlea

JJAugust 31, 2016 6:34 PM

Hey!

I am here now.
Sorry for the delay.
I couldn't be back any sooner.

You may righteously question to which extent the Catholic Church correctly implemented the teachings of Jesus, but for more than a thousand years this was for all practical purposes the way Christianity was implemented in Europe and thus recorded in history.

I do question this, but if the Catholic church did not correctly implement the teachings of Jesus why would anyone call it "Christianity"? And, to be more precise, I am really not sure what the Catholic Church did implement right. At least nothing comes to my mind right now... And in addition to that, it was not only Jesus that the Catholic church disregarded, but the early Fathers of Christianity as well. It was at least 1 millennia after the Church of Christ was established in it's known form, that the Catholics flip-flopped to become what they are now, and there have been already many established dogmas that did not support the views of the Catholics. So, in my view, it's not like they've misunderstood something, but more like they've made a 180 degree turn because they chose to.

Which is exactly what drove Karl Marx to state that "Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature, the heart of a heartless world, and the soul of soulless conditions. It is the opium of the people". Most people only know the opium part.

I don't consider Christianity a religion, but that's a long discussion... And it is true that not all people experience Christianity the same way (even within the same denomination). It depends on what state each individual is. But the non-opium part of the quote above may have some bits of truth in it. God does make you happy, depending of course on the degree that the concept of God you have matches the real God. Not happy and mindless. Not happy and careless. Not happy like when you take opium. It is a different kind of happiness and the suggestion that it comes from illusions does not correlate well with facts. At least based on my experience (which is not much compared to what other have, but it is still something). If one honestly wants clear proof for something (like St. Thomas did) and he is willing to live with the consequences, he usually gets it. But keep in mind that then he will have to become at least as good as the Apostles who had such experiences and died terrible deaths for their faith. There are people who have that kind of experience even today. And then, there is the more indirect proof, where you can be sure that you have found something extraordinary and you can analyze it as much as you want, but you won't quite be able to make a clear logical proof for God's existence out of it.
The bad thing with Marx, is that his passion did not let him see the real problem. There is nothing wrong with capitalism, nothing wrong with socialism and nothing wrong with communism for that matter. The problem always comes from the individuals that make up the society. People give character to those systems. If he had read the Bible maybe he would get better and more valid ideas from Christ Himself.

The Book of Job in essence is a remarkably deep and well-written theological metaphor trying to answer the question why the righteous suffer. In Islam, he is known as Ayyub and one of 25 prophets mentioned by name in the Quran.

If you're struggling with the many problems and sufferings in life and the fact that your God may not be (perceived as) a "benevolent" God, you may wish to read up a bit on the Four Noble Truths in Buddhism, the first one of which says "Life is dukkha". It's often translated as "life is suffering", but which is not entirely correct as it means much more.

It also plays an important part in Hinduism, as Siddharta Gautama was definitely neither the first or the last to struggle with the matter.

I personally don't believe that most of the stories in the Old Testament are (only) metaphors, but in some places they do contain some heavy symbolism for specific reasons (to give prophecy, to prepare people, to prove their authenticity, etc). What I see them for, is a way to get to know God. And I think it serves that purpose very well. The story of Job might contain much sorrow, but the lives of other people in the Old Testament are not full of joy either. King David, Abraham, many prophets, most of the Apostles in the New Testament, they all had their fair share of sorrow or physical torture. St. Paul said : "we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God" (Acts 14,22). And he said that just right after he was stoned by the Jews and left for dead outside the walls of their city.

But the really unbearable kind of suffering is the suffering we feel because we miss God. That might sound like a cliche in western civilizations, but the truth is that nothing can make a human happy without God helping to that direction. The number of suicides in the western world, where no real problems exist, is a proof for that, especially when compared to war zones or extremely poor countries where problems are enormous and plenty. We are easily and quickly saturated by happiness acquired by conventional means (music, health, buying things, sports, you name it) and soon ask for even more of it (and without much luck, I could add...). But there are people that became saints and that are full of joy (for no apparent reason to an unsuspected mind), having absolutely nothing of the sort that could provide them such joy. As I've said before, it's like being in a relationship. Your spouse may give you hard times, but your love for her/him makes you happy and the hard part is totally neglected. On top of that, the hard times that you are getting are often necessary. If you honestly look back and think about "what would have happened if I had what I wanted back then", you will see that with the current turn of events you have missed some huge amounts of problems you couldn't handle. But when your passions, desires and addictions are active, you cannot think clearly enough to come to the same conclusion.

I can look the "Four Noble Truths" you mention, although I don't quite agree with some things related to Buddhism, although many things seem intellectually appealing to it. I am not having much time lately either, but things may change. :)
EDIT: I have just taken a quick look at the links you provided. ;)

@Wael


You should have kept your word ;)

Never too late to keep my word. :)
I had very little time lately and very little means of reading this blog, so I couldn't keep my word on time anyway.
And, even now, I have not much free time and I will miss a meal just to write this comment.
I starve to death for you guys! :D



The simplest living organism needs 239 kinds of proteins to live.
...
...
What we did is to calculate the probability of a Protein - an essential substance even for the most primitive living organisms - coming into existence by chance or "randomly".

I am sure evolutionists can figure out many crazy stories and hypothesis to lower your estimations, but it is well established that proteins do not easily form without the DNA. And you can get the whole package of a cell, but without it's genetic code, and you still have nothing even remotely close to life. And since getting genetic code from proteins is a very unlikely thing to happen, it is more normal, I think, to start from the construction of the DNA or RNA and move from there. On top of that, we now know that DNA does way more that coding for proteins. The greatest (usually in both amount and importance) part of DNA is the non-coding DNA, which used to be called junk-DNA by evolutionists, up until they discover that, in fact, that was the most important part (...). So, it is wrong to start making calculations on proteins, because protein coding DNA is the "easy" part. Evolutionists may argue that there can be many different proteins and genes coding for them that could support life instead of the known and used ones (although that in itself is a very poorly-thought argument). But so far they had the scientific community hostage, by labeling parts of the DNA as junk, applying some nasty ways of censorship and forcing people to believe that proteins and their related coding DNA could all alone build and operate a cell. Of course, this has nothing to do with reality (as pretty much anything coming from opinions of evolution-fanatics) and turns out that proteins (which are mostly building materials) do not call for their own production or assemble themselves on their own will and automagically into whatever the cell needs, but their production needs to be controlled and timed. This is done (mainly if not entirely) by non-coding DNA. There are tons of new discoveries on non-coding DNA that are too much for evolutionists to silence anymore and it is now clear that this is in fact the most important part of the DNA. It provides the exact instructions to build complex structures out of DNA-coded sets of proteins (a process that requires multiple feedback loops in order to verify the current state of a component and move on to the next phase of its construction), it decides which genes are active and which not, it regulates cell differentiation, cell division and many many more. We still know too little about non-coding DNA, but its vital role is pretty clear already. On humans it is said to be 98% of the DNA. Although it is not clear what the minimum amount of non-coding DNA should be to allow a cell to stay alive for more than a few days (prokaryotic cells have it around 20%), it seems that it increases proportionally to the complexity of the organism and that it adds very much to the complexity of the orgin-of-life problem. The coding DNA is like design-plans for the hardware in our cells, while the non-coding DNA is the operating system of the cell.
So, taking all into account, to get a simple living cell you need at least the most basic parts of coding DNA, a great deal of the proteins that this codes for to be already in place and assembled correctly into functional units (the machinery to read DNA, turn it into proteins, give it the appropriate 3D shape so that they are useable, the delivery system that could send these proteins to the place they need to go, the feedback loops to be able to sense what is needed and what not, the hardware to produce energy for the cell, a functional membrane, etc), a set of non-coding DNA of probably at least 100000 base pairs that determines the how and when to build each component and each enzyme, the means to disassemble proteins and other large molecules, the means to protect itself from its own energy production activities which could well kill it in a matter of minutes, an intracellular communication language (apart from the DNA/RNA language itself) and channels of communication, and probably many more that I have missed. And all of those should be in place at once for the cell to function! Then if you want that cell to reproduce and have more than 10 generations without being extinct, you have to have a reliable DNA replication system, DNA error detection and correction systems, etc, etc. If we go to complex life forms and deal with cell differentiation, sexual reproduction, cellular communication and the like, the requirements skyrocket.
It is hard to put numbers on what the chances of these systems arising from plain matter by purely undirected processes are, since one would have to list all the players that are involved in each operation and we still don't understand them all, but they chances seem pretty non-existent to me. Certainly, it should be more unlikely than what you, Wael, had estimated (since I include more requirements).
And taking into account the chances of these systems being accidentally destroyed -chances which are much greater in unbelievable orders of magnitude, since "mother nature" is pretty keen on destroying what is supposedly its own children- it is highly questionable how educated people can believe in evolution.


And some other points:

One can speak about "life" in general (which can be many unexpected things) or "our life". If we go to the "our life" part that we know well:

- The lack of junk -in the literal sense- DNA (with junk DNA being a must-have in a evolution-based world) that is now evident in most -if not all- examined organisms, is a clear indication that, at least in the recent past (which is a few million years in evolutionary timescale), there have been no evolution at all. On top of that, fossils dated at extremely old dates are essentially the same as the organisms we have today. Some have not even changed at all (in a few billion years of radical environmental changes - if we are to believe the stuff evolutionists themselves tell us). So, certainly, if evolution did occur, it was not on this planet. Which, of course, posses even more funny questions to the people believing in evolution, like: if evolution did not occur on earth, in which spacecraft, made by which alien agent did all the life forms we have today landed on earth? And, by the way, I don't believe in aliens, if that's what you are thinking about! I am just following a logic to every hilarious conclusion it leads to. Because the Cambrian is right there in the fossil record, the intermediary species that could link species in an evolutionary pattern are totally missing (which is a whole large and amusing topic by itself...) and what do you even need intermediaries for when you have all major phyla present right at the beginning? What kind of evolution is this? So, to sum up, evolution on earth never happened and even evolutionists start to (eventually) acknowledge this (after the whole world made fun of them for a few decades).

- Some tend to give genetic algorithms too much credit. They tend to believe that they can solve any problem. In fact, they fail miserably to solve the most basic non-linear problems and often degrade to the efficiency of hybrid methods of brute-force combined with naive hard-coded logic. It is also evident from them, what population geneticists have known for so long now about living populations in natural environments: populations exposed to natural selection and mutations (even in the strictly and carefully designed world of a computer program) loose their diversity, soon converge to a single "local minimum" and then their development gets halted. Note here, that for living organisms there is no evolutionary "halting point", but instead a "genetic collapse point", where the offspring are not viable anymore (thank the accumulated mutations and the disability of natural selection to pick up deadly genetic defects or keep the population diverse for that)... On top of that, such an algorithm, when translated into a computer program, is always made to provide huge aid to it's population (initial individuals are spared of their rightful and deserved death, the goal is clearly defined and the fitness evaluation function is carefully selected to help the algorithm reach the best possible result, the population is divided into subgroups to prevent reaching a local minimum too early, all the bad things that could happen are simply not allowed in the system). Yet, with our current technology, which is quite remarkable in processing speed, it is very certain that a genetic algorithm would fail miserably to create the simplest code that is running in a bacteria cell. And I say code, because it really is an operating system. With variables, integrity checks, boot processes, deployment phases, inputs, outputs, feedback loops, shutdown and suicide protocols, self-repair checks, having pre-programmed goals, nano-scaled hardware manufacturing and recycling abilities, abilities to adapt, react, learn, defend itself, etc. It is one thing to try to build up a set of genes that code for proteins and a completely different level when you try to produce a program with a degree of perfection, reliability and integrity that would allow it to run without stop for at least a few billion years, if we are to believe evolutionists and their timescales. So this O.S. has definitely the best up-times in the universe. This code is truly remarkable, flawless and makes our operating systems and hardware seem like broken, buggy and unsophisticated toys. And that is for simple single-celled organisms. If we move to complex organisms like humans, a whole new landscape of complexity emerges and the term "marvel of engineering" is not enough to express what is involved in there...

But if we continue comparing genetic algorithms implemented in computers and the supposed ones that exist in living things, things become even more clear. Natural selection in the later is practically useless compared to the one in the former (just think how much the selection of mate in the real world is related to genetic advantages... beauty, which is the primary selection criterion, might eliminate the very sick individuals, but bringing genetic improvement is too much to hope for). And there is more! Turns out our cells are not even designed for this process! If you compare our genome to the `genome` of genetic algorithms on computers, you will find that ours is the worst possible genome design you could possible conceive... Overlapping codes, epigenetics, the "poor" way the DNA is combined to produce offspring, just to name a few, make the problem of identifying and creating better individuals a living hell, putting on the table blind spots, uncertainties and dead ends. And as for mutations, they are the thing cells fight against 24 hours a day. If that's what drives evolution, cells certainly don't like it much... No mutation that I would call "evolutionary" has been observed so far and even if one occurs tomorrow, the likelihood of this process (with all the statistics and bad experiment results attached to it) driving forward the evolution fairy tail is too far fetched to take it seriously. So, if natural selection and mutation doesn't work, what remains?

I could write more here, but I leave it for another time...
Might be continued...

WaelAugust 31, 2016 9:24 PM

@JJ,

I could write more here

What you wrote is sufficient. My main point was to counter posters who refer to creationists as "superstitious" or "ignorant". Only wanted to share some of the rational -- no more. Besides, no one wants to hear about "experiences" or "feelings".

DNA

You mention DNA 27 times! Must be important! If you include DNA in the calculations, you'd be looking at chances of 1:103000+. Then you'd need an infinite number of parallel universes and close to infinite time, for life to emerge by chance. I reccomend the following short list of books, if you have the time:

  • Signature in the cell -- Stephen C. Meyer
  • The Myth of Junk DNA -- Jonathan Wells (only the first parts were impressive, the rest of the book reads like a collection of research papers.)
  • God and Stephen Hawking -- John C. Lennox
  • Mind And Cosmos... -- Thomas Nagel
  • A World without Time -- Palle Yourgrau. The best book I read the past few years. Remotely related to the subject, but will give you some insights -- Thanks to @tyr
  • The Devil's Delusion: Atheism and its Scientific Pretensions -- David Berlinski. This was a book in response to Richard Dawkins' (are you eating yet?) "The God Delusion".
  • While we're at it, an excellent introduction to TPMs is: A Practical Guide to TPM 2.0 -- Will Arthur and David Challener with Kenneth Goldman. Hint, hint @Thoth: read the book before you open your cyber-mouth about TPMs again ;)

PS: I have a couple of inaccuracies in the probability calculation (or description) above. Find them, but keep it to yourself -- don't worry, they're insignificant. The assumptions more than compensate for them.

RatioSeptember 2, 2016 7:34 AM

@Wael,

One of these days I'll use the size of the universe to illustrate how improbable "evolution" really is.

... followed by an argument from incredulity0 about (some idea of) abiogenesis rather than evolution.

I was not familiar with the work of any of the authors you list. I've now heard both Berlinsky and Lennox debate and I am not impressed. (And that's being nice!)

I hope I fare better with one of the others. Or maybe these two both had a really bad day. Or something. :/

0: logical fallacies make for poor building material in an argument.

ab praeceptisSeptember 2, 2016 7:48 AM

Ratio

Let's now come to the proofs you can offer that evolution, parallel universes, etc. actually might be true...

Oopsie, I forgot. While nasa et al. blabber a whole lot about phantastic things gogolions of miles away, we still can't fly to all the planets of our tiny solar system, let alone to the very next star. Kinda makes proving tough (or, for that matter, serious science as opposed to creative use of math).

WaelSeptember 2, 2016 8:52 AM

@Ratio,

abiogenesis rather than evolution.

Evolution had not had the chance to start yet! Evolution and natural selection do not explain the origin of life.

Berlinski always has a bad hair day.

WaelSeptember 4, 2016 9:35 PM

@Ratio,

For your eyes only -- the rest, please ignore.

@Ratio,

Or maybe these two both had a really bad day. Or something. :/

On a more humorous note, look at Berlinski's worst bad-hair day [ https://youtu.be/vNuBoh-ilwM ]. Just watch the first one minute and 15 seconds. Watch the look on his face. That situation would have ruined my whole day, if I were in his place. Can you read the expression on his face -- I can. Priceless!

Krauss too, can have "bad-hair" days :) [ https://youtu.be/uSwJuOPG4FI ]
1:07:00 - 1:11:00. I do respect Prof. Krauss and like to watch him, by the way :) This is the sort of civil and friendly debates I am attracted to. It's educational on several aspects to watch the whole thing. This is a debate with Hamza Tzrtzis.They take some pretty hidden / funny shots at each other :)

I hope I fare better with one of the others.

I'll share some with you, your mileage may vary:

Another educational one: Tariq Ramadan / Christopher Hitchens: https://youtu.be/mMraxhd9Z9Q

Krauss, Meyer, Lamoureux: What’s Behind it all? God, Science and the Universe. https://youtu.be/mMuy58DaqOk

Another amusing / educational one with Berlinski and Meyer: https://youtu.be/UmowspKlIis

Berliniski's Problems with evolution: https://youtu.be/Z6ElA0--JNg?list=PLG2e_AhKMF6qGWBxrwK0MsuX2U--AX1KW

Dr. Adnan Ibrahim, a little unorthodox, but gives another view.
https://youtu.be/S50U6q5ZuCE

Is Darwin really the founder of evolution? Maybe a little surprising. Another perspective (Muslim) https://youtu.be/Ugu3cZN-3jU

I know we went way off the charter of this blog. If you would like to continue the discussion off-line, we can do so. It's not difficult to find my email address on this blog ;)


JJSeptember 5, 2016 4:36 PM

@Wael

You mention DNA 27 times! Must be important!

It certainly is! ;)
If one has the DNA and the mtDNA there should be nothing more he needs to know in order to reconstruct or replicate the source-cell. The rest will more likely be tiny details or short-term environmental effects on the cell.

Then you'd need an infinite number of parallel universes and close to infinite time, for life to emerge by chance.

No wonder that evolutionists resorted to parallel universes (and to aliens for that matter)!

I reccomend the following short list of books, if you have the time:

I don't have the time, unfortunately, but they will get in my reading list.
TPMs included! ;)
I think I will like these books.
But I strongly feel that the developments in understanding non-coding DNA will put an end to the "design vs evolution" debate once and for all. I guess, then we will debate for "God vs aliens". And after that, "Holy Trinity vs Allah". And after that, "good God vs bad God".

I have a couple of inaccuracies in the probability calculation (or description) above. Find them, but keep it to yourself -- don't worry, they're insignificant.

OK. I will keep my mouth shut.
I have some things expressed wrong above too. :(

Clive RobinsonSeptember 5, 2016 6:24 PM

@ JJ, Wael,

Can I suggest you have a look at epigenetics...

In short is the study of heritable changes in gene expression that does not involve changes to the underlying DNA sequence.

That is it is a change in phenotype without a change in genotype, that can criticaly affect the way the genes are expressed. This can have major effects on the out come of how cells read the genes for function. Thus the genotype alone is far from sufficient to form a new organism let alone a comparable one.

WaelSeptember 5, 2016 8:28 PM

@Clive Robinson, @JJ,

Thus the genotype alone is far from sufficient to form a new organism let alone a comparable one.

True, I think. Makes it a more complex system. Now we're not just talking about the code, but also an operating system that runs it (which is the case, as far as we know.)

I guess, then we will debate for "God vs aliens". And after that, "Holy Trinity vs Allah". And after that, "good God vs bad God".

Ain't gonna happen. Enjoy the books then talk to me in a couple of years ;)

@Ratio,

Why did the woman laugh? I wasn't there, but I "think" I know why.

RatioSeptember 6, 2016 11:28 AM

@Wael,

Evolution had not had the chance to start yet! Evolution and natural selection do not explain the origin of life.

Your comment made it sound like you were (also?) discussing evolution though: One of these days I'll use the size of the universe to illustrate how improbable "evolution" really is. (at the start), The strange thing is this ultra-violet radiation, in reality, is a life-killing agent to the life that evolutionists claim that it created! (item 7). And then there was lots more in @JJ's reply.

By the way, having a creator instead of life arising "by chance" is problematic. Unless you know the mind of the creator—which seems a bit presumptuous—and the creator is bound by some rules—which isn't the case, since the creator is necessarily supernatural—you have no idea what will happen. Positing a creator is saying that life arose "by chance" and even the mechanism used is up for grabs! (The supernatural creator could of course create life the impossibly improbable way, just for giggles...)

Berlinski always has a bad hair day.

I had only heard his voice until a couple of days ago. Then I saw an interview where he was talking about evolution and my BS-detector broke. I would have preferred him having the bad hair day from hell instead.

I'll share some with you

Thanks. :) It may take a while, but I'll have a listen (and a look at the first two).

Why did the woman laugh? I wasn't there, but I "think" I know why.

I don't follow? If it's related to the videos, I'll find out later.

Completely unrelated to any of this *cough*, okay, maybe a bit... Are you familiar with Molecular Biology of the Cell (or maybe Essential Cell Biology) by Bruce Alberts? It appears to be a standard text.

WaelSeptember 6, 2016 9:49 PM

@Ratio

I prefer to take this discussion offline, if that's okay with you. qasren_masheed@mail.com I created this email address for this blog. The name means "a palace, lofty and well built". Should have chosen "Castle" instead, but... actually some translate it to Castle. The moderator has been exceedingly tolerant with me, and I hate to get a yellow (or worse) card. I got one some time ago, and I still have scars on my face from it ;)

made it sound like you were (also?) discussing evolution though...

Initially, yes, but I also told @JJ that I will limit the discussion:

and it's not my intention to dwell on this subject beyond this response. There is one exception which I will challenge you to prove [...] Here is your one and only challenge: Prove this statement cannot be true in light of the current state of science.

So, in mind, I was going to extend the discussion to evolution as well, but it became too long. I was also going to use some more planets and stars... also too long. I was going to have the mosquito dig the ditch first (and it definitely has the time), but... Changed my mind. This is evident from the constants that I defined, have not used, and forgot to take out -- Angstrom, Parsec, etc...

I also said I will try to tie the discussion to Security, and I did, in a way. The way is large numbers. One often hears the expression: Breaking this key requires more combinations than the number of atoms in the universe. Well, I used an ocean with a mosquito that relocates it by moving one drop every million years. Or a simple organism that moves the entire atoms of the universe from one end to the other at a very slow speed. I mainly wanted to make it "visual" to see what these large numbers mean.

By the way, having a creator instead of life arising "by chance" is problematic. Unless you know the mind of the creator—which seems a bit presumptuous—and the creator is bound by some rules—which isn't the case,

Sir! I respectfully disagree! No one knows the mind of the creator, and I haven't claimed so. No one claimed in this discussion the creator is bound by rules either. What do they call that in debates? I don't want to say it. But I'll give you a hint: "Straw-man" :) You'll hear that a lot on the videos... Well, at least you didn't bring in red herrings...

Positing a creator is saying that life arose "by chance" and even the mechanism used is up for grabs! ...

It most certainly does not! Your conclusion doesn't follow from the premise. It says the polar opposite!

I don't follow? If it's related to the videos, I'll find out later.

Yes, the first video. A little over one minute.

Please feel free to reply here, but my next reply to you on this subject will not be on this forum. There is no way we'll bring this to a closure even after thousands of iterations -- the subject has been discussed throughout history for thousands of years. Out of respect to the host of this blog, let's take it offline. We can share the final result if we reach a conclusion.

PS: I read several Microbiology books, but not his one. I got it. $90, kindle edition. 1300 pages? Crazy, and I already saw a logical problem in one of the sentences I read there -- The kind of problem mathematicians fall in, like the http://physicsbuzz.physicscentral.com/2014/01/redux-does-1234-112-absolutely-not.html Krauss used in one of the debates. He claimed 1+2+...∞ = -1/12

RatioSeptember 8, 2016 8:51 AM

@Wael,

No one knows the mind of the creator, and I haven't claimed so. No one claimed in this discussion the creator is bound by rules either. What do they call that in debates? I don't want to say it. But I'll give you a hint: "Straw-man" :)

No man of straw was included. :) Just to be clear, I was not saying that you or anyone else in the discussion had claimed to know the mind of the creator and / or had claimed that this creator is bound by rules.

What I was doing was simply putting the proposed creator into your own thought experiment. What would happen every time the mosquito checked up on the creator instead of on those random processes? Would there be life?

My answer was that you don't know what would happen. You fundamentally can't know what would happen, unless you know the mind of the creator and you know that the creator is bound by rules. I discarded both these possibilities as I mentioned them (claiming to know the creator's mind is "a bit presumptuous", and there are no rules for the creator since "the creator is necessarily supernatural").

So then, what are the odds that any proposed creator would create life? It could happen, sure. Propose a capable creator and it can be done. Would it? No-one can say. No-one can even guess at the odds. Worse, no-one would even know the mechanism to be used by the creator (in the case that any creating gets done, of course).

Sorry if I wasn't completely clear before. :)

Anyway, enough about this. I'm sure this topic pops up again sometime...

book_reviewJanuary 7, 2017 4:20 PM

@Wael

From above: "Should I give a summary and commentary and burn it for the rest?"

Please do; if it's not too late. Or warn people that you might do so in 3 weeks, 4 weeks, etc.; btw I enjoyed the book, but got stuck in Rong Jinzhen's Notebook.

Thanks

WaelJanuary 8, 2017 12:33 AM

@book_review,

I'm a bit under the weather and my mind isn't that coherent at the moment, and there are several online reviews of the book. It's a very interesting book, but I stopped at about 80% because I lost interest and I don't have patience for long-winded narratives. Towards the end, the author confused me more than a "f*rt in a fan factory". Unusual style of writing, full of myths, dream interpretations, superstitions and the like. At the same time, the author writes as if he were interviewing the characters of the story, some of which are real characters...

Say, you're not the author. Are you?

book_reviewMarch 28, 2017 12:32 PM

@Wael
"Say, you're not the author. Are you?"

As a dead relative used to say: 'flattery gets you everywhere.'

No I am not the author.

For those of you who haven't read any of this book, from page 283 of 'Decoded':
"Er--um-- I don't know why I am explaining things in so much detail. Let me make an analogy. Let us say BLACK is like a house concealed far, far away, high up in the vast sky. There are countless doors to this house, all of them identical down to the smallest detail and all of them locked. What is more, only one of these doors can actually be opened. You can waste an eternity amid all of these doors, none of which you will ever be able to open and all of which look just the same as the real door."

As a book reviewer I did a duckduckgo search for 'Mai Jia'. Some hits include:

https://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/04/books/review/decoded-by-mai-jia.html?_r=0
https://www.amazon.com/Decoded-Novel-Mai-Jia/dp/1250062357
http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/10667139/Decoded-by-Mai-Jia-review.html
https://newrepublic.com/article/117138/mai-jia-chinas-dan-brown-subtle-subversive
https://www.theguardian.com/books/2014/apr/05/decoded-by-mai-jia-review
or
http://www.economist.com/news/books-and-arts/21599325-chinese-novel-everyone-should-read-get-characters

I wonder, what parts of this novel may borrow from history?

WaelMarch 28, 2017 8:34 PM

@book_review,

I wonder, what parts of this novel may borrow from history?

Many parts! Some with real names too. Question is: what parts don't!

Two+ months to reply? Reminds me of the three guys that didn't like to talk too much. They decided to move to a secluded island. The first year none of them uttered a word. The next year the weather was very nice one day. One of them said it's a nice day today.., no one said a word. A year later one of the other two said: yea! It's a real nice day. No one said a thing. A year later, the third guy said: if you guys don't quit talking so much, I'll leave this island.

book_reviewJuly 6, 2017 1:04 PM

@Wael
Several years back, around 15 or 20 or 25 or more, the WSJ had a right column first page article about a Procrastinators' Society... Something having to do with sending back to the United Kingdom the liberty bell under lemon laws or the like...
Maybe Clive Knows about it. Pre-Internet I think.

BTW I am still thinking about getting around to trying to find a good fact from fiction review of the above book.

WaelJuly 6, 2017 7:45 PM

@book_review,

Oh, so that's how you want play! Well, then:
A2 4F 64 __
What's the next number? Only you can tell ;)

BTW I am still thinking about getting around to trying to find a good fact from fiction review of the above book.

What do you think of the book?

I am still thinking about getting around to trying...

What I'm still thinking about is why @Bruce Schneier asked about the book then never said a word on the topic. Leaves my imagination wide open...

The date: Friday, July 24th, 2016
The place: Somewhere near Niagara Falls - Canadian side.
The occasion: Secret message exchange with Mr. x[1]

@Bruce: NSA is tapping everything. Can't trust RSA any longer. Gotta revert to something PQC secure
Mr. x: Of course, what do you suggest? They're all over me too! Stuck to me like an Alabama tick!
@Bruce: I'm thinking low-tech. OTP... only thing I trust now!
Mr. x: Ok, how do we exchange it? I didn't bring paper and pencil!
@Bruce: I guess low tech won't work. Let's use hybrid ...
Mr. x: I'm all ears. Whisper it to me, just in case
@Bruce: let's agree on a book
Mr. x And how am I going to know the book title?
@Bruce: I'll post it on my blog, and won't make a single comment afterwords. That's how you know which book to use for OTP. Start on the page number that matches the day of the month of the first comment ;)
Mr. x What if the commenters ask you questions and you don't reply? Wouldn't that get them upset?
@Bruce: (redacted)'em [2]


[1] Mr. x is a character in "Snowden and the seven spooks".
[2] (redacted, again) - must be pretty vulgar!

WaelJuly 12, 2017 10:12 PM

@book_review,

I give up. Can't decide your message: out with it!

Two things:

One: The missing number in the sequence is: 06
A2 4F 64 06

Two: Me thinks you're a mosquito lover. Let's chat on a different thread. You're an interesting character.

WaelAugust 19, 2017 11:41 AM

The missing number in the sequence is: 06

To bring this to a closure: sequence numbers are the difference in days between my comment to book_review and his reply, in hex.

I wonder what reminded me of that!

pup socketAugust 19, 2017 4:00 PM

@Wael: no idea. Need more hints? (47 hours, Clæwice. Tick-tock, tick-tock...)

WaelAugust 19, 2017 4:20 PM

@pup socket,

Traversing a maze of possibilities. Why are you following me here? You like to post at hour boundaries, eh?

pup socketAugust 19, 2017 5:00 PM

@Wael: you noticed, huh? Now find answers in 46 hours or less. Tick-tock, Clæwice. ;-)

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