There are apparently a series of questions running around of “totally” unanswerable questions. The mailer identifies as a Christian Creationist and has sent in a list of questions that are supposedly unfieldable…
So I used my day off to write up a list of answers…
Here’s a few that I still haven’t heard any reasonable explanations for:
Just because there are no reasonable explanations doesn’t mean that the answer is a “god”. And remember, “no one knows exactly” is a very very honest explanation.
What actually caused the Big Bang to violate the 1st Law of Thermodynamics?
The Big Bang doesn’t violate the 1st Law of Thermodynamics. The Big Bang Theory assumes there was a singularity that contained all of what became the mass and energy of the universe. In essence, the first law states “you can’t get something from nothing” and the big bang assume there was something to start from – even if we can’t exactly define what that something was.
In addition (yes… I read Mano Singham’s work) the total Positive energy (things like fuel) is equal to the total Negative energy (things like gravity) in the universe. The net energy of the universe is therefore “Zero”.
How did the matter expanding outward from the Big Bang began rotational movement?
Gravity and collisions impart rotational movement as do the content of the heavenly bodies. And not all galaxies “spin” in the same direction or even spin at all.
How did that matter coalesce into stars?
Gravity. Gravity affects all masses. Gravity causes the gathering of masses to specific areas. And it’s cumulative since the more mass you acquire the greater the gravity you possess pulling mass towards you at a faster pace. Once enough hydrogen gas has clumped into an area, the mass of that gas becomes so strong that it starts to squeeze itself to the point of causing nuclear fusion. Thus, you have a star. This effect is widely observed and stars at every stage of formation have been detected..
How did those stars organize into galaxies, those galaxies into clusters, and those clusters into superclusters, violating the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics?
Again… Gravity. And order at the cost of net disorder drives the universe.
Why is it that, if the first stars had only hydrogen and helium, but then exploded, forming heavier elements, the oldest stars we can see have heavier elements?
The elements a star can produce depends on a few things such as the stars mass and temperature
How is it that the hydrogen and helium jumped the nuclear gaps at mass 5 and 8?
That doesn’t make any… sense.
Atomic Number =/= Atomic Mass. Atomic number is the number of protons (and electrons). Atomic Mass = the (rough) number of protons and neutrons. The “gaps” in Atomic Mass are due to stability of atoms. A normal hydrogen atom is 1 proton and 1 electron, but you can have “heavy” hydrogen with 1 neutron too. The gaps are (often) filled by isotopes (Same Atomic No. Different Mass) which are rarer. The periodic table deals with the most COMMON arrangement.
How did the heavier elements coalesce into planets?
Gravity again. Same method as the stars.
How did planets such as Venus and Uranus begin rotating backwards?
A planet apparently will rotate (or not) based on what it’s made out of.
Solid planets are less likely to rotate than planets where there is stuff to “slosh about” like our oceans and our molten core. Now Uranus rotates backwards because Uranus has had had collisions with non-universal bodies. In addition? We must remember that the orbit of heavenly bodies does not occur within a flat plane.
Why does the Moon have only 2 to 3 inches of dust on it, when the rays of the Sun would have produced 20 to 60 miles of it by now if the Moon was 5 to 10 billion years old, whereas 2 to 3 inches is the amount we would expect for 6 too 8 thousand years?
Dust doesn’t come from the Sun. The lack of an atmosphere or moving water or plate tectonics don’t allow for the formation of dust in vast quantities as we have on the earth. That’s just a stupid point.
How can the Moon be very old if it is moving away from the Earth fast enough that it would have hit us 20,000 years ago?
Okay, here goes. Because gravity falls off with distance, there is a differential in the Moon’s gravity across the Earth. This differential is call a tidal force. The tidal force raises bulges in the ocean called tidal bulges. If nothing else interfered, these tidal bulges would align with the Moon.
The Earth, however, rotates. As it does so, friction between the Earth and the tidal bulges tries to drag the bulges along with the Earth. As a result, the tidal bulges lead the Moon a little. The moon tries to pull back on the bulges, but this alos means the bulges pull forward on the Moon. This transfers angular momentum from the Earth to the Moon. The Moon tries to speed up in its orbit. But doing so causes it to climb into a higher orbit and the Moon recedes from the Earth.
As far as the recession being faster when the Moon was younger, its not that simple. There are a lot of factors besides the difference in gravitational attraction. The friction between the Earth and the tidal bulges has a huge effect. Reduce the friction and the bulges lead the Moon by less and thus pull forward on the Moon less, causing a lower recession rate.
The continents play a large role in determining this friction. Because of plate tectonics, the continents weren’t always in the configuration they are now. In fact, in the past they were clustered together in one landmass centered on the pole. In this configuration, they offered little resistance to the tidal bulges and the friction between Earth and the bulges is greatly reduced causing a much smaller recession rate then otherwise. – Quoted from Janus who probably knows more about this.
Why is it that no meteorite craters or traces of nickel from meteorites have been found on Earth in deeper strata beneath the surface?
You mean unlike all the Iridium we keep mining? And there are plenty of craters to analyse on the Earth’s surface.
How can the Earth be very old if its spin is gradually slowing so that 5 billion years ago the Earth would have been shaped like a pancake?
Earth’s rotation is slowing as rotational energy is transferred to the moon via tidal effects. This would take around 40 billion years to balance out… The pancake thing is just “weird” and I couldn’t find any reference to that.
How can the Earth be very old if 20,000 years ago the magnetic force would have been enough to liquefy the planet?
The magnetic force of what? The earth? The sun? Neither of these have changed except in direction. And we regularly build magnets more powerful than the earth. The earth is just a very very big but very weak magnet (0.5 Gauss) while my MRI machine can hit 30,000 Gauss… Industrial and Experimental MRIs can reach 600,000 Gauss… At no point do these liquefy anything.
How is it that we still have natural gas, which is slowly escaping through shale, and oil reserves still have enough pressure to cause a ‘gusher’ every time one is first tapped into?
There is a lot of natural gas and the rate at which Natural Gas escapes is lower than the rate at which it formed over the time period.
How can it be ensured that radiocarbon samples have no loss of carbon-14 from water, that in the past there was the same amount of carbon in the atmosphere, that sunspot production has always been approximately the same (other than during the twelfth and early thirteenth centuries, from 1420 to 1530, or from 1639 to 1720), that neutrino radiation levels have always remained the same, that the Earth’s magnetic field has always remained the same, that there has always been approximately the same amount of moisture in the air, and that the Earth has remained approximately the same temperature, any one of which would throw off radiocarbon dating? (Many more recent radiocarbon datings have been shown to be false — mortar from an 800 year old castle was dated at 7 thousand years old, freshly killed seals have been dated at 1300 years old, living wood has been dated at 10000 years old, and living mollusks have been dated at 2300 years old.)
Carbon-14 dating does not rely on any of the things you mentioned. And as for these anomalies, there are specific reasons as to why they would date incorrectly. Many parts of Mosques in Cairo date back 4000 years to 5000 years despite that pre-dating Islam. (If you want to play a fun game? Write your answers to why that would occur out in the comments!)
How is it that, even if we did have everything necessary for the creation of organisms, those organisms would have come to life?
“I don’t know”. To date we don’t know how life started on the planet. We don’t know how a living cell can form from semi-organic materials. But to say that there must have been an incredibly complex organism who magically appeared and invented them is a silly conclusion.
There is a clear line of development in biology. Prions – Viruses – Prokaryotes – Eukaryotes – Multicellular Organisms…
Abiogenesis is cutting-edge biology where there is a lot to be learned and a lot of us will probably die before we have the answers. Just because we don’t understand something doesn’t mean it’s powered by magic. Looking back historically, a lot of things believed to be evil spirits turned out to be very mundane things.
How can we have no evidence of the reducing atmosphere required for the creation of life, and early iron deposits are partly oxidized?
There is an entire field dedicated to that called Paleo-climatology.
How would primitive lifeforms have survived in a reducing atmosphere with no ozone to protect them from ultraviolet rays?
Early organisms could easily have been resistant to the effects of UV rays. In addition the major issue with UV rays is that they are mutagenic. In other words… To early life the haphazard exposure to UV rays may have driven evolution.
How is it that the long, low, steady spark used in all artificial creation of amino acids could have been represented by a lightning bolt?
It’s a scale model. We cannot (yet) summon lightning in our labs. The notion is that the long steady current will mimic repeated lightning strikes.
How could left-handed amino acids have been created without right-handed amino acids?
Levo-Chirality may have existed but ultimately if Dextro-Chiral amino acids became the precursor to our life then Levo-Chiral life simply didn’t occur.
How could all of the ingredients of life have come together without forming precipitates or condensing?
This can happen. They could form condensates and precipitates. Life however does exist and these parts can come together in the right circumstances. While rare they are infinitely more probable than the belief that magic is required to achieve this.
How could proteins have been formed in the sea, but instantly moved to a completely waterless environment?
Beaches? Where you can move from water to dry in seconds due to the tide? And by “instant” this process could have taken weeks, years, decades, centuries and even millions of years.
How could anything as complicated as a protein have been created naturally? (The chances for the creation of a single protein molecule have been calculated at 1 in 10210 . The probability of creating all 124 proteins is 1064489. For For perspective, there are 1018 seconds in a year, 1020 words in every book ever published, 1.33×1050 atoms in the Earth, and 1080 protons, neutrons, and electrons in the universe. Anything over 1 in 1050 is considered scientifically impossible.)
That’s not quite how probability works. If you randomly draw amino acids out of a hat and assemble them then YES the chance of a specific protein being formed is astronomical. However that isn’t the issue. It is believed that if we shuffle a pack of card till true randomness strikes and then I deal out the entire pack… that order is 1:52!
A massive number. But the order of the cards doesn’t mean anything without the method by which they are assembled. Some proteins are small and simple to assemble. Some proteins naturally take up specific shapes. Evolutionarily speaking the proteins that did things were more likely to survive than those that didn’t.
How could all 2000 enzymes required in every living organism have appeared in even 20 billion years?
Enzymes are protein based. See above.
How is it possible for anything as complicated as DNA could have formed naturally? (The chances for the formation of a single DNA molecule have been calculated at 1 in 10600, which is far beyond the official “scientifically impossible” number of 1050. In order to code all 124 proteins, on average, you would need 1089190 DNAs. That many DNAs would weigh 1089174times as much as the Earth, and would fill the universe several times over. The DNA necessary to code 200 billion people would fit in an aspirin tablet.)
Again your probability is terrible.
DNA came from simpler structures. RNA is like DNA, but much shorter and simpler. Gene shears are like RNA, but even shorter still. Viruses are also like tiny strands of DNA, just a few genes in length. So are proteins and enzymes. All of these things have been made, modified, cut, copied, broken, re-joined and created in the lab and spontaneously in nature.
How could anything to translate DNA have been formed naturally?
In exactly the same way as proteins are formed. We are still researching into which came first (the translation or the data storage/the protein or the DNA) but it’s better than saying “magic” did it.
How could amino acids, protein, DNA, and enzymes all have been created in the same creature, and if they weren’t, how could any creature have reproduced without them?
These things don’t have to interact within the same creature. The progression of complexity of life shows that many of these things are self assembling (such as phospholipid bilayers and fat micelles) that don’t require complex mechanisms to function.
How could sexuality develop?
Sexuality is in effect a method of transfer and mixing of DNA to improve survival. At it’s simplest form, one can consider the F Plasmid as the simplest form of Sexuality. There is not just one method of effective gene transfer. From the suicidal mating of various organisms to the parasitical mating of angler fish to indeed “us”. It’s basically just genetic transfer between two organisms to ensure genetic diversity in either the same or the next generation.
How could enough beneficial mutations to create a single new species occur? (The odds of getting two related mutations are 1 in 1014 . The chances of a single mutation being beneficial are rated at 1 in 101000 .)
It’s not beneficial mutations that determine a species. It is also allele frequencies that help do so and epigenetic changes. Sometimes a point mutation can have drastic changes. The idea here is that the vast majority of mutations are negative which is incorrect. The vast majority of mutations are silent.
In combination this takes a fairly long time by the standards of one generation, however these little changes add up to big ones. Dogs show how much variation can occur within a single species. If we continued true breeding then eventually the Chihuahua and the Great Dane would end up as two different species.
A classic example of natural selection is the giraffe — its neck kept on getting longer in order to allow it to eat higher leaves. However, if this is true, why are there still so many short-necked grazers on the savannah, and why are female giraffe’s necks two feet shorter than male’s necks?
Ah the “if man evolved from apes, why are there still apes?” argument. If you came from your parents then why do you have uncles?
Giraffes exploit a specific niche of tree browsing. Most animals are much more generalised. And the short browsers still have their own method of survival, it’s just that Giraffes due to their niche don’t have (much) competition for the food they eat. Giraffes actually have a fair few disadvantages. Drinking water is fraught with peril and child birth involves a 6 foot fall.
And a lot of animals have things which don’t increase survival in any significant way. A lot of animals actually TRADE survival in order to reproduce better. Male Peacocks are very short lived in the wild as they are very visible and slow thanks to their tails. Yet peacocks still survive because any disadvantage from the tail is offset by increased chances of mating.
Male Giraffes may be expressing sexual dimorphism and also regularly fight and act as protectors for the herd. So their extra size may be related to survivability and indeed breeding.
Is there a single definite example of natural selection or mutation creating a new species? (Pepper moths, resistant bacteria, and galapagos finches are all within species. Also, in the case of resistant bacteria, where one genome is obviously more advantageous than other genomes, the resistant bacteria were overall weaker and when antibiotics were removed the culture returned back to normal within a short period of time.)Is there a single example of a transitional fossil? (Archaeopterix has been revealed to be a hoax.)
During human existence? You can do a simple lab experiment…
The best-documented creations of new species in the laboratory were performed in the late 1980s. William Rice and G.W. Salt bred fruit flies using a maze with three different choices of habitat such as light/dark and wet/dry. Each generation was placed into the maze, and the groups of flies that came out of two of the eight exits were set apart to breed with each other in their respective groups. After thirty-five generations, the two groups and their offspring were isolated reproductively because of their strong habitat preferences: they mated only within the areas they preferred, and so did not mate with flies that preferred the other areas. If you keep doing this eventually you will begin to see speciation.
In 1985, claims were made that Archeopteryx was a hoax. Most of the evidence for a forgery was based on unfamiliarity with the processes of fossilisation. They proposed that based on the difference in texture associated with the feathers, feather impressions were applied to a thin layer of cement or plaster without realizing that feathers themselves would have caused a textural difference. They also claimed that slabs would not split so smoothly and that one half of a slab containing fossils should have good preservation, but not the corresponding counter slab. These are common properties of Solnhofen fossils because the dead animals would fall onto hardened surfaces which would form a natural plane for the future slabs to split along, leaving the bulk of the fossil on one side and little on the other. They also misinterpreted the fossils, claiming that the tail was forged as one large feather, In addition, they claimed that the other specimens of Archaeopteryx known at the time did not have feathers which they clearly do…
These suggestions have not been taken seriously as the evidence was largely based on misunderstandings of geology. The number of feathered specimens has increased since then. In addition the total lack of air bubbles in the rock indicates that archeopteryx is pretty real and authentic.
We are all transitiional species. A non-transitional species would be a dead end evolution. The thylacine is a non-transitional species (because it is extinct and it has no relatives).
Is there a single fossil that can definitively be cited as a precursor to man?
What? A single “Adam/Eve” fossil that was a precursor to all humans? That’s a bit of a tall order…
What we do have is a series of fossils which are precursors to human evolution
How is it possible that fossils can be located in several strata? (sometimes called “polystrate fossils”)
You mean like sharks? Because they have existed for millions of years in relatively unchanged forms resulting in deposition in various strata? By just being a species or a bunch of animals with a very similar body type that have existed in relatively successful forms for long periods of time. You may as well ask how come there are still humans if everyone who was alive in 2000 BC is now dead and buried.
How is it possible for overthrusts as large as Heart Mountain, the Lewis Overthrust, the Mythen, the Matterhorn, or the entire Appalachian Mountains to have slid around at all, and if they did, how did they not crumble under the friction?
They are formed by friction and compression. Place your fingers tip to tip and push. You should end up with your fingers steepling.
That’s how ridged mountains are formed. That’s how places like the Himalayas and indeed the Rockies and Andes and Alps are formed.
Is there a single example of a truly vestigial organ that could have been useful in some previous species?
You mean like our nictiating membranes that provide a transluscent “dust cover/second eyelid” that protects the eye in grassy areas? The wings of flightless birds? The tail in humans? Eyes on cave fish?
There are plenty of vestigal organs out there.
How is it possible for species that supposedly are closely related to have vastly different numbers of genes and chromosomes?
Because you do have chromosome formation events and you do have genetic changes. The closeness of relation is based on how many such changes exist. If we look at bacteria we see extra DNA “mini-chromosomes” added all the time. Variable chromosome number is a common virulence factor in Yeast. Eukaryotes are a lot more stable in chromosomes as diversity increases through random assortment and sex, but the principle remains the same. The issue is comparative rather than “number and chromosomes” as well.
And how is it possible, if any of these have no answer, for there not to have been a Creator?
Just because you don’t know the answer to a question, it doesn’t mean that the answer is a god. It means you do not know.
In fact if you took these questions and said “If a creator existed then…” before each one you would actually end up with fewer answers that told you anything about how the world functioned.