Creationist Wisdom #675: Babu Is Back Again

Our last post about Babu Ranganathan was almost a year and a half ago: Creationist Wisdom #497: Babu Is Back. To our great delight, we stumbled upon him again, this time — like the last — in The Mercury of Pottstown, Pennsylvania.

Today’s letter (they call it a guest column) is titled Scientists have never created life. The newspaper has a comments feature, but Babu’s column has attracted only one so far.

As you know, we don’t use the full name of a letter-writer unless he’s a politician, preacher, or some other public figure. But Babu Ranganathan is an exception. We used to write about his articles when they appeared in Pravda, but they seem to have abandoned him. He’s a graduate of Bob Jones University, with a major in Bible and a minor in whatever that school calls Biology.

Babu must be a great embarrassment to the allegedly conservative Discovery Institute in Seattle, but we find that whether they’re writing in Seattle or in Moscow, creationism’s advocates and apologists are all the same. Their anti-Enlightenment mode of thought and their peculiar style of argument — specifically what they say about evolution — demonstrate that rejection of reason is the common thread that unites authoritarians around the world.

We’ll give you a few excerpts from Babu’s latest — but as with his last letter, we won’t give you too many or bother with much rebuttal because like his other writings, it’s the usual collection of long-refuted creationist nonsense, and you’ve seen it all before. Okay, here we go, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

The recent news is that scientists have created synthetic life.

Babu isn’t specific about that, but we assume he’s referring to biochemist J. Craig Venter’s stripped-down microbe with nearly half its genes removed that we wrote about in Removing Junk DNA “Proves” Intelligent Design. It surprised us that the Discoveroids posted about it, because it shows that the original microbe had a load of unnecessary junk in its genome, strongly suggesting — at best — incredibly clumsy design. They ignored that and claimed that Venter’s work was an example of intelligent design. As we shall see, Babu shares their opinion. He says:

What really is synthetic life? What scientists did was use intelligent design and planning in building DNA code from scratch and then planting that DNA code in an already living cell and, thereby, modifying that cell. That’s all that synthetic life is. Scientists didn’t create life from non-living matter. But, even if scientists create life from non-living matter some day it will not be by chance, so there’s no support for any evolutionary origin of life in such a scenario.

Clever, huh? If it exists in nature, it’s intelligent design. If it’s done by humans in the lab — it’s intelligent design. Heads, tails, it doesn’t matter — creationists always win. Let’s read on:

Miller, in his famous experiment in 1953 showed that individual amino acids (the building blocks of life) could come into existence by chance. But, it’s not enough just to have amino acids. The various amino acids that make-up life must link together in a precise sequence, just like the letters in a sentence, to form functioning protein molecules. If they’re not in the right sequence the protein molecules won’t work. … The probability of just a single average size protein molecule arising by chance is 10 to the 65th power. Mathematicians have said any event in the universe with odds of 10 to 50th power or greater is impossible!

10 to the 65th? That’s a big number! Babu doesn’t tell us where he got it, but we assume he means one in 1065. That doesn’t matter. He continues:

The late great British scientist Sir Frederick Hoyle calculated that the odds of even the simplest cell coming into existence by chance is 10 to the 40,000th power!

Wowie — Hoyle also originated the Junkyard tornado argument. Again, we assume Babu means one in 1040,000. Hey — Babu made this same argument with the same numbers in a Pravda article we discussed more than five years ago in Babu “Proves” that Reality is Impossible!. In rebuttal, we showed that the chance of any particular shuffle of a deck of cards is one in 8.06581752 × 1067. So according to Babu, any sequence of a deck of cards is mathematically impossible. Impressed? Sure you are. Here’s even more:

The cell could not have gradually evolved. A partially evolved cell would quickly disintegrate under the effects of random forces of the environment, especially without the protection of a complete and fully functioning cell membrane. A partially evolved cell cannot wait millions of years for chance to make it complete and living!

Maybe. But maybe not — see How Life Began — Problem Solved? Moving along:

What about natural selection? Natural selection doesn’t create or produce anything. It can only “select” from biological variations that are possible and which have survival value. If a variation occurs that helps a species survive, that survival is called “ natural selection.” It’s a passive process. There’s no conscious selection by nature, and natural selection only operates in nature once there is life nd reproduction and not before, so it would not be of assistance to the origin of life.

Gasp — natural selection couldn’t have originated life! We’re so devastated that we don’t know how we’ll carry on. Ah well, this is Babu’s final paragraph:

Science can’t prove we’re here by chance or design. Neither was observed. Both are positions of faith. The issue is which faith is best supported by science. Let the scientific arguments of both sides be presented.

Like Babu’s earlier articles, this one was mostly recycled stuff from his earlier writings. He never has anything new to say, but he’s always good for a laugh.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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13 responses to “Creationist Wisdom #675: Babu Is Back Again

  1. Babu’s back? I thought he was deported, by that very very bad man Jerry Seinfeld.

  2. I know that this is just a simple mistake, albeit one that he repeats, but the larger the probability, or the greater the odds, the “easier” it is. And the probability cannot be larger than 1. So what are we to make of the probability of life being something greater than 10? Other than the writer is mathematically illiterate?

    On the positive side, I was pleased to see that he stated so clearly that: if scientists can’t make life that means that it is designed; and if scientists can make life that means that it is designed.

  3. On PT I gave the following offering regarding Paul Nelson day:

    Many, many years ago a friend and I were playing with some dice, 11 to be exact, all identical, just throwing them for fun. One time I had an amazing throw, 11 snake eyes on one throw! Odds are roughly 362,797,056 to one for this to occur.

    I just repeated this “experiment” with 11 dice, and what I came up with was in 7 series of throwing dice, I managed to easily throw 11 snake eyes with throws ranging from 11 to 20, or an average number of throws being 15.4 to get 11 snake eyes.

    Which brings me to today’s discussion. My throwing 11 snake eyes all at once is exactly what a creationist would claim is necessary to make up a DNA molecule (more than 11 dice of course), but the same notion that all must be thrown at the same time.

    Not true for evolution, for every time one or more snake eyes appears, it does not disappear, but can be combined with other snake eyes until the total number of 11 is reached. Nature does not throw away its snake eyes, but they reside in the pool of available dice to be added to other snake eyes until a total of 11 is attained.

    So this notion that to create a DNA molecule must occur with a single throw of the dice and requires some magical designer to “load” the dice is absolute nonsense, but it can simply be achieved by continuous throws of the dice and the resultant sum of dice evolves to 11, in this case, or am I off base?

    Just Bob added his “two cents” after my comment:

    Something similar I wrote lo, these many years ago:

    1,000 PENNIES

    Ten bucks worth of pennies is all it takes to show how fast a little selection can turn randomness into perfect order. (For fans of those tiny Chick Publications comic books: This is an analogy. If you don’t know what that is, stop now.)

    Randomly scatter the pennies on a table. Apply a little “natural” selection (after all, you’re not supernatural): pull out all that come up heads and set them aside (they will “survive”). Flip all the tails again. Save the heads. Repeat until “perfect order” is achieved.

    How many “generations” will that take to “evolve” the race of pennies from evenly mixed to pure heads? Nine or ten, with average luck. Make it slightly more realistic by giving the “favored race” (Darwin’s term) just a slight survival advantage: save just two or three each time. You can still have all heads in less than an hour. All it takes is “random replicators” (Dawkins’s term) and a bit of selection pressure. The point is, a random system can become very organized, very fast, with just a little selection pressure.

    So see, it might not be so hard to make DNA and cells after all.

  4. docbill1351

    How does this guy feed himself? Well, apparently he’s married. Attended law school in the 70’s but obviously didn’t finish. Earned a totally useless degree from Bob Jones that led to no employment in either Bible or biology. He appears to work as a guard for a security company which I guess pays the bills. Spamming science blogs and writing letters to newspapers certainly is not a money earner!

    On his FB page he told a critic to go back and read his stuff more critically. How many times have we heard that [edited out]!

  5. michaelfugate

    TomS, one wonders. If humans cannot create life, does than mean we aren’t intelligent? And if we aren’t, then how is human design an analogy for the intelligent design of say humans by an intelligent designer? Isn’t the whole thing self-defeating?

  6. @michaelfugate
    Yes.
    Whatever they mean by “intelligent design”, it must be somehow analogous to what humans do. But if they point to something that they claim that humans aren’t close to doing – like making life from scratch, on our own original plans – then the whole analogy is idle.
    But they have nothing other than analogies to go on. Analogies which they point out as being flawed.

  7. michaelfugate

    If making life is so easy, even a human can do it – doesn’t that make God less impressive? I don’t think they think anything through. Or maybe they just don’t think at all.

  8. Design is not enough to produce something. See a bunch of examples in the Wikipedia articles “Unfinished buildings#Construction never started” and “Impossible object”.

  9. “He’s a graduate of Bob Jones University, with a major in Bible and a minor in whatever that school calls Biology Bible.

  10. Bible + Biology = Bibliology.

    Way to go, Craig from #673!

  11. TomS: “On the positive side, I was pleased to see that he stated so clearly that: if scientists can’t make life that means that it is designed; and if scientists can make life that means that it is designed.”

    Once again you nail it while everyone else get’s distracted by the religion issue. As you know anti-evolution activism, and anti-science activism in general, is all a “heads I win tails you lose” game.

  12. Science can’t prove we’re here by chance or design. Neither was observed. Both are positions of faith. The issue is which faith is best supported by science. Let the scientific arguments of both sides be presented.

    Having just stated that science can’t prove whether “we’re here by chance or design,” Babu then says we should let both sides’ scientific arguments be heard. But if he’s right that science can’t settle the issue of chance vs. design because “neither was observed,” what scientific arguments, exactly, can either side present?

    Babu’s logic would render the whole debate fruitless. But that doesn’t matter to him, I’m sure, because where science fails, he has The Bible™, which is absolutely true because, well, believers say it is, and surely God-fearin’ folks like them wouldn’t say something that isn’t true.

  13. Eric Lipps: “But if he’s right that science can’t settle the issue of chance vs. design because ‘neither was observed,’what scientific arguments, exactly, can either side present?”

    You’re kidding right? Surely you know that both stick can stick to the testable “what happened when” (e.g. ~4 billion year tree of life, etc.) and proximate causes (e.g. mutation/selection, etc.). One side will gladly comply and elaborate. But the other side dreads that because it exposes their bait-and-swicth scam.