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Jim

Is this a straightforward contradiction?

The topic is abiogenesis, and in a debate about it, someone said the following, in a single post 9his exact words) :

"Possible? Technically.
"Logically impossible? Yes. Definitely.
"Impossible? Beyond all reasonable doubt."

Is this a simple set of contradictory statements?

asked on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 08:58:55 AM by Jim

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Daniel writes:

Perhaps he means there is technically a small chance of it happening randomly, but that the chance is so small it would not be logical to think it was actually possible.

posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 06:38:19 AM

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Answers

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Bo Bennett, PhD
4

It is ambiguity at best, but most likely a contradiction. I don't know how a biological process could be "technically" possible and "impossible" at the same time. I would respond that this appears to be a blatant contradiction, and ask them to explain how it is not.

answered on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 09:52:23 AM by Bo Bennett, PhD

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Jim writes:

[Bo]

While trying to clarify his position, he said this : 

"Q: Can something be technically/theoretically possible, while in reality, it is logically impossible?

A: Absolutely."

I say that if something is logically impossible, then it is impossible - full stop.


posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 04:25:33 AM
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Bo Bennett, PhD writes:
[To Jim]

I say that if something is logically impossible, then it is impossible - full stop. 

I agree. Logic is part of theory. I guess one can argue at one's theory would have to break the laws of logic for it to be possible. So either it is a "bad" theory (still being a theory) or it is possible to break the laws of logic. But this is really going down a rabbit hole.

The much bigger problem is declaring something "impossible" without demonstrating that it is impossible. They now have adopted the burden of proof. We can't simply declare things "impossible" because we can't imagine how they would be possible. This is essentially the argument from incredulity .

[ login to reply ] posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 05:26:14 AM
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Jim writes:
[To Bo Bennett, PhD]

Bo

I agree. The problem here is that he is so wrapped up in his own argument, and sure is correct, that he is simply missing the fact that he is contradicting himself. That, plus the fact that he clearly does not know what "logically impossible" really means.

I've even directed him to this thread, but he's not having it at all, even though he still has anonymity (ie he can still read this thread without having to sign up or log in). 

Really, the truth is (in my opinion) that he would rather die than admit a mistake. We are long-time debating combatants :)

[ login to reply ] posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 04:41:19 PM
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Rationalissimus of the Elenchus
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This person might be trying to say "possible in theory, impossible in practice" using some rather unnecessary vocab.

 

answered on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 11:54:38 AM by Rationalissimus of the Elenchus

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Bo Bennett, PhD writes:

Right.. I wonder if it is a language issue as well. I don't know much about other languages, but I wonder if "In theory but not in practice" is a common phrase in non-English languages, and if that translates awkwardly like in the OP.

posted on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 12:35:43 PM
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richard smith
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Just from the information given.

Logically it is (possible or not) or (Impossible  or not).  Sound like someone trying  spin something to their advantage or maybe needs to clarify what he means. Double speak maybe. We also have the law of noncontradiction. It would violate that.

answered on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 10:27:59 AM by richard smith

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Lynx Ssss
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I think it is contradiction.

If it is technically possible then how can you tell that it is impossible? So, it is a contradiction because you told it is possible technically an told it is definitely impossible.

answered on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 10:51:28 AM by Lynx Ssss

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Mchasewalker
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The underlying premise here is that logic trumps technology and deceptively reasons that something might be technically possible, but because it is logically impossible it is therefore impossible beyond a reasonable doubt. 

Abiogenesis is technically possible. (False premise) In fact, In 1864, Louis Pasteur  showed conclusively that living things come from other living things. 

Abiogenesis is logically impossible . ( Introducing logic into the equation is a bit of a red herring. It is interesting to note that Aristotle, the father of western logic, believed it to be logically feasible. 

Therefore abiogenesis is impossible beyond a reasonable doubt.

This strikes me as a bit circular, or even a petitio principii. The claimant shifts from the false claim that abiogenesis is technically possible and then deceptively switches to logic to disprove it beyond a reasonable doubt.  

answered on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 01:28:38 PM by Mchasewalker

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Lynx Ssss writes:

Isn't abiogenesis living thing coming from nonliving things?

posted on Sunday, Sep 12, 2021 11:29:31 PM
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Mchasewalker writes:

Yes, it is. Think Spontaneous generation. The theory that organic life derived from inorganic matter. 

posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 01:40:03 AM
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Jim writes:

Abiogenesis is technically possible. (False premise) In fact, In 1864, Louis Pasteur  showed conclusively that living things come from other living things

Just one small point here. At some point in the past, life must have come from non-life, otherwise life would have eternally pre-existed (ie had no origin).

posted on Monday, Sep 13, 2021 04:57:11 PM
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Monique Z writes:
[To Jim]

Not so. Abiogenesis only attempts to explain why there is life on our planet. Life on our planet could be made by living things not on our planet.

Secondly, there's no reason to assume life has ever come from non living matter since it has never been demonstrated to be the case and it has yet to be shown to even be scientifically possible. 

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021 06:59:46 AM
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Jim writes:
[To Monique Z]

"Life on our planet could be made by living things not on our planet."

If that is true, it only pushes the question back a stage further. Where did the [other-planet] life come from?
Either IT came from non-life, or was created (even then, that is still life from non-life, as it would need to be created FROM something).

If THAT something was alive, then the question gets pushed back yet another stage, and so on ...

[ login to reply ] posted on Friday, Sep 17, 2021 08:10:35 AM
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Mchasewalker writes:

[To Jim]

I don't think it's a small point at all, and I thank you for making it because it focuses on the problem at the heart of the OP.  I also wrestle with whether it is a fallacy of ambiguity, equivocation, contradiction, or merely one of polysemy where we are actually dealing with various abuses, appropriations, and interpretations of the word and the process of abiogenesis.

I have made the mistake myself when debating creationists who are inclined to appropriate the term as evidence against evolution and claim it as proof for ID or theistic cosmos.

The main point of contention is as you put it is that "life must have come from non-life", and therein lies the rub. It may seem like splitting hairs, but abiogenesis (through spontaneous generation) has never been successfully replicated in a lab whereas biogenesis has. There is a further problem when we leap millions of steps further and introduce the word "life" into the equation. A single organic molecule cannot possibly be defined as "life".  Abiogenesis is typically defined as the spontaneous generation of organic molecules from inorganic ones. As far as I am aware this has been refuted both biologically, scientifically, and logically. First of all, there is nothing spontaneous about the process. In order for organic molecules to develop from inorganic ones, there must be some kind of chemical accident or intervening event e.g. ultraviolet radiation, lightning, etc.The kind of random improbable event that could only happen in a universe that is infinitely old and infinitely large through an extremely long process of evolution by natural selection, beginning from a single organic molecule, through hundreds of millions of years of single cells, through hundreds of millions of years of cooperating cells, to hundreds of millions of years of multicellular organisms. In other words, the kind of process explained through biogenesis in a cosmos of nontheistic origin.

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021 01:13:11 PM
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Jim writes:
[To Mchasewalker]

"In order for organic molecules to develop from inorganic ones, there must be some kind of chemical accident or intervening event e.g. ultraviolet radiation, lightning, etc."

I think the belief is that there were millions of these scenarios happening simultaneously on early earth, not just one single event. That would reduce the improbability factor that many creationists use to "disprove" abiogenesis. Wouldn't it?

[ login to reply ] posted on Friday, Sep 17, 2021 08:36:08 AM
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Daniel writes:

'through an extremely long process of evolution by natural selection, beginning from a single organic molecule, through hundreds of millions of years of single cells'

You don't get natural selection until your cells are complex enough to reproduce themselves. So somehow you have to get to that level of complexity first, before you can invoke the process of evolution by natural selection. Scientists who assume methodological naturalism don't really have any other option than abiogenesis, which is really the only reason anyone accepts it, there has never been a way to actually explain it because it has to occur before evolution can begin working. But evolution by natural selection is the only way to explain design and development without some kind of intelligent guidance. It's probably the biggest plot-hole in materialism.

posted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021 01:53:28 PM
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Mchasewalker writes:
[To Daniel]

"Scientists who assume methodological naturalism don't really have any other option than abiogenesis... "

We certainly have to differentiate between arcane theories of abiogenesis through spontaneous generation which have been disproved ( in the 17th and 19th centuries) and modern abiogenetic hypotheses which are alive and well and widely accepted in the scientific community. ( See American chemists Harold C. Urey and Stanley Miller on the Oparin-Haldane theory who successfully produced organic molecules from some of the inorganic components by exposure to ultraviolet light under certain conditions mimicking prebiotic earth).

There are myriad and far more plausible and scientific theories that get us from point A to evolution through natural selection than the so-called intelligent design of the elusive God of the Gaps.

[ login to reply ] posted on Tuesday, Sep 14, 2021 04:56:13 PM
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Monique Z writes:
[To Mchasewalker]

The Miller-Urey experiment was done using a flawed understanding of early earth. The prebiotic conditions presumed in the experiment have since been shown to not be the case. All abiogenesis theories fail for this same reason. The prebiotic conditions don't exist on earth. 

[ login to reply ] posted on Thursday, Sep 16, 2021 07:40:51 AM
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Jim writes:
[To Monique Z]

"There are myriad and far more plausible and scientific theories that get us from point A to evolution through natural selection than the so-called intelligent design of the elusive God of the Gaps."

Another point is that when God is mentioned, that's where further thinking stops. "God" did it how?

What we appear to have is an immaterial, invisible, inaudible, undetectable entity that performed feats of creation, at an unspecified time, remotely by psychokinesis, from an unspecified location.

Now we can compare that to any other theories, and decide on plausibility.

[ login to reply ] posted on Friday, Sep 17, 2021 08:28:16 AM
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Jim writes:
[To Daniel]

"But evolution by natural selection is the only way to explain design and development without some kind of intelligent guidance."

Well, this is a philosophical point in its own right, linked to this : you can't explain something complex by invoking something else of greater complexity as its cause. Well, you can, but all you are doing is pushing the question back a stage further.

[ login to reply ] posted on Friday, Sep 17, 2021 08:15:42 AM