Government & Politics Mark Silk: Spiritual Politics Opinion

Post-Charlottesville, evangelicals sticking with Trump

Evangelical supporters place hands on and pray with President Trump in the Oval Office of the White House. Photo courtesy of Johnnie Moore

In the wake of Charlottesville, Donald Trump’s job approval rating has sunk to a new low (39 percent to 56 percent), thanks almost entirely to a decline among Republicans, from 81 percent approval to 73 percent. But according to the cross-tabs in the latest Politico/Daily Caller survey, it’s clear that the leaching away of GOP support has not come from the Trump’s evangelical base.

As noted in this space two weeks ago, evangelical approval of Trump did fall significantly between March and early August, from a margin of 31 points (63 percent to 32 percent) to one of 14 points (56 percent to 42 percent). After Charlottesville, that margin has remained almost the same — 13 points (54 percent to 41).

Evangelicals are, however, showing greater polarization. The proportion strongly approving of Trump and the proportion strongly disapproving of him have both increased, from 29 percent to 32 percent and from 26 percent to 30 percent respectively.

It’s noteworthy that non-evangelical Christians, Protestant and Catholic, showed little shift either. Before Charlottesville, they disapproved of Trump 56 percent to 40 percent. The numbers now are 57 percent to 40 percent. Their disillusionment with Trump took place between March and early August.

It’s the non Christians — Nones, for the most part — who have responded most to Charlottesville. Before, they disapproved of Trump 62 percent to 31 percent; now the numbers are 66 percent and 28 percent — a seven point shift..

But interestingly, Trump’s Jewish approval ratings have remained constant. Back in March, 66 percent of Jews disapproved of his job performance and 28 percent approved. After Charlottesville, the numbers are 69 percent and 29 percent.

In other words, it seems that the President’s equivocation between neo-Nazis and their opponents hasn’t upset his Jewish supporters at all.

About the author

Mark Silk

Mark Silk is Professor of Religion in Public Life at Trinity College and director of the college's Leonard E. Greenberg Center for the Study of Religion in Public Life. He is a Contributing Editor of the Religion News Service

49 Comments

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  • One need only look at the history of the Evangelicals, especially the southern ones, not to be surprised. Who was defending slavery? who was beyond annoyed when segregation bit the dust? who bought the Southern Strategy of the late ’60’s? Who promulgated and funded the antigay campaigns of the last 40 years, and desperately want to regain dominion over the lives of gay people? Who married ronnie Raygun back in 1979?

    And the coup de grace? Foir times bankrupt, three times married, good Christian two Corinthians, the one and only TRUMP!?!?!?

  • So can anyone quote what Trump actually said that is getting people in an uproar? I have yet to hear or read anything that really calls for all this rhetoric. Please I am honestly asking.

  • As I’ve said before, there is no moral failing great enough to make Trump’s core supporters abandon him. They all accept and embrace him for his bragging about sexually assaulting women, blatant racism, encouraging violence against his protesters, outright lying, multiple divorces, ripping off people who worked for him, and incestuous comments about his own daughter. Adding white supremacist sympathizer to the list isn’t going to change anything.

    Trump could be recorded at a clan rally in robes and they wouldn’t care enough to disapprove of him. He could call Obama a n-word and they’d roar in approval. He could shoot a Mexican family trying to cross the border dead on national television and they’d call him a strong leader. There’s nothing that will make them change their opinion of him. They’ll just try and distract everyone by throwing around insults about Democratic politicians and pretend they’ve won the argument.

  • That there were “very fine people” on both sides, and that not all of the Unite the Right ralliers were Klan members or neo-Nazis. While the latter may be technically true from a self-identity standpoint, they were all white nationalists, committed to a viewpoint that there is a “white genocide” perpetrated by the media, society, and The Jews. Further, to say there was “blame on both sides,” without further explanation, implies a moral equivalence between Nazis and people protesting Nazis, notwithstanding any violent conduct by the latter.

  • It seems that some of the support for Trump is due to tribalism. Only the problem in saying that is in finding the groups in which this tribalism is having such an effect. We should note that with tribalism comes the acceptance of moral relativity. And that creates moral problems for those who are religious.

  • “We should note that with tribalism comes the acceptance of moral relativity. And that creates moral problems for those who are religious.”

    The problem is that religion is a key source for moral relativity. The idea that any act can be justified if it is considered part of God’s word or with the approval of one’s faith is the very definition of both religious morality and moral relativity.

    Religious folks throw the term “Moral relativity” around a lot as an epithet towards others. But they generally miss the meaning by a long shot. Following a set of inflexible and arbitrary rules is not the same as moral thinking.

  • Its not like morals, ethics and values are a necessary part of their beliefs or actions in the first place. Its always been about how one can justify behaving badly by proof texting scripture.

  • Spuddle,
    If man and God are equal, then you have a point.

    As for your last paragraph, I agree in part. But your last sentence also leaves the door open for moral relativity to march in .

  • “If man and God are equal, then you have a point.”

    Since many feel that God’s word is simply something to be parsed and edited to justify one’s behavior, I fail to see how God is entering the picture at all.

    All moral consideration opens the door for relativity. It is part of what one has to deal with when weighing one’s actions against its impact on others.

    But simply following a set of rules is not moral thinking at all. Least of all when there is an expectation of divine reward or punishment in actions. It is simply self interest.

  • Spuddle,
    I understand that many believe that is a projection of man. If the God of the Bible did not create us, how did we come into being? Science is of no help here because spontaneous generation has not been proved. And thus, unless one wants to equate animate material with inanimate material, which is provides no help in terms of answering moral questions, we are left to consider pre-modern metanarratives.

    However, not all moral consideration opens the door for relativity. For relativity says what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom. Moral absolutes hold all to the same standard. With the former, you have the rule of force. With the latter, the rule of law. But if we are honest with ourselves, those who have enough force really rule by the rule of force no matter how much they wish to pretend otherwise.

  • ” If the God of the Bible did not create us, how did we come into being?”

    Have you heard of a scientific framing device for interpretation of biological research which was formed in the 19th Century that is commonly used to explain such things?

    I am inclined to discount specifically sectarian mythology and allegory as the reason. Especially since such things are not believed on the basis of evidence or rational thought, but in their absence. Faith. One’s mileage varies with faith. It is an entirely subjective element for belief.

    “Science is of no help here because spontaneous generation has not been proved.”

    Of course its of help here. Spontaneous generation is not the entirety of scientific thought on the subject. Any answer has to be scientific if one is to expect an objectively credible answer to the question. But it is best a question left open until evidence is revealed which provides such an answer.

    “And thus, unless one wants to equate animate material with inanimate material, which is provides no help in terms of answering moral questions, we are left to consider pre-modern metanarratives.”

    That is a terrible basis for belief and one that I suspect is not one that even you take. God in the Gaps arguments, “We don’t have an answer, therefore God” posits religious belief is a function of willful ignorance. It is horribly reductive and insulting to one’s belief. It ultimately posits that one’s belief can be disproven once evidence is presented evidence to answer a given question. That is inherently dishonest. Since your belief is based on faith, a belief in the absence of evidence and rational thought, it will not be shaken by presentation of evidence.

    You are simply discounting the power of your own faith and misrepresenting your belief to make it more credible than reality permits. A failure of trust in your own faith and that of others.

    “For relativity says what is right and wrong depends on who does what to whom”

    That is not an accurate representation of moral relativism. My guess is that you are really unfamiliar with the term outside of derogatory ramblings about it. Moral relativity is about saying that morality is situational. That it changes based on perceived practicality. Absolute morality is about fundamentals which are unchanging. Morality being not merely a set of rules, but a way of thinking concerning how ones actions impact upon others.

    Religious belief is full of excuses, carveouts and caveats from absolute moral thinking. Hence it can easily be purposed towards immoral ends with little to no effort. Religion does not produce moral standards. Following religious dictates is not moral thinking. It is a shorthand for such things. To codify some ideas of morality but it is buried in a sea of social control.

  • Spuddle,
    So called scientific explanations carry little weight unless they are shown to be true through experimentation. And thus, as I wrote before, science is of not help unless one wants to rely on a secular faith. But at that point, you are back to religion.

  • There is nothing “so called” about scientific explanations. They have weight because they are shown to be true through evidence and evaluation of methods used to derive it. Religion is of no use whatsoever if one is looking for clear, objective and credible explanations for the world around us. Nobody every has to take a religious belief at face value or consider it to be true. Science can create the computer you are typing on. It carries enough weight to be applied in your life.

    ” And thus, as I wrote before, science is of not help unless one wants to rely on a secular faith.”

    No. Turning secular thinking into a form of faith is merely trying to find equivalence between subjective evidence free belief of religion and more objective and credible forms of belief. “Secular faith” is not something which actually exists. Simply pretending “your acceptance of scientific knowledge is as based in faith as my religious belief”.

    You were misrepresenting the nature of your belief before, you are simply doubling down on it.

  • Spuddle,
    There is no evidence that points to spontaneous generation as being operative. That has been my point. You can’t have evidence of spontaneous generation without scientific experimentation.

  • My point is that it is not the be-all, end-all for scientific possibilities on the subject. So it is not a criteria that forecloses all current or future inquiry in that direction. It is merely a strawman.

  • Spuddle,
    There is is no straw man here, if one is going to deny the existence of God, one must account for how we got here. And thus spontaneous generation must be accounted for because without that, we don’t exist. And if one can’t account for spontaneous generation, then either one must deny the different between what is animate and inanimate or one must admit that life existing outside of the creation of God is faith statement just as belief in God is a faith statement.

  • No, your argument is the very definition of a strawman. A false premise to be knocked down in order to support your view.

    One can deny the existence of God easily, without your phony criteria. There is no objective evidence for it. So it does not have to be accepted. You simply assumed the existence of God as a given and expect it to be disproved. But in reality the burden was always on you to prove God existed in the first place. So one does not even have to discuss where life came from. It can be an open question not having to rely on a supernatural explanation to fill one’s gaps. One never has to rely on “God did it” as an explanation for something which hasn’t been proven yet. Because there is nothing gained by such an explanation. It forecloses future inquiry and adds nothing to our knowledge. It is a cretin’s answer to a question.

    Your entire premise is insulting to religious belief in general. It posits that it is a function of one’s ignorance rather than an expression of faith. It does not accurately portray your own belief, therefore it is dishonest to use it as an argument in service of it.

    If religion and science are in conflict, it shows a lack of understanding of the strengths of both.

  • Spuddle,
    Sorry, but when evolutionists go to great lengths to explain how evolution produces man from starting with a single cell, the ability to explain how life came from inanimate material is just as important if not more so. For one can explain the beginning of life from inanimate material without eliminating the distinction between the two, then saying that life spontaneously began is a faith statement just as saying that God created life is a faith statement.

    And since spontaneous generation has not been proven, to say that it happened is conjecture. To merely look at the result and to work backwards to saying life spontaneously began can only be done by begging the question.

    As for your 2nd to last paragraph, I’m afraid that you attribute to me the wrong premise. That is because you don’t give room to God’s revelation that I do. For if religion is a human attempt to discover God, then I would partially agree with that 2nd to last paragraph. But what happens when religion is the result of God communicating with man? Religion is no longer based on ignorance.

    As for your last statement, I would at least partially agree.

  • There is no such thing as an evolutionist. Evolution is not a belief, it is a scientific framework for interpretation of research and evidence. It is accepted based on evidence presented and lack of sufficiently supported alternative frameworks for the same subject. Evolution doesn’t cover how life began, only its diversity. You are criticizing a tool for not doing something it was not designed for. Those who deny it are simply trying to avoid acceptance of scientific/rational inquiry and evidence. A rather childish and ignorant pursuit IMO.

    God created life is a faith statement. It is a statement of belief made with the absence of evidence and rational thought. It is not a statement which is wholly outside of support/refutation by logical appeal or presentation of evidence. One nobody has to accept at face value.

    Belief in God is not a default one has to go to in the absence of answers to a scientific question. It is what one does when they simply want to avoid further inquiry on a subject. As I said before, the cretin’s response. Not one made by people legitimately interested in the advancement of knowledge. So your phony premise about spontaneous generation does not have to be accepted. One can simply leave a question open for further evidence/inquiry.

    “But what happens when religion is the result of God communicating with man? ”

    Your objectively credible evidence of that is?????? None whatsoever. Your faith. Something nobody has to accept at face value on its own merits.

    “Religion is no longer based on ignorance.”

    You seem to premise that religion is based on dishonest discourse.

  • Experimentation is not the only way to find scientifically valid explanation/scientific facts. Archeology studies artifacts from ancient sites and yields valid explanations for how early people lived. Geology shows us a world far different from the one we have now.
    Science furthers knowledge and helps us understand the past. Religion would still be keeping us locked in the Dark Ages but for intrepid scientists. The pope forced Galileo to recant his theory that the earth revolved against the sun. Maybe you want to go back to those days, but I don’t. Our medicine is based on scientifically valid findings and new research helps us cure, for example, leukemias that, back when I was a student nurse, killed thousands of children. Those kids were doomed until medical science found CURES.
    If it were up to religion they’d still be dying and goobers like you would be saying, “god moves in mysterious ways” and “Thy world be done.

  • you really need to keep up with the latest findings. Scientists now believe that life began, not in the ‘primordial soup’ of the oceans but around the volcanic vents mid sea. These vents have a complex mix of chemicals and heat. And some of these chemicals have the capacity to copy themselves. You know nothing about this. Nature has always run the greatest experiments continually through millions of years.
    Or maybe you don’t believe in evolution?? Please tell us, are you an Evolutionist or a creationist troll? If the latter, go read The Devil in Dover (Delaware), about how Creationists and their thin and pallid arguments could not stand up to scientific examination by a judge appointed by George H.W. Bush.

  • It’s up to the religionists to show / demonstrate just exactly how god breathed the breath of life into the first humans. And while you’re at it, there are hundreds of thousands of creation myths in the world. Why privilege your own petty myth, which after all, was stolen from the earlier Babylonians.
    It’s all myth and one thing science is NOT, is myth.

  • You sound like a Johnny One Note. You know one thing, (you think) and think that suffices to destroy the slow build up of fact and knowledge for generations? Wow, what hubris.

  • Spuddle,
    Since there are those who do and those who do not believe that evolution explains how the world came about, evolution is a belief. That doesn’t rule out that it provides a framework. In fact, it provides more than one framework from micro to macro evolution. Thus, those who deny evolution, are not denying evidence, but, in your own words, they disagree with a framework from which evidence is understood.

    And yes, evolution does cover when life began; it must. For there must be an explanation for how animate matter came from inanimate matter. There is no phony premise. That is your way discrediting objections to a scientific explanation of how the world came to be that reduces all of reality to the physical. Otherwise, if not all can be explained by the physical, the one has to consider claims of revelation.

    And, btw, I agree that belief in God is not a belief one must go to in the absence of answers. This is especially true when belief in God is based on God’s revelation of Himself.

    BTW, the Scriptures are evidence of God’s self-revelation as well as Christ’s life as He performed miracles and rose again from the dead to prove to the people of His time who He was. But as in the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, when the rich man died and went to hell and asked Abraham if someone from the dead could be sent back to warn his family. Abraham’s response was that they would not believe even if someone was to return from the dead to speak to them.

    Finally, let me ask this. If your position is so right and mine is so wrong, why are you becoming insulting in how you respond to my comments?

  • Pennyroyal,
    Actually, if you want to keep up with the latest from science, you will find that some are conjecturing that life came from outer space either via comets or asteroids. As for your reference, realize that you still must account for the animate material coming from inanimate matter. And to prove in hypothesis regarding the beginning of life, one must do so through experiments. After all, dna is not simple to create from scratch.

    As for the rest of you note, it seems that the person bent on insulting others better qualifies to be a troll. And if you to discuss my beliefs about evolution and creation, then don’t be insulting.

  • Pennyroyal,
    What you miss with your comparison with Archeology is that what is observed in archeology does not need the same assumptions as what is observed about life. In fact, if you want to use archeology as a comparison, then you will only end up with intelligent design. That when archeologists find artifacts, they don’t interpret the artifacts as being the result of heat randomly acting on chemicals.

    As for your second paragraph, there is much truth in what you wrote. Religion kept people in the Dark Ages and the Pope was wrong on how he treated Galileo.

    But again, if you want to continue to discuss things, then don’t be insulting.

  • Evolution is accepted and used as a scientific interpretative framework. regardless of whether people believe it or not. It doesn’t require belief or faith. Merely evidence presented.

    There is no such thing as a divide between micro/macro evolution either. Merely evolution. Denial of evolution is very much denial of evidence and generally done by people employing dishonest discourse and non-scientific methods. Creationist l1iars use the term “macro evolution” for the express purpose of denying the mounting evidence demonstrating evolution

    I use the word “l1ars” here because Creationism is fundamentally dishonest in its premise. It requires the willful denial of personal faith as the basis of religious belief and posits criteria for disbelief which are not accepted by its own proponents.

    “And yes, evolution does cover when life began; it must. ”

    No it doesn’t. Never did. You really need to educate yourself on the subject from actual scientific sources.

    “And, btw, I agree that belief in God is not a belief one must go to in the absence of answers. This is especially true when belief in God is based on God’s revelation of Himself.”

    Which is something nobody has to accept at face value. You may believe it so, but you cannot provide evidence of such in a way which requires acceptance. Hence you are trying to deny faith which is the actual basis of your belief.

  • Pennyroyal,
    Actually, it is not our responsibility. Our responsibility is to declare God’s revelation. See we cannot command God to replicate what was done in the past.

    Yes, there are many creation stories. But confirmation of revelation occurs by miracles that accompany or follow revelation. But not only do we have miracles that accompanied revelation, we have God’s Spirit that testifies to us. Why His Spirit? It is because our acceptance of His creation is hampered much by our own sin.

  • Spuddle,
    Evolution being accepted and evolution being proved are two different things. In addition, just saying that one believes in evolution doesn’t provide much information. There is a theistic version of evolution as well as a secular version. And what can’t be proved is the dynamics under which secular evolution works. It ends up in a contradiction. In addition, there is also the partial acceptance of evolution where it is not seen as explaining as much as those who fully embrace evolution think it explains.

    Regarding religion, the main issue regarding evolution is whether anything can exist or come about independently from God. The theological issue with evolution are the dynamics that people use to explain how evolution works. Do things happen randomly? If so, how is it that we have order in the universe?

    All of this is why I focus on the issue of spontaneous generation. Because spontaneous generation hits on the key disagreement that religiously conservative Christians and secularists have regarding evolution: Does the universe operate independently from God? If you believe yes, then you need to prove spontaneous generation before you can assert it to be a fact. If you say yes, then you have to explalin how order and randomness work together in a way that adequately explains the world around us.

    In our discussion, all I have seen from you is this uppidy attitude that you are scientifically educated and I am not. In reality, you have missed the point made about spontaneous generation because you haven’t seen the real debate that exists between religiously conservative Christians and secularists who embrace evolution.

  • “Evolution being accepted and evolution being proved are two different things”

    No they aren’t.

    Evolution is accepted to the best of our current knowledge based on the evidence accumulated from over a century of research so far. It is as proven as reasonably possible. If that is not to your liking, it is of no concern for anyone else. All you are demonstrating is that rational inquiry and evidence are not parts of your argument or elements of your belief (as you have been trying to claim).

    Theistic evolution is a religious idea to avoid the dishonesty and willful ignorance of Creationism. Created as a way to relieve certain stubborn sects of fundamentalist protestants who have trouble understanding the notions that religion and science are separate magisteria with little actual relation to each other.

    ” And what can’t be proved is the dynamics under which secular evolution works. ”

    You don’t really sound like you have made much effort into understanding the scientific theory you are criticizing. Nor do you appear to be interested in finding out such things.

    “Because spontaneous generation hits on the key disagreement that religiously conservative Christians and secularists have regarding evolution”

    Don’t really have to care as to why conservative Christians feel the need to reject established scientific facts. They choose to pretend such things can be handwaved, ignored and argued against in a way which demands to be taken seriously or at face value. Reality says otherwise. The failure to accept scientific theory is a function of both ignorance and arrogance on their part. A personal failing not of concern for others.

    “Does the universe operate independently from God?”

    You have to prove the universe operates from God first. You simply assumed that and expect special pleading for the rest. It is not my burden to disprove God, you never established him to begin with. Your faith is not evidence.

    I don’t have to explain randomness, spontaneous generation or a Godless universe to you or anyone because simply you have not, nor will ever be capable of establishing a God operated universe is something which exists in the first place. No need to disprove what has not been established yet.

  • NOVA on PBS last week had a program the foundation of life and mentioned the finding of amino acids (the building blocks of life) found in asteroids is being superseded as we learn more about bio-chemistry. It happened and early life was very primitive but it could make copies of itself just as DNA makes copies of itself–out of amino acids.
    Get back to me after you read The Devil In Dover and we can discuss it more. Actually there is nothing to discuss.

  • Penny,
    Amino acids, though the building block of life, is not life. Going from inanimate to animate has not been observed. Even in your example of chemicals replicating themselves, it is still not life. In addition, those kind of chemicals only give evidence for intelligent design since those were designed by scientists. What I see in this note is an over eagerness to declare that we have observed, in some way, inanimate matter changing to animate matter.

    as for your suggestion, I already have my reading queue full.

  • Spuddle,
    It isn’t uncommon for general theories to be widely accepted prior to being proved. And when talking about proving evolution, what is that we re proving? Tell me, is it microevolution or macroevolutiion that has been proved? Has it been proved that we have all come from a single cell? And if so, has spontaneous generation been proved.

    Certainly we observe some survival of the fittest and gene mutations. But neither one of those observations really answer any of the above questions. Your reasonably possible is not proof, it is conjecture. Isn’t there a difference between certainty from proof and something being reasonably possible?

    As for your religious comments, they are speculation. Why? Because you believe in something that is reasonably possible, not something that has been proven. If you take God out of the formula, then it follows that all you have is the physical. But that too cannot be proven. It is simply an assumption based on faith.

    If the tension between cause-and-effect and randomness is not an issue for you, then perhaps you are not as interested in evolution as you claim to be. For that tension is a very pertinent issue in determining whether your view of evolution is even possible.

    Finally, if you don’t care what religiously conservative Christians think, why should we care what you think?

  • Evolution has already been proven to any reasonable degree. Your objections are entirely based on a lack of understanding as to what evolution really discusses and a willful lack of desire to educate yourself on the subject. Despite repeated attempts to correct your misrepresentations and misunderstandings of it you persist with the same ignorant and incorrect assumptions. You are demonstrating the inherent dishonesty in creationist arguments and only a pretense of a rational argument.

    Your representation of how you believe in God here is dishonest and does not reflect the actual nature of how people come to it. Nobody is convinced to believe based in such appeals. You cannot make a logical appeal or rational argument for God. You don’t believe based on such methods anyway. God is never really in the equation

    “all you have is the physical”

    You have no evidence of anything else. You rely on faith for the rest. Belief in the absence of evidence.

    “Finally, if you don’t care what religiously conservative Christians think, why should we care what you think?”

    You clearly don’t anyway. The difference between us being that I am not pretending my religious beliefs or lack thereof require to be accepted by everyone. Nor am I willing to l1e or misrepresent positions to support them as you are willing to do. I care little about what you believe or think and more about how you act.

  • Spuddle,
    Please notice that in saying Evolution has been proven, you avoided the details such as what kind of evolution has been proven or whether the claim that we all have come from a single that emerged from random events. If these have been proven, then please provide the documentation.

    And regarding the physical, sorry but science is only designed to measure the physical. Therefore it is incapable of determining the existence of the nonphysical. Proof God work through His prophets and in the revelation of Christ was found in the miracles. But it is also testified by God’s Spirit.

    However, what you have avoided doing is to look at the interplay between randomness and regularity as taught in evolution. And there is good reason for such an avoidance. That interplay does not support evolution and yet is is an important part of the dynamics for understanding evolution.

  • Abiogenesis is not evolution. They are separate theories. You seem to have an issue with abiogenesis, not with evolution.

    It’s been scientifically demonstrated that the organic molecules which make up living matter would have spontaneously formed in the conditions of early Earth. This has been known since the Miller Urey experiment in the 1950s. More recent experiments have demonstrated that underwater hydrothermal vents are capable of creating RNA polymers, again using nothing but chemistry. It has also been established that there are short RNA and polypeptide sequences which are capable of enzymatic activity and of self-replication. Thus all of the building blocks of life were present in the early oceans. Put the right pieces together, and you get life. It might take trillions upon trillions of tries to get it right, but considering every pond, puddle, tidal pool, lake, hydrothermal vent, and every other microenvironment on the planet represent its own trial, you could get thousands, even millions of trials done in a day. Repeat for half a billion years, and eventually you’ll get just the right combination of spontaneously generated, self-replicating organic polymers.

    If you want more about the statistics on how this could work, I recommend this post: http://www.patheos.com/blogs/tippling/2017/08/28/abiogenesis-and-probability/

  • If you want an education in the nature of evolution and its impact on biological research, there are plenty of websites out there and a library of good books to read on the subject. Far too many sources to list or describe in this format.

    You clearly need to learn about it, but appear unwilling to bother.

    “but science is only designed to measure the physical”

    Nothing else can be measured. If it could, it wouldn’t be physical. 🙂

    If it isn’t physical, you can’t prove its existence. It is by its nature outside the realm of rational discourse and evidence. Therefore is only supported by faith. Not anything objective or inherently credible in of itself.

    “Proof God work through His prophets and in the revelation of Christ was
    found in the miracles. But it is also testified by God’s Spirit.”

    Which is a fancy way of saying, you have faith. A belief that I nor anyone else has to take seriously as evidence in a rational discussion. A belief in the absence of evidence.

    Why do you lack so much trust in your own faith?

    Why must you continue the fiction of denying your personal faith in favor of spurious, dishonest and uneducated arguments to pretend your belief is somehow rational?

  • Mads,
    Since there are several views of evolution, we should note that what Spuddle and I have been discussing is the secular view and that view include ablogenesis. For the secular views wants to assert that life came from innaimate matter to form a single cell and from that cell came the rest of life.

    BTW, the experiments you are citing differ from what actually occurred. For in those experiments, scientists are designing and controlling the components involved. And such would support intelligent design more than they would support life coming from chance. Furthermore, they created some of the building blocks of life, not life itself. Your statement that you repeat the components for billions of year in an uncontrolled setting and you will get the right stuff to spontaneously generate life is an assumption.

    And if you go further, what is the significant difference between animate matter and inanimate matter that would cause us to revere life?

  • I realize that many people lump abiogenesis and evolution together, but if you care about scientific accuracy you shouldn’t do so as they are separate theories.

    That’s quite the catch-22 you’ve got there. You say abiogenesis can’t be real because science hasn’t proven it’s possible, but then you turn around and say all attempts to prove it’s possible are tantamount to intelligent design. Since the chemical conditions of early Earth are gone, you’ve just made it logically impossible for any possible evidence to dispute your worldview. Bravo. That’s quite a feat of circular logic.

    To answer your last question, there’s no magical difference between living and non-living matter. Matter itself isn’t alive. If I extracted DNA from your blood cells, you wouldn’t call the DNA molecules alive. It’s more accurate to call life is more of a self-sustaining series of chemical reactions than a state of matter. But then, you don’t seem too concerned with accuracy.

    That said, there are certain types of matter that are needed for life as we know it, and which can potentiate life. RNA is a big one. It can store genetic information and catalyze chemical reactions. You may dismiss the science that simply tries to recreate the chemical conditions of early Earth as intelligent design (it’s not even remotely), but those recreations have shown that oceanic hydrothermal vents would have generated random RNA polymers spontaneously. If scientists were trying to make specific sequences appear, that would have been intelligent design. Random assemblies of nucleotides, however, are not designed. You have a point when it comes to experiments which show you can make short RNA sequences which catalyze chemical reactions. But if you have a way to make random sequences, it’s just a matter of time before the spontaneous process gives you the “designed” RNA sequence.

  • MS,
    Whether evolution can be legitimately seen as including ablogenesis or not depends on what I wrote before. It depends on the view of evolution one is taking. When one’s view is simply talking about changes through mutations and survival of of the fittest, no ablogenesis is not included. But when one’s view of evolution includes a broader picture of how life began and how we got to where we are from there, then yes, ablogenesis is included.

    And btw, when one looks at the work of creating chemicals that replicate themselves, realize that because the creation of such chemicals is the result of design and planning, then the creation of such chemicals points more toward intelligent design than anything else because those creations are not the result of natural circumstances.

  • My point about spontaneously-generated macromolecules seems to be going completely over your head. Let me try this one more time.

    1) Simple organic molecules like lipids and amino acids spontaneously formed in early Earth. The same was rust spontaneously forms on metal in today’s atmosphere, organic molecules formed spontaneously when Earth was young and the atmosphere wasn’t oxygenated. No intelligent design.

    2) Monomers like amino acids can form polymers like polypeptides with the right input of energy. No intelligent design.

    3) Complex organic molecules like RNA polymers spontaneously formed in hydrothermal vents. When early Earth hydrothermal vents are replicated in the lab, RNA spontaneously forms. The sequence is random, therefore there is still no intelligent design.

    4) Scientists have designed simple RNA nucleotides and polypeptides that self-replicate. These were designed, but they are only here as proof of concept.

    Now, here’s where I’ve been losing you, so stay with me.

    5) Given 1, 2, and 3, and given how simple a self-replicating RNA or polypeptide chain can be, as determined in 4, it is a simple matter of probability that with enough random polypeptides and RNA sequences, you will get self-replicating molecules similar to those made in 4. Put together enough random RNA bases and amino acids, eventually you will get ones which self-replicate. There is NO intelligent design here, because it’s happening spontaneously. You can have 10 million sequences that don’t work, but if #10,000,001 works, you have a self-replicating molecule that will start making copies of itself over and over through lifeless chemical processes. If enough of those molecules come together, which will be increasingly likely as the constituent parts keep increasing their own concentration, eventually a cell will emerge.

  • MS,
    Your point does not make sense if you compare amino acids to rust. Rust is what and does what? And how are amino acids made? Does it occur in a lab where conditions are controlled? Some challenges to the claims you made are below. I believe that you are referring to Lee’s 1996 experiment where he made ’32-unit-long a-helical peptide’ from yeast. Some of the problems with applying the experiment to the beginning of life are listed below:

    1. Where would the first 32-unit long chain of 100 % left-handed amino acid residues come from? Amino acids are not formed as easily as Lee et al. claim. If they form at all, they are extremely dilute and impure, as well as racemic (50–50 mix of left and right-handed forms). Such amino acids do not spontaneously polymerise in water.

    2. Where would a supply of the matching 15 and 17-unit chains come from? Not only does the objection above apply, but what mechanism is supposed to produce the right sequences? Even if we had a mixture of the right homochiral (all the same handedness) amino acids, the chance of getting one 15-unit peptide right is one in 2015 (= one in 3 x 1019). If it is not necessary to get the sequences exactly right, then it would mean that the ‘replication’ is not specific, and would thus allow many errors.

    3. The 15 and 17-unit peptides must be activated, because condensation of ordinary amino acids is not spontaneous in water. Lee et al. used a thiobenzyl ester derivative of one peptide. As they say, this also circumvents potential side reactions. The hypothetical primordial soup would not have had intelligent chemists adding the right chemicals to prevent wrong reactions!

    4. The particular 32-unit chain was an a-helix, where hydrogen bonds between different amino acid residues cause the chain to helicize. This common structure is more likely to be able to act as a template under artificial conditions. Lee et al. claim that b-sheets, which also depend on hydrogen bonding, might also be able to act as templates. This seems plausible. a-helices and b-sheets are known as the secondary structure of the protein.

    The exact way in which the protein folds is called the tertiary structure, and this determines its specific properties. Although Lee et al. say: we suggest the possibility of protein self-replication in which the catalytic activity of the protein could be conserved, they present no experimental proof.

    The above is from https://creation.com/self-replicating-enzymes

    The artificial conditions in which the amino acids were made in the first place points to the design behind their creation. In addition, even being able to create self-replicating amino acids does not cover complexity in which DNA is replicated especially when the formation of rust is used as your comparison for showing how life began.

  • Do you understand what a spontaneous chemical process is? It is a process that is energetically favorable and will occur on its own without any influence from man. It happens all the time in nature. Spontaneous reactions happen on their own. That’s all you need to remember.

    As I have said over and over again, amino acids and other organic molecules arose spontaneously. On their own. Molecules of carbon dioxide, water, methane, hydrogen gas, ammonia, etc, reacted in the early atmosphere and made organic molecules like amino acids. This was a spontaneous reaction. It was natural. It happened on its own. In nature. I don’t know how else to say this was something Earth’s early atmosphere made on its own.

    Your copied and pasted points do nothing to bolster your argument. In fact they prove my point. You actually just admitted that something like the Lee 32 peptide sequence could arise on its own with enough trials. It’s highly improbable, which means that it could happen if, say, you have millions upon millions of years and thousands of places on Earth to run simultaneous natural “experiments”. Especially when you consider that some of the “incorrect” answers could be a different self replicating protein. It doesn’t have to happen often when you have all the time in the world.

  • MS,
    I think you are the one who doesn’t understand the process here either at the amino acid level or the life level. You think that because somebody in a controlled experiment got some amino acids to replicate that spontaneous generation has now been solved.

    Sorry, but this getting amino acids wasn’t simply out of observation, was it. And noe that you don’t respond any of the points specifically. The points challenged, rather than verify the meaning of the experiment. And yet, you don’t challenge one point because, out of eagerness, you think that this experiment all but shows the spontaneous generation of life

    Try responding to the specific points.

  • I didn’t bother responding to the specific points because a) they didn’t say anything interesting, b) they missed the point of what I said, and c) you clearly don’t understand the points well enough to make them in your own words, therefore you won’t understand when they’ve been shot down.
    You still clearly don’t understand my previous points, nor do you understand what a proof of concept experiment is, how biochemistry works, or how probability works. I’m done repeating myself to someone who understands nothing about science, and clearly has no desire to learn.

  • MS,
    I don’t think that is why you didn’t respond. What the points point out is that 1) the creation of the self-replicating amino acids in the experiment were not done under conditions that were similar enough to the conditions in the world when they came into play and that the creation of amino acids in Lee’s experiment does not bring one close to observing spontaneous generation. That I didn’t put those points in my own words is irrelevant. And yes I fully understand the point you are making. It is you who is missing the point because of your eagerness to see Lee’s experiment as being significantly close enough to the spontaneous generation of life so that that is not longer an issue.

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