Continuing the discussion from Is Abiogenesis an hypothesis in distress?:
As we are getting ready to start the conversation, Clinton Ohlers: Two Parables on Divine Action with @rcohlers (the thread opens tomorrow morning), I’ve been thinking about a conversation with @Ronald_Cram on abiogenesis.
In this case, I mean the origin of life by exclusively natural means, without input from God other than setting up the laws of nature. This, to be clear, is not what science has concluded or teaches. Science is silent on God. Instead, we are talking about a larger question, whether or not science can tell us if it is implausible to think that abiogenesis (without God’s input) took place.
To some extent, I’ve already answered this question:
I also explained that abiogenesis by natural processes (though silent on God) is an axiom in scientific inquiry, not a hypothesis.
For this reason, it does not seem likely a priori that science can answer this questions. It would beg the question.
Rather than a mere arbitrary rule, this seems to be a deeper problem, unresolvable with a simple rule change. I’m not sure we have a way of weighing (A) hypotheses with natural causes one vs. (B) hypotheses that invoke unconstrained power of an omnipotent and nonintuitive God. B class explanations will always perfectly fit the data, resolving all problems, it seems, even when the A class explanation is correct. There just does not ever seem to be grounds to reject B class hypotheses.
The problem, it seems, goes the other way too. It does not seem, at least in abiogenesis, we can ever enumerate, let alone reject, all A class hypotheses. In fact, it might even be difficult to reject most the prevailing A class hypotheses. Perhaps in some cases we can reject variants of these hypotheses, but it is always easy to modify them slightly to fit the scant evidence on the table.
On a basic level, this just means we really don’t know how the first cell arose. Science is going to study this question, and it has made real progress (despite the critics pessimism). It is, however, very difficult for me to imagine it establishing every step from non-life to life. Moreover, even if a plausible story can be found, that is a far distance from demonstrating that this in fact is what happened.
It seems determining the plausibility of abiogenesis (by natural processes alone) is beyond the purview of science, even if we got rid of methodological naturalism. All that getting rid of MN would do in this case is include B class hypotheses within science, a goal for which I see no justification, and much unintended consequences.
To help demonstrate my point, I’d like to see if anyone can succeed in one of the two things (without out invoking omniscience):
Construct a scenario by which scientists could falsify (using the rules of science) abiogenesis by natural processes alone (including both known and unknown natural processes). This amounts to falsifying all Class A Hypotheses, both known and unknown.
Construct a scenario by which scientists could falsify God’s action (intelligence, intervention, preloading, etc.) in abiogenesis. This amounts to falsifying all Class B Hypotheses, both known and unknown.
It boggles the mind of this mere scientist to know how anyone could possibly accomplish either of these tasks. Even limiting this to known natural processes, I’m still gob-stopped at the difficulty of this endeavor. Frankly both tasks independently seem impossible. I’m a good scientist, but I can’t imagine how to accomplish this. Both claims seems entirely unfalsifiable.
Perhaps that is why science just ignores Class B hypothesis, to see what progress it can make in Class A. That is, at least for me, the science I’ve found in my work. It doesn’t deny God’s action, but it has no means to make theological questions like this tractable.
Can any one prove me wrong by providing even “in principle” falsification scenarios for these two scenarios?