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Fred Hoyle


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I am reading some Fred Hoyle (i'm sorry i thought it was a book on evolution) and am realizing that he is the source of most of creationist defenses, lets call them 'power chords' since theres only a few of them and they play them over and over and still think they sound cool. While being the inventor of these power chords, it is unclear to me whether he is a creationist himself.

 

I have three questions:

 

1.

How can he have been such an influential astronomer, and yet have been such a an apparent spring of bullshit?

 

2.

Fred says : the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 10^40,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (10^80), he argued that even a whole universe full of primordial soup wouldn’t have a chance.

 

Is that true? how did he come to those numbers?

 

3.

And the final point which i am most concerned about, is that he says that random advantageous mutations are so rare, that it is impossible for them to have any effect on evolution. This seems to make sense. I mean i do understand natural selection, but if changes are so small that their minute effect is cancelled out by the sheer numbers of the rest of the population, how do things evolve? even over millions and billions of years.

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lord i wish Sir Hoyle were still around so i could ask him some questions. I'm getting farther through his book, (which is in large print, with pictures, so its not a great feat). His theory that virus come from space (far as i can tell he has no explanation of where THEY evolved, or whatever) to implant earth with new genes, while interesting, i'm having trouble accepting as entirely plausible. I mean he claims natural selection is so improbable, and yet he excpects this short of a book about this crackpot theory to be MORE probable? He deserves to be wrong just for being such a lazy ass. Fine if he wants to challenge a couple hundred years of evolutionary theory, but he at least aught to do some goddamn work to proove how stable his idea supposedly is. a hell a lot of work.

 

The thing i hate most about him though is that he makes a million statements to confirm his theory, and immediatly say this MUST be the way it is, without really backing it up. Isn't there a name for this type of idiotic fallacy? nevertheless he does have few points:

 

* bacteria has been known to survive frozen in space for two years on a probe, then reanimate upon return to earth.

 

*bacteria can suvive insane doses of nuclear radiation, but enzymes will repair itself perfectly

 

* the fog of insterstellar dust has about the same refractive index as bacteria

 

*if bacteria enters the atmosphere at the right angle, it is highly possible for it to reach ground level without damage

 

While i'd like to know more about those points (Jackass Hoyle certainly didn't offer more than a few paragraphs before considering it infallible knowledge), i'm just going to refresh on the main question i have about Hoyle's writing :

 

Hoyle basically claims that the occurance of an adventageous mutation is so rare that it would have no effect on evolution. The little steps that supposedly compose natural selection are so sparse that there is no way for them to build together and make any constructive changes to a species.

 

I figure that if that with all the work done on the theory of evolution, for us to still accept it, there must be a flaw in this claim, if so can someone point it out to me?

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I could address most of the points you raise, but since you have blatantly and ignorantly insulted one of my heroes I likely wont bother. Oh, well one point: his book (I'm guessing it's Life Cloud) is a summary of work done over several years. It is a popular summary of that work - not the work itself. Of course its brief!

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How can he have been such an influential astronomer, and yet have been such a an apparent spring of bullshit?

 

It's not his field. I'm an expert in biology, but I'm sure my ideas in economics are childish and stupid. And, in the professional world, I'll only be judged on my biological knowledge.

 

Fred says : the chance of obtaining the required set of enzymes for even the simplest living cell was one in 10^40,000. Since the number of atoms in the known universe is infinitesimally tiny by comparison (10^80), he argued that even a whole universe full of primordial soup wouldn’t have a chance.

 

Is that true? how did he come to those numbers?

 

He arrived at those numbers by a simple process. First, bend over. Then relax, it only hurts for a second...

 

Basically, they're bullshit. Talk.origins has a lovely page on probability and abiogenesis.

 

And the final point which i am most concerned about, is that he says that random advantageous mutations are so rare, that it is impossible for them to have any effect on evolution. This seems to make sense. I mean i do understand natural selection, but if changes are so small that their minute effect is cancelled out by the sheer numbers of the rest of the population, how do things evolve? even over millions and billions of years.

 

And he's wrong about that. Advantageous mutations are much more common than we realize (on the order of over 5% of mutations that affect final protien structure). Plus, even if there's a 1 in 10,000 chance, it doesn't take long in a population of 100 million rats. Most living things are small and exist in huge numbers.

 

Mokele

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Hoyle was sadly quite wrong as far as his SST went. Why is he trying this bio-stuff ?

 

Poem by Barbara Gamow (wife of cosmologist, George Gamow)

 

"Your years of toil,"

Said Ryle to Hoyle,

"Are wasted years, believe me.

The steady state

Is out of date

Unless my eyes deceive me,

My telescope

Has dashed your hope;

Your tenants are refuted

Let me be terse

Our Universe

Grows daily more diluted!"

Said Hoyle, "You quote

Lemaître, I note,

And Gamow. Well forget them!

That errant gang

And their Big Bang-

Why aid them and abet them?

You see, my friend,

It has no end

And there was no beginning,

As Bondi, Gold

And I will hold

Until our hair is thinning!"

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