Intelligent Design Origin Of Life

Natural selection cannot explain the origin of life on Earth

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Engineer Bob Perry reasons it out:

Natural selection is the core mechanism in the Darwinian model for explaining life. This is the source of the “survival of the fittest” idea with which we are all familiar. Mutations in some organisms provide them with a competitive advantage over others. These more adaptive traits are “selected” and further enhance the propagation of those species.

This seems to make sense. But it cannot apply to the origin of life. A lifeless Earth would have contained no organisms. There was nothing to mutate so there could not have been any “helpful” mutations. Natural selection had nothing to work with. It may help us understand the diversity of life. But what it cannot do is explain life’s origin. So, evolutionary biologists have been trying for decades to find a way to explain how life got started using only stuff available in the material world.

And they’ve failed.

Bob Perry, “Materialism Cannot Explain the Origin of Life on Earth” at The Stream


But the idea continues to exist in the world of half-ideas, the world of “if only.” Ideas that might work as fiction but we want them to be fact. Let’s call it Darwin’s “warm little pond”: “”But if (and oh what a big if) we could conceive in some warm little pond… ”

We can all conceive it; no one can show that it was real.

Hat tip: Ken Francis, co-author with Theodore Dalrymple of The Terror of Existence: From Ecclesiastes to Theatre of the Absurd

See also: The Science Fictions series at your fingertips – origin of life What we do and don’t know about the origin of life.

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25 Replies to “Natural selection cannot explain the origin of life on Earth

  1. 1
    vmahuna says:

    If Life “evolved” from stagnant pools, shouldn’t Life on Earth have arisen independently several different times? And shouldn’t each of those independent biochemical reactions have produced SIGNIFICANTLY different innards for each of the independent risings?
    The fact that ALL Life on Earth SHARES a whole lotta biochemistry DEMANDS that Life arose exactly ONCE, even if that Once was in Somebody’s lab.
    Even considering the First Life was an accident, how did it then colonize the entire planet using only minor variations on the original accident?
    The Panspermia theory simply changes the scale of the colonization: some pond scum on a planet a hundred light-years was miraculously thrown into Space without being killed, survived hundreds of years being bombarded by radiation whilst being frozen at Absolute Zero, and then somehow found Primitive Earth to be so much like Home that the Alien Pond Scum had no problem reproducing here… (gee, that’s a long sentence…) This would of course imply that ALL Life in the Universe is IDENTICAL: there was only ever 1 primitive primitive pond scum.
    And so we are back to pushing the lump down the python: How did that ORIGINAL pond scum become Alive?

  2. 2
    Ed George says:

    Since nobody has ever suggested that natural selection is responsible for the origin of life, I don’t see the point of this OP.

  3. 3
    ET says:

    There isn’t any evidence for spontaneous generation with respect to life. There isn’t even a methodology to test such a claim. And given Spiegelman’s Monster it goes against everything we know.

    Natural selection is impotent with respect to spontaneous generation and it is impotent with respect of the diversity of life.

  4. 4
    ET says:

    Easily refuting Ed George: Abiogenesis by Natural Selection

    and

    The insufficient part of abiogenesis theory – natural selection:

    Natural selection is essential in abiogenesis, in the genesis of biological information system.

    I still think it’s hilarious how Ed thinks his ignorance is an argument.

  5. 5
    bill cole says:

    As gpuccio has clearly shown the origin of life is not the only new biological structures that natural selection does not explain.

  6. 6
    martin_r says:

    in my opinion, to explain the-origin-of-life is not the biggest issue.

    Ironically, the evolution theory can’t explain the origin of the most abundant organism on Earth – VIRUSES.

    The common ancestor concept can’t be used, because viruses are not made of cells.

    What is even worse, each virus is very unique, so, to explain where the viruses come from, it is like to explain the origin of life like thousands of times over and over….

    And it gets even worse, recently an article was published:

    “Strange New Virus Could Represent ‘Entirely New System of Viral Evolution'”

    “By sifting through pig faeces, scientists in Japan have discovered a new type of virus that could challenge the already complicated notions of how we categorise what viruses are, and what they can do.”

    “”The recombinant virus we found in this study has no structural proteins,” says virologist Tetsuya Mizutani from TUAT. “This means the recombinant virus cannot make a viral particle.””

    https://www.sciencealert.com/mysterious-new-virus-could-represent-entirely-new-system-of-viral-evolution

  7. 7
    Seversky says:

    Even Darwin, although he believed his theory explained how life had diversified over time, did not regard it as offering an explanation of the origin of life itself so it’s unclear why Perry is being quoted here.

    In the third edition of On The Origin Of Species published in 1861, Darwin wrote:

    I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations which have thoroughly convinced me that species have been modified, during a long course of descent, by the preservation or the natural selection of many successive slight favourable variations. I cannot believe that a false theory would explain, as it seems to me that the theory of natural selection does explain, the several large classes of facts above specified. It is no valid objection that science as yet throws no light on the far higher problem of the essence or origin of life. Who can explain what is the essence of the attraction of gravity? No one now objects to following out the results consequent on this unknown element of attraction; notwithstanding that Leibnitz formerly accused Newton of introducing “occult qualities and miracles into philosophy”

    And in a letter to Joseph Dalton Hooker on March 29th 1863 he wrote:

    …it is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter.

  8. 8
    ET says:

    seversky:

    Even Darwin, although he believed his theory explained how life had diversified over time, did not regard it as offering an explanation of the origin of life itself so it’s unclear why Perry is being quoted here.

    Because scientists since Darwin have embraced NS @ the OoL.

  9. 9
    john_a_designer says:

    If a naturalist/materialist can’t explain the origin of life then all bets are off. You can’t make the claim that life is the result of natural causes. However, the bad news doesn’t end there…

  10. 10
    BobRyan says:

    The reason Darwinsists have no choice except brushing off the origin of life if there has never been a solution that does not involve science being suspended without God, for lack of a better word to define the intellect that is behind the order of the universe. You cannot get life from no life, since you cannot get something from nothing. Of course, there are a lot of things they brush off out of necessity, since there has never been anything observable about Darwin’s Theory.

  11. 11
    john_a_designer says:

    Again, without a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life how is any form of naturalism philosophically tenable? “We’re working on it” is not an explanation, it’s a rationalization, but you have to be both intellectually and ethically honest to admit that.

    Those who believe in the naturalistic origin of life don’t even have a good analogy of how it’s possible. I do from an ID perspective: self-replicating von Neumann machines. I go into the idea in more detail here:

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/guest-post-dr-ys-intelligent-design-and-arguments-against-it/#comment-688049

  12. 12
    Seversky says:

    ET@ 4

    The insufficient part of abiogenesis theory – natural selection:

    Since we are constantly being told that evolutionary biology and abiogenesis researchers don’t have the faintest idea about how life began, this interesting piece of speculation, courtesy of ET, from the Abstract of the cited paper tends to refute that.

    Natural selection is essential in abiogenesis, in the genesis of biological information system. A selection of more collaborative autoreplicate biopolymers and the depolymerisation of others was required. Only natural selection was able to combine biopolymer molecules for life. The primary natural selection can operate only in an environment with variable physical and chemical conditions. The selective agent must constantly fluctuate during a long time span and a large area. Formation of the simplest complex of life needs homeostasis. The best sites for constant fluctuations are littoral areas of oceans. Two very constant fluctuations – waves and tides – occur there. The best conditions for the origin of life were exactly in the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment at temperature nealy[sic] 100° C. Earth’s surface was then protected against the UV destruction by a thick cloud cover. High evaporation at the hotter parts of shore rocks increased the concentration of the primordial soup and there was excellent selective power by routine water level fluctuations. Because of the water level fluctuations salty ocean water and fresh water from continuous downpours alternated at the littoral zones. In low temperatures the formation of life would be hindered by UV-radiation and low concentrations of monomers. Rift areas or small ponds, on the other hand, do not have sufficient continuity of chemical conditions, fluctuations and coverage area, to be suitable sites for the initiation of life. The localisation of possible sites of abiogenesis enhances the validity of studies on the chemistry of abiogenesis. Life initiated in a triple point of space by the force of a routine selective alternation of one component in a complex. This routine generated the first information of life from causal signals of the environment.

  13. 13
    ET says:

    LoL! @ seversky! A narrative is not science. Speculation may be the beginnings of scientific inquiry but it isn’t science in and of itself. And Spiegelman’s Monster is actual science that flies in the face of the speculation.

  14. 14
    PavelU says:

    Here’s an interesting scientific presentation explaining how evolution through random variations and natural selection produces the biological complexity we see around:

    https://www.youtube.com/embed/dCdmF-xFMyc

    Can ID proponents finally understand this and discard their fantasies as nonsense?

  15. 15
    BobRyan says:

    PavelU @ 14

    You are the one with the fantasies and nonsense as you try to dismiss your own importance. To say humans are nothing more than animals is to justify every wrong and immoral action take. There is no evidence to support evolution. There has never been a single positive mutation ever observed, regardless of what the Darwinists throw at any given species. Without a positive mutation being witnessed in nature, there is no evidence to support the claim. Scientific theory is based on what is viewed, not what is believed to have happened and unable to replicate the results. Show me the study that shows a positive mutation has ever been witnessed in a living creature.

  16. 16
    bornagain77 says:

    PavelU is hallucinating, He references this video:

    Wiring up the brain: How axons navigate
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dCdmF-xFMyc

    Perhaps PavelU should study the human brain a bit more closely (and stay away from the bong). If anything ever gave unambiguous evidence that God created humans, the ‘beyond belief’ human brain is certainly evidence that we are fearfully and wonderfully made:

    The Human Brain Is ‘Beyond Belief’ by Jeffrey P. Tomkins, Ph.D. * – 2017
    Excerpt: The human brain,, is an engineering marvel that evokes comments from researchers like “beyond anything they’d imagined, almost to the point of being beyond belief”1 and “a world we had never imagined.”2,,,
    Perfect Optimization
    The scientists found that at multiple hierarchical levels in the whole brain, nerve cell clusters (ganglion), and even at the individual cell level, the positioning of neural units achieved a goal that human engineers strive for but find difficult to achieve—the perfect minimizing of connection costs among all the system’s components.,,,
    Vast Computational Power
    Researchers discovered that a single synapse is like a computer’s microprocessor containing both memory-storage and information-processing features.,,, Just one synapse alone can contain about 1,000 molecular-scale microprocessor units acting in a quantum computing environment. An average healthy human brain contains some 200 billion nerve cells connected to one another through hundreds of trillions of synapses. To put this in perspective, one of the researchers revealed that the study’s results showed a single human brain has more information processing units than all the computers, routers, and Internet connections on Earth.1,,,
    Phenomenal Processing Speed
    the processing speed of the brain had been greatly underrated. In a new research study, scientists found the brain is 10 times more active than previously believed.6,7,,,
    The large number of dendritic spikes also means the brain has more than 100 times the computational capabilities than was previously believed.,,,
    Petabyte-Level Memory Capacity
    Our new measurements of the brain’s memory capacity increase conservative estimates by a factor of 10 to at least a petabyte, in the same ballpark as the World Wide Web.9,,,
    Optimal Energy Efficiency
    Stanford scientist who is helping develop computer brains for robots calculated that a computer processor functioning with the computational capacity of the human brain would require at least 10 megawatts to operate properly. This is comparable to the output of a small hydroelectric power plant. As amazing as it may seem, the human brain requires only about 10 watts to function.11 ,,,
    Multidimensional Processing
    It is as if the brain reacts to a stimulus by building then razing a tower of multi-dimensional blocks, starting with rods (1D), then planks (2D), then cubes (3D), and then more complex geometries with 4D, 5D, etc. The progression of activity through the brain resembles a multi-dimensional sandcastle that materializes out of the sand and then disintegrates.13
    He also said:
    We found a world that we had never imagined. There are tens of millions of these objects even in a small speck of the brain, up through seven dimensions. In some networks, we even found structures with up to eleven dimensions.13,,,
    Biophoton Brain Communication
    Neurons contain many light-sensitive molecules such as porphyrin rings, flavinic, pyridinic rings, lipid chromophores, and aromatic amino acids. Even the mitochondria machines that produce energy inside cells contain several different light-responsive molecules called chromophores. This research suggests that light channeled by filamentous cellular structures called microtubules plays an important role in helping to coordinate activities in different regions of the brain.,,,
    https://www.icr.org/article/10186

    “The brain is not a supercomputer in which the neurons are transistors; rather it is as if each individual neuron is itself a computer, and the brain a vast community of microscopic computers. But even this model is probably too simplistic since the neuron processes data flexibly and on disparate levels, and is therefore far superior to any digital system. If I am right, the human brain may be a trillion times more capable than we imagine, and “artificial intelligence” a grandiose misnomer.”
    Brian Ford research biologist – 2009 – The Secret Power of a Single Cell

    Human Brains Have Always Been Unique – June 22, 2017
    Excerpt: ‘To truly understand how the brain maintains our human intellect, we would need to know about the state of all 86 billion neurons and their 100 trillion interconnections, as well as the varying strengths with which they are connected, and the state of more than 1,000 proteins that exist at each connection point.’
    – Mark Maslin
    https://crev.info/2017/06/human-brains-always-unique/

    “Complexity Brake” Defies Evolution – August 8, 2012
    Excerpt: Consider a neuronal synapse — the presynaptic terminal has an estimated 1000 distinct proteins. Fully analyzing their possible interactions would take about 2000 years. Or consider the task of fully characterizing the visual cortex of the mouse — about 2 million neurons. Under the extreme assumption that the neurons in these systems can all interact with each other, analyzing the various combinations will take about 10 million years…, even though it is assumed that the underlying technology speeds up by an order of magnitude each year.
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....62961.html

  17. 17
    john_a_designer says:

    Ah hah! NASA has just announced that ribose which makes up RNA has been discovered in a meteorite.

    It’s common for asteroids in the Solar System to carry water, one of the essential building blocks for life. But now, NASA researchers have found sugar molecules on two different meteorites, adding credence to the idea that asteroids play a crucial role in supporting life.

    The researchers said they discovered ribose and “other bio-essential sugars including arabinose and xylose,” adding that ribose is crucial for RNA (ribonucleic acid), which copies genetic codes from DNA and delivers them to ribosomes used to build proteins essential for life.

    https://www.foxnews.com/science/nasa-extraterrestrial-sugar-meteorites-origin-of-life

    Here is a PNAS paper describing the scientific significance of the discovery:

    https://www.pnas.org/content/early/2019/11/12/1907169116

    The problem is that RNA, DNA, protein and lipids all tacitly come with the warning label “some assembly required”– well, actually A LOT of assembly required which means you need the instructions (very long detailed instructions.) Did they discover those in the meteorite?

    To put it mildly researchers are getting way too far over their ski’s here. They are no closer to understanding the origin of life today than they were yesterday.

  18. 18
    bornagain77 says:

    “RNA, DNA, protein and lipids all tacitly come with the warning label “some assembly required”

    Ha Ha LOL 🙂

  19. 19
    john_a_designer says:

    Here is an example of the kind of instructions you need for the very simplest forms of life:

    One of the so-called icons of irreducible complexity (IC) is the bacterium flagellum. However, there other perhaps even better examples of IC. In my opinion, prokaryote DNA replication is a far more daunting problem for the Darwinist. However, instead of one molecular machine, like the flagellum, you have several interacting machines acting in a coordinated manner. This still fits Behe’s definition of IC as being “a single system which is composed of several interacting parts, and where the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to cease functioning.”

    For example, to start replication in prokaryote DNA you need an initiation enzyme which creates a replication bubble where another enzyme called helicase attaches itself and begins, like a zipper, to unbind the two complimentary strands of DNA double helix. Another enzyme called primase creates another starting point (a primer) on both of the separated strands known as the 5’ and 3’ or leading and lagging strands. DNA polymerase III uses this primer– actually a short strand of RNA– and adds the complementary nucleobases (A to T, T to A, C to G, G to C) to the single parent strand. In a nutshell, helicase divides one double stranded DNA helix into two single “parent” or template stands to which complimentary nucleotides are added by pol III and the result is two identical double stranded DNA helixes.

    Of course, it is somewhat more complicated than that. (Please watch the first video below.) For example, as helicase unbinds the two strands of the double helix, which are wrapped around each other to begin with, there is a tendency for tangling to occur as a result of the process. Another enzyme called gyrase (or topoisomerase II) is needed to prevent this tangling from occurring. Another problem is that the bases for the lagging strand must added discontinuously which results in short segments know as Okazaki fragments. These fragments must eventually be joined back together by an enzyme known as ligase. (We could also discuss error correction which is another part of the replication process.)

    Here are a few videos which describe the process in more detail.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O3v04spjnEg&t=2s

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bePPQpoVUpM

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0Ha9nppnwOc

    While it’s true that the flagellum is irreducibly complex it is not essential for life itself. There are a number of single celled organism that exist without flagella. However, life cannot exist without DNA replication (nor transcription, translation, ribosomes or ATP etc.) Furthermore, with DNA replication the Darwinist cannot kick the can down the road any further. DNA replication in prokaryotes is as far as you can go and then you are confronted with the proverbial chicken or egg problem. DNA is necessary to create the proteins which are used in its own replication. For example, the helicase which is absolutely essential for DNA replication is specified in the DNA code which it replicates. How did that even get started? Maybe one of our know-it-all interlocutors can tell us.

    The problem with the Darwinian approach is not scientific; it is philosophical. The people committed to this approach believe in it because they believe that natural causes are the ultimate explanation for their existence. However, science has not proven such a world view to be true. (That’s not something science can do.) So ironically, whatever they believe, they believe it by faith.

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/guest-post-dr-ys-intelligent-design-and-arguments-against-it/#comment-688002

    Maybe somebody (some true believer) can explain to us how you can start with some sugars like ribose and some abiotic amino acids and end up with a highly specified process I have described above. Maybe there was some simpler intermediary process. If so explain how you know that, how it gets around the “chicken or egg problem” and how it “evolved” by non-Darwinian means (unless abiogenesis was Darwinian) ending up with the process I have described above.

  20. 20
    Seversky says:

    Whether a deity or natural processes did it, life must have come from non-life. If you have an explanation of how your chosen God did it then we would all be fascinated to hear it.

  21. 21
    ET says:

    seversky:

    Whether a deity or natural processes did it, life must have come from non-life.

    Not if the deity is life.

    If you have an explanation of how your chosen God did it then we would all be fascinated to hear it.

    We’re still trying to figure out how many artifacts were made. The science of design detection is in the detection of design. Yours is the position which claims to have a mechanism.

  22. 22
    john_a_designer says:

    Theists do not claim that we can prove the existence of God scientifically. IDists, if they are consistent, do not claim they can scientifically identify who or what the designers or designers is or are. They only claim that natural causes as we presently understand them are insufficient to explain the origin and evolution of life. The burden of proof then falls on the naturalist since he is the only one claiming the origin of life must be natural. If he has no proof then his beliefs are purely a matter of faith. Ironically, as I recently discussed elsewhere the naturalist’s faith is virtually identical to the biblical definition of faith.

    In 2013, on another site, I had this brief exchange on-line with someone who identified himself as David P. He asked me if I would consider a world view that actively disagreed with my current theistic Christian world view. Since David had already identified his own world view as naturalism, I told him that if he could prove to me “that naturalism was true, I would.”

    He replied, “If that is your condition, you are essentially saying “no”, because naturalism cannot be proven.”

    I responded by asking him, “So, on what basis are you warranted in believing in it?”

    That question prompted the following dialogue:

    David wrote: “Believing that naturalism cannot be proven? Because we can only perceive a tiny part of the entire system. We may one day be able to formulate naturalistic theories that explain beautifully all that we perceive, but we cannot prove that that is all there is.”

    I asked: “So then, you accept naturalism by faith… Correct?”

    David replied: “I accept naturalism as a working assumption because of the evidence that it helps drive us to understand reality in a way that allows us to make increasingly better predictions. Also, the evidence that so many phenomena attributed to supernatural causes have turned out to have natural causes.”

    Notice how David, in addition to blurring the distinction between science and philosophy, smuggled faith into his world view without calling it that. What I mean is that he is actually acting on the biblical definition of faith and he doesn’t even realize it. Let me prove it to you…

    Hebrews 11:3 says: “By faith we understand that the universe was formed at God’s command, so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

    Someone committed, like David, to naturalism is actually just modifying the verse so that it reads:

    “By faith we understand that the universe was formed [by some kind of mindless natural process], so that what is seen was not made out of what was visible.”

    https://uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/why-is-seeing-the-glaringly-obvious-so-hard/#comment-688191

    If you ask me as a theist concerning the origin of life, how did God do it? I would have to answer, I don’t know. But I don’t speak for everyone.

  23. 23

    .

    Sev asks: If you have an explanation of how …

    Sure. The physical evidence (unambiguously) indicates that the designer used a set of physical constraints to establish a complimentary set of genuine quiescent symbols. As symbols, they would operate in a system of discontinuous association between themselves and their referents.

    The designer organized those symbols in a linear, high-capacity (multi-referent) code, and used the relationships contained within that code as the means to specify a semantically-closed autonomous entity.

    In order to achieve semantic closure, the designer organized the medium in a way that simultaneously described the interpretive constraints, as well any necessary components of a particular dissipative process. This process would cause the symbols to be read and their referents to be actualized. It would also necessarily include the capacity to produce a copy of the description itself and pass that copy to subsequent generations of the entity (along with the initial means to process it).

    We have great confidence in this because there is no other way to specify objects among alternatives in a lawful physical universe. In other words, there are no semantic qualities attached to any atomic element (or any compounds thereof), and thus, a semiotic organization is not only the most parsimonious solution to that physical reality, it is the only solution to that physical reality.

    Our confidence is bolstered further by our certainty that this is not merely ad-hoc reasoning on our part; that indeed, this system was clearly predicted as the fundamental necessary condition of an autonomous self-replicator, and further, that this prediction was confirmed by various well-documented experiments in the history of molecular biology.

    This view is then strengthened and extended even further by the fact that this system, since its discovery in the 1950s and 60s, has been the subject of significant research, and that the key physical conditions of the system (those indicating a semiotic reality and language structure) have been carefully documented in the scientific literature. Indeed, the multiple observations that verify the linguistic nature of the gene are not even controversial.

    – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

    Your question is, of course, intended to immediately ignore all of the evidentiary, logical, and historical facts of biology, and instead ponder whether the designer held a new gene with his left hand while creating a ribosome with his right. In other words, in order to obscure the fact that there isn’t a single materialist’ answer to the OoL that actually connects with extant biology, you want to ask questions of your opponents that you know can never be answered. In other words, facing the universal and overwhelming evidence that your preferred answers are utterly false, you respond by asking for a standard of evidence that — from your position of having no substantive evidence at all — you couldn’t even begin to rise to. It is yet another example of the cheap anti-intellectual defenses you’ve become known for over the past decade on this blog.

    The hopeful outcome, from your perspective, is that such exchanges as these take on the air of being merely one man’s view against another’s, i.e. a sense of relative equivalence. The problem for you is that you are always and forever forced to ignore logic, physical evidence, and unambiguous recorded history — whereas your opponents are relying on those things.

    🙂

  24. 24

    .
    As for the OP, “natural selection” is the inevitable outcome of the semiotic system in question. If A requires B for A to exist, then A cannot be the source of B.

  25. 25
    Battman says:

    “Natural Selection Cannot Explain The Origin Of Life On Earth” nor can it explain the Origin of Species. Natural Selection cannot select anything that doesn’t already exist. From a purely naturalistic point of view, a “god-of-the-gaps” (aka pure chance) must be invoked to account for the existence of any random variations for the filter of natural selection to act upon. But where does this filter come from? If it wasn’t designed, then RanDom, the great “god-of-the-gaps”, must be invoked again to explain the existence of Nature which does the selecting. The problem is that either the universe or God must have always existed and its not the universe. “I AM”, therefore think!

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