A friend reached deep into the memory hole and dug out this 2007 roundtable from Edge:
The event took place at Eastover Farm in Bethlehem, CT on Monday, August 27th (see below). Invited to address the topic “Life: What a Concept!” were Freeman Dyson, J. Craig Venter, George Church, Robert Shapiro, Dimitar Sasselov, and Seth Lloyd, who focused on their new, and in more than a few cases, startling research, and/or ideas in the biological sciences.“Life: What A Concept!” at Edge
Here are the comments from George Church of Harvard:
The ribosome, both looking at the past and at the future, is a very significant structure — it’s the most complicated thing that is present in all organisms. Craig does comparative genomics, and you find that almost the only thing that’s in common across all organisms is the ribosome. And it’s recognizable; it’s highly conserved. So the question is, how did that thing come to be? And if I were to be an intelligent design defender, that’s what I would focus on; how did the ribosome come to be?
The only way we’re going to become good scientists and prove that it could come into being spontaneously is to develop a much better in vitro system where you can make smaller versions of the ribosome that still work, and make all kinds of variations on it to do really useful things but that are really wildly different, and so forth, and get real familiarity with this really complicated machine. Because it does a really great thing: it does this mutual information trick, but not from changing something kind of trivial, from DNA to RNA; that’s really easy. It can change from DNA three nucleotides into one amino acid. That’s really marvellous. We need to understand that better.“Life: What A Concept!” at Edge
Robert Shapiro (1935–2011) of New York University offered a comment:
SHAPIRO: I can only suggest that a ribosome forming spontaneously has about the same probability as an eye forming spontaneously.
CHURCH: It won’t form spontaneously; we’ll do it bit by bit.
SHAPIRO: Both are obviously products of long evolution of preexisting life through the process of trial and error.
CHURCH: But none of us has recreated that any. SHAPIRO: There must have been much more primitive ways of putting together catalysts.
CHURCH: But prove it.“Life: What A Concept!” at Edge
One wonders what the participants in the roundtable would say about New Scientist’s chemical Big Bang origin of life?
Note: The downloadable pdf of the roundtable doesn’t seem to be available any longer.
See also: Dave Coppedge comments on New Scientist’s “Big Bang” origin of life theory. Coppedge: Marshall and the evolutionists he marshals together know full well that any of the basic requirements for life – metabolism, a container and a code – are unlikely to spontaneously form separately, much less together at the same time and place.
At New Scientist: Origin of life happened all at once in a chemical Big Bang. It’s basically a rehash of many wishful theories, united by a single drive: To somehow get an origin of life out of a mindless cosmos. The best thing about such theories is their inventiveness.