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Rob Sheldon: Sara Walker is criticizing Jeremy England for the wrong reasons


Earlier today, we were looking at Sara Walker’s recent paper on origin of life and information (public access). Our physics color commentator Rob Sheldon offers some thoughts:

Sarah Walker has worked in OOL research for almost a decade, getting her experience under Paul Davies at ASU. Davies is a theoretical physicist who also manages to write a pop-sci book every year. He has one or two on the OOL problem, and was a coauthor on at least one paper with NASA scientist Richard Hoover. All that to say that the mainstream media has for the most part ignored Davies and Walker’s contributions. When Davies was a co-author on the “arsenic shadow biosphere” paper, the Darwinistas attacked it with full throated smear campaigns.

So in one sense, it isn’t too surprising that Sarah Walker critiques the puff-pieces on Jeremy England. In another sense, she’s criticizing it for the wrong reasons. Basically, she says that non-equilibrium systems have no functional information, and therefore cannot explain that information in living systems.

Well, yes, that is true. There’s lot’s of other things in living cells that are not found in non-equilibrium systems too. Cell walls, enzymes, transporters, for example. But that isn’t the point of England’s (and Prigogine’s) research. The point is to determine if a fluid can spontaneously become ordered, despite the laws of entropy saying that it can’t. If Thermodynamics is the bottom floor of the skyscraper of information, England wants to know how to get to the first floor, whereas Walker says he can’t get to the 101st floor.

My contention is that England has shown that with enough energy drinks, he can jump over 1 foot into the air, and perhaps if he finds the right energy drink he can jump all the way to the 1st floor. My claim is that he can’t do it, and if he extrapolates 3 drinks per foot to 30 drinks per floor, he would be dead. Furthermore, life doesn’t jump, it uses the elevator. But then he has to find the elevator key…

See also: Origin of life: Informational principles or “other laws”?

Chemist James Tour calls out Jeremy England’s origin of life claims – in a nice way

Chemist James Tour writes an open letter to his colleagues

Our all-time most-read post here at Uncommon Descent was about renowned chemist James Tour: A world-famous chemist tells the truth: there’s no scientist alive today who understands macroevolution

Biophysicist [Jeremy England]: Order can arise from nothing! I have evidence! – Rob Sheldon replies


What we know and don’t know about the origin of life


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