In her new book, The Origin of Life Circus, journalist Suzan Mazur interviewed Larry Krauss because he is the “gatekeeper” of the late Harry Lonsdale’s prize for promising research into the origin of life (Lonsdale, a chemist, proceeded from a chemical and Darwinian view).
Readers may call Krauss from John Lennox replies to Larry Krauss’s claim that Higgs boson “arguably more relevant than God”, Christian cosmologist Don Page calls out Larry Krauss on “Why is there something rather than nothing?”, and Celeb atheists Dawkins and Grayling don’t want to debate apologist Craig because … maybe a reason is now emerging … Larry Krauss! (As Krauss tells it, Craig is “disingenuous,” and he “shocked” Larry Krauss in a recent debate.) Incidentally, for a physicist, Krauss spends a lot of time arguing about religion or with religious figures. Just noticing.
Anyway, Mazur’s discussion with Krauss turned up a interesting exchange, among many:
Suzan Mazur:The Origin of Life Challenge focus so far has been on the chemical, life described in the Lonsdale outreach as “a self-sustaining chemical system capable of undergoing Darwinian evolution.” However, Darwinian and neo-Dawinian theory are waning in serious science circles.
My question is, in giving advice and direction to the Lonsdale Challenge were you aware that whole swaths of the scientific community now have Darwinian science in the margins?
Lawrence Krauss: Well I don’t think they have Darwinian science in the margins.
Suzan Mazur:They actually do.
Various examples are tossed around, and then:
Lawrence Krauss: Whether you call it life or not, it’s just the laws of physics and chemistry. There’s nothing beyond the laws of physics and chemistry that allow for the origin of life. We are just a bunch of chemicals subject to forces and laws. It’s electromagnetism and quantum mechanics and how those laws of electromagnetism and quantum mechanics produce chemistry. And how chemistry produces biology. And then once biology is produced, how do those laws impact on how biological molecules evolve. It’s a continuum. (pp. 38-39)
Note that in his response Krauss does not mention information, the vast amounts of which chiefly distinguish life from non-life. Which in turn means that one can drive a 26-wheeler through the gap in his program.
This isn’t even a question of whether the magical Darwinian mechanism can just produce information, standing in for the Boltzmann brain. The problem is bigger than that.
Here’s a thought from evolutionary biologist G. C. Williams that sums up a part of it:
“Information doesn’t have mass or charge or length in millimeters. Likewise, matter doesn’t have bytes. You can’t measure so much gold in so many bytes. It doesn’t have redundancy, or fidelity, or any of the other descriptors we apply to information. This dearth of shared descriptors makes matter and information two separate domains of existence, which have to be discussed separately, in their own terms.” – G. C. Williams, quoted in By Design or by Chance?, p. 234.
Also, readers: Make sure that people who claim they love you prove it by getting you this book on the next suitable occasion. As long as they don’t mind that you disappear a few times over the next few weeks to read its eye-opening interviews. 😉
For more on why the origin of life field can’t really go anywhere if Krauss’s assumptions prevail, here’s a synopsis.
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Added: We mustn’t confuse cultural Darwinism (the bobbleheads pursuing Scott Walker about where he stands on “evolution”) with useful science theory. The bobbleheads are talking about something more like evolutionary psychology (the caveman explains why you drank to much at that party last night, etc.). Not about anything that could be recognized as science.