JanieBelle made the following comment in a previous UD thread about the possibility of alternative living systems:
“In order to rule out chance, donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t we have to rule out the chance of any possible kind of life? Do we know for an absolute fact that silicon or bzywhateverium canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t make life?”
Pick up a copy of Michael Denton’s second book, Nature’s Destiny: How the Laws of Biology Reveal Purpose in the Universe. This book was recommended to me by Michael Behe when I chatted with him after a lecture he delivered at the University of California, Irvine. Denton addresses this very question in his second tour-de-force work. As it turns out, life other than we know it here on earth is virtually impossible.
Just for starters, the properties of carbon (unique among all elements in its chemically interactive properties, and which is miraculously formed within a tiny opportunistic window in stars), and the chemical and physical properties of water (unique among all liquids and chemical compounds in its life-permitting attributes) are absolutely essential for living systems of any kind.
It turns out that anthropic “coincidences,” usually associated with the fine-tuning of the physical laws of the universe, don’t stop there; they permeate chemistry and biochemistry as well.
But this is just the beginning, Denton also makes an interesting observation about human technology. What if metals could not be smelted in the temperatures achievable with carbon-based fire? In this case, technology could never have been developed.
The universe and living things are clearly rigged, from top to bottom.
P.S. My wife’s name is Janie. She is a French teacher. We met in French classes in college 30 years ago. “Belle” is the French word for beautiful, so JanieBelle has a special place in my heart. 🙂