Intelligent Design Origin Of Life

Tim Standish: Cyanobacteria wouldn’t really work as first life

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Earlier this evening, physicist Rob Sheldon responded to Geoscience Research Institute senior scientist Tim Standish’s view that no life form would likely thrive in the lava bath of very early Earth. The discussion concerns recent fossil finds thought to be about four billion years old.

Standish replies,

Yes, cyanobacteria are a good candidate, but I still believe they probably can’t really survive in the actual absence of other life. For example, the absence of phosphate is recognized as a problem for the origin of life, one that various solutions have been proposed for. Are cyanobacteria also phosphate solubilizers? I’m not asking a rhetorical question, I really don’t know, but I’m willing to bet that they can’t really live and thrive with only water, sunlight, carbon dioxide and nitrogen. There will be a need for some minerals that they don’t have the capacity to live without. Some of these may be readily available from inorganic sources, but I suspect there will be some they need some help with from other organisms.

It would be interesting to see how long a cyanobacteria monoculture can thrive in some sort of minimal culture. It may be that there is one species that can do a complete nitrogen cycle, but if there isn’t, nitrogen will end up in a sink that would eventually lock it all away, making it unavailable, even to cyanobacteria. In addition, are cyanobacteria capable of recycling dead cyanobacteria? If not, carbon would become locked up in organic molecules, although a good fire could correct that situation.

The bottom line is that I remain unconvinced that there genuinely is an organism that did survive in the complete absence of all other organisms, but I think you raise the best modern challenge to the idea. It is just that I still don’t think it works, even if it has been evolving for about 4 billion years more than the original universal common ancestor. In addition, it is probably worth noting that, independent of the claim I made, cyanobacteria with their jack-of-all-trades metabolism make for an unlikely first cell, which would be expected to have the simplest biochemistry possible.

I agree that time is as much a problem as a solution when it comes to OOL.

Now that Darwinians can no longer get away with vague claims about vast amounts of time working some kind of magic, we can at least have reality-based discussions.

See also: Rob Sheldon responds to “no life on molten Earth”

But could there really be life at Earth’s molten rock stage? (Tim Standish)

Researchers: Evidence of life 3.95 billion years ago

and

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

12 Replies to “Tim Standish: Cyanobacteria wouldn’t really work as first life

  1. 1
    critical rationalist says:

    Now that Darwinians can no longer get away with vague claims about vast amounts of time working some kind of magic, we can at least have reality-based discussions.

    We don’t think time works “magic”. We just don’t know what the initial conditions were or exactly what the first “cell” was. However, as Tim states, we think it is very simple in that it is a primitive replicator, which isn’t very accurate.

    In addition, it is probably worth noting that, independent of the claim I made, cyanobacteria with their jack-of-all-trades metabolism make for an unlikely first cell, which would be expected to have the simplest biochemistry possible.

    IOW, something like cyanobacteria, but far more simpler, is thought to be the first cell.

  2. 2
    ET says:

    IOW, something like cyanobacteria, but far more simpler, is thought to be the first cell.

    And you think that helps you, how, exactly? I ask because of Spiegelman’s Monster which traps molecular replication at its basic level. And just getting to those molecular replicators is still a problem materialism needs to solve.

  3. 3
    KD Jung says:

    In computer communications between two entities, each entity needs to have several automata. An automata is a logical machine. In case of the smallest organism in this earth, the organism needs to have thousands or more entities. That means it should have more than 10th thousands of automata in one cell. All the automata shall be correlated each other to work together. And the organism is a biochemistry distributed computing system. “Distributed” means that each entity shall know what it shall do at what condition. In one cell, there are many groups who have their own distributed processing system. That means the cell is a biochemistry layered distributed computing system. The cell has self-correction and self-healing function.
    All these self-healing function shall be included in the cell automata. That means a cell is a more complicated computing system than any man-made computing system in the world.
    In one cell, there are more than thousands biochemistry robots who knows what to do when and how.

    The evolution biochemists need to study automata system in cell. The thousands of automata are intercommunicated in a cell. Is it possible to change/upgrade a automaton by any mutation?

    There is no person who say that evolution can change a automaton to the next stage of automaton by any mechanism.
    Please ask a compter network software developer about this question. Then you will hear, “Are you sane?”

    We need to see any cell architecture not only in biochemical entities level, but in communication entities level. As I know, some biochemists started to see some entities as a communication level, but not as a whole communication entities system level.

    The main issues in evolution are
    1) Is it possible to generate any new functional information by mutation?
    2) Is it possible to generate a new automaton system by mutation?
    3) Is it possible to generate multi-level automata system by mutation?

  4. 4
    gpuccio says:

    critical rationalist:

    “IOW, something like cyanobacteria, but far more simpler, is thought to be the first cell.”

    Cyanobacteria:

    3.9 Mb genome

    3725 genes

    Just an example:

    ATP synthase beta chain:

    331 identities, 388 positives, 675 bits of homology between Scytonema tolypothrichoides and humans.

    There is nothing simple in cyanobacteria.

    So, how much “simpler” are you thinking of?

    And in what way that “simpler” thing would be “like cyanobacteria”?

    Just to know.

  5. 5
    critical rationalist says:

    I meant what I said in my comment.

    Similar in that it can survive and replicate under unusual / extreme conditions. Unsimilar in that is a primitive replicator. Specifically, it is vastly less complex and less accurate in replication, so it does not exhibit the appearance of design, as I’ve outlined elsewhere.

  6. 6
    Mung says:

    gpuccio, it is obvious that CR believes in the existence of something for which he has zero evidence. Is it really our place to question that?

  7. 7
    ET says:

    critical rationalist- And just where did you get your simple replicating organism? Please show your work.

  8. 8
    critical rationalist says:

    I’d point out the opposite is a problem for ID. Based on our best explanation for how designers actually result in designed things, as opposed to merely what we experience, they too would exhibit the appearance of design.

    So, exactly what would the “first designer” look like?

  9. 9
    ET says:

    Wrong again, critical rationalist. ID is about the DESIGN, not the DESIGNER(s). Try to focus on the real issues and not the imaginary issues.

  10. 10
    gpuccio says:

    critical rationalist:

    I appreciate your definition of the first cell, but have you any empirical evidence that such a thing ever existed?

    There is no more a problem of a first designer than a problem of a first atom, or unity of time and space. In the ultimate sense, the origin for everything that exists can be traced to one transcendent being, according to religious philosophies. If you have better answers, I am happy for you.

    But what allows a designer to design is, first of all, being a conscious agent. So, your question could be: what would the first conscious agent look like?

    As you can understand, it is a rather deep philosophical question, and not at present something that empirical science can really solve.

    All our debate, in the end, leads to the basic problem of what consciousness is. Not a small problem, and I don’t think that anyone has easy answers to that.

  11. 11

    We don’t think time works “magic”.

    That’s exactly what many Darwinist think, but like you, most prefer to think of it in other terms, like how sophisticated and advanced they are in their thinking. That’s a much more palatable idea; who would not like to have that as their defense against any intrusions of fact into one’s biases.

    Don’t get me wrong, you are entirely welcome to think that an high-capacity encoded information processor was once so simple it sprang itself into existence, but you have to do that after you face the physical facts of the matter. Which you refuse to do.

    We just don’t know what the initial conditions were.

    Not true at all. It is a historical fact that the logical structure of self-replication was predicted before we found the gene system (and was empirically confirmed upon its discovery). It becomes kind of hard to maintain that we know nothing about something that was predicted prior to its discovery. If you peel back your biases for a moment, you find that we have a substantial physical understanding of the system. To organize an autonomous self-replicating cell requires, at a bare minimum, the capacity to specify multiple referents from a medium. And we know exactly what physical architecture is required for that to occur, and we’ve known it for half a century or more. People like yourself ignore these things because they get in the way of maintaining your preferences. When you say “we don’t know what the initial conditions were” you are merely saying “I don’t have to consider established physical facts”.

    we think it is very simple in that it is a primitive replicator, which isn’t very accurate.

    This is one of your compliant distractions — “compliant” in the sense that you can drag it out at will, and mold it to whatever cracks form in your arguments. You’ve deluded yourself in thinking that starting a cell is about fidelity, yet the physical evidence (and logic and prediction) says it’s about capacity instead. This is why you avoid questions that deal with the physical functioning of the system, like the requirements of achieving semantic closure.

    Do you think this is unfair criticism? If so, then lay it to rest by answering the questions you’ve been studiously avoiding.

    Evgeny Selensky has one he has asked several times:

    CR: “If I follow the instructions to build a boat from raw materials…”

    I keep asking you the same question, how did the first instruction come about?

    And I have asked one several times myself:

    We know that aminoacyl synthetases are the finite set of complex proteins that establish the genetic code. Their tasks in the cell is to perform a double-recognition and bind a particular amino acid to a particular tRNA adapter prior to the act of translation. We can all conceive of their significance to the system.

    They are synthesized from nucleic memory, and it stands to reason that there was once a time in earth’s history that none of the set of aaRS had ever been synthesized from that memory. Here is my question: Regardless of what anyone thinks preceded that time, at the point in earth’s history that the first ever aaRS was successfully synthesized from memory, how many of the other aaRS had to be in place?

  12. 12
    Belfast says:

    CR
    With zero evidence in support, the accepted position of evolution is that when faced with innumerable steps to get from A to B, time will do it. Time smears over the steps making it unnecessary to describe in detail any one of the intermediate precursors.
    Calling it magic is just a metaphor.
    Similar in terminology to the Big Bang, and the Big Crunch, time could be called the Big Crutch.

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