Just look what the hopeful researchers have to say in order to claim that. They are not able to get away from the need for design:
Yesterday, we critiqued a proposal by Eugene V. Koonin and three colleagues who presented an expanded theory of evolution as “multilevel learning.” (See, “Evolution Is Not Like Physics.”) The proposal commits the fallacy of equating the properties of biological “laws of evolution” with those of physics, and borders on vitalism, which undermines their goal of naturalizing evolution. The proposal was published in two papers in PNAS last month. This time, we look at the second paper that takes their proposal to the special case of the origin of life. Their attempt to incorporate thermodynamics into a highly negentropic process is sure to provoke interest…
Perceptive readers will want to know how they deal with several well-known issues: (1) probability, (2) entropy increase, and (3) harmful byproducts. The authors have already presented their view of the universe as a “neural network” in which natural selection operates at multiple levels, not just in biology. The only neural networks that any human has observed coming into existence were designed by a mind. How, then, can physical nature learn things?Evolution News, “Origin of Life Is Not Reducible to Physics” at Evolution News and Science Today (February 24, 2022)
The paper, by Vanchurin, Wolf, Koonin, and Katsnelson, is open access.
The vitalistic tendencies in this proposal become evident where they claim that nonliving entities are able to predict, train, and compete. They are further evident when the environment can select them according to specific criteria. How do Koonin and his colleagues know this happens? Just look around: there are atoms, stars, and brains that survived the competition by natural selection. Their existence confirms the theory. This is like the anthropic principle supporter who says, “If the universe weren’t this way, we wouldn’t be here to talk about it.”Evolution News, “Origin of Life Is Not Reducible to Physics” at Evolution News and Science Today (February 24, 2022)
“[N]onliving entities are able to predict, train, and compete”? Well, this is — of course — a form of panpsychism, which would be fine if they would just admit it. Then we could have a reasonable discussion.
Naturalism, as such, appears to be dead, killed by its own inability to cope with the need for intelligence, however derived, in the creation of life and the universe.