Uncommon Descent Serving The Intelligent Design Community

Breaking: Origin of life still a mystery


From a brief review in Scientific American of A Brief History of Creation: Science and the Search for the Origin of Life (Bill Mesler and H. James Cleaves II, Norton, 2015):

No scientific quandary is as confounding, controversial or important as the question of how life began, argue journalist Mesler and geochemist Cleaves. “It touches upon not only how we came to be, but why we came to be,” they write. “It is, in a sense, the ultimate question.”More.

Thumbnail for version as of 16:09, 29 March 2006
primordial soup

Maybe. How much of the problem is rather this: The search is not so much for what happened as for what happened that is consistent with a naturalist perspective?

Thus we hear about chance, law, self-organization (which is actually not completely consistent with a naturalist perspective), and of course, the kitchen sink.

The origin of life is the origin of information.

origin of information. When we solve that, we will understand better. Much of the other stuff just sounds like attempts at magic: information from nothing by accident

See also: Is there a good reason to believe that life’s origin must be a fully natural event?

Hi Mung Eric I agree with your analysis plus all the chickens and eggs coming to roost at the same time. Taking a swag you need 400 amino acids a minute to sustain a bacteria equivalent. Assuming 1000 proteins and 48 minute survival time for proteins. This says you need these protein catalysts their but to get the proteins you need amino acids. This dramatically simplifies the problem but life requires the instantaneous appearance of a molecular production facility more complicated then anything man has ever produced. And yea this factory can reproduce itself every 20 minutes. bill cole
Mung, well said and excellent point. So even if there were such a beast as a "self-replicating molecule" that could exist under early earth conditions (highly questionable, but let's grant it for sake of argument), it would still not tell us anything about how such a direct-copy molecule transitioned to an indirect system with storage, retrieval, copying, and construction systems and protocols. This seems to be an additional way to frame the information problem facing naturalistic abiogenesis scenarios. ----- I have to bite my tongue sometimes, but the more I look into it the more clear it becomes that the whole naturalistic origins story is a complete, utter, heap of nonsense. It takes continued strenuous effort on my part to avoid the conclusion that those promoting the naturalistic story are anything but intellectually dishonest. To be sure, there are plenty of people who haven't really looked into it in detail and are just going along with the party line. But for those who have examined it in at least passing detail and continue to push the naturalistic creation story, it is truly an impressive demonstration of either significant philosophical baggage or intellectual dishonesty. Eric Anderson
Molecules exist in space and have spatial dimensions. The original self-replicating molecule must have consisted of a 3D copy of a 3D original. I'm no chemist, but what's the simplest molecule we know of that can be copied by direct chemical bonding without a mediating system involving any sort of symbolic representation that would then require a reading and constructing system? At some point this system must have transitioned to one where instead of a direct reproduction, the information about the 3D original was converted to a linear sequence of symbols and stored and the copy was then re-constructed based on that linear sequence of symbols rather than direct interaction with the original? So now you need a system capable of taking a linear sequence of symbols and from that constructing a 3D system from a linear sequence. In essence, a 3D printer. Does that make sense? Mung
Mung @8: Can you elaborate a bit on your comment? Eric Anderson
tjguy @9: The origin of life "problem" is an interesting term. What is the "problem"? The word "problem" can be understood in a couple of ways: 1. Simply a question, a puzzle, something to be figured out. Like a math problem. In this sense, figuring out the source of life, the origin of life, is certainly possible. If not in the sense of knowing the exact "how," then at least in the sense of determining that the source was an intelligent cause. 2. A conundrum, something that confounds, something that doesn't fit with the received wisdom. In this sense, the origin of life is a "problem" in that it doesn't fit the naturalistic narrative, it doesn't work based on our understanding of purely natural causes available and the resources of the known universe available. If we adopt the view that a "scientific" solution must be purely naturalistic and materialistic (the typical materialist's claim and rhetorical tactic), then, yes, the origin of life is a "problem" and knows of no "scientific" solution. However, if we break out of that intellectual trap and realize that "scientific" does not equal "materialistic" then we are free to consider that the science is pointing strongly to an answer for the origin of life -- just not a materialistic one. Eric Anderson
Hi tiguy Interesting comment, and that is exactly what Hurbert Yockey concluded in his 1977 paper on origin of life. He stated the origin of life like the origin of matter is scientifically unknowable based on mystery of the origin of information. Yockey was a physicist who worked on the Manhattan project and later worked in bioinformatics. bill cole
Here's a great article from ENV explaining why dressing up the refuted hunch of spontaneous generation as abiogenesis isn't going to change the fact that it is dead before it starts. No amount of "the SCIENTIFIC CONSENSUS AGREES THAT LIFE EVOLVED FROM A LUCA x BILLION DARWIN YEARS AGO YOU SCIENCE DENYING BIBLE THUMPING CREATIONIST/IDiot!!!!!" is going to change that. And no NOODLE (chemical evo) -> no biological evo. Sure won't stop those willfully blind and gullible believers from believing tho. Vy
The origin of life is the origin of information. Origin of information. When we solve that, we will understand better. Much of the other stuff just sounds like attempts at magic: information from nothing by accident.
I think it is entirely possible that there is no scientific solution to this problem - meaning of course that there is no natural cause/source for information like we see in life. If true, it means that science can not solve this problem. tjguy
I love 3D printing. When a 3D copier is produced that does not depend on converting the source item to a 1D representation as a string of information and then translating that representation to a 3D form for the 3D printer to reproduce as the target item we can then ask, why isn't life like that? Mung
I have recently been confronted by a strong challenge from a large crowd of young new atheists who demanded an explanation on the theme "How God/ID did it?" in response to my criticism of the lack of any evidence that OOL could have been a random/accidental event. In response I asked them to close their eyes and imagine God/ID as an engineer carefully designing and testing each part of the body and each function of it before arriving at the final drawing board where he is certain that his testing has come to it's finale. It's time to draw the final life form, use something resembling a 3D printer, fill up all the fluids and the power it up. I call it DRAW-PRINT-FILL-UP-POWER-UP I think some experts in the field call it"top to bottom" creation of life. There is no alternative for now as OOL research and Darwinian evolution, no matter what the claims, can't explain anything even with their vivid imagination up until eukaryotic cell and even after that they have to bend the truth to make it look good... J-Mac
Jim Smith at 1, thanks! Link now fixed. - News News
Zing! SpareHeadOne
The resurrection of the dead is a preposterous notion says the “sceptic”. It is ridiculous to think that dead matter could come to life and turn into a human being he says. Religious nonsense he says.
LOL. I almost missed the sarcasm. Mapou
The resurrection of the dead is a preposterous notion says the "sceptic". It is ridiculous to think that dead matter could come to life and turn into a human being he says. Religious nonsense he says. SpareHeadOne
We may never solve the OOL problem. I'd like to know if people think we will, and if so, how. So why are those who believe life is not intelligently designed not engaging in blind faith and argument from ignorance? Mung
There seems to be an error in the "More" link. http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/book-review-a-brief-history-of-cre%20ation/ should be http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/book-review-a-brief-history-of-creation/ Jim Smith

Leave a Reply