Origin Of Life

Did origin of life researcher read controversial ID supplemental textbook Design of Life?

Spread the love

The Design of Life: Discovering Signs of Intelligence In Biological SystemsSome wonder. A friend of Uncommon Descent wrote recently to say that

In a lecture (November 2008) at Case Western University, prominent origin of life researcher Robert Hazen, author of Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origin, essentially admits that the burden of proof is on those who oppose ID, not those who propose it.

Some attribute such admissions to the dead stall of origin of life research for 150 years – except that popular media perpetually conflate bright ideas with concrete findings.

Here are some quotations from the transcript:

Now we may ask, is intelligent design scientific? On the one hand intelligent design does make testable predictions. This point is often overlooked. It predicts…there is certainly no natural process by which the first cell could have arisen from non-life. And you can test these hypotheses because if in a laboratory experiment we can go and synthesize, if we can make from scratch a bacterial flagellum, or an eye, or a cell, then we’ve disproven a basic tenet of intelligent design……..This leads to the “debate”…It is easy to see how we as scientists appear close minded, we are the ones who are scared to address this controversy, we are the ones who are hesitant to have an open and honest debate and it makes us look bad. What are we to do?

What I do as a scientist is I go into the laboratory and I design a research program…if we can show in the laboratory a series of experiments that goes from geochemical simplicity step by step by step to the complexity approaching a living thing then we have invalidated the claims of intelligent design, we have shown a natural process by which life can arise, and we have therefore solved that problem.

Well, how’s that going?

Another friend butted in to say that Hazen had been sent Design of Life and that it certainly sounds like he’s read Chapter 8, an unsparing assessment of the 150-year origin of life circus:

“Most of origin-of-life research is as relevant to the real problem of life’s origin as rubber-band powered propeller model planes are to the military’s most sophisticated stealth aircraft.” (Ch.8)”The origin of information is not a problem of chemistry. Chemistry can be a carrier of information, but it cannot be its source.” (Ch.8)

“Chemists typically do not concern themselves with the problem of the origin of information because their work presupposes a smart chemist ready to provide it!” (Ch.8)

“The claim that natural laws are sufficient to account for the origin of life is far-fetched. Natural laws work against the origin of life. Natural laws describe material processes that consume the raw materials of life, turning them into tars, melanoids, and other nonbiological substances that thereafter are completely useless to life.” (Ch.8)

Apparently, Hazen’s PowerPoint flashes,

How should science respond to ID?- Design a research program that demonstrates the natural transition from chemical simplicity to emerging complexity.

– If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.

How to respond? How  be the origin of life researchers don’t get back to us until they’ve shown that biological complexity can arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, and not just postulated it or enforced it as a dogma.

Just think of all the clutter it would save the pop science press. Oh, forget that … in Clutter Central, clutter rules.

11 Replies to “Did origin of life researcher read controversial ID supplemental textbook Design of Life?

  1. 1
    DrREC says:

    “If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    Is everyone agreed?

  2. 2
    O'Leary says:

    I, for one, don’t think it would make ID unnecessary because showing it could happen even once does not show that it happens always, or come anywhere close.

    But the fact is, the history of the discipline has mainly served to underline that it probably could not happen even once.

    Rather than face that fact and research it from a different standpoint, as Bradley Monton has suggested ID-friendly scientists would do, they go on producing ideas that don’t really work. Under the naturalism Hazen espouses, they simply have no choice. And discrediting ID – the obvious explanation – becomes a big project.

    Today’s OOL reseachers seem like people who, analyzing a great novel, come up with “evolutionary psychology” reasons that the author plotted it the way she did, based on the female animal’s drive to leave offspring.

    Whereas a non-crackpot English lit teacher would look at the plot and say something like, “Well, the author has to get him off the scene now, because otherwise readers will wonder where he is by Chapter 25, when you’d reasonably expect him to hear about the dramatic developments and come home; also, the fact that his mother knows he’s dead explains why she is already emotionally exhausted before these new events happen.”

    Which would you find more informative, demonstrable, and likely?

  3. 3
    Joseph says:

    Dr REC-

    It depends on the level of bio-complexity. Demonstrating a 5-part system can arise without agency involvement does nothing for systems with more parts.

    IOW you can’t take the most simple biological system, demonstrate it can arise via necessity and chance (physics and chemistry) and then say that applies to the most complex systems.

    However if someone demonstrates the most complex biological system can arise via necessity and chance then that would apply to all systems of equal or lesser complexity.

  4. 4
    bornagain77 says:

    DrREC you ask;

    ““If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    Is everyone agreed?”

    No!

    Short answer,,,

    “LIFE’S CONSERVATION LAW: Why Darwinian Evolution Cannot Create Biological Information”:
    Excerpt: Though not denying Darwinian evolution or even limiting its role in the history of life, the Law of Conservation of Information shows that Darwinian evolution is inherently teleological. Moreover, it shows that this teleology can be measured in precise information-theoretic terms.
    http://evoinfo.org/publication.....ation-law/

    Long answer,,,

    DrREC, unless you meant ‘mind’, and its unique ability to generate functional information, to be included in your term ‘natural processes’, then ID is still ‘necessary’. Yet you clearly meant purely ‘energy-material’ processes when you stated ‘natural’, thus you have a incomplete description of reality in your use of the term ‘natural processes’ since the ultimate foundation of reality itself is not ‘natural’ energy-matter but is indeed ‘information’, moreover it is a foundation of ‘information’ which centers on each unique point of ‘conscious’ observation in the universe. In fact, I would have no problem with Theistic Evolution, as it should actually be properly understood, if this distinction between matter-energy, mind-information, were made clear in science! But alas, Theistic Evolution, as it now stands, is subsumed into the materialistic framework of neo-Darwinism! And until very recently, many neo-Darwinists refused to even admit that ‘information’ was even in life as a distinct entity! Yet it appears that God, in His infinite wisdom, has decided to make the distinction between energy-matter, mind-information, as clear as possible, for us severely limited humans, in that he has set the second law of thermodynamics in place, which has been called the most rigid law in science by Einstein, which has clearly demarcated the distinction between the two realms.,,, Thus DrREC, even if the clear distinction of the second law did not exist, for separating energy-matter mind-information processes, and you could somehow show purely ‘natural processes’ generating functional complexity/information, then ID would still be necessary, and in fact, it would be neo-Darwinian evolution that would be ‘unnecessary’ since mind-information is shown to be more foundational to reality than energy-matter in the first place.

    notes:

    Ions have been teleported successfully for the first time by two independent research groups
    Excerpt: In fact, copying isn’t quite the right word for it. In order to reproduce the quantum state of one atom in a second atom, the original has to be destroyed. This is unavoidable – it is enforced by the laws of quantum mechanics, which stipulate that you can’t ‘clone’ a quantum state. In principle, however, the ‘copy’ can be indistinguishable from the original,,,

    Atom takes a quantum leap – 2009
    Excerpt: Ytterbium ions have been ‘teleported’ over a distance of a metre.,,,
    “What you’re moving is information, not the actual atoms,” says Chris Monroe, from the Joint Quantum Institute at the University of Maryland in College Park and an author of the paper. But as two particles of the same type differ only in their quantum states, the transfer of quantum information is equivalent to moving the first particle to the location of the second.
    http://www.freerepublic.com/fo.....1769/posts

    Quantum no-hiding theorem experimentally confirmed for first time – March 2011
    Excerpt: In the classical world, information can be copied and deleted at will. In the quantum world, however, the conservation of quantum information means that information cannot be created nor destroyed.
    http://www.physorg.com/news/20.....tally.html

    “It from bit symbolizes the idea that every item of the physical world has at bottom – at a very deep bottom, in most instances – an immaterial source and explanation; that which we call reality arises in the last analysis from the posing of yes-no questions and the registering of equipment-evoked responses; in short, that things physical are information-theoretic in origin.” John Archibald Wheeler

    Why the Quantum? It from Bit? A Participatory Universe?
    Excerpt: In conclusion, it may very well be said that information is the irreducible kernel from which everything else flows. Thence the question why nature appears quantized is simply a consequence of the fact that information itself is quantized by necessity. It might even be fair to observe that the concept that information is fundamental is very old knowledge of humanity, witness for example the beginning of gospel according to John: “In the beginning was the Word.” Anton Zeilinger – a leading expert in quantum teleportation:
    http://www.metanexus.net/Magaz.....fault.aspx

    Wheeler’s Classic Delayed Choice Experiment:
    Excerpt: Now, for many billions of years the photon is in transit in region 3. Yet we can choose (many billions of years later) which experimental set up to employ – the single wide-focus, or the two narrowly focused instruments. We have chosen whether to know which side of the galaxy the photon passed by (by choosing whether to use the two-telescope set up or not, which are the instruments that would give us the information about which side of the galaxy the photon passed). We have delayed this choice until a time long after the particles “have passed by one side of the galaxy, or the other side of the galaxy, or both sides of the galaxy,” so to speak. Yet, it seems paradoxically that our later choice of whether to obtain this information determines which side of the galaxy the light passed, so to speak, billions of years ago. So it seems that time has nothing to do with effects of quantum mechanics. And, indeed, the original thought experiment was not based on any analysis of how particles evolve and behave over time – it was based on the mathematics. This is what the mathematics predicted for a result, and this is exactly the result obtained in the laboratory.
    http://www.bottomlayer.com/bot.....choice.htm

    “It was not possible to formulate the laws (of quantum theory) in a fully consistent way without reference to consciousness.” Eugene Wigner (1902 -1995) from his collection of essays “Symmetries and Reflections – Scientific Essays”; Eugene Wigner laid the foundation for the theory of symmetries in quantum mechanics, for which he received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1963.

    Here is the key experiment that led Wigner to his Nobel Prize winning work on quantum symmetries:

    Eugene Wigner
    Excerpt: To express this basic experience in a more direct way: the world does not have a privileged center, there is no absolute rest, preferred direction, unique origin of calendar time, even left and right seem to be rather symmetric. The interference of electrons, photons, neutrons has indicated that the state of a particle can be described by a vector possessing a certain number of components. As the observer is replaced by another observer (working elsewhere, looking at a different direction, using another clock, perhaps being left-handed), the state of the very same particle is described by another vector, obtained from the previous vector by multiplying it with a matrix. This matrix transfers from one observer to another.
    http://www.reak.bme.hu/Wigner_.....io/wb1.htm

    The Failure Of Local Realism – Materialism – Alain Aspect – video
    http://www.metacafe.com/w/4744145

    Quantum Information/Entanglement In DNA & Protein Folding – short video
    http://www.metacafe.com/watch/5936605/

    The ‘Fourth Dimension’ Of Living Systems
    https://docs.google.com/document/pub?id=1Gs_qvlM8-7bFwl9rZUB9vS6SZgLH17eOZdT4UbPoy0Y

  5. 5
    Mung says:

    “If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    Is everyone agreed?

    I don’t agree. The problem with this statememnt is that it assumes ID is anti natural processes, which is not the case.

    I don’t consider humans to be non-natural, and yet humans create artifacts which can properly be called designed.

    Say that information is a natural property and that a biologically complex entity arises spontaneously but contains information. Where did that information come from? The process would still be a natural process, but the information still requires an explanation.

  6. 6
    SCheesman says:

    “If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    No, but substitute “Specified complexity” and you’d have a much more compelling argument.

  7. 7
    Joseph says:

    In fact, my argument for intelligent design is open to direct experimental rebuttal. Here is a thought experiment that makes the point clear. In Darwin’s Black Box (Behe 1996) I claimed that the bacterial flagellum was irreducibly complex and so required deliberate intelligent design. The flip side of this claim is that the flagellum can’t be produced by natural selection acting on random mutation, or any other unintelligent process. To falsify such a claim, a scientist could go into the laboratory, place a bacterial species lacking a flagellum under some selective pressure (for mobility, say), grow it for ten thousand generations, and see if a flagellum–or any equally complex system–was produced. If that happened, my claims would be neatly disproven.(1)

    How about Professor Coyne’s concern that, if one system were shown to be the result of natural selection, proponents of ID could just claim that some other system was designed? I think the objection has little force. If natural selection were shown to be capable of producing a system of a certain degree of complexity, then the assumption would be that it could produce any other system of an equal or lesser degree of complexity. If Coyne demonstrated that the flagellum (which requires approximately forty gene products) could be produced by selection, I would be rather foolish to then assert that the blood clotting system (which consists of about twenty proteins) required intelligent design. – Dr Behe

  8. 8
    Paul Giem says:

    DrREC (#1),

    “If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    Is everyone agreed?

    Almost. Are humans natural? If biological complexity to the level of the origin of life and to the level of the flagellum and similar systems can be created without significant intelligent input, then ID would be unnecessary for that (there is still the matter of fine tuning and privileged planet issues to address). If someone puts in ammonia, methane, carbon dioxide, etc, along with perhaps montmorillonite clay and heat or electric discharges, and a new breed of bacteria emerges in 3 years, I’d be ready to give up on ID.

    There’s your research project.

  9. 9
    lastyearon says:

    As I understand ID, it is an attempt to empirically detect that biological systems were designed, by eliminating natural processes as potential causes. Therefore, “If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.”

    Here are some quotes from leading ID proponents that support my understanding of ID (emphasis added):

    Experience shows that large amounts of specified complexity or information (especially codes and languages) invariably originate from an intelligent source – from a mind or a personal agent. Since intelligence is the only known source of specified information (at least starting from a nonbiological source), the presence of specified information-rich sequences in even the simplest living systems points definitely to the past existence and activity of a designing intelligence.

    – Stephen Meyer, Signature in the Cell

    An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional.

    – Michael Behe

    Once specified complexity tells us that something is designed, not only can we inquire into its production, but we can rule out certain ways it could not have been produced (i.e., it could not have been produced solely by chance and necessity).

    – William Dembski

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    No rejection of natural processes in any of those quotes.

  11. 11
    Mung says:

    If biological complexity can be shown to arise spontaneously as the result of natural processes, then ID is unnecessary.

    What is the scientific definition of a “natural process” and how can we tell, scientifically, whether or not a given process is natural or not?

Leave a Reply