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He said it: Origin of life remains a mystery

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A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (Page-Barbour Lectures)

The origin of life is the deepest mystery in the whole of science. Many books and learned papers have been written about it, but it remains a mystery. There is an enormous gap between the simplest living cell and the most complicated naturally occurring mixture of nonliving chemicals. We have no idea when and how and where this gap was crossed. We only know that it was crossed somehow, either on Earth or on Mars or in some other place from which the ancestors of life on Earth might have come.

Freeman J. Dyson, A Many-Colored Glass: Reflections on the Place of Life in the Universe (Charlotteseville, VA: University of Virginia Press, 2010), 104.

5 Replies to “He said it: Origin of life remains a mystery

  1. 1
    GilDodgen says:

    The origin of life is the deepest mystery in the whole of science. Many books and learned papers have been written about it, but it remains a mystery. There is an enormous gap between the simplest living cell and the most complicated naturally occurring mixture of nonliving chemicals. We have no idea when and how and where this gap was crossed.

    The scientific term that describes this transparently obvious observation is: Duh!

    We only know that it was crossed somehow, either on Earth or on Mars or in some other place from which the ancestors of life on Earth might have come.

    We only know that… Do we? The conclusion of this argument is that the laws that govern our planet and its chemistry must somehow be different from those that govern Mars? Very strange logic indeed, and entirely bizarre, especially for a “scientist.”

    One thing is obvious to me: 19th-century materialistic philosophy is dead as a scientific explanation for what we observe in both the cosmos and living systems. There is a critical missing factor in all of this antiquated philosophy, and that is design, intent, and information.

    From what I’ve been able to observe, all of the phenomena of reality are the product of three things: chance, necessity, and design.

    The Darwinist is pathologically obsessed with trying to explain everything in terms of the first two, and has an equally pathological desire to exclude the third, because, no matter the evidence, it is incompatible with his religion.

  2. 2

    Gil:

    Dyson may be arguing the way you say he is — I haven’t read the book. But I don’t think the quoted passage needs to be read that way. I am perfectly happy with the last sentence: the gap was indeed crossed somehow.

    Do we know of anything that can cross such a gap? Yes. Intelligence. Has it ever been demonstrated that law or chance can? No.

  3. 3
    GilDodgen says:

    Good point, although this smacks of Crick’s directed transpermia.

    By the way, what happened to your original evolutiondebate.info website? It was a great resource.

  4. 4

    Thanks. I appreciate your kind support and helpful feedback while I had it going.

    I got pretty swamped with work and didn’t do much with it for a couple of years. Funds are a little tighter now, so when the renewal came up again this year I couldn’t justify keeping it live if I wasn’t going to do more with it. I’ve been toying around with the idea of moving things over to a free WordPress site or something that would also have more of a blogging format.

    It’s on the “to do” list, but probably somewhere around #100, I’m afraid. 🙂

  5. 5
    GilDodgen says:

    Eric,

    I just checked AWStats at my website (the Unix web-tracking tool). People have downloaded 2.4 terabytes of my checkers programs so far this year. This means that countless people all over the world are enjoying and using the fruits of my artificial-intelligence programming efforts. That’s why I give it away for free.

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