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Paul Davies: Cosmos mostly devoid of life?

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At SciAm:

Many distinguished scientists proclaim that the universe is teeming with life, at least some of it intelligent. Biologist Christian de Duve went so far as to call life “a cosmic imperative.” Yet the science has hardly changed. We are almost as much in the dark today about the pathway from nonlife to life as Charles Darwin was when he wrote, “It is mere rubbish thinking at present of the origin of life; one might as well think of the origin of matter.”

There is no doubt that SETI—the search for extraterrestrial intelligence—has received a huge fillip from the recent discovery of hundreds of extrasolar planets. Astronomers think there could be billions of Earth-like planets in our galaxy alone. Clearly, there is no lack of habitable real estate out there. Yet because we do not know the process that transformed a mishmash of chemicals into a living cell, with all its staggering complexity, it is impossible to calculate the probability that life has actually arisen on these planets. More.

Yes, that’s the trouble. And where would one look? It’s hard to know where to look when one knows next to nothing about what to look for or where.

Davies offers an interesting suggestion: If the “easy extra-terrestrial OOL” people are correct, we should find “alien” life here on Earth too.

For that matter, why shouldn’t we find “half” life?

Note: for these purposes, devolution (viruses as former independent life) doesn’t count. Anything that is on the way out, as opposed to on the way in, doesn’t count.

Anyway, maybe there is a certain grandeur in all that loneliness.

See also: Does Moore’s Law apply to origin of life? Of course, Moore’s Law is fuelled by intelligent design. If people can live with that fact, we might be on to something here.

Devolution: Getting back to the simple life

and

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

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3 Replies to “Paul Davies: Cosmos mostly devoid of life?

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    Davies stated that

    When I was a student in the 1960s, almost all scientists believed we are alone in the universe. The search for intelligent life beyond Earth was ridiculed; one might as well have professed an interest in looking for fairies. The focus of skepticism concerned the origin of life, which was widely assumed to have been a chemical fluke of such incredibly low probability it would never have happened twice.

    And indeed the probabilities for ‘simple’ life spontaneously emerging have not gotten any better since the 1960s:

    DID LIFE START BY CHANCE?
    Excerpt: Molecular biophysicist, Horold Morowitz (Yale University), calculated the odds of life beginning under natural conditions (spontaneous generation). He calculated, if one were to take the simplest living cell and break every chemical bond within it, the odds that the cell would reassemble under ideal natural conditions (the best possible chemical environment) would be one chance in 10^100,000,000,000. You will have probably have trouble imagining a number so large, so Hugh Ross provides us with the following example. If all the matter in the Universe was converted into building blocks of life, and if assembly of these building blocks were attempted once a microsecond for the entire age of the universe. Then instead of the odds being 1 in 10^100,000,000,000, they would be 1 in 10^99,999,999,916.
    http://www.uncommondescent.com.....ent-617869

    Davies also states:

    there are probably 10^23 planets. Yes, that is a big number. But it is dwarfed by the odds against forming even simple organic molecules by random chance alone. If the pathway from chemistry to biology is long and complicated, it may well be that fewer than one in a trillion trillion planets ever spawns life.

    Although many exoplanets have been discovered, the ‘habitable real estate’ has not increased. The odds against a habitable planet spontaneously happening somewhere in the universe dwarf that 10^23 number also:

    Improbable Planet: How Earth Became Humanity’s Home. – Frank Turek interviews Hugh Ross – Sept. 17, 2016
    http://player.subsplash.com/8b92f21

    Linked from Appendix C from Dr. Ross’s book, ‘Why the Universe Is the Way It Is’;
    Probability Estimates for the Features Required by Various Life Forms:
    Excerpt:
    Requirements to sustain bacteria for 90 days or less:
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10-614
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 501 parameters approx. 10^-333
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^311 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracles.

    Requirements to sustain unicellar life for three billion year:
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-859
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-303
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^22
    Probability for occurrence of all 676 parameters approx. 10^-578
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^556 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle

    Requirements to sustain intelligent physical life:
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1333
    dependency factors estimate approx. 10^-324
    longevity requirements estimate approx. 10^45
    Probability for occurrence of all 816 parameters approx. 10^-1054
    Maximum possible number of life support bodies in observable universe approx. 10^22
    Thus, less than 1 chance in 10^1032 exists that even one such life-support body would occur anywhere in the universe without invoking divine miracle
    http://www.reasons.org/files/c....._part3.pdf

    Eric Metaxas – Does Science Argue for or against God? – (2015) video
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UjGPHF5A6Po

    “Reason and science compels us to see what previous generations could not: that our existence is an outrageous and astonishing miracle, one so startlingly and perhaps so disturbingly miraculous that it makes any miracle like the parting of the Red Sea pale in such insignificance that it almost becomes unworthy of our consideration, as though it were something done easily by a child, half-asleep. It is something to which the most truly human response is some combination of terror and wonder, of ancient awe, and childhood joy.”
     Eric Metaxas – Miracles – pages 55-56

    As you pointed out News, Davies goes on to suggest looking for ‘life as we do not know it’,,

    Nobody has seriously looked under our noses for life as we do not know it.

    I agree that we should look for ‘life as we do not know it’, but I suggest looking a little higher than the heavens and the earth for that new form of life

    Tyson: “Their (SETIs) goal is the ultimate prize in the life finding game. Someone out there we can talk to.”
    Shostak: “Nothing to do but sit here and wait for them to call.”
    (And exactly at that moment the phone rings right behind Shostak).
    Shostak: “And on cue they’ve called.”
    – quotes as stated at 11:22 minute mark – Where are the Aliens Origins Nova Neil Degrasse Tyson – video –
    https://youtu.be/t1ReViBCDOs?t=667

    God, who created heaven and earth, certainly does not hide from those who sincerely seek Him.
    I would think that personally hearing from the Creator of the universe would be a lot more exciting than not communicating with some little green men that in all realistic probability, given naturalism, do not even exist.

    Isaiah 45:18-19
    For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens, who is God, who formed the earth and made it, who established it, who did not create it in vain, who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other. I have not spoken in secret, in a dark place of the earth; I did not say to the seed of Jacob, ‘seek me in vain’; I, the Lord speak righteousness, I declare things that are right.”

    “All my discoveries have been made in an answer to prayer.”
    Sir Isaac Newton (1642 – 1727)

    Inventors – George Washington Carver
    Excerpt: “God gave them to me” he (Carver) would say about his ideas, “How can I sell them to someone else?”
    http://inventors.about.com/od/...../a/GWC.htm

    John 10:27
    “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.”

  2. 2
    bornagain77 says:

    semi OT:

    Sociological Survey Confirms the Dangers of a “Biological” View of Humanity – Richard Weikart – September 28, 2016
    Excerpt: He identified three main views of humanity that dominate the academic debate: the theological view, the biological view, and the philosophical view. The theological view is the Judeo-Christian position that considers humans created in the image of God. The biological view is a materialistic vision of humanity that considers humans nothing more than their biological makeup. This view tends to see human behavior as biologically determined. The philosophical view is the position that humans are defined by specific traits, such as rationality or self-awareness.,,,
    What he found was that people upholding the biological point of view (and the philosophical view) were less likely to support human rights than those embracing the theological perspective.
    He admits point blank that the critics (including me) are correct: “From the normative perspective of the critics, this all seems quite damning, and the conclusion is clear — the critics are correct to be concerned about the spread of these anthropologies”
    http://www.evolutionnews.org/2.....03175.html

  3. 3
    Otangelo Grasso says:

    The fifth miracle , book of Davies about the OOL would be one of the foremost ID books, if Davies would be coherent in the conclusions of the scientific evidence he presents in such a clear and succint manner. But since he is commited to naturalism, there is a strange abyss between the amazing evidence that points to design in his book, and his strange inferences and conclusions.

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