Origin Of Life

RNA World deflated?

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In “Astrobiology: Life’s beginnings” (Nature 476, 30–31, 04 August 2011), origin of life expert Robert Shapiro tells us “that laboratory experiments don’t always translate to nature”:

Deamer’s thesis diverges from the standard RNA-world concept. He focuses not on the generation of a naked RNA-like polymer, but on the formation of a simple cell-like compartment, or vesicle. Modern cells are enclosed by a complex fatty membrane, which prevents leakage. Vesicles with similar properties have been formed in the lab from certain fatty acids. Deamer holds that the spontaneous formation of vesicles, into which RNA could be incorporated, was a crucial step in life’s origin. Unfortunately, his theory retains the improbable generation of self-replicating polymers such as RNA.
Nevertheless, Deamer’s insight deflates the synthetic proofs put forward in numerous papers supporting the RNA world. He ends First Life by calling for the construction of a new set of biochemical simulators that match more closely the conditions on the early Earth. Unfortunately, the chemicals that he suggests for inclusion are drawn from modern biology, not from ancient geochemistry. We should let nature inform us, rather than pasting our ideas onto her.

But surely nature only exists to front atheist cosmology?

28 Replies to “RNA World deflated?

  1. 1

    I love OOL research — it is truly fascinating. It is also noteworthy that at every turn we seem to run up against an intractable problem for the materialist creation story.

  2. 2
    David W. Gibson says:

    Uh, what IS the materialist creation story? Apparently, OOL research hasn’t reached the point where any such story can hold together.

    The best we can say right now, according to what I have read, is that ONE possibility is that somehow, natural processes eventually resulted in life as we would recognize it. But we have no idea how.

    And of course, another possibility is that life was intentially designed by some supernatural agency for some purpose.

    As I read it, the first proposal can be tested (and is being tested), but there’s a long way to go. The second proposal can never be ruled out. EVEN if some huge breakthrough produces life in a test tube, this isn’t proof that’s the pathway life actually took. Or maybe our universe is just a big test tube…

  3. 3

    “. . . is that somehow, natural processes eventually resulted in life as we would recognize it. But we have no idea how.”

    Agreed. And that is essentially a miracle story.

    Your last paragraph is interesting. If the second proposal can never be ruled out, does that also apply to the first proposal? What would be needed to rule out the first proposal?

  4. 4
    Eocene says:

    Eric anderson:

    “What would be needed to rule out the first proposal?”
    ====

    Off hand I’d say “Armageddon”. Until that day comes, this thing(Dice Theory) will never die a slow death. It will simply morph into whatever the believer of it wishes when under great pressure to reply in any good combat forum.

  5. 5
    Eocene says:

    “origin of life expert Robert Shapiro tells us “that laboratory experiments don’t always translate to nature”
    ======

    Of course they don’t translate to the reality found in nature. According to the biased worldview which insists in “No Intelligence Allowed” , such a set up is no doubt impossible to dismiss the intelligent designing, rigging and manipulating fingerprints of the scientist..
    —-

    “He ends First Life by calling for the construction of a new set of biochemical simulators that match more closely the conditions on the early Earth”
    ====

    Anybody got a “Time Machine” to go back and observe what the primitive conditions were on an early Earth ??? This was the problem for the Miller-Urey experiments which ended up proving nothing more than reasons for which Intelligent Fingerprints are necessary.

    Even the “Royal It” lost on this discussion back in Cornelius’ blog when pimping clay as being the first membrane to already existing RNA.

  6. 6
    Joseph says:

    David W Gibson:

    And of course, another possibility is that life was intentially designed by some supernatural agency for some purpose.

    And then again it didn’t have to be a supernatural agency.

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    what IS the materialist creation story?

    Anything but God.

  8. 8
    Mung says:

    David W. Gibson:

    The best we can say right now, according to what I have read, is that ONE possibility is that somehow, natural processes eventually resulted in life as we would recognize it. But we have no idea how.

    So what you’ve read so far has convinced you that it’s possible that somehow, natural processes eventually resulted in life as we would recognize it?

    Are you one of those who believe that with Nature, all things are possible?

    Why are you so sure it’s even within the realm of the possible?

  9. 9
    Mung says:

    David W. Gibson:

    As I read it, the first proposal can be tested (and is being tested), but there’s a long way to go. The second proposal can never be ruled out. EVEN if some huge breakthrough produces life in a test tube, this isn’t proof that’s the pathway life actually took.

    How on earth would you ever test your first proposal? How can your first proposal ever be ruled out?

    If life is created in the lab it will demonstrate that the second proposal is at least a possibility, it won’t tell us anything about the first.

    Man, do you ever have it exactly backwards.

  10. 10
    material.infantacy says:

    A probability of 1 in 10^10^10 is not zero, therefore it’s entirely possible, even likely, given that the alternative is unscientific.
    _______

    As hinted at in #3, its the first proposal which can never be ruled out.

    The second proposal corresponds to what we observe today. Barring a valid materialistic account for the OOL, we have excellent reasons for ruling in favor of the second proposal, on strictly empirical grounds.

  11. 11
    lastyearon says:

    Just because we don’t know how something happened, doesn’t make it reasonable to suggest that there was supernatural cause. Consider this question:

    How did your great great great grandfather meet your great great great grandmother?

    Is it possible to ever conclusively answer this question? Probably not. De we therefore posit that it was a miracle?

  12. 12
    lastyearon says:

    A couple more important similarities between the OOL example and mine in the comment above:

    That it even happened is extremely unlikely.

    You would not exist if it hadn’t.

  13. 13
    lastyearon says:

    material.infantacy,

    The second proposal corresponds to what we observe today.

    Really? We observe supernatural agencies today?

  14. 14
    material.infantacy says:

    Just because we don’t know how something happened
    [my emphasis]

    We have two real options: 1) Life came about via chance and necessity; 2) It was designed.

    One of these has empirical support today, and the other one has a probability less than* the chance of selecting a single predetermined atom from the universe.

    The only reason to rule out design is an absurd prejudice against life having a designer.**

    * You’d have a much better chance of selecting a predetermined atom from the universe.

    ** There’s no reason to ASSUME the designer of life is supernatural, yet everyone seems to realize the implications well enough to rule against the supernatural.

  15. 15
    material.infantacy says:

    RE #13, see #14.

  16. 16
    material.infantacy says:

    You would not exist if it hadn’t.

    This is also known as question begging. It requires the assumption that what you propose is the correct account, in order to demonstrate that what you propose is the correct account.

    m.i.

  17. 17
    lastyearon says:

    If, as you say, it is extremely improbable that life came about via chance and necessity, then it was even more highly improbable that two very specific living organisms came together at a specific time billions of years later, right?

    So by your own logic, your great great great grandparents meeting must have been by design.

  18. 18
    Upright BiPed says:

    LYO…please read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six.

    Do you understand the distinction between basing your judgements upon the evidence itself, versus basing it upon implications which you personally dislike?

    Re-read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six.

    Let it sink in LYO, you are making your judgement based upon your personal distaste of POSSIBLE IMPLICATIONS, not upon the actual evidence itself, and not upon our universal experience with such evidence.

    Do you know what “universal experience” means? Do you kow what an “ideologue” is? Do you know which of these is most closely tied to successful science?

    Re-read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six. Re-read Joseph at number six.

  19. 19
    material.infantacy says:

    lastyearon,

    “If, as you say, it is extremely improbable that life came about via chance and necessity, then it was even more highly improbable that two very specific living organisms came together at a specific time billions of years later, right?”

    I’m not sure I follow your logic.

    “So by your own logic, your great great great grandparents meeting must have been by design.”

    I certainly wouldn’t rule it out.

  20. 20
    material.infantacy says:

    A side comment: lastyearon suggests that if what we observe in living systems is designed, it implicates a supernatural entity.

    At the risk of inflaming anti-religous zeal: Does this bring Romans 1:20 to mind for anyone else?

    “For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.” Romans 1:20 NIV

  21. 21
    lastyearon says:

    Upright,
    Who are you trying to convince when you imply that the Intelligent Designer could have been an alien ? Do you think it could have been? Does anyone

  22. 22
    Upright BiPed says:

    You still got it backwards, LYO.

    You dont answer the question “is it designed” by deciding if you like the idea.

  23. 23
    Mung says:

    LYO, after you’ve read Joseph at number 6, could you tell us what he wrote, in your own words?

    So by your own logic, your great great great grandparents meeting must have been by design.

    Um, no. That’s not where logic would lead you.

    Try again.

    Once you get the logic right maybe there will be something worth talking about.

  24. 24
    lastyearon says:

    Mung,
    In comment #6 Joseph is saying that the Intelligent Designer doesn’t have to be supernatural. In other words, life on earth could have been designed by very advanced aliens.

    My response is that no one here really believes that, and in fact by the definition of ID, a natural intelligent designer is impossible. If “Chance and necessity” couldn’t have produced life on earth, they certainly couldn’t have produced the even more complex aliens that supposedly produced us. So positing a natural designer of us just pushes the question back one step.

  25. 25
    lastyearon says:

    Mung,

    Um, no. That’s not where logic would lead you.

    That’s where material.infantacy’s logic would lead us. He’s saying that a natural OOL is atronomically improbable. Therefore a more plausable explanation is divine intervention. The same can be said about his ancestors meeting. In fact any even that has ever occurred in the universe is extremely improbable. But that doesn’t warrant positing divine intervention.

  26. 26
    lastyearon says:

    Mung,

    Um, no. That’s not where logic would lead you.

    That’s where material.infantacy’s logic would lead us. He’s saying that a natural OOL is atronomically improbable. Therefore a more plausable explanation is divine intervention. The same can be said about his ancestors meeting. In fact any event that has ever occurred in the universe is extremely improbable. But that doesn’t warrant positing divine intervention.

  27. 27
    Mung says:

    lastyearon:

    …and in fact by the definition of ID, a natural intelligent designer is impossible.

    What ID source can you cite which states that humans are non-natural entities?

    Or do you dispute that humans are intelligent designers?

  28. 28
    Mung says:

    lastyearon:

    He’s saying that a natural OOL is atronomically improbable. Therefore a more plausable explanation is divine intervention.

    I seriously doubt that is his argument, as that would be illogical.

    But what I find so amusing is that instead of asserting that his argument is illogical, you use the exact same form of argument to try to counter his argument.

    How bizarre is that?

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