Origin Of Life

Serious questions raised in journal around origin-of-life claims

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A friend sends word of a an open-access paper at BioEssays (p. 4, emphasis added):

… there is an open, ongoing debate on whether prebiotic reactions to produce the first biomolecules, the basic building blocks for life (e.g., amino acids, lipids, nucleosides), should resemble current metabolic pathways or be completely different. This resonates with some classical controversies among defenders of the heterotrophic versus autotrophic nature of the first metabolisms. The question may not have an “all-or-none” answer….In principle, nobody can refute the possibility that the beginnings were, indeed, very different. However, it is harder to prove that case, because one must demonstrate, on top of the geological likelihood of such a divergent, primitive chemistry, what would be, then, the sequence of evolutionary steps required to converge towards extant biochemical pathways. The common justification that “natural selection would do the job, one way or another” is not tenable as a scientific argument, and less so the further away the corresponding chemistries stand from each other.

Nino Lauber, Christoph Flamm, Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, “Minimal metabolism”: A key concept to investigate the origins and nature of biological systems, 23 August 2021

From the conclusions (p. 9):

Understanding subsequent transitions towards genetically-instructed metabolisms (i.e., real, much more robust and efficient, full-fledged metabolisms) will not be easy, either. How on earth could these complex systems (complex but natural systems, after all) bring about a translation apparatus, for instance (with ribosomes, genetic code, etc.)… is simply mind-blowing. Nevertheless, what appears crystal clear to us is that a translation apparatus would make, literally, no sense without metabolism.

Nino Lauber, Christoph Flamm, Kepa Ruiz-Mirazo, “Minimal metabolism”: A key concept to investigate the origins and nature of biological systems, 23 August 2021

Imagine these kinds of objections being made to origin of life claims in a science journal!: “The common justification that “natural selection would do the job, one way or another” is not tenable as a scientific argument, and less so the further away the corresponding chemistries stand from each other.” Isn’t this heresy? Natural selection is supposed to be omnicompetent.

35 Replies to “Serious questions raised in journal around origin-of-life claims

  1. 1

    “The common justification that “natural selection would do the job, one way or another” is not tenable as a scientific argument, and less so the further away the corresponding chemistries stand from each other.“

    It should be stunningly obvious at this point that atheism is a faith-based philosophical worldview… not a scientific argument.

    “How on earth could these complex systems (complex but natural systems, after all) bring about a translation apparatus, for instance (with ribosomes, genetic code, etc.)… is simply mind-blowing.”

    Mind-blowing, indeed. Some might even call it UNBELIEVABLE.

  2. 2
    Seversky says:

    If you have a better explanation – and by “better” I mean more than just ‘God/alien designer did it’ – then, by all means, bring it on.

  3. 3
    kairosfocus says:

    Sev, really. You need to explain where and when and with replicability, it was shown that complex alphanumeric codes [2 state is fine, no need for 4 state as in the cell], expressing algorithms and associated storage and executing machinery can and do come about by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity. Meanwhile the best explanation for codes beyond 500 – 1,000 bits [language!] and algorithms [goal-directed, stepwise finite procedures] is design. Indeed, to observe such is compelling evidence of design thus pointing to designer[s], the known source of intelligently directed configuration. What I find in your objection is ideological prejudice dressed up in a lab coat. The cell is a strong sign of design of life and its replication facility, ever since Paley’s second chapter, is a further sign of marvellous contrivance. KF

  4. 4
    aarceng says:

    If you have a better explanation – other than one I refuse to accept – then, by all means, bring it on.

  5. 5
    Latemarch says:

    Sev,
    You might want to wander around this site for a bit and then come back and tell us all about how this comes about thru chance and natural selection.

  6. 6
    ET says:

    Earth to seversky- If you and yours had the evidence and the science- something beyond some unknown naturalistic processes did something- ID would have been a non-starter. We understand that it hurts that all you have is bluffing, lying and equivocating.

  7. 7
    AnimatedDust says:

    Latemarch, Sev has been here for years. He’s a regular. He knows the evidence. Yet, for some reasons, his preferences as to reality always win out. That’s fine, but one day, reality isn’t going to succumb to his preferences. The reverse, however…

  8. 8
    AaronS1978 says:

    Sev’s better explanation is “accidents happen, natural selection”

  9. 9
    martin_r says:

    Kairofocus @3
    You forgot to mention the most important cell feature, DNA proofreading and repair mechanisms … without this feature -NO LIFE

  10. 10
    Silver Asiatic says:

    KF

    expressing algorithms and associated storage and executing machinery can and do come about by blind chance and/or mechanical necessity

    Even the simplest exercise of changing a Twitter tweet to something meaningful through random mutation is beyond what blind materialism can do. Dawkins tried it with his Weasel program, but that was fraudulent. Within 10 mutations and with no repair mechanism (and no locking feature to preserve positive mutations) there is gibberish.

    The idea that positive mutations will necessarily be fixed in a population is also bogus, given changing environmental conditions that can render a would-be positive to a negative over the course of a few years.

  11. 11
    kairosfocus says:

    SA a tweet of 143 characters is 1,000 bits. KF

  12. 12
    jerry says:

    If you have a better explanation – and by “better” I mean more than just ‘God/alien designer did it’ – then, by all means, bring it on.

    This an example of the begging the question fallacy.

  13. 13
    Fasteddious says:

    It seems that – finally – Darwinism is being chipped and pared away by a thousand little cuts from researchers who still believe in Darwinism. So far the cuts are not (officially) deep enough to be fatal, but full-scale Darwinism is clearly on life support now. At some point, big science will stop pushing it and it will be allowed to fade away. Much later, Darwinism will be recognized as a largely failed historical theory from the past, superseded by a better theory – perhaps one that actually recognizes an ID role.

  14. 14
    Latemarch says:

    AD@7
    “That’s fine, but one day, reality isn’t going to succumb to his preferences. The reverse, however…”

    That’s why I directed him to Digizymes Landscapes. It was unfortunately hidden well in my post by the HTML. No one can unsee that.

  15. 15
    martin_r says:

    I put the following question recently, but let me repeated it:

    I never understood, what OOL-researches actually expect…
    Do they really expect, that when they mix some chemicals, shaking it a little, then heating it up, then cooling it down (or vice versa), that then suddenly thousands of parts/molecules start working in concert for a purpose as we see it inside the cell?

    Perhaps Seversky can answer…

  16. 16
    Latemarch says:

    Martin@15

    I never understood, what OOL-researches actually expect…
    Do they really expect, that when they mix some chemicals, shaking it a little, then heating it up, then cooling it down (or vice versa), that then suddenly thousands of parts/molecules start working in concert for a purpose as we see it inside the cell?

    Short little Gedankenexperiment.
    Take a vat of bacteria. Sonicate gently to break the cell membranes. Now all the parts for life are present. Enzymes still intact. DNA. RNA. Even the membranes are still present. The perfect primordial soup. How long will you wait for life to arise?

  17. 17
    martin_r says:

    Latemarch,

    Exactly !

    Or, lets keep the cell membrane intact… but lets use a cell which just died, everything is in place…. and try to revive it … make life from it again …. obviously, this is beyond chemistry …. the approach they take is very naive and primitive… darwinian naive ….

  18. 18
    hoosfoos says:

    Sev claims that to simply state that God or an alien designed life stops science. Whatever are OOL researchers to do if life didn’t originate and advance by a set of small incremental steps driven by random mutations.

    Alternatively, one can ask the question: Did life on earth originate and evolve by happenstance, or was life planted on earth. Is earthly life an accident or was earth terraformed? How would you tell the difference? The complexity of life exhausts the probabilistic resources of the planet. Life on earth is not an accident. Earth was terraformed.

    This changes the research program. Some of the new questions are:
    What was the process of terraforming?
    By what means was it accomplished?
    What was the purpose of terraforming?
    Who did the terraforming?
    What can we learn about a terraformed earth that enables us to terraform other planets?

  19. 19
    TAMMIE LEE HAYNES says:

    Dear Mr. Martin_r
    Thanks for the wonderful post. What indeed were they thinking?

    You asked “”Do they really expect, that when they mix some chemicals, shaking it a little, then heating it up, then cooling it down (or vice versa), that then suddenly thousands of parts/molecules start working in concert for a purpose as we see it inside the cell?

    Yes, that is exactly what they expect. or at least they claim to.
    its because they are Atheists.
    And to To a convinced Atheist, that is the ONLY possible explanation for the origin of life.

    Given their agenda Atheists cant accept what is the Settled Science*. That is, the Creationist Law of Biogenesis. “Absent a divine miracle, life comes only from life.”

    Put yourself in their shoes. If you accept the Settled Science, which says that God made the first living thing, and then tell people you’re still an Atheist, you look like a goof.

    But if you accept that same Settled Science and then do what’s rational, which is to become a Creationist, your colleagues will think you’re a hick and that you like Trump and then you wont get funding. No more gravy train. Cant have that.

    So you do what you got to do. You 1)deny the Settled Science, 2) put out lies to billions of students such as “Miller and Urey made the building blocks of life”, and , 3) use raw power to crush dissent.

    Of course nowadays, the cover is blown. Creationism is back in the catbird seat. Worse, the Creationists are laughing at you. And all you can do is to keep the lies flowing, hoping you can milk it through to retirement.

    *A Settled Scientific Law must be 10 consistent with all credible empirical evidence, 2) be falsifiable and principle, but 3) never falsified in practice. An example is the Creationist Law of Biogenesis

  20. 20

    Seversky@2: We both know that sharing my “better explanation” with you would be a waste of time. If Stephen Meyer, James Tour, Michael Behe, and many others, can’t convince you, then I certainly can’t. I don’t even have the desire to try.

  21. 21
    EvilSnack says:

    It’s really ironic that the people whose argument is never more than a re-wording of “Darwin did it” so consistently decry design theory as “God did it.”

  22. 22
    Belfast says:

    You repeat some truly stupid things, Seversky.
    Darwinists demand that those who disagree with their position must provide a better theory.
    But a theory unsupported with reason, with a shambles of a fossil record that does not show the millions of transitional forms – the very thing that Darwin said would prove his theory – is entitled to no respect. As Feynman said, if the theory disagrees with facts, it doesn’t matter how beautiful it is or who said it – it’s wrong.
    There is NO responsibility to provide a better one.
    The contrary is correct – it is up to you to respond to the criticism; failure to do so constitutes acceptance.

  23. 23

    Actually Seversky is simply right, intelligent design theorists should provide some other theory. Theories about how precisely sophisticated decisonmaking processes (intelligent design) formed living organisms.

  24. 24
    Querius says:

    Mohammadnursyamsu @23,

    Actually Seversky is simply right, intelligent design theorists should provide some other theory.

    No, he’s simply (or confusingly) wrong. Intelligent Design is a paradigm asserting that the presumption of design is pragmatically better (as in advancing science faster) than the presumption of random changes with many predictably non-functional (junk) or vestigial outcomes.

    There are too many examples to keep listing them here. ID deniers ignore them anyway.

    -Q

  25. 25
    ET says:

    M:

    Theories about how precisely sophisticated decisonmaking processes (intelligent design) formed living organisms.

    Today’s scientists don’t even know what it takes to produce life. We would have an easier time getting an answer by asking isolated Amazonian tribes to tell us how precisely sophisticated decision making processes (intelligent design) formed cell phones.

  26. 26

    @querius If someone has intellectual curiosity about the first origins of organisms, then they should just investigate and formulate hypothesis about it. It is certainly better to try something, than do nothing.

  27. 27
    tjguy says:

    @2 Seversky says: “If you have a better explanation – and by “better” I mean more than just ‘God/alien designer did it’ – then, by all means, bring it on.”

    A surprising response from someone who thinks science is the be all and end all of everything. This is NOT a scientific statement. It’s not logical either.

    The best of a whole bunch of faulty ideas does not make it any more likely to be true. I understand why you are sensitive to criticism in this area because without the solution to OoL, you got nuthin’. But I think your bias makes you far less critical of hypotheses.

    Right. It is impossible to prove this new idea, but then it’s also impossible to prove that life evolved all on it’s own from random dead purposeless chemicals.

    No one knows if it happened or not. Life exists, but that does not automatically mean that it evolved. In your worldview, and in science, that is the only option available to you so sure, you believe it, but that doesn’t make it true. You cannot prove your worldview so in the end, both sides are left with beliefs.

    The more we learn about life, the more difficult it is to maintain faith in the abilities of random blind purposeless chemicals. At least, that is how I see it. No one could fault anyone – after looking at the data – for thinking it fits well with a supernatural creation event.

    You might think there is a “scientific” answer for everything, but that is just your belief. And this belief cannot be established scientifically. How ironic is that?!!

  28. 28
    Lieutenant Commander Data says:

    People can’t formulate theories about life because are too dumb to understand what life is and those processes by which life appears are far too intelligent for our understanding.
    Of course are people who try to appear intelligent (OoL “scientists”) but all they do is to make us laugh.

  29. 29
    jerry says:

    If God created the universe and somehow set in motion life and its many ramifications, either by direct intervention or a series of events that led to life as we see it, would such a God want us to be absolutely sure He did it?

    If the answer is yes, would our lives be meaningful? If the answer is no, would it be just as we see it today?

    Severesky commits the logical fallacy of begging the question. He assumes something to be true that actually needs demonstration. He has no proof that there is no creator that could have created the, universe, life and all of life’s modern complexities. He assumes it to be true but cannot justify such a belief.

  30. 30
    Querius says:

    Mohammadnursyamsu @26

    @querius If someone has intellectual curiosity about the first origins of organisms, then they should just investigate and formulate hypothesis about it. It is certainly better to try something, than do nothing.

    Yes, of course. Should they then presuppose that functionality is the result of Intelligent Design, or should they presuppose that functionality emerges from random junk? Which of these presuppositions promotes faster advancement in science?

    Bear in mind that what’s been touted as “science” once adamantly advocated “spontaneous generation” of life, human evolutionary “white supremacy,” “vestigial” organs, undifferentiated “protoplasm,” and “junk” DNA.

    Let’s assume your wife recently gave birth (congratulations). Would you think from observational evidence that your new baby was formed by amazingly complex design instructions, or would you presuppose that your new baby was formed by random chance?

    -Q

  31. 31
    Querius says:

    Latemarch @14,
    Wow, your link to https://www.digizyme.com/cst_landscapes.html is amazing! What I missed at first is that a mouse rollover on the smaller images highlights the communication components.

    And just to think that at one time, all of this was assumed to be undifferentiated “protoplasm,” a sort of cellular jello.

    Even in many biology texts today, there are references to “simple” cells. It doesn’t look very simple to me. In fact, all protective, metabolic, growth, reproductive, and repair functions is the sole responsibility of each such “simple” cells that are in fact more complex than any human city.

    Thanks for posting it.

    -Q

  32. 32
    Latemarch says:

    Querius@31

    Yes, and click on one of the small frames to enlarge and then explore the pathways box in the upper left. It just gets better and better.

    Sev thinks this all just happens.

  33. 33
    jerry says:

    thinks this all just happens.

    Stephen Blume discusses this in his book “Evo-ilusion.” The cell is incredibly complicated but there is no control center telling all those parts what to do. At least they cannot find it.

    The myth/Illusion portrayed by modern science is that DNA is the master controller of life when in fact it is a significant but minor player.

  34. 34
    martin_r says:

    Latemarch

    It is somehow ironic, that thank to Darwinian high-end technology (e.g these animations) is my Faith getting stronger

  35. 35
    Silver Asiatic says:

    martin_r

    Or, lets keep the cell membrane intact… but lets use a cell which just died, everything is in place…. and try to revive it … make life from it again …. obviously, this is beyond chemistry …. the approach they take is very naive and primitive… darwinian naive ….

    I immediately thought of Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein.
    Then today’s ID The Future podcast with Neil Thomas references that along with Miller Urey

    https://idthefuture.com/1495/
    Frankenstein @ 27:30
    Miller Urey @ 30:00

    https://idthefuture.com/1495/

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