Cell biology Origin Of Life

The skinny on the minimal cell

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Closing our religion coverage for the week (a bit late again), from Biosemiosis at Discourse at BioLogos:

It is well known that Biologos has objections to the concept of design in biology (aka ID). I post the following short article as a conversation piece for those who agree with that assessment, or those who question it:

What JCVI has done, and is doing, is experimentally quantifying those requirements in terms of discrete function and numbers of base pairs. And this leads me to a couple of questions for those who profess (against massive physical evidence to the contrary) that this all came into being by naught (or whatever word you’d like to use).

Considering the list of functions that a minimal heterogeneous cell requires, at what point is translation – the organized expression of an informational medium — not required inside the cell? The translation of an informational medium enables the physical capacity to specify a thing among alternatives, and places it under temporal control. That is precisely what protein synthesis does. Translation also allows the system to control and produce effects and outcomes that are not determined by (and therefore not limited by) the physical properties of the molecules carrying the information. This discontinuity is itself the product of a specific organization, and the independence it imparts upon the system is what enables the full range of effects required to organize the cell. When is this capacity to specify a thing and produce effects (independent of the physical properties of the medium) not necessary to the formation of the heterogeneous cell?

Finally, when translation is organized in a system that uses combinatorial permutations as the means of encoding information (i.e. uses spatially-oriented representations and a reading-frame code) it gains the informational capacity required to describe itself in a transcribable memory. When is this not necessary to the formation of a heterogeneous cell? In other words, on what empirical grounds are we to say that Craig Venter can scratch off “the translation of information” from the genome? More.

The comment stream there is well worth reading too. Biosemiosis’s patient efforts to straighten things out are helpful for serious readers, if not for the commenters there.

A reader wrote to alert us of this piece, which appeared, substantially, at Uncommon Descent on April 29, noting that Biosemiosis holds his own at BioLogos against people with science backgrounds/posts, as well as the usual “science-fakers.”

Science fakers? The origin of information is a sort of asses’ bridge. Many genuinely do not understand what the problem is, though increasing numbers of others do. That is why many of the others are rethinking how evolution happens

File:A small cup of coffee.JPG Asses’ bridge? “Euclid’s fifth proposition in the first book of his Elements (that the base angles in an isosceles triangle are equal) may have been named the Bridge of Asses (Latin: Pons Asinorum) for medieval students who, clearly not destined to cross over into more abstract mathematics, had difficulty understanding the proof—or even the need for the proof.” So it is with some people and the origin of information in nature.

See also: Venter’s minimal cell is, be it noted, a parasite

An encounter with a critic of biological semiosis

and

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

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11 Replies to “The skinny on the minimal cell

  1. 1
    bornagain77 says:

    crev.info highlighted a couple of humorous quotes on the ‘minimal cell’

    Minimal Cell Challenges Naturalism – March 26, 2016
    Excerpt: “If we’re already playing God, we’re not doing a particularly good job of it,” Elfick says. “Simply streamlining what’s already in nature doesn’t seem very God-like and, if anything, is a very humbling exercise.”
    Venter also felt the humility vibes, according to Live Science:
    “We’re showing how complex life is even in the simplest of organisms,” said Craig Venter, founder and CEO of the J. Craig Venter Institute (JCVI), where the study was completed. “These findings are very humbling in that regard.”
    http://crev.info/2016/03/minim.....aturalism/

    What caught my attention personally, since it, as bad as OOL is for naturalists to explain, hinted at multiple origins of life, was this comment:

    Microbe with stripped-down DNA may hint at secrets of life – March 24, 2016 by Malcolm Ritter
    Excerpt: The genome is not some one-and-only minimal set of genes needed for life itself. For one thing, if the researchers had pared DNA from a different bacterium they would probably have ended up with a different set of genes. For another, the minimum genome an organism needs depends on the environment in which it lives.
    http://phys.org/news/2016-03-m.....crets.html

  2. 2

    Willfully blind atheists/Darwinists will never accept a Designer. No matter how overwhelming the evidence is, they will always choose to believe in some yet-to-be-discovered unguided natural process. They are willfully blind and will remain so into eternity where wailing and gnashing of teeth await them.

  3. 3
    Zachriel says:

    The comment stream there is well worth reading too.

    Biosemiosis: No one will ever demonstrate what happened in the deep unobservable past, because its not possible to do so.

    Dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

  4. 4
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: Dinosaurs roamed the Earth.

    So?

  5. 5
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: So?

    A hundred million years ago is presumably “the deep unobservable past”. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth is a demonstrable happening from the time.

  6. 6

    BTW, for those interested, here is a fairly recent link listing over 3,000 scientists who doubt Darwinism. The chilling effect of atheist/Darwinist propaganda is clearly wearing off. These are good times indeed!!

    http://www.rae.org/pdf/darwinskeptics.pdf

  7. 7
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: A hundred million years ago is presumably “the deep unobservable past”. Dinosaurs roamed the Earth is a demonstrable happening from the time.

    So you are claiming you can observe the past? That’s quite the assertion, even for you.

    Bacteria roamed the earth too. Far longer than dinosaurs. Did you observe them as well?

  8. 8
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: So you are claiming you can observe the past?

    Try rereading the comment. We can *demonstrate* some things that happened in the *unobservable* past.

  9. 9
    Phinehas says:

    Well I know my faith in Biosemiosis and the claims he made in his article have been totally undermined by Z’s irrefutable “gotcha.” I think it’s safe to say we can totally ignore anything substantive that might have been said prior, while basking in complete and utter intellectual fulfillment to be sure.

  10. 10
    Mung says:

    Zachriel: Try rereading the comment. We can *demonstrate* some things that happened in the *unobservable* past.

    First, you don’t understand the difference between a demonstration and an inference.

    Second, you’ve just admitted that your comment isn’t in any manner a rebuttal of the comment that you were responding to.

    Do try to do better. Please.

  11. 11
    Zachriel says:

    Mung: First, you don’t understand the difference between a demonstration and an inference.

    Dinosaur fossils *demonstrate* the previous existence of dinosaurs.

    demonstrate, clearly show the existence or truth of (something) by giving proof or evidence

    Mung: Second, you’ve just admitted that your comment isn’t in any manner a rebuttal of the comment that you were responding to.

    In fact, our comment directly rebuts the claim. Here is sample evidence (thousands more available upon request):
    https://img.ksl.com/slc/2502/250276/25027652.JPG

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