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The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life First, it isn’t about Nick Lane or his new book. It is more about the pop science culture in which this stuff originates:

The Vital Question: Why is life the way it is? is a new book by Nick Lane that is due out on April 23rd. His question is not one for a static answer but rather one for a series of ever sharper explanations—explanations that apply at different resolutions to specific increments in the continuous chain of life, to the whole, and to generalizations of the process to other instances. For example, we might now boldly assert that an explanation for whether life evolved, or could have evolved, in the same way more than once on our own planet might also describe the same for any other planet. In reading Nick’s staggeringly broad and indelible new synthesis, we reach the conclusion that in it’s most rough top-level form this explanation must be that any sufficiently advanced chemiosmotic geochemistry is indistinguishable from life. More.

Actually, we do not know if there has ever been any life anywhere except on our planet.
See also: Why origin of life remains a problem.

It's always possible to calculate Big Numbers. It just depends on the initial assumptions. BA77, for example, is an absolutely unique arrangement of uncounted trillions of sub-atomic particles. Ask one your more mathematically-inclined fellows to estimate the a priori probability of your specific pattern of matter and energy at this particular point in space and time. Yet here you are and, as far as I know, you were not designed. You are the outcome of certain perfectly natural processes just like the more than seven billion other naturally-produced, hugely-improbable patterns of matter and energy that infest this planet as well. Seversky
The possibility of life is also a problem. It makes a big difference if the probability is 1/10 or 1/10^12. I'm not sure how anyone would determine this probability. Maybe something like the Miller-Urey experiment can be left running for a long long time or repeated lots of times. ;-) Or better yet, start with something like bacteria, keeping them irradiated at some high level but below their LD 50/30 (to represent millions of years in a short time) and see what evolves and at what rate. Edit: Wow, a lot of people responded as I was writing this. -Q Querius
An even more realistic probabilistic number than Stephen Meyer's 10 to the 41,000 number comes from working from the thermodynamic perspective: Professor Harold Morowitz shows the Origin of Life 'problem' escalates dramatically over the 1 in 10^41,000 figure when working from a thermodynamic perspective:
"The probability for the chance of formation of the smallest, simplest form of living organism known is 1 in 10^340,000,000. This number is 10 to the 340 millionth power! The size of this figure is truly staggering since there is only supposed to be approximately 10^80 (10 to the 80th power) electrons in the whole universe!" (Professor Harold Morowitz, Energy Flow In Biology pg. 99, Biophysicist of George Mason University)
Dr. Morowitz did another probability calculation working from the thermodynamic perspective with a already existing cell and came up with this number:
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 (also of note: 1 with 100 billion zeros following would fill approx. 20,000 encyclopedias) http://members.tripod.com/~Black_J/chance.html Punctured cell will never reassemble - Jonathan Wells - 2:40 mark of video http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WKoiivfe_mo
Also of interest is the information content that is derived from a 'simple' cell when working from a thermodynamic perspective:
“a one-celled bacterium, e. coli, is estimated to contain the equivalent of 100 million pages of Encyclopedia Britannica. Expressed in information in science jargon, this would be the same as 10^12 bits of information. In comparison, the total writings from classical Greek Civilization is only 10^9 bits, and the largest libraries in the world – The British Museum, Oxford Bodleian Library, New York Public Library, Harvard Widenier Library, and the Moscow Lenin Library – have about 10 million volumes or 10^12 bits.” – R. C. Wysong
For calculations for information content of a 'simple cell', from the thermodynamic perspective, please see the following site:
Biophysics – Information theory. Relation between information and entropy: - Setlow-Pollard, Ed. Addison Wesley Excerpt: Linschitz gave the figure 9.3 x 10^12 cal/deg or 9.3 x 10^12 x 4.2 joules/deg for the entropy of a bacterial cell. Using the relation H = S/(k In 2), we find that the information content is 4 x 10^12 bits. Morowitz' deduction from the work of Bayne-Jones and Rhees gives the lower value of 5.6 x 10^11 bits, which is still in the neighborhood of 10^12 bits. Thus two quite different approaches give rather concordant figures. https://docs.google.com/document/d/18hO1bteXTPOqQtd2H12PI5wFFoTjwg8uBAU5N0nEQIE/edit
If Origin of Life scientists truly want to know where life comes from, I strongly suggest they look to the One who died on the cross for our sins and then rose back to life again as a propitiation for our sins:
John 1:1-4 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. 1 Corinthians 6:20 you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your bodies. Empty (Empty Cross Empty Tomb) with Dan Haseltine Matt Hammitt - music http://www.godtube.com/watch/?v=F22MCCNU Shroud Of Turin – Photographic Negative – 3D Quantum Hologram – The Lamb – video https://vimeo.com/122495080 G.O.S.P.E.L. – (the grace of propitiation) poetry slam – video https://vimeo.com/20960385
Seversky states: "The origin of life remains a problem, yes, but it doesn’t affect the question of how widespread life is in this universe." That statement directly contradicts itself. As pointed out to you yesterday, the probability of biological life 'spontaneously' forming in the universe has a direct bearing on whether it is probable biological life 'spontaneously' appeared even once in the universe, much less multiple times:
Signature In The Cell - Review Excerpt: Even if you grant the most generous assumptions: that every elementary particle in the observable universe is a chemical laboratory randomly splicing amino acids into proteins every Planck time for the entire history of the universe, there is a vanishingly small probability that even a single functionally folded protein of 150 amino acids would have been created. http://www.fourmilab.ch/documents/reading_list/indices/book_726.html Evolution vs. Functional Proteins ("Mount Improbable") - Doug Axe and Stephen Meyer – Video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7rgainpMXa8 Minimal Complexity Relegates Life Origin Models To Fanciful Speculation - Nov. 2009 Excerpt: Based on the structural requirements of enzyme activity Axe emphatically argued against a global-ascent model of the function landscape in which incremental improvements of an arbitrary starting sequence "lead to a globally optimal final sequence with reasonably high probability". For a protein made from scratch in a prebiotic soup, the odds of finding such globally optimal solutions are infinitesimally small- somewhere between 1 in 10exp140 and 1 in 10exp164 for a 150 amino acid long sequence if we factor in the probabilities of forming peptide bonds and of incorporating only left handed amino acids. http://www.arn.org/blogs/index.php/2/2009/11/10/minimal_complexity_relegates_life_origin The Case Against a Darwinian Origin of Protein Folds - Douglas Axe - 2010 Excerpt Pg. 11: "Based on analysis of the genomes of 447 bacterial species, the projected number of different domain structures per species averages 991. Comparing this to the number of pathways by which metabolic processes are carried out, which is around 263 for E. coli, provides a rough figure of three or four new domain folds being needed, on average, for every new metabolic pathway. In order to accomplish this successfully, an evolutionary search would need to be capable of locating sequences that amount to anything from one in 10^159 to one in 10^308 possibilities, something the neo-Darwinian model falls short of by a very wide margin." http://bio-complexity.org/ojs/index.php/main/article/view/BIO-C.2010.1
Even the low end 'hypothetical' probability estimate given by a evolutionist, for life spontaneously arising in the universe, is fantastically impossible and outstrips the probabilistic resources of the entire universe. Since the probabilistic resources of the entire universe are exhausted in his overly optimistic model, Dr. Koonin appeals to ‘Many-Worlds’:
General and Special Evidence for Intelligent Design in Biology: - The requirements for the emergence of a primitive, coupled replication-translation system, which is considered a candidate for the breakthrough stage in this paper, are much greater. At a minimum, spontaneous formation of: - two rRNAs with a total size of at least 1000 nucleotides - ~10 primitive adaptors of ~30 nucleotides each, in total, ~300 nucleotides - at least one RNA encoding a replicase, ~500 nucleotides (low bound) is required. In the above notation, n = 1800, resulting in E less than 10^-1018. That is, the chance of life occurring by natural processes is 1 in 10 followed by 1018 zeros. (Koonin's intent was to show that short of postulating a multiverse of an infinite number of universes (Many Worlds), the chance of life occurring on earth is vanishingly small.) http://www.conservapedia.com/General_and_Special_Evidence_for_Intelligent_Design_in_Biology The cosmological model of eternal inflation and the transition from chance to biological evolution in the history of life - Eugene V Koonin http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1892545/
Dr. Paul Giem did a lecture on Dr. Koonin’s paper. It is found that Eugene Koonin’s estimates are overly optimistic. It is almost comical to learn the erroneous optimistic assumptions that are revealed to have been made by Dr. Koonin to get his ‘low’ 1 in 10^1018 probability for life originating:
Eugene Koonin and the Origin of Life 3-7-2015 by Paul Giem - video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gkB8VcfvcBQ&index=17&list=PLHDSWJBW3DNUUhiC9VwPnhl-ymuObyTWJ
Here are some more realistic estimates than Dr. Koonin's overly optimistic 1 in 10^1018 number:
Signature in the Cell - Book Review - Ken Peterson Excerpt: If we assume some minimally complex cell requires 250 different proteins then the probability of this arrangement happening purely by chance is one in 10 to the 164th multiplied by itself 250 times or one in 10 to the 41,000th power. http://www.spectrummagazine.org/reviews/book_reviews/2009/10/06/signature_cell
henk, the motive is clear- the universe is intelligently designed for scientific discovery. So why would all the observers be on one planet? Joe
joe Why would we expect that. Do you know the designers motive ? for all we know the designer only created one planet with intelligent life. henk
In an Intelligently Designed universe we would expect more than one planet to be inhabited by intelligent agencies. Joe
We have thousands of eye witness accounts of ETs visiting earth. JWTruthInLove
Seversky That may be true but how will we know? Assume it a fact? Andre
The origin of life remains a problem, yes, but it doesn't affect the question of how widespread life is in this universe. We can certainlymake the argument that if life has appeared once here then it is certainly possible that it has appeared elsewhere in the 13.82 billion years since the whole thing apparently began. Seversky

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