Competing Origin of Life Hypotheses – Fantastic Summary by the BBC

This article by Michael Marshall on the The Secret of How Life on Earth Began is probably the best summary on the topic I have read to date. I compiled a quick glossary below.

It’s not just about the “smoker” vs “souper” debate (sometimes referred to as the Metabolism First vs RNA World Brouhaha).  This article also examines other disparate competing hypotheses regarding the origin of life and even suggests that a unifying grand hypothesis may be possible.

A great read!

oparin haldane charles darwin atp tree of life chemiosmosis rna world franklin hershey chase peter mitchell cyanide nick lane alkaline vents hydrothermal vents clay meteorites geothermal pond volcanic pond ultraviolet compartmentalisation first lipid world genetics first montmorillonite citrate magnesium copper lipid precursors hodge podge world metal ion core deborah kelley lost city william martin luca last universal common ancestor origin of life reactor pier luigi luisi glycol nucleic acid günter wächtershäuser jack corliss michael russell pyrite david bartel philipp holliger gerald joyce peter nielsen polyamide nucleic acid pna albert eschenmoser threose nucleic acid tna eric meggers miller urey watson crick orgel john sutherland thomas cech walter gilbert thomas steitz jack szostak ribozyme rna enzymes ring of life vitalism trofim lysenko alexander oparin j. b. s. haldane armen mulkidjanian jillian f. banfield friedrich wöhler benjamin moore biotic energy warm little pond

276 thoughts on “Competing Origin of Life Hypotheses – Fantastic Summary by the BBC”

  1. Allan Miller

    Erik,

    By what standard was my response a blanket sneer?

    By conflating evolution and abiogenesis. One sneer fits all.

    Does a guy who accepts things happening without any evidence while demanding evidence for things that don’t suit him even have a standard?

    Could you flesh that out? What do I accept without evidence, and what doesn’t suit me?

  2. MungMung

    This article by Michael Marshall on the The Secret of How Life on Earth Began is probably the best summary on the topic I have read to date.

    Where’s the secret?

  3. MungMung

    Every single person who died before Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859 was ignorant of humanity’s origins, because they knew nothing of evolution.

    What a load of crap.

  4. MungMung

    Today, many of the scientists studying the origin of life are confident that they are on the right track – and they have the experiments to back up their confidence.

    You want to know what would be really amazing? It would be truly amazing if they were all on the same track. It would be truly amazing if they were all on the right track. But alas, they are not. But they all have objective empirical evidence to back up their confidence.

    What does their “confidence” have to do with anything?

  5. MungMung

    In April 2016, scientists presented an updated version of the “tree of life”: a kind of family tree for every living species. Almost all of the branches are bacteria. What’s more, the shape of the tree suggests that a bacterium was the common ancestor of all life. In other words, every living thing – including you – is ultimately descended from a bacterium.

    The article gives the impression that because species of bacteria outnumber the diversity of any other “kind” that bacteria must have come first, which is simply nonsense.

  6. MungMung

    There is just one problem. Vitalism is plain wrong.

    But the article never explains why vitalism is plain wrong.

    I honestly fail to see what people find entertaining about these sorts of articles.

  7. MungMung

    This idea proved immensely controversial, again because it contradicted the Bible. Darwin and his ideas came under ferocious attack, particularly from outraged Christians.

    More crap. May as well conclude that no Christian agreed with Darwin and no non-Christian disagreed with Darwin.

  8. Allan Miller

    Mung,

    The article gives the impression that because species of bacteria outnumber the diversity of any other “kind” that bacteria must have come first, which is simply nonsense.

    That is not the impression given by the text you quoted, which is strange if you quoted that text to support your contention. The ‘shape of the tree’ is not determined by the number of twigs – by present diversity.

    You seem to be pushing this ‘eukaryotes first’ notion lately. Why? What do you consider good evidence for it?

  9. RumraketRumraket

    Mung: This idea proved immensely controversial, again because it contradicted the Bible. Darwin and his ideas came under ferocious attack, particularly from outraged Christians.

    More crap. May as well conclude that no Christian agreed with Darwin and no non-Christian disagreed with Darwin.

    No, that’s just a fact.

  10. RumraketRumraket

    Mung: Every single person who died before Darwin published Origin of Species in 1859 was ignorant of humanity’s origins, because they knew nothing of evolution.

    What a load of crap.

    There had been a few people who held similar ideas to Darwin, but they weren’t widely known and had done little to amass the evidence for a case similar to Darwin’s. The statement is largely correct. It’s certainly not a “load of crap”.

  11. RumraketRumraket

    Mung: There is just one problem. Vitalism is plain wrong.

    But the article never explains why vitalism is plain wrong.

    I honestly fail to see what people find entertaining about these sorts of articles.

    The article also doesn’t explain the electromagnetic basis of biochemical attraction. Yeah what a shit article Tom.

  12. Erik

    Allan Miller:
    Erik,

    By conflating evolution and abiogenesis. One sneer fits all.

    Wasn’t Darwin’s book called Origin of the Species and didn’t he deal with the question of the very first life-forms there?

    Allan Miller:
    Could you flesh that out? What do I accept without evidence, and what doesn’t suit me?

    In your own words:

    Allan Miller: So if we can’t micromanipulate matter, with a particular presently unknown physico-chemical system that works of the squillions of possibilities, it can’t happen? I love this human-hubris that comes out in the discussions. Our best scientists can’t create life. So what? They are all thumbs. It is hardly a simple task to micro-manipulate proton- and electron-level matter, and it’s obviously not just a matter of mixing chemicals. And, we would not know if a replicating molecule had emerged in our apparatus, until it had achieved a certain threshold concentration.

    For you it’s just fine that there’s no evidence to your theory of how life came about. As for anybody else’s theory how life came about, you demand evidence, don’t you?

  13. RumraketRumraket

    Mung: You want to know what would be really amazing? It would be truly amazing if they were all on the same track.

    Yes, that’s usually what happens. The history of science is full of people with a diverse set of competing ideas, and eventually the wrong ones are weeded out. Do you know for a fact this will not happen here?

    It would be truly amazing if they were all on the right track. But alas, they are not.

    Wait, you know for a fact that none of them are on the right track, or are you merely saying that not all of them are on the right track, but that possibly a few of them could be? If so, what a trivial statement. Did that really have to be said?

  14. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: Allan Miller: So if we can’t micromanipulate matter, with a particular presently unknown physico-chemical system that works of the squillions of possibilities, it can’t happen? I love this human-hubris that comes out in the discussions. Our best scientists can’t create life. So what? They are all thumbs. It is hardly a simple task to micro-manipulate proton- and electron-level matter, and it’s obviously not just a matter of mixing chemicals. And, we would not know if a replicating molecule had emerged in our apparatus, until it had achieved a certain threshold concentration.

    For you it’s just fine that there’s no evidence to your theory of how life came about. As for anybody else’s theory how life came about, you demand evidence, don’t you?

    That’s not what that says. Nowhere is it implied by Allan that because there’s “no evidence” to the theory of how life came about, that’s good enough to believe life came about in some particular way.

    NOWHERE is that stated or even implied. Seriously, where do you get this crap from Erik? What he writes there is an explanation for why scientists can’t just assemble a living cell at the molecular level. We don’t have that level of control over matter at those scales.

    How can you conclude from this simple factoid that Allan therefore believes that the origin of life took place in a specific way on no evidence at all? How? How do you reach this conclusion? Explain yourself!

  15. Erik

    Rumraket: NOWHERE is that stated or even implied.

    But it is, if you know everything else Allan Miller holds. For example:

    CharlieM: IMO life takes an enormous amount of organisation, it was never and will never be achieved by accident.

    Allan Miller: IMO life is clearly capable of being supported by physics and chemistry of this earth. That’s how I’m able to type. So I don’t see any fundamental barrier to the physics and chemistry of this earth getting to a self-replicating configuration from one that is not self-replicating.

    Either he is being consistent or not.

  16. RumraketRumraket

    By the way, there IS evidence that life came about through a natural process. The distribution of used amino acids in the oldest protein folds strongly correlates with the distribution of amino acids you get from natural chemical processes that are used to produce them. As in those would have been the amino acids available in the environment for an emerging protein synthesizing system to use to make proteins with, and to incorporate in the genetic code and translation system.

    See for example: Amino acid biogenesis, evolution of the genetic code and aminoacyl-tRNA synthetases.
    and
    A thermodynamic basis for prebiotic amino acid synthesis and the nature of the first genetic code.
    and
    Evolution of amino acid frequencies in proteins over deep time: inferred order of introduction of amino acids into the genetic code.

    This fact is more probable on the hypothesis that life itself came about through a natural process, than through design. Because a designer with an unconstrained control over matter could design life with ANY desired distribution of amino acids.

  17. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: But it is, if you know everything else Allan Miller holds. For example:

    CharlieM: IMO life takes an enormous amount of organisation, it was never and will never be achieved by accident.

    Allan Miller: IMO life is clearly capable of being supported by physics and chemistry of this earth. That’s how I’m able to type. So I don’t see any fundamental barrier to the physics and chemistry of this earth getting to a self-replicating configuration from one that is not self-replicating.

    Either he is being consistent or not.

    And here he says he doesn’t see a fundamental barrier in physics and chemistry getting to a self-replicating configuration. How does this translate into him believing life arose in a specific way on no evidence?

    How does him stating “I don’t see a barrier to this happening” become “there is no evidence this happened but I believe it”? Explain how you get there, Erik.

  18. Allan Miller

    Erik,

    Wasn’t Darwin’s book called Origin of the Species and didn’t he deal with the question of the very first life-forms there?

    So what? Darwin wasn’t conflating abiogenesis and evolution. You were. In response to a point of mine about abiogenesis, and the perfectly rational possibility that it both happened and we are technologically unable to reproduce it, you sneered: “I get that there’s this thing called evolution …’

    Allan Miller:
    Could you flesh that out? What do I accept without evidence, and what doesn’t suit me?

    Erik: In your own words:

    Allan Miller: So if we can’t micromanipulate matter, with a particular presently unknown physico-chemical system that works of the squillions of possibilities, it can’t happen? I love this human-hubris that comes out in the discussions. Our best scientists can’t create life. So what? They are all thumbs. It is hardly a simple task to micro-manipulate proton- and electron-level matter, and it’s obviously not just a matter of mixing chemicals. And, we would not know if a replicating molecule had emerged in our apparatus, until it had achieved a certain threshold concentration.

    For you it’s just fine that there’s no evidence to your theory of how life came about. As for anybody else’s theory how life came about, you demand evidence, don’t you?

    You have misunderstood the passage quoted. I am not saying there is no evidence for abiogenesis but never mind. I am saying that our inability to recreate life is not a strong argument against its having a natural origin, on at least two counts.

    And the extent to which I demand evidence from theists is simply reflecting back on them their own demands. It’s the ‘pathetic detail’ crap all over again. I have a double standard because I ask people to adhere to their own apparent standards regarding evidence? Come off it.

  19. Allan Miller

    Erik,

    Either he is being consistent or not.

    There is no inconsistency between those various statements. I DO think it plausible that, given that life adheres firmly to the ‘rules’ of physics and chemistry, physics and chemistry can provide an initial starting condition. I DON’T see the failure of scientists to elucidate the ‘how’, nor the fact that novel life is not an everyday occurrence, as reasons to abandon that position. I ALSO think it funny when theists demand exquisite detail of scientists while having none of their own to offer.

  20. vjtorley

    I have to say I am quite impressed with Michael Marshall’s BBC article, The secret of how life on Earth began. I would have to agree with Sutherland’s comment, “Things are looking a lot more achievable.”

    I also found the article, Evolution of amino acid frequencies in proteins over deep time: inferred order of introduction of amino acids into the genetic code, recommended by Rumraket, quite intriguing. I have to admit that it counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis that abiogenesis occurred on the primordial Earth. As the abstract states, “Relative to the modern protein set, LUA [Last Universal Ancestor] proteins were found to be generally richer in those amino acids that are believed to have been most abundant in the prebiotic environment and poorer in those amino acids that are believed to have been unavailable or scarce.” That’s a singular prediction of abiogenesis that has been borne out by the evidence.

    The real question is: what implications does this have for Intelligent Design? Evidence suggesting that primitive life may have arisen naturally does not establish that molecular machines arose naturally. The new evidence is of great interest, but let’s not overblow it.

  21. Erik

    Allan Miller: So what? Darwin wasn’t conflating abiogenesis and evolution.

    So, Origin of Species is not about origin of species. I knew that. but thanks for confirming.

    Allan Miller: You have misunderstood the passage quoted. I am not saying there is no evidence for abiogenesis but never mind. I am saying that our inability to recreate life is not a strong argument against its having a natural origin, on at least two counts.

    And the extent to which I demand evidence from theists is simply reflecting back on them their own demands.

    To reflect your own argument back to you: Things not popping into existence ex nihilo is not a strong argument against things popping into existence ex nihilo. (I think it is, but you don’t think so, so let’s just disagree on this point. Call it sneer if you want.)

  22. RumraketRumraket

    vjtorley: I have to say I am quite impressed with Michael Marshall’s BBC article, The secret of how life on Earth began. I would have to agree with Sutherland’s comment, “Things are looking a lot more achievable.”

    I also found the article, Evolution of amino acid frequencies in proteins over deep time: inferred order of introduction of amino acids into the genetic code, recommended by Rumraket, quite intriguing. I have to admit that it counts as evidence in favor of the hypothesis that abiogenesis occurred on the primordial Earth. As the abstract states, “Relative to the modern protein set, LUA [Last Universal Ancestor] proteins were found to be generally richer in those amino acids that are believed to have been most abundant in the prebiotic environment and poorer in those amino acids that are believed to have been unavailable or scarce.” That’s a singular prediction of abiogenesis that has been borne out by the evidence.

    The real question is: what implications does this have for Intelligent Design? Evidence suggesting that primitive life may have arisen naturally does not establish that molecular machines arose naturally. The new evidence is of great interest, but let’s not overblow it.

    I agree, this evidence is not “proof” that abiogenesis was a natural process. It’s evidence, it fits one model better than another. It doesn’t rule that other model out.

    It also does not constitute a model in itself, it is a piece of data. There is still so much unexplained that we simply don’t know.

  23. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: To reflect your own argument back to you: Things not popping into existence ex nihilo is not a strong argument against things popping into existence ex nihilo. (I think it is, but you don’t think so, so let’s just disagree on this point. Call it sneer if you want.)

    Ex nihilo means from nothing. Do you have a “nothing” laying around somewhere so that we can observationally verify that things don’t “pop into existence” from it?

    That things don’t pop into existence in mid air is an observational fact. But all the worlds physicists and theologians will tell you we are surrounded by something. “In mid air” is something. It is an area of spacetime, it has volume and location. It is usually filled with gas and radiation.

    In all of our experience, we have never come into contact with “nothing”.

  24. Erik

    Rumraket: Ex nihilo means from nothing. Do you have a “nothing” laying around somewhere so that we can observationally verify that things don’t “pop into existence” from it?

    Prove it.

    We have no layer of “nothing”. We have no relevant observations. We cannot prove it one way or the other. All we can do is ball the burden of proof around. The point is that by Allan Miller’s standard, none of this constitutes a compelling argument against the ex nihilo theory.

    ETA: And you are probably conflating “nothing” with “mid-air” there. They may seem the same thing to you, but not to me, because I go by distinctions. Darwin, on the other hand, goes by conflations. Since he insists on common descent, the distinction between evolution and origin of life is a distinction without a difference. A distinction in mid-air, so to say.

  25. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: Rumraket: Ex nihilo means from nothing. Do you have a “nothing” laying around somewhere so that we can observationally verify that things don’t “pop into existence” from it?

    Prove it.

    Prove what? I asked you a question.

    We have no layer of “nothing”.

    What the hell is a “layer” of nothing?

    We have no relevant observations. We cannot prove it one way or the other.

    I agree, we have no idea what “nothing” is like. It is wholly beyond experience and reason.

    All we can do is ball the burden of proof around.

    Burden of proof for what?

    The point is that by Allan Miller’s standard, none of this

    None of what?

    constitutes a compelling argument against the ex nihilo theory.

    There is an ex nihilo theory now? Seriously, what the flying fuck are you on about? Do you even know?

    ETA: And you are probably conflating “nothing” with “mid-air” there. They may seem the same thing to you, but not to me, because I go by distinctions.

    How can I be the one conflating “nothing” with “mid air” when, in fact, I was the one pointing out the distinction?

    Darwin, on the other hand, goes by conflations. Since he insists on common descent, the distinction between evolution and origin of life is a distinction without a difference. A distinction in mid-air, so to say.

    Erik, this makes no sense at all. Are you okay? Is there someone you can call that can help read out posts to you?

  26. OMagain

    It’s always amusing when they declare that everything has an origin except the thing they claim created the universe, which does not because it’s always been there.

    How convenient for them. And how do they know that amazing fact? Well, come study theology for 20 years and you’ll be so addled by then you’ll believe any old shit. I knew a guy once who was going to reform the priesthood ‘from the inside out’. How do you suppose that worked out?

  27. OMagain

    Rumraket: Is there someone you can call that can help read out posts to you?

    When Darwin himself make his thoughts on the connection between the origin of life and Evolution known you have to wonder at the motivations of those like Erik that pretend those words don’t exist.

    Except I don’t wonder at all, it’s quite clear.

  28. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: Darwin, on the other hand, goes by conflations. Since he insists on common descent, the distinction between evolution and origin of life is a distinction without a difference. A distinction in mid-air, so to say.

    Ah, more vacuous nonsense from our self-described resident “rationalist,” I see.

    Very good; carry on.

  29. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    OMagain: When Darwin himself make his thoughts on the connection between the origin of life and Evolution known you have to wonder at the motivations of those like Erik that pretend those words don’t exist.

    Except I don’t wonder at all, it’s quite clear.

    Indeed. This isn’t someone who cares about discovering the truth, because he just knows that everything he says is true.

    Since I’m no longer able to pretend that I believe Erik is arguing in good faith, I’m putting him on ignore, just like I have with all the other “theists” here.

  30. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    vjtorley:

    The real question is: what implications does this have for Intelligent Design? Evidence suggesting that primitive life may have arisen naturally does not establish that molecular machines arose naturally. The new evidence is of great interest, but let’s not overblow it.

    Are you thinking of “molecular machines” as pre-existing the most simple life-forms, or of “molecular machines” as somehow necessary for the evolution of life beyond exceedingly primitive cells?

    It would be an interesting version of ID to say that the intervention of the designer was necessary after life had evolved naturally. But I doubt it’s promising; why can’t more complex cellular chemistry evolve by self-organization and natural selection once life has come onto the scene?

    Far safer, I think, to go with cosmological ID: the Designer is the best explanation for the fact that the universe has the right set of physical parameters (laws of physics and values for the physical constants) such that life can come into existence without the need for any further intervention. In short, something like Michael Denton’s position in Nature’s Destiny or Conway’s Life’s Solution.

    Of course at this point the distinction between intelligent design and theistic evolution collapses.

  31. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    I found this criticism of Denton interesting, especially this remark:

    “If there is hope for ID as a serious intellectual movement, it lies in the deep cosmic concepts that unite the work of Simon Conway Morris and Michael Denton. But as long as ID propagandists believe that Denton has wrecked evolutionary explanation, they will purvey ignorance and confusion, and prolong the degeneration that gives us Casey Luskin and the disastrously bad Edge of Evolution.”

  32. phoodoo

    Kantian Naturalist,

    Here is a better synopsis of the link KN shared:

    “I found Nature’s Destiny to be mostly interesting, occasionally informative, occasionally exasperating, and ultimately unpersuasive.”

    Wow, someone on the internet found the book unpersuasive. That’s worth an entire blog post!

    Not much else to see.

  33. Erik

    OMagain: It’s always amusing when they declare that everything has an origin except the thing they claim created the universe, which does not because it’s always been there.

    It’s always amusing when the most basic of distinctions escapes people.

  34. Erik

    Kantian Naturalist: Ah, more vacuous nonsense from our self-described resident “rationalist,” I see.

    Very good; carry on.

    Says the committed anti-foundationalist. If you are really committed to anti-foundationalism, you have no foundation to call anything nonsense or non-nonsense. Be committed to it or find something (else) to stand on.

    Kantian Naturalist: Since I’m no longer able to pretend that I believe Erik is arguing in good faith, I’m putting him on ignore, just like I have with all the other “theists” here.

    Why?

    For one, right now I am not even arguing with you or against you, so good or bad faith should not be an issue for you personally.

    For another, I have always earlier proven my case. Is that the thing you don’t like, as a believer in anti-foundationalism?

  35. Erik

    OMagain: When Darwin himself make his thoughts on the connection between the origin of life and Evolution known you have to wonder at the motivations of those like Erik that pretend those words don’t exist.

    Present the relevant quote from Darwin. I can present my case by a quote from Darwin – I already have in another thread. Can you?

  36. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    Erik: If you are really committed to anti-foundationalism, you have no foundation to call anything nonsense or non-nonsense. Be committed to it or find something to stand on.

    Wow. Just wow.

    If you think that anti-foundationalism entails not having a definite position or commitments, you’re even more ignorant of the past two hundred years of Western philosophy than I thought.

    Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle.

    For those who want to learn some contemporary philosophy, try this: foundationalist theories of epistemic justification.

  37. Allan Miller

    Erik,

    So, Origin of Species is not about origin of species. I knew that. but thanks for confirming.

    Take it up with Darwin. My own view is that ‘species’ as we commonly understand the term originated with the advent of sexual reproduction. I have no idea what Darwin thought. His title has been subject to much scrutiny, but what the hell, I didn’t write the thing.

    To reflect your own argument back to you: Things not popping into existence ex nihilo is not a strong argument against things popping into existence ex nihilo.

    And I do not make that argument. My point was directed at people who think scientists’ failure to create life is evidence against its having a natural origin. I did not make the point unasked in a vacuum! When a theist demands evidence for ‘detailedDarwinism’, am I barred from pointing out the complete absence of an equivalent narrative on their side? And now you turn the point through 360 degrees and feel clever.

  38. Allan Miller

    Erik,

    Since he insists on common descent, the distinction between evolution and origin of life is a distinction without a difference.

    That is hogwash. Common descent can take place from any kind of origin – naturalistic, deistic or ‘ex nihilo’. Evolution can occur in any population of replicating entities, regardless where they came from.

  39. fifthmonarchyman

    newton: Then a God whose nature encompasses dice playing can do one thing more than a God whose nature doesn’t if you prefer.

    1) Are you saying that subordinate and limited are better than sovereign and unlimited?

    2) Ever hear of the incarnation and hypostatic union?

    peace

  40. Erik

    I wonder if anybody who is praising the article actually read it. Particularly the following:

    It is telling that of all the biologists in the world, it was Oparin and Haldane who proposed this. The idea that living organisms formed by purely chemical means, without a god or even a “life force”, was radical. Like Darwin’s theory of evolution before it, it flew in the face of Christianity.

    That suited the USSR just fine. The Soviet regime was officially atheist, and its leaders were eager to support materialistic explanations for profound phenomena like life. Haldane was also an atheist, and a devoted communist to boot.

    Everybody starting with Darwin knows the conflict with theism here. Can there be made a case that this scientific quest for non-theistic beginnings is not ideological?

    Or this:

    The set-up was simple. Miller connected a series of glass flasks and circulated four chemicals that he suspected were present on the early Earth: boiling water, hydrogen gas, ammonia and methane. He subjected the gases to repeated electric shocks, to simulate the lightning strikes that would have been a common occurrence on Earth so long ago.

    Miller found that “the water in the flask became noticeably pink after the first day, and by the end of the week the solution was deep red and turbid”. Clearly, a mix of chemicals had formed.

    When Miller analysed the mixture he found that it contained two amino acids: glycine and alanine. Amino acids are often described as the building blocks of life. They are used to form the proteins that control most biochemical processes in our bodies. Miller had made two of life’s most important components, from scratch.

    First question: Are amino acids the building blocks of life or does life consist of metabolical, self-sustaining and reproductive processes? Biologists study life, but have they defined life?

    Second question: Does it prove that there’s no God when man experimentally takes the role of God?

  41. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: Everybody starting with Darwin knows the conflict with theism here. Can there be made a case that this scientific quest for non-theistic beginnings is not ideological?

    Suppose for a moment it’s all driven, at bottom, by ideology and the hatred of the christian god.

    Does that make it false? No.

  42. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: Second question: Does it prove that there’s no God when man experimentally takes the role of God?

    For man to “experimentally take the role of God”, God would have to be shown to exist and have that supposed role in the first place.

  43. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: First question: Are amino acids the building blocks of life or does life consist of metabolical, self-sustaining and reproductive processes?

    A car is made of gears, wheels, axles, steel, plastic, carbon fibres and so on. But a car is also how they are put together, and what they can do when they are.

    The components are the building blocks, but a car is more than it’s building blocks.

    Biologists study life, but have they defined life?

    Some have, yes. Most origins researchers use a definition of life that roughly corresponds to cellular life as we know it. That usually means a DNA or RNA based genetic system with protein translation, encapsulated by a phospholipid bilayer membrane, the totality of which can synthesize it’s own components from simpler precursors, grow, divide and evolve.

    So the origin of life is the challenge of identifying the mechanism by which such an entity (cellular life) came to exist.

  44. Erik

    Rumraket: Suppose for a moment it’s all driven, at bottom, by ideology and the hatred of the christian god.

    Does that make it false? No.

    First, it makes it emotionally driven instead of rationally or scientifically. Second, it doesn’t make it right either. Third, the ultimate decider becomes the evidence. Except that with standards like Allan Miller’s, it’s already been arbitrarily decided.

    Rumraket: A car is made of gears, wheels, axles, steel, plastic, carbon fibres and so on. But a car is also how they are put together, and what they can do when they are.

    The components are the building blocks, but a car is more than it’s building blocks.

    Good to see you agree with my point.

    The components are building blocks; they are not a car. This is particularly relevant when car is, as you say, more than the building blocks put together. Therefore the cited experiment proves nothing relevant to life. You’d need to define the “more than” and experimentally replicate that. In case of a car, it looks like the “more than” is the driver. Without the driver, the car has no function. The function of the car is to serve the driver.

    Rumraket: Some have, yes. Most origins researchers use a definition of life that roughly corresponds to cellular life as we know it.

    The definition of life is “cellular life”? Doesn’t it seem sort of tautological to you? I suggest that the researchers try a definition that makes sense.

  45. newton

    fifthmonarchyman: 1) Are you saying that subordinate and limited are better than sovereign and unlimited?

    If Yahweh can’t play dice because of His nature doesn’t allow it, I think you are the one saying subordinate and limited is better.

    Sovereign would be another issue

    fifthmonarchyman:
    2) Ever hear of the incarnation and hypostatic union?

    Yes, what is your point?

  46. Kantian NaturalistKantian Naturalist

    The $64,000 question in abiogenesis is, in a nutshell, how to understand teleology as a special case of the Second Law of Thermodynamics? How can a far-from-equilibrium process emerge, and not only emerge but sustain itself as far-from-equilibrium from its environment?

    I’m intrigued by the suggestion that volcanic pools and/or meteorite impact sites had the right combination of organic molecules, metals, water, and heat to drive the emergence of protocells. I’d heard of the hydrothermal vent hypothesis and the RNA world hypothesis, but neither seemed helpful to me. The hydrothermal vent hypothesis doesn’t seem conducive to cellular formation, and the RNA world puts replication ahead of metabolism. That seems wrong to me, but that’s basically because I prefer autopoiesis theory as a formal definition of life. Looking closely at volcanic pools or meteorite impact sites seem like much more promising explanations.

    In my own work, I’ve gotten very interested in the free energy principle as the key to cognition, and I’ve been reading up on the debate about whether the so-called “Bayesian brain hypothesis supports or undermines more embodied/enactive approaches. (There’s a lively debate in the literature!)

    The suggestion seems to be that life and cognition are not deviations from the Second Law of Thermodynamics — deviations that would require some sort of intelligent agent to circumvent them — but rather just the Second Law itself at work under constrained conditions, where the constraints themselves are unusual but not unnatural.

  47. RumraketRumraket

    Erik: First, it makes it emotionally driven instead of rationally or scientifically. Second, it doesn’t make it right either. Third, the ultimate decider becomes the evidence.

    The ultimate decider has always been the evidence, regardless of people’s actual motivations.

    Except that with standards like Allan Miller’s, it’s already been arbitrarily decided.

    You mean the standards you failed to point out a problem with?

    Good to see you agree with my point.
    The components are building blocks; they are not a car.

    Who the hell would not agree with that?

    This is particularly relevant when car is, as you say, more than the building blocks put together. Therefore the cited experiment proves nothing relevant to life.

    Of course it proves something relevant to life, since you can’t have life without it’s building blocks. It proves that the building blocks can emerge through a natural process.

    No, this alone has not explained how life started. But it has shown that the building blocks can be made, and it gives imortant information about the relative proportions these building blocks could be expected to exist in. This then raises additional question, such as “what is the next step?”

    You’d need to define the “more than” and experimentally replicate that.

    … In order to show how life originated, yes. Nobody has so far done that. This isn’t news to anyone.

    The definition of life is “cellular life”? Doesn’t it seem sort of tautological to you?

    No. After all that is what we want to explain how came about. Life as we know it, CELLULAR life. So to define life as cellular life is to define it as that which we want to explain how came about. How did there come to be cellular life? That is the challenge of origin of life research. What is “tautological” about this?

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