Universal Common Descent Dilemma

  1. Despite lack of observational basis, Darwin proposed Universal Common Descent (UCD) saying:Therefore I should infer from analogy that probably all the organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial form, into which life was first breathed“. He also said elsewhere (referring to UCD): “…the littlest creature (or four or five of them)…” With his remarks, Darwin left the door open to creation (“life was first breathed”), but since then, Neo-Darwinists have rejected creation and replaced it with belief in undirected abiogenesis while maintaining belief in UCD.
  2. UCD is incompatible with the current view of Earth as just an ordinary planet circling an ordinary star located nowhere special inside an ordinary galaxy. If Earth is “nothing special” and abiogenesis is an ordinary “arising” of life from non-living matter, spontaneous abiogenesis would be a trivial common occurrence here on Earth as well as throughout the Universe, and we would have many “trees of life” instead of one. However, until now, all abiogenesis experiments have failed to produce life, spontaneous generation has been rejected, and the Fermi paradox stands, all these keeping the single “tree of life” and UCD hypothesis still alive and still inexplicable.
  3. Conditions for starting life should be similar to those required for sustaining it. The Big Bang model mandates a beginning of life. Furthermore, once started life must be sustained by the same or very similar environment. And since life is being sustained now on Earth, abiogenesis should be ongoing contrary to all observations to date. Tidal pools, deep sea hydrothermal vents, and the undersurface of ice caps have been hypothesized to originate abiogenesis due to their persistent energy gradients, but no abiogenesis or its intermediate phases have been observed around these sites. Given these, the only methodological naturalistic alternative is ‘limited window of opportunity for abiogenesis which suggests primordial life substantially different than all known forms of life, and perhaps originating on another planet followed by panspermia. However, this alternative defies Occam’s razor and the absence of supporting evidence including the earliest ever known fossils (stromatolites) that are of commonly occurring cyanobacteria rather than of alien origin.
  4. Universal Common Descent requires an inexplicable biologic singularity. All known forms of life are based on the same fundamental biochemical organization, so either abiogenesis happened only once or it happened freely for a while but then it stopped when the ‘window of opportunity’ closed and only one organism survived to become the Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) of all existing life on Earth. However, these two biologic singularities should be unacceptable given the lack of evidence and the assumption of continuity in nature. Furthermore, the second scenario requires two discontinuities: one for the cessation of abiogenesis and the second one for the bottleneck leading to LUCA.
  5. In conclusion, UCD hypothesis leads to a number of bad and very bad scenarios: a) Earth is “nothing special” should lead to a “forest of life” rather than a single “tree of life” and to ubiquitous abiogenesis (unobserved); b) Alien life plus panspermia is refuted by the Fermi paradox and oldest known stromatolites fossils; c) Single event abiogenesis is an unsupported and therefore unacceptable singularity; d) ‘Window of opportunity’ abiogenesis followed by LUCA bottleneck is even less acceptable double-singularity. And this brings us back to Darwin’s “open door” to creation, perhaps the most rational alternative that fits all biologic observations.

Pro-Con Notes

Con: Maybe abiogenesis is happening a lot. I think the already existing life would dispose of it quickly though.

Pro:  if so, 1. We should be able to duplicate abiogenesis in the lab; 2. We should see at least some of the intermediate abiogenesis steps in nature; 3. Existing life can only process what looks like food. Cellulose is a well known organic material that cannot be broken down by a lot of organisms and is known to last as very long time in dry conditions.

1,101 Replies to “Universal Common Descent Dilemma”

  1. Nonlin.org
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    faded_Glory: 1. Can you also point me to where biologists claim that bacterial evolution happens so fast that we should already have seen new species evolve in the Lenski experiments? I don’t think that anyone has made that claim, making your objection irrelevant.

    2/3. Where does this ‘one generation’ come from? Clearly, oxygenation of the Earth’s atmosphere by organic activity would have taken a long time, many, many generations. Some bacteria thrive in oxic conditions and others in anoxic ones. So what? Life adapts to ecological niches.

    5. What scientific evidence is there that species have been assembled like phones or cars? Is there any actual evidence of this at all? Where are the scientific hypotheses of this theory? What scientific research has been done on this idea? If there isn’t any, why is that?

    6. Moreover, this idea leads to many further questions: where was this assembly done? By whom? Who built the assembly plants? Where did these builders themselves come from? Doesn’t this just displace the original question to the next level, one that is even more problematic because now you don’t just have to explain the origin of very simple organisms, but of very complicated ones that can design and build assembly plants for life. In what way does this advance our understanding?

    7. I am intrigued by ‘some guided biological descent’ – are you saying that you accept that some evolution is possible by descent with modification (leaving aside the cause of the modification)?

    8. And no, I don’t see how UCD creates a bigger dilemma. Not for science, at least. The alternative isn’t even in the running, because there is no way of formulating special creation or divine intervention in scientific terms. I can see that for some believers there might be a religious dilemma. I am not really qualified to argue about that.

    1. It follows from the assumption that germline mutations at reproduction cause “evolution”. More mutations, more “evolution”. Bacteria also do HGT so even more “evolution”. Yet none is seen.
    2. You did not address the comment: “obligate/facultative an/aerobic bacteria are all common!!! Demonstrate experimentally your abiogenesis scenario.”
    5. More evidence than “abiogenesis poofs life into existence”. This is a side discussion you started. I am happy to return to this OP
    6. We might design one day self-replicating machines. When that happens, that will be an example. This is a side discussion you started. I am happy to return to this OP
    7. Not “leaving aside the cause of the modification”. That is the essence of everything. This is a side discussion you started. I am happy to return to this OP
    8. I presented you four bad and very bad scenarios. Try thinking how to make these less awful or what other scenarios might look like.

  2. Nonlin.org
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    Rumraket:
    1. I wonder how many of the IDcreationists who claim that scientists have “failed” to create life in the Miller-Urey experiments have even read the original papers. I mean, the objective and motivation of the experiments are stated outright in the beginning of the introduction and abstracts. You can’t somehow fail you realize what the intention of these experiments were.

    2. Now, here’s the hilarious irony. If the experiments had succeeded, contrary to expectations, in actually synthesizing living organisms from nonliving systems, IDcreationists would have claimed these organisms were intelligently designed and didn’t originate “naturally”. That’s what they claim happens in things like evolution simulations, and not to mention evolution experiments using artificial selection (because the simulation, like the experimental protocols, are designed, so must the results be considered “designed” apparently).

    3. It’s having your cake and eating it too all the way down. There’s isn’t an argument against abiogenesis, or evolution, that doesn’t ultimately rest on a hypocritical double standard.

    1. So the paper is written prior to conducting the experiment? It would be nice if a pre-experiment paper were ever written, but it’s not what happens. How can someone not know this?
    2. Is that an admission the experiment did not succeed? And let’s not worry about what others would have said if something else would have happened.
    2b. It just so happens that when someone more or less intelligent does something, then that someone is responsible for the results to the extent of the intervention.
    3. The irony is thick. Too bad some people are immune.

  3. Nonlin.org
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    faded_Glory: There is also the irony that the (so far) failure to create life in the lab is actually an argument against ID rather than in favour of it. Unless humans aren’t considered intelligent, I suppose.

    No one ever claimed that HUMANS created life on Earth. That would be circular reasoning anyway.

  4. Rumraket Rumraket
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    Nonlin.org: 1. So the paper is written prior to conducting the experiment?

    No, who the hell said that? What an incredibly stupid thing to write.

    It would be nice if a pre-experiment paper were ever written, but it’s not what happens. How can someone not know this?

    This doesn’t even make sense as a response to anything I wrote. It’s unhinged.

    2. Is that an admission the experiment did not succeed?

    What an incredibly stupid question.

    Not succeed at what? An experiment cant fail to succeed at something it isn’t designed to test. That was my whole point.

  5. Entropy Entropy
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    Nonlin.org:
    Entropy,
    Simple denials without logical support are worthless. What’s the point?

    The point is that you should think. Drake’s equation doesn’t support your point, it refutes it. So, I didn’t want to just explain that to you. I’d rather let you think. But that seems hard for you to do, as you were so happy to show:

    Nonlin.org:
    a. If starting life conditions are not similar, then life starts and dies immediately over and over.

    That doesn’t follow. Remember Nonlin, mere speculation is not evidence for anything. You think that conditions have to be very similar for life to start in oder for it to continue. But that doesn’t follow. You just assume it. If you actually thought about it, you’d understand that if your assumption was true, then life should be unable to modify conditions, otherwise life would not have continued for billions of years. Yet, there’s evidence that conditions changed, that life forms can modify environments, make new ones, etc. Yet, the evidence also shows that life has continued for billions of years. Therefore, your assumption is wrong. I can understand why you’d assume such a thing. Seems intuitively correct. But by thinking a bit you should realize that it must be wrong. Don’t speculate without giving it some thought Nonlin. Don’t make your assumptions into Nonlin’s laws. It doesn’t work that way. The universe doesn’t obey your commands. Sorry.

    Nonlin.org:
    Even live birth is ‘similar’ – same pressure, temperature, chemical needs, etc. Note ‘similar’ is not ‘identical’.

    Ah! A breakthrough! Of course similar doesn’t mean identical. Therefore you cannot complain that life doesn’t start willy-nilly. There’s many ways in which the changes in the environment are good enough for life to continue for billions of years, but not necessarily for life to start over-and-over. Or, as you speculated later, maybe some steps still happen, but they get eaten (I know you have an excuse against, but, again, speculating is not enough, and your speculations don’t trump reality). The sad truth is this: neither you, nor me, know how life started. That doesn’t make it impossible for it to have started. After all, we’re here discussing it, and we’re alive. Right?

    Nonlin.org:
    b. “have been hypothesized” – not my claim. Yet no abiogenesis seen. Same conditions / “no life” (sterile) can easily be duplicated in the lab. Guess what? No abiogenesis!

    You already admitted that you were wrong about this one. So here it goes again: failure to do it in the lab doesn’t mean that it cannot happen in nature.

    Nonlin.org:
    c. If no ‘limited window of opportunity’ then window still open, then why no abiognesis observed today?

    Why do you go all the way to the other side? If not limited window of opportunity, then maybe several windows of opportunity, maybe a few, maybe a thousand, maybe one every half a billion years, maybe one every time some X phenomena happens too, etc.

    Nonlin.org:
    d. Yet there’s zero evidence for “life must have been very different to current life forms”.

    You must be very ignorant of the fossil record. Just a few dozen million years ago there was lots of huge dinosaurs. None today. That’s just a few million years, and life was different then. I don’t see any problem figuring out that life must have been very very different at the beginning. I don’t understand why you would not. I truly doubt that you’re that stupid, even if I often conclude otherwise. I think you just refuse to think in order to keep an image of invincibility (for yourself, because here everybody sees your mistakes, and stubbornness, very clearly).

    Nonlin.org:
    1. Yes, “doesn’t mean” but a very strong evidence. There’s zero evidence for something entirely different prior.

    You failed to read carefully enough. Earliest fossils doesn’t mean first life forms. Therefore, earliest fossils cannot be evidence about what the first life forms were like. How could there be evidence of something prior to the earliest fossils?

    Nonlin.org:
    2. “genetic/molecular studies” on fossils?

    Exactly my point Nonlin. Since such studies cannot be done, you cannot know if those stromatolites were formed by “commonly” or “uncommonly” occurring cyanobacteria (or even if they were cyanobacteria at all). I really thought you’d get the point all by yourself here. Maybe I’m giving you too much of the benefit of the doubt.

    Nonlin.org:
    Mad dogs should attack the original studies if unhappy: “Some represent now-extinct bacteria and microbes from a domain of life called Archaea, while others are similar to microbial species still found today. ” https://news.wisc.edu/oldest-fossils-found-show-life-began-before-3-5-billion-years-ago/

    Well, I didn’t know that now-extinct bacteria and Archaea were the same as “commonly occurring cyanobacteria.” Also, I thought someone just told me that similar doesn’t mean identical. Did you check how those people verified that the microbes forming those billions-of-years-old stromatolites were “commonly occurring cyanobacteria”? Where do they say so?

    Thinking is better than blind quotations.

    Nonlin.org:
    3. Point is they do not look at all alien – see 2. Also 3.5 billion yrs doesn’t leave a lot of time for alternative (desperate) scenarios

    Again, looking at those you cannot know if they’re alien or “commonly occurring,” and again, if there was panspermia, then they were alien, and “commonly occurring ones” are of alien origin as well. Again. I don’t think that panspermia is the answer, but your refutals are just examples of poor thinking over a point that whether true or false doesn’t matter much.

    Nonlin.org:
    4. Panspermia is “refuted by the Fermi paradox ” – see bad scenario b.

    Not really. fermi’s paradox relies on some heavy-duty speculations. It might give us good food for thought, but it doesn’t work as anything else, let alone as evidence that life didn’t come from some other planet in our own Solar system for example.

    Again, I doubt that panspermia is the answer, but your arguments against it show very poor thinking. From where I sit, in order to accept panspermia, beyond one more hypothesis waiting for evidence for or against, there’s need for evidence, and so far, the evidence doesn’t look very convincing. Therefore I reject it for the time being. See how easy that is? No need for mistaking panspermia for Fermi’s speculations about what intelligent life “should” be able to do, or to mistake billions of years old stromatolites for today’s stromatolite-like looking things.

  6. faded_Glory faded_Glory
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    Nonlin.org,

    There is not much point in going back to the OP. I have pointed out some real problems with the alternative to common descent and you prefer to ignore them. Why discuss a dilemma if you only want to argue against one prong of the choice? Let’s compare the scientific theories for the presence of numerous different species on Earth, i.e. common descent and whatever it is that you think the alternative is. Than we can see which one has more scientific credentials and resolve the dilemma that way.

  7. Nonlin.org
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    Entropy:
    1. Drake’s equation doesn’t support your point, it refutes it. So, I didn’t want to just explain that to you.
    2. You think that conditions have to be very similar for life to start in oder for it to continue. But that doesn’t follow. You just assume it. If you actually thought about it, you’d understand that if your assumption was true, then life should be unable to modify conditions, otherwise life would not have continued for billions of years. Yet, there’s evidence that conditions changed, that life forms can modify environments, make new ones, etc. Yet, the evidence also shows that life has continued for billions of years. 3.
    3. Of course similar doesn’t mean identical. Therefore you cannot complain that life doesn’t start willy-nilly. There’s many ways in which the changes in the environment are good enough for life to continue for billions of years, but not necessarily for life to start over-and-over.
    4. Or, as you speculated later, maybe some steps still happen, but they get eaten (I know you have an excuse against, but, again, speculating is not enough, and your speculations don’t trump reality). The sad truth is this: neither you, nor me, know how life started.
    5. So here it goes again: failure to do it in the lab doesn’t mean that it cannot happen in nature.
    6. Why do you go all the way to the other side? If not limited window of opportunity, then maybe several windows of opportunity, maybe a few, maybe a thousand, maybe one every half a billion years, maybe one every time some X phenomena happens too, etc.
    7. Just a few dozen million years ago there was lots of huge dinosaurs. None today. That’s just a few million years, and life was different then. I don’t see any problem figuring out that life must have been very very different at the beginning.
    8. Earliest fossils doesn’t mean first life forms. Therefore, earliest fossils cannot be evidence about what the first life forms were like. How could there be evidence of something prior to the earliestfossils?
    9. Since such studies cannot be done, you cannot know if those stromatolites were formed by “commonly” or “uncommonly” occurring cyanobacteria (or even if they were cyanobacteria at all).

    10. Did you check how those people verified that the microbes forming those billions-of-years-old stromatolites were “commonly occurring cyanobacteria”? Where do they say so?
    11. Again, looking at those you cannot know if they’re alien or “commonly occurring,” and again, if there was panspermia, then they were alien, and “commonly occurring ones” are of alien origin as well.
    12. Not really. fermi’s paradox relies on some heavy-duty speculations. It might give us good food for thought, but it doesn’t work as anything else, let alone as evidence that life didn’t come from some other planet in our own Solar system for example.

    1. I will assume you have no valid counterargument
    2. Whatever modification you think life caused (O2, CO2, etc.) are within the “similar” category. We can test all those scenarios in the lab and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, those variants can be found naturally somewhere on Earth.
    3. Like what? See 2. You put more weight on your wishful thinking than on the evidence as meager as it is.
    4. So where is the evidence for “some steps”? You claim “abiogenesis” and I say “highly unlikely”. So far, the evidence is on my side
    5. Show something – in nature or in the lab, whatever you can
    6. Again, quit substituting your wishful thinking for valid hypotheses. Any scenario you imagine has to have some logical basis. Yours don’t.
    7. There’s “different” and “different”. You wouldn’t claim dinosaurs were basically different than current life? Different metabolism? Even fossils show the same organs as any other current organism.
    8. This is the EVIDENCE to date. See 6.
    9. They clearly say “while others are similar to microbial species still found today”. That is the EVIDENCE to date
    10. They’re the experts. Do you have any reason to distrust them?
    11. See 8, 9, 10
    12. It’s a paradox. His observation hasn’t changed since then – there is no evidence of life anywhere outside Earth. When things will change we re-open the case. Until then, you got nothing.

    Meanwhile, review the four bad and worse scenarios presented and let me know if you have a less awful alternative to any of those.

  8. Nonlin.org
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    faded_Glory: I have pointed out some real problems with the alternative to common descent and you prefer to ignore them. Why discuss a dilemma if you only want to argue against one prong of the choice?

    Sorry, but this OP addresses the UCD dilemma. It doesn’t pretend to answer all the questions in the world.

    It’s not a “choice”. It is what it is and we’re trying to find out.

    You incorrectly said:
    “If there is no UCD, all species were created out of thin air. This has never, ever be observed. Not one single time.
    I would argue that in terms of observation, the UCD model is far better supported than the special creation model.”

    “Special creation” is not the only alternative. And in fact there might be many possible alternatives – some of which we’re not even aware of.

    Do you agree UCD poses some insurmountable problems? If not, read again and make your case.

  9. Nonlin.org
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    Entropy: Why do you go all the way to the other side? If not limited window of opportunity, then maybe several windows of opportunity, maybe a few, maybe a thousand, maybe one every half a billion years, maybe one every time some X phenomena happens too, etc.

    …and what about UCD? How do you get a single tree of life (uniform biologic structure) from multiple abiogenesis episodes?

  10. John Harshman John Harshman
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    Nonlin.org: …and what about UCD? How do you get a single tree of life (uniform biologic structure) from multiple abiogenesis episodes?

    Extinction of all but one episode.

  11. Entropy Entropy
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    Nonlin.org:
    …and what about UCD? How do you get a single tree of life (uniform biologic structure) from multiple abiogenesis episodes?

    I already told you. There’s many ways, and not all require massive extinctions (even though massive extinctions are well documented through the history of life in the planet). There’s something called coalescence, and there’s something called power-law, and you’d need quite the amount of mathematical literacy in order to understand what any of that means and how it could result in a single life lineage dominating most of the history of life on the planet, literacy and understanding that you don’t have, that you do not understand that you’d need, and that you wouldn’t care to understand, since everything is, to you, whatever you decide it to be. So why waste time even trying to get that through your thick skull?

    You cannot understand something as basic as the fact that assumptions can be tested. Given that, how could I expect you to understand something that’s so far beyond that simple fact?

  12. faded_Glory faded_Glory
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    Nonlin.org,

    ‘Dilemma’ is a choice.

  13. Alan Fox Alan Fox
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    Moved a comment to guano. Try again without the personal insults.

  14. Entropy Entropy
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    Nonlin.org:
    1.I will assume you have no valid counterargument

    I’ll assume that you do not have the mathematical literacy to check Drake’s equation and understand why it contradicts your claim. I’ll also assume that you have forgotten what your claim was.

    Nonlin.org:
    2.Whatever modification you think life caused (O2, CO2, etc.) are within the “similar” category. We can test all those scenarios in the lab and, MORE IMPORTANTLY, those variants can be found naturally somewhere on Earth.

    As I already told you, one possibility is that conditions have changed enough for life to continue, but not for life to start, or maybe life starts and gets eaten, or maybe we don’t know what the first steps for abiogenesis look like, and thus we’;ve seen them, but failed to recognize them. There’s a plethora of solutions.

    Nonlin.org:
    3.Like what? See 2. You put more weight on your wishful thinking than on the evidence as meager as it is.

    In the absence of knowledge, other than life must have had a beginning, we can entertain as many scenarios as we wish. You prefer to reject them all, which is, actually, all right by me. I’m only pointing out to the problems with the “reasoning” in your OP.

    Nonlin.org:
    4.So where is the evidence for “some steps”? You claim “abiogenesis” and I say “highly unlikely”. So far, the evidence is on my side

    Actually no. The evidence is not on your side. We’re talking about the origin of life here, but you were rejecting UCD. There’s evidence that the life we have sampled in our planet has a common ancestor, from similar metabolism, to using the same kind of genetic material, the same genetic code, etc. And you said it yourself:

    Nonlin.org: …and what about UCD? How do you get a single tree of life (uniform biologic structure) from multiple abiogenesis episodes?

    Exactly right. How else unless there’s UCD?

    Nonlin.org:
    5.Show something – in nature or in the lab, whatever you can

    Oh. Moving the goal posts?

    Nonlin.org:
    6.Again, quit substituting your wishful thinking for valid hypotheses. Any scenario you imagine has to have some logical basis. Yours don’t.

    What doesn’t have some logical basis is to jump from “single window of opportunity” to “abiogenesis happening willy-nilly.” Considering scenarios where there’s several windows, from one to many considering everything in the middle of those two extremes, is much more reasonable.

    Nonlin.org:
    7.There’s “different” and “different”. You wouldn’t claim dinosaurs were basically different than current life? Different metabolism? Even fossils show the same organs as any other current organism.

    Which is why I also mentioned that dinosaurs lived only a few million years ago, so that you could extrapolate those differences to billions of years ago, all by yourself. Seems like asking you to think is asking too much.

    Nonlin.org:
    8.This is the EVIDENCE to date. See 6.

    That evidence is just, again, what the earliest fossils look like. Nothing else.

    Nonlin.org:
    9.They clearly say “while others are similar to microbial species still found today”. That is the EVIDENCE to date

    And they said “not extinct bacteria and Archaea,” and they never said “commonly occurring cyanobacteria.” Do you think it’s all right to ignore those sentences just because you like the other sentence better?

    Nonlin.org:
    10.They’re the experts. Do you have any reason to distrust them?

    I trust them. You, on the other hand, distrust them enough to choose the sentences that you like, rather than try and understand what they wrote in toto.

    I point out that you didn’t answer my request:

    Entropy:
    Did you check how those people verified that the microbes forming those billions-of-years-old stromatolites were “commonly occurring cyanobacteria”? Where do they say so?

    So? Where did they say so? Where did they say that they didn’t mean now extinct bacteria and Archaea? Where do they say that what they meant was “nowadays commonly occurring cyanobacteria”?

    Nonlin.org:
    12.It’s a paradox. His observation hasn’t changed since then – there is no evidence of life anywhere outside Earth. When things will change we re-open the case. Until then, you got nothing.

    It’s not an observation, it’s speculation. And again, going all the way from single window of opportunity to intelligent life all over the place, is not very logical.

    Nonlin.org:
    Meanwhile, review the four bad and worse scenarios presented and let me know if you have a less awful alternative to any of those.

    Scenarios? Those are but a bunch of claims with no support that come only to show the low quality of your thinking.

  15. Entropy Entropy
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    Nonlin.org:
    11. See 8, 9, 10

    In other words, you’re allowed to speculate to your liking, and I’m not allowed to speculate to my liking, even if your speculations are misinformed and irrational, while mine are better informed and rational. Sorry. My mistake.

  16. Entropy Entropy
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    5. In conclusion, UCD hypothesis leads to a number of bad and very bad scenarios:

    In conclusion, Nonlin made several claims that showed very poor thinking.

    a) Earth is “nothing special” should lead to a “forest of life” rather than a single “tree of life” and to ubiquitous abiogenesis (unobserved);

    a) None of this follows from Earth being “nothing special.” And, again, the earth being “nothing special” is a question of perspective.

    b) Alien life plus panspermia is refuted by the Fermi paradox and oldest known stromatolites fossils

    No it isn’t. Fermi’s paradox is speculation about what he expected if life was enormously abundant to the point that alien civilizations existed all over the place, and claiming that such civilizations would solve a problem that might have no actual solution (interstellar travel), and thus visit our planet. The speculation can be questioned at several points. That cannot be evidence against panspermia, since panspermia doesn’t require the abundance of intelligent life, let alone the existence of civilizations that have advanced their technologies enough to visit our planet by interstellar travels.

    Stromatolites are fossils of already ongoing life forms, not of original life. Therefore they’re evidence that there was some pretty advanced life some 3.5 billion years ago, but they cannot tell us if life came from other planets or not.

    c) Single event abiogenesis is an unsupported and therefore unacceptable singularity

    Unacceptable to you, and all based on your poorly informed “judgement.” What other people are willing to accept or reject is up to them. I don’t see why your personal feelings would count for anything. I can accept all kinds of scenarios, from life arising only once, going through a few times, all the way to very common, and I don’t feel in the slightest inclined to follow your preferences, most importantly because you are ill-informed and unable to reason in the face of evidence contrary to your outrageously ridiculous claims (like that about assumptions being untestable). So, forgive me for not buying into your prejudices, but you’ve given me plenty of reasons to suspect your “judgement.”

    d) ‘Window of opportunity’ abiogenesis followed by LUCA bottleneck is even less acceptable double-singularity.

    Unacceptable to you, and all based on your poorly informed “judgement.” What other people are willing to accept or reject is up to them. I don’t see why your personal feelings would count for anything. You’re forgetting that if life started only once, then LUCA naturally follows, no need for a “second” singularity,” and if life started more than once, then if LUCA were due to a “bottleneck,” it would be just one “singularity,” but not even one would be required, since there’s also coalescence / power-law distributions, biases in survival, etc. I can accept all kinds of scenarios and I don’t feel in the slightest inclined to follow your preferences, most importantly because you are ill-informed and unable to reason in the face of evidence contrary to your outrageously ridiculous claims (like that about assumptions being untestable). So, forgive me for not buying into your prejudices, but you’ve given me plenty of reasons to suspect your “judgement.”

  17. Nonlin.org
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    John Harshman: Extinction of all but one episode.

    That’s case d – double singularity. Of course you can imagine anything you want but there is no evidence for either of those singularities. Hence the dilemma.

  18. Nonlin.org
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    Entropy: I already told you. There’s many ways, and not all require massive extinctions (even though massive extinctions are well documented through the history of life in the planet). There’s something called coalescence, and there’s something called power-law,

    And so you claim, but can’t show any of these and how it works?
    “It’s complicated” is just not a valid argument.

  19. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: As I already told you, one possibility is that conditions have changed enough for life to continue, but not for life to start, or maybe life starts and gets eaten, or maybe we don’t know what the first steps for abiogenesis look like, and thus we’;ve seen them, but failed to recognize them. There’s a plethora of solutions.

    I won’t go through all your “arguments” as they are no more than simple denials.
    Point is (and you won’t get this), you have to base whatever claims on evidence, not on fantasy.
    Furthermore, your “plethora of solutions” somehow excludes Intelligent Design although [FOR ONCE] you recognize you don’t know. If this is not proof of your religious conviction, then nothing is.

  20. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Fermi’s paradox is speculation about what he expected if life was enormously abundant to the point that alien civilizations existed all over the place, and claiming that such civilizations would solve a problem that might have no actual solution (interstellar travel), and thus visit our planet.

    Nope:
    “The Fermi paradox or Fermi’s paradox, named after Enrico Fermi, is the apparent contradiction between high estimates of the probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations, such as in the Drake equation, and the lack of evidence for such civilizations.”

  21. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: You’re forgetting that if life started only once, then LUCA naturally follows, no need for a “second” singularity,” and if life started more than once, then if LUCA were due to a “bottleneck,” it would be just one “singularity,”

    Nope. If only once, you need to explain that singularity (not you, someone that thinks). If “bottleneck” you need to explain the bottleneck singularity that lets ONE AND ONLY ONE survive + the closing of the ‘window of opportunity’ singularity. That’s two singularities – count them. Any discontinuity is a singularity that needs an explanation. For instance, the sudden disappearance of the dinosaurs is currently explained by an asteroid.

  22. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s clear that many don’t like the conclusions of this OP. However, expressing displeasure is not enough. What they need to do is to address the singularities and to come up with coherent alternative scenarios to be dissected and analyzed.

    For (and ONLY for) the purpose of this OP, abiogenesis – the biggest singularity of all – needs not be explained as it is not the focus of this discussion.

  23. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org:
    It’s clear that many don’t like the conclusions of this OP. However, expressing displeasure is not enough. What they need to do is to address the singularities and to come up with coherent alternative scenarios to be dissected and analyzed.

    Well, yes. I have been trying to get you to dissect and analyse an alternative scenario to Common Descent, any alternative scenario, but you refuse to engage. As I said, scientifically, Common Descent is the only horse in town. If there was a competing theory you would have spelled it out by now.

    Ergo, there is no dilemma (which doesn’t mean, of course, that there are no more unknowns left to explore).

  24. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    faded_Glory,

    I doubt that Nonlin can understand anything we have explained. Nonlin repeats shit already dealt with, again and again. No answers reach Nonlin’s mind, no matter how simple to understand for a normal person. So, I’m not bothering anymore.

  25. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: What they need to do is to address the singularities and to come up with coherent alternative scenarios to be dissected and analyzed.

    What makes you think you are worth that effort?

    Seems to me you are mistaking people not caring about your ideas for people being unable to refute those ideas.

  26. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    faded_Glory: Well, yes. I have been trying to get you to dissect and analyse an alternative scenario to Common Descent, any alternative scenario, but you refuse to engage. As I said, scientifically, Common Descent is the only horse in town. If there was a competing theory you would have spelled it out by now.

    No, you have not presented any alternative scenario that you support. I just looked.
    There’s no such thing as “the only horse in town”.

  27. Mung Mung
    Ignored
    says:

    It’s a real dilemma.

  28. Nonlin.org
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: Seems to me you are mistaking people not caring about your ideas for people being unable to refute those ideas.

    In this case it’s quite obvious you are not able to support your own failed scenarios.

  29. Rumraket Rumraket
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: In this case it’s quite obvious you are not able to support your own failed scenarios.

    No actually what is obvious is that you don’t understand what we try to explain to you, and seem to have entered into some sort of adverserial and contrarian mindset that makes communication between us impossible. There’s nothing more to be said here. We have each given our arguments and the discussion has never really got off the ground. For now this thread will just have to stand as-is so a curious reader can decide for themselves. Thank you for your, uhm, participation, if one can call it that.

  30. faded_Glory faded_Glory
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: No, you have not presented any alternative scenario that you support. I just looked.
    There’s no such thing as “the only horse in town”.

    You post an OP titles ‘Common Descent Dilemma’. A dilemma is a difficult choice between alternative options. Therefore, one would reasonably assume that you would present at least one alternative to CD. Not only have you not done this, you refuse to engage with a possible alternative that I put on the table (special creation).

    If there is no alternative to CD, there is no dilemma. If there is an alternative, let’s look at it to see how it compares scientifically with CD. Like, what is the evidence for it? What does it entail in terms of predictions? How could we falsify it?

    If you are not willing to do this, what on earth is the point of the OP?

  31. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: In this case it’s quite obvious you are not able to support your own failed scenarios.

    And yet those failed scenarios are the current paradigm.

    It must distress you greatly to know that your superior alternative cannot defeat something that has self-evidently failed.

    Most people would despair at this point, as this typically indicates that your alternative is of a lower quality then the thing it is attempting to displace. However you know that in this particular case your alternative is in fact superior, it’s just that it is being rejected because of prior biases. It’s everyone else and their alternatives that are worse, you are the exception. Your alternative is in fact better.

    Seems to me that what you need to do is to simply wait out this generation of reality-based scientists and try again with the next. As such, do you have a book you have published in the meanwhile? I’m actually genuinely asking, as I have a special book shelf for authors like you….

  32. OMagain
    Ignored
    says:

    Nonlin.org: In this case it’s quite obvious you are not able to support your own failed scenarios.

    I ask once more. What makes you think you are worth the effort required for disproving your claims?

    Why don’t you publish your “material” in an actual scientific journal?

  33. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    faded_Glory: You post an OP titles ‘Common Descent Dilemma’. A dilemma is a difficult choice between alternative options. Therefore, one would reasonably assume that you would present at least one alternative to CD. Not only have you not done this, you refuse to engage with a possible alternative that I put on the table (special creation).

    If there is no alternative to CD, there is no dilemma. If there is an alternative, let’s look at it to see how it compares scientifically with CD. Like, what is the evidence for it? What does it entail in terms of predictions? How could we falsify it?

    If you are not willing to do this, what on earth is the point of the OP

    This seems very fair comment, nonlin. Do you have an alternative explanation for the raw data and evidence we have regarding universal common descent? Or do you just not like the idea of universal common descent for… I dunno… personal reasons?

  34. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    OMagain: What makes you think you are worth the effort required for disproving your claims?

    Nonlin has made a claim? Other than UCD is bunk “because I say so”?

  35. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox,

    Do you have an alternative explanation for the raw data and evidence we have regarding universal common descent?

    Multiple origin events or more then one tree.

  36. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:

    Multiple origin events or more then one tree.

    The evidence does not support that.

  37. Alan Fox Alan Fox
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller: The evidence does not support that.

    Though I guess we can’t exclude the possibility that there were multiple origin events. But there was only one winner and all life we see descends from that winner with the losers all becoming extinct, leaving no trace

  38. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    Alan Fox: Though I guess we can’t exclude the possibility that there were multiple origin events. But there was only one winner and all life we see descends from that winner with the losers all becoming extinct, leaving no trace

    True. I think there almost certainly were separate origin events – lots of opportunities on a sterile earth. But there is no remaining evidence pointing in that direction – only one surviving, branching lineage: a deep-rooted genetic relationship among all extant life.

  39. petrushka
    Ignored
    says:

    Isn’t there some evidence of a fusion event, way prior to endosymbiosis?

  40. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Kathleen Raine, a scholar who studied William Blake gives us a Blake’s eye view of evolution in this video

    ..in this account of creation Blake is not writing about anything comparable with evolution as this is understood by the scientists who are describing the unfolding of forms within the natural world and who premise natural causality. For Blake and for the tradition in which he stands, mind, spirit is the ground of reality and the causal principle of which natural phenomena are the effect. It is also necessary to understand that for Blake, man is not his physical, but his spiritual body. Man is a spirit as God is. The true man, to use Blake’s terms, is imagination, the Platonic intellect. Man so understood cannot be located in space or in time, but is non-spacial, atemporal, and in this sense eternal. Blake never identifies the physical body with the true man. We descend as the Platonists say into the world of generations with the assumption of a physical body. Therefore creation is not the creation from nothing of a physical universe, but the binding of eternal life within the physical structure of a generated body. A limitation of consciousness by senses which exclude rather than admit.

    Evolution can be seen as the preparation of a physical body suitable to house the spiritual entity which is the real human being.

    Self-righteousness is popularly associated with the Puritan morality which itself is based on the legalism of the Mosaic law but Blake found it and attacked it in the moral code of atheism, deism as it was called in the eighteenth century which is indistinguishable from the humanism of our own. Under all these names the common belief is in a material universe operating according to the laws of nature and natural causality. It makes no difference for Blake whether a so-called God created this universe or not since deists and atheists are in agreement in seeing the natural universe as reality and the laws of nature as the only laws. Bacon, Newton and Locke were religious men in holding the universe to be the creation of a god of sorts, but were nonetheless according to Blake the three great teachers of atheism or Satan’s doctrines and it is against deism or natural religions that Blake fought his lifelong battle. Not because he questioned the deductions and conclusions of science but because he questioned its premises. Blake like the Platonists considered matter to be an abstraction, a non-end. For him the perrenial philosophy in all its branches, mind and not matter is the ground, the cause and the place of all that we experience and call a world. Natural religion has no place for the inner worlds of thought. It’s only place is in spaces or natural space whereas Blake in common with the Platonic tradition and the far-Eastern religions held spirit, consciousness to be the place of all spaces and times, not excepting that world to which to us appears to be external. it may appear as external to the natural body but it is not external to mind, consciousness. For all things exist in the human imagination. In your own bosom you bear your heaven and earth and all you behold. Though it appears without it is within, it is in your imagination.

    This external world which we call reality, Blake considered in actuality to be within our imagination and this Owen Barfield would subsequently term our “collective representations”.

    I would say that the best way to think about evolution is when we take it to have its original meaning of an unfolding. Matter unfolds to allow spirit to descend. And the lowest descent of spirit into matter is accomplished in the form of the human. The ego consciousness, which is spirit, descends into individual humans whereas it hovers over the animal form, acting more from without rather than within the individual.

    Universal common descent is just what we would expect as life unfolds. It shows the unity lying above the multiplicity in the same way that the individual human shows the unity lying above the multiplicity of cells and organs out of which she or he is composed.

  41. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    petrushka,
    There is plenty of evidence of gene transfer prior to endosymbiosis – lots of small ‘fusion events’, I guess. Whether than can be distinguished from a more substantial event I’m not sure. But rooting it all is the highly conserved genetic encoding. 51 out of 64 codons are invariant; nearly all the remainder are STOPs in at least one species – one would expect codons at protein ends to be more labile than those scattered inside, so even the variations make evolutionary sense.

    The proteins that underly this encoding are also strongly supportive of deep genetic commonality.

  42. John Harshman John Harshman
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Evolution can be seen as the preparation of a physical body suitable to house the spiritual entity which is the real human being. [etc., etc.]

    Why should anyone care what Blake thought or what you think? You make a number of unsupported assertions. If you want anyone to pay attention, you need to provide some support, some kind of evidence-based argument.

  43. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    John Harshman: Why should anyone care what Blake thought or what you think? You make a number of unsupported assertions. If you want anyone to pay attention, you need to provide some support, some kind of evidence-based argument.

    Let’s see if we can begin a conversation from a point of agreement. Do you believe that consciousness has evolved? And that it is possible, indeed probable, that it will evolve further into the future?

  44. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    True. I think there almost certainly were separate origin events – lots of opportunities on a sterile earth.

    Why then would you hypothesize that the eukaryotic cell came from the prokaryotic cell vs it being a separate origin event?

  45. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    Why then would you hypothesize that the eukaryotic cell came from the prokaryotic cell vs it being a separate origin event?

    Because of – among many other lines of evidence – the commonality of the genetic codes already mentioned.

  46. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    Because of – among many other lines of evidence – the commonality of the genetic codes already mentioned.

    Yet you have the incompatibility of how DNA is structured and processed.

  47. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd,

    colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    Yet you have the incompatibility of how DNA is structured and processed.

    What’s incompatible about it? You aren’t trying to mate them.

  48. Kantian Naturalist Kantian Naturalist
    Ignored
    says:

    John Harshman: Why should anyone care what Blake thought or what you think? You make a number of unsupported assertions. If you want anyone to pay attention, you need to provide some support, some kind of evidence-based argument.

    He provides lots of quotes about Blake, Goethe, and Barfield. What more could you possibly want?

  49. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Allan Miller,

    What’s incompatible about it?

    Almost everything, starting with the origin of chromosomes.

  50. Allan Miller
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:
    Allan Miller,

    Almost everything, starting with the origin of chromosomes.

    That doesn’t address the point. I’m asking what is incompatible about having two different replication systems or chromosomal architectures. Your own cells contain such a difference, but you appear to function OK.

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