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January 15, 2009

Comments

They're getting closer.

.....and further at the same time. Oh, the irony! Great summary, Melinda!

Anyone interested in understanding a bit more about this (instead of just dismissing it with sarcasm) could start here:

http://www.livescience.com/strangenews/090111-creating-life.html

Ron

>> And all it took was a team of intelligent beings who knew the right conditions for this almost-life to thrive.

How else are people supposed to investigate these hypotheses?

Maybe we should just look for some earth-like primordial planets and just observe what happens.

I like how they've "pinned it down" to chemical reactions in a soup, or maybe volcanoes, or maybe the sea, or maybe between mica sheets. If homicide detectives worked like this they'd be fired: "Captain, we haven't caught the killer yet, but we've pinned it down to a human being, living on some continent on Earth." Good work guys. What would we do without you!

"And all it took was a team of intelligent beings who knew the right conditions for this almost-life to thrive."

Yeah, like the creation of diamonds...oh, wait, that doesn't require intelligent direction. Or like the reproduction of a sponge...oh, wait, that doesn't require intelligent direction either. While I agree that this may not be much of a "discovery" (though who knows where it will lead), the above comment is even more useless.

Ron,

There is nothing wrong with a little sarcasm to make a point, so long as one is not using it to evade their opponent’s evidence. I don’t think Melinda was doing that at all. She is merely pointing out that it took intelligence and contrived conditions to accomplish this feat (this speaks to your comment as well, Jim). The early Earth provided neither, so why think this is evidence that life arose from non-organic materials by chance?

There are so many variables that are necessary to create a self-replicating organism (many of which require opposing conditions) that after years of research, OOL scientists are only more puzzled than ever about how it could be physically possible (as opposed to logically possible).

TBC…

…continued

I did read the article in LiveScience (and Science Express). As for what Joyce actually accomplished, it wasn’t much. According to the report in Science, Joyce was only able to get the RNA strands to replicate by engineering the RNA molecules to copy "word-by-word" rather than letter-by-letter. But if that is not how RNA is usually replicated, why think this experiment tells us anything about how RNA might have been able to self-replicate on the early Earth, and how life got started? If anything, it seems to demonstrate that for RNA to replicate on its own it requires an intelligent agent to manipulate it into acting in ways it does not act in nature. And if that’s what we’re doing, then the results of the experiment don’t tell us anything about the physical process by which life came into being. It would be like me saying

And what about the nucleotide strings Joyce placed in the beaker? Why think those nucleotide strings would have been available in the early Earth, and/or available in the quantities and locations needed? Is it any surprise that if you provide the right kind of “RNA food,” in the right quantities, in the right location, and re-program the RNA so that it is able to join itself to those nucleotides, that it does so?

And...how did the chemicals, soup, volcanoes, sea or mica sheets get there to begin the reaction?

" why think this experiment tells us anything about how RNA might have been able to self-replicate on the early Earth"

I think you are on the threshold of expressing the larger point that i believe was atleast attempted to be made here. Sure, melinda's statement seems a little "no duh", to the point where you might even ask why you would even say that, but that is essentially the point -- their is no other way to go about it. It seems obvious that intelligence was involved because it, atleast in my opinion, IS obvious that their is no other logical way this could have came about. So you simply cannot escape employing intelligence for something of this nature becuase there is no other way for life to arise from non-life. So when melinda says,

"And all it took was a team of intelligent beings who knew the right conditions for this almost-life to thrive"
Shes not being sarcastic as one suggested because infact,

Indeed, that is all it takes.

And please excuse the word threshhold from my last post Jason, becuase you did infact articulate the point very well.

Jason,

"after years of research, OOL scientists are only more puzzled"

Are you implying that if some form of naturalistic account were possible that, "after years of research", we would have found *the* answer? Of course the issue of how long should we wait until we decide that such an account is, in fact, impossible is a question, but it should be remembered that it *is* a question. Many here seem to think that we've already been *way* past that point, but I haven't seen a good reason to think such is the case.

I think I get what you are saying Kevin and your right, it by all means is a question....

I guess the question is then, will it ever be possible to observe (concerning the formation of life from non life) this thing in its natural process? If there were a purely naturalistic order to it, Or are 'our' presuppositions barring that answer from ever being witnessed? If that makes any sense.

Maybe like having all the right components of a car, and waiting for something else to build it when infact that someone is you. And i realize thats an incomplete and albeit mediocre analigy.

I the interest of fairness, the report does clearly state that this is not life with the qualification that some scientists insist that it is. I don't think that it is a clear case for "this is how it probably happened" statement. When you consider the sheer complexity of a single celled living organism, you come to realize that this example is about 400 quadrillion miles away from its destination. Well, that might be just a slight exaggeration, but only slight.

Kevin,

No, I am not implying that the time limit has expired for finding a purely naturalistic explanation for the OOL. There is no such thing in science. My point was merely that the more time materialistic scientists spend looking for the answer, the farther the answer eludes them. Research is not bridging the gap, but showing just how big it is. As biochemist Klaus Dose admitted, 30 years of OOL research has led to “a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance.”

But let me expand on my original thought to address the question of whether scientists will ever find a physically plausible purely naturalistic OOL. I have reason to think not, because I have reason to think—given the chemical and biological evidence, and the mathematical odds—that life could have only arisen from a designing intelligence. Scientists can continue searching for a physically plausible means by which inorganic material organized itself into organic, self-replicating matter, but the search will not yield it. It will only continue to elucidate the need for a designing intelligence.

Life can never be reduced to mere chemicals because chemicals qua chemicals do not bear information. Life is a series of specified information expressed using chemicals in the same way that the chemicals of ink and paper do not communicate a message apart from an intelligent agent expressing information through them. If information requires intelligence, and DNA/RNA bear information, then they require intelligence.

Well said jason!

Jason,

So your assumption, then, is that if something like a naturalistic account were correct then the "30 years of OOL research" would lead to more new findings rather than greater mystery?

Such certainly hasn't been the case in physics, which undergirds biology: the longer physicists look at the nature of reality the more they become dumbfounded by even the basic nature of the smallest particles (that we know of). The whole issue of how to interpret quantum reality (i.e. string vs foam vs whatever) is a demonstration of the fact that further research, even over 100 years or more, can lead to *many* more questions than it does clear answers.

On your last point, yes, chemicals do not carry "information" (under one understanding of that term), but if we accept emergentism and a basic holism as a fundamental aspect of reality (even being present in 'physical' reality, which then disagrees with the usual understanding of parts outside of parts [partes extra partes]), then the possibility of wholes overcoming the limitations and expanding on the properties of the parts becomes a genuine reality. Then the issue becomes one of whether such wholes 'naturally' emerge or if there needs to be some guiding 'spirit' or universal that brings about the whole emergent entity. But once we get there we've moved into issues of philosophy and metaphysics/ontology, not science per se.

"But once we get there we've moved into issues of philosophy and metaphysics/ontology, not science per se."

Sucked the words right out of my mouth! Or hands i guess

Even in saying that, just after that realm of philosophy is a certain natural order. It would seem that we are observing just that*

Jason,

Melinda said, "And all it took was a team of intelligent beings who knew the right conditions for this almost-life to thrive." And you call the conditions 'contrived'.

The fact that the researchers are intelligent (I'm sure they are!) is irrelavent if the conditions they created were realistic.

If either you or Melinda wants to seriously critique the researcher's work, you could give *reasons* why these 'contrived' conditions wouldn't have existed on Earth before life. Or, you can say *why* what happened in their lab doesn't represent a significant step in a possible path for abiogenisis. Maybe there are other ways to attack their work, but those seem like the two major ways to me.

Ron

Yikes! Spelling!: *irrelevant*, *abiogenesis*

Jason,

Please define "specified information".

Ron

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