Primordial Soup’s On: Scientists Repeat Evolution’s Most Famous Experiment

| 86 Comments

In the March 28, 2007 edition of Scientific American, Douglas Fox reports on the results of renewed experiments based on the original work by Stanley Miller.

Miller became famous for his experiments with Urey where they used a sparking device to replicate early earth. Their experiment produced a brown mixture rich in amino acids. In later experiments, which more closely matched the actual composition of the early earth, Miller found that the amino acids were quickly destroyed.

Not surprisingly, creationists quickly jumped on these results to argue that evolution must be wrong, and by extension, creationism was correct.

Such arguments of course are extremely vulnerable to scientific knowledge and in this case, things are not much different.

Jeffrey Bada decided to repeat the experiments with a twist

Bada discovered that the reactions were producing chemicals called nitrites, which destroy amino acids as quickly as they form. They were also turning the water acidic—which prevents amino acids from forming. Yet primitive Earth would have contained iron and carbonate minerals that neutralized nitrites and acids. So Bada added chemicals to the experiment to duplicate these functions. When he reran it, he still got the same watery liquid as Miller did in 1983, but this time it was chock-full of amino acids. Bada presented his results this week at the American Chemical Society annual meeting in Chicago.

Scientists are excited by these new findings as they provide another source for primordial chemicals, in addition to those delivered by meteorites.

“It’s important work,” says Christopher McKay, a planetary scientist at NASA Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. “This is a move toward more realism in terms of what the conditions were on early Earth.”

Most researchers believe that the origin of life depended heavily on chemicals delivered to Earth by comets and meteorites. But if the new work holds up, it could tilt that equation, says Christopher Chyba, an astrobiologist at Princeton University. “That would be a terrific result for understanding the origin of life,” he says, “and for understanding the prospects for life elsewhere.”

But James Ferris, a prebiotic chemist at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y., doubts that atmospheric electricity could have been the only source of organic molecules. “You get a fair amount of amino acids,” he says. “What you don’t get are things like building blocks of nucleic acids.” Meteors, comets or primordial ponds of hydrogen cyanide would still need to provide those molecules.

Another creationist Icon (strawman) seems to have bitten the dust.

86 Comments

Actally it is abiogenesis.

It may be evolution’s most famous experiment, but as any creationist who reads this blog should know, it’s not evolution since self replication is not happening. Well, maybe it is but that’s not what is being tested for.

So much for demonstrating the ignorance of those who attack science.

And call it an Icon of Evolution :-)

Oh, I thought that the Urey-Miller experiment had nothing to do with evolution.

1953 not 1983

1983 was the experiment with a more realistic atmosphere.

The Urey-Miller experiment is referred to in Icons of Evolution as one of the Icons. Whatever it is considered to be, it is an often misunderstood experiment, and the creationists have made much of the 1983 experiments by Miller which failed to show significant yields of amino acids in more realistic atmospheres.

I agree that Miller-Urey may be a famous experiment (as experiments go), but it has little to do with evolution. Kettlewell’s experiments are just as famous, and far more relevant to the theory of evolution.

Oh, I thought that the Urey-Miller experiment had nothing to do with evolution.

Evolution, abiogenesis, whatever. It’s a scientific experiment in the general family of “origins of life” that didn’t work as expected.

There have been precious few hypothesis put forward for testing evolution that didn’t pan out, so the creationists are on this one like a pit bull on a porkchop.

Scientifically, it’s a shrug. Science looks at something like this and says, “OK, that tells us nothing, where should we look next for an answer?” But a creationist doesn’t think like that. They see a failed test somewhere in life sciences and say that should be it, we can stop there and say evolution failed.

I agree. Abiogenesis is not really part of evolutionary theory. However, part of the reason for PT is to address creationist claims and this definitely qualifies. Therefore, people should be free to discuss the topic here if they choose, or not.

I have often thought that the reflexive response to Creo harping on the unsolved status of abiogenesis: “Abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution” was unsatisfying.

It’s true as far as it goes, though; lack of clarity about the origins of a system does not compromise understanding of how that system operates. So, it is certainly no blemish on Evolutionary theory that abiogenesis is still a relative mystery.

But, it is not the case that the two “have nothing to do” with each other. We aspire, certainly, to extend the explanatory power of evolutionary reasoning deeper into the past; we recognize that appending an account of abiogenesis onto the theory will extend and strengthen it. In short, we want to know, badly, the origins of the first biological replicators on Earth, and strongly suspect that natural selection has its roots in those earliest forays into living.

So, I think the answer needs to be more nuanced. “It’s true that abiogenesis is currently not solved. But,by the means of an inventive and lively interdisciplinary research effort, strides are being made every day, and there is no reason, in principle, to believe that the scientific method is inadequate to the task. Evolution is no worse an explanation for the diversity of life since its origin for lacking a theory of abiogenesis, and will only become stronger once its methods are applied to this, and other, currently unsolved problems.”

Anyway, in some way, the answer should admit that we want evolution to at least partially encompass life’s origins and highlight that it’s a strength of science, not a weakness, that it is able to move toward new horizons rather than settling into stagnation and dogma, like creationism.

Evolution is how life changes over time.

Abiogenesis is how life arose from nonlife in the first place.

The two questions aren’t the same.

Nevertheless they are closely linked as part of the same subject, the study of life over time. Obviously, if life hadn’t arose, there would be nothing to evolve.

The creos don’t just object to evolution. They object to anything not in accord with a very literal reading of a creation myth. Physicists get it because of the big bang and because the universe is 13.7 billion years old instead of 6010. Geologists and paleontologists get it for insisting it takes more than a week to make rock from sediment and finding all those dinosaurs and whatnot.

Apparently Freud is on their list too. Not clear to me what he did. Sometimes it seems like this is just medieval demonology updated.

The claim that the early Archean was not strongly reduced was popular in the 1970s and ’80s. You can find it in one of the most widely referenced text books on the subject,

Holland, Heinrich D. 1984 “The Chemical Evolution of the Atmoshphere and Oceans,” Princeton Series in Geochemistry Princeton University Press

However, this was based on computational models now abandoned, geochemical data that has been “revised,” and is ion any event no longer the prevailing position.

For a more current assesment see;

Holland, Heinrich D. 1999 “When did the Earth’s atmosphere become oxic? A Reply.” The Geochemical News #100: 20-22

In short, the early earth atmosphere and oceans were moderately to strongly reducing and certainly had local basins that were strongly reduced. Newer models of the earth’s formation show that the earth’s volatiles would have survived the great impact, and in fact would have captured a significant amount of the impactor’s atmosphere. ( see; Genda, Hidenori & Abe, Yutaka 2003 “Survival of a proto-atmosphere through the stage of giant impacts: the mechanical aspects” Icarus 164, 149-162.) These models are sucessful in accounting for the sorts of gas ratios observed and not consistant with earlier models (volcanic out gassing, etc…see; Pepin, R. O. 1997 “Evolution of Earth’s Noble Gases: Consequences of Assuming Hydrodynamic Loss Driven by Giant Impact” Icarus 126, 148-156).

Bada’s new result means that the redox question is much less significant than people have thought for the last 30+ years which is great.

I have often thought that the reflexive response to Creo harping on the unsolved status of abiogenesis: “Abiogenesis has nothing to do with evolution” was unsatisfying.

You have to keep it very, very simple for these guys. Just reading this board, it is obvious that the creos aren’t very well educated or clear, coherent thinkers. (I’m being polite here)

They tend to lump evolution in with everything they don’t like so you get evolution combined with abiogeneisis combined with physics, geology, fossils, Marxism, Freud, global warming, satan, and on and on. Without any focus, it is hard to even figure out what they are saying much less come up with a reply they might understand.

Re “physics, geology, fossils, Marxism, Freud, global warming, satan, and on and on.”

Well of course. The various branches of science are separated for convenience of understanding them, but they do all study the same universe, they just emphasize different aspects of it.

Though I don’t get how Marxism got in the list; that’s not a study of a physical aspect of our universe.

As for Satan, well, obviously he/she/it planted all those fossils… (I’m ducking for cover now!)

Henry

Raven sighed.…

… it is obvious that the creos aren’t very well educated or clear, coherent thinkers…

… it is hard to even … come up with a reply they might understand.

Ah, but Raven, that’s the crux of the problem. They don’t want to understand evolution, because they already know it’s wrong.

They just want to sweep it off the table and under the rug as quickly as possible before any more young, impressionable minds get led off the righteous path and into the world of depravity, vice and moral vaccum that is modern biology.

What would be the impact, so to speak, of the recent speculations that icy comet impacts could have provided the currently observed volume of water to a somewhat cooled, very early earth?

I can see the response being formulated now… “If we formed from amino acids, how come amino acids are still around?”

Here’s the next quotemine:

“What you don’t get are things like building blocks of nucleic acids.”

“A hah!” (they say) “so there had to be a god to create DNA!” (they do the happy dance.)

Simple atoms being formed into molecules without intelligence? Absurd! It violates the second law of thermodynamics, don’t ya know? I think we can safely ignore this empirical evidence.

abiogenesis is to evolution as string theory is to the atomic structure of matter. You can study and make testable predictions about “B” without a working theory of “A”. For a fully cohesive theory it would be nice to have all your ducks in a row but no one ever said science was easy. Has anyone read the book or listened to the Teaching Company course by Prof Robert Hazen of George Mason Univ. who reviews the current status of published work on this subject?

Pro from Dover,

I read Hazen’s Genesis: The Scientific Quest for Life’s Origins about a year ago, and I would definitely recommend it.

I wonder if we can goad the DI into shooting off another foot on this one?

Who wants to tease them with .….er actual science and empirical facts (ö)?

They wouldn’t do anything until it got on one of the big ‘news’ services anyway.

Why don’t you all just go ahead an create life, and show those creationists whats what!

Scientists are a long way from understanding abiogenesis. If they could replicate it and create life de novo, not much would change.

A few creos would be upset, thinking humans had usurped god’s job.

A few would point out the limited primitive nature of protolife and state that until something human evolves out of it, nothing was proved.

The vast majority of creos would just ignore the evidence and go on as before, explaining how all those dinosaurs fit in the ark and why radioisotope dating doesn’t really work and how sedimentary rocks form in days. Evolution sits on a huge mountain of evidence gathered over 150 years. It is consistent with everything discovered in physics, geology, paleontology, genetics, etc.. Anyone who can ignore that, can ignore anything.

I think it is critical to differentiate strongly between evolution and abiogenesis.

For these simple reasons -

1) We have an excellent understanding of evolution. We have an extremely strong theory of evolution. One possible reason for this is that evolution is both a past and present phenomenon. We can observe its mechanisms in the present. 2) Despite excellent work, there are still only incomplete hypotheses of abiogenesis. One possible reason is that we do not observe abiogenesis in the present.

An imaginary observer at the time of life’s origin might be in the opposite position - able to see how it was originating, but less able to know how it would evolve.

Of course the two are logically related in some ways, but it is quite clear that they are distinct, and one is understood much better than the other.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Another creationist Icon (strawman) seems to have bitten the dust.

You must be joking ! I’ll look forward to the YEC response. Something is bound to appear on the AiG website over the next few days.

Apparently Freud is on their list too. Not clear to me what he did.

That’s OK. It’s not clear to anybody what he did.

Well, amongst other things, he was a famous and outspoken atheist. I don’t know what exactly gets him on the list as opposed to other atheists.

You must be joking ! I’ll look forward to the YEC response. Something is bound to appear on the AiG website over the next few days.

I am sure there will be a ‘response’, but unlikely will it address the scientific issues. And how can YEC address issues of science with a straight face when they are denying what science (and God) is showing us.

Well, amongst other things, he was a famous and outspoken atheist. I don’t know what exactly gets him on the list as opposed to other atheists.

It’s OK. I looked on some of the creo sites and decided they probably didn’t know either. I’ll ask a creo if someone articulate shows up. Really wish they would keep their demonology list updated and accessible so we know who is in and who is out. The Pope seems high on the list for some reason.

The other question I wonder about is what happened to all the baby dinosaurs on the ark. I understand that Noah took baby dinosaurs for space reasons. So why are all the dinosaurs extinct? Looks like there was a series of unfortunate accidents after the boat landed or something. We are also missing a huge number of other species seeing as how many other extinct animals there are. But really, I don’t care enough about the answer to look on a YEC site.

Re “So why are all the dinosaurs extinct?”

I’d suppose the carnivores on the ark had to eat something during the trip, and during the period after the trip while ecosystems were still establishing themselves?

Henry

James! Easy on the caffeine, bro, you’re going to hurt yourself.

But to answer your questions succinctly.

…all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a ‘simple’ living cell.

Wait. It’s coming. Google the “Minimum Genome Project”.

Of course, this will mean nothing to the creationists, who are already taking their pre-emptive shots (see this golden oldie http://www.answersingenesis.org/cre[…]/scratch.asp).

The basis of their argument is always going to be “Show me it’s possible”, and after you do that, it’s always “But you had to do it on purpose so that implies intelligence!”, neatly ignoring that the original question was “is this possible at all?”” Which is usually clearly answered

Anyhow, as far as this goes…

Surely then the evolutionists scientists today should be able to make us a ‘simple’ cell.

Well, we’ve been trying to get an artificial version of blood working for forty years. It’s tricky, but it doesn’t mean that we don’t have 95 percent of how blood works figured out. If you needed a transfusion tomorrow, would you bet on the 95% we know about blood, or wait around till we get every last bit figured out? An eventuality which, I would point out, might not happen in your lifetime.

The evolutionists should honestly examine the SUPPOSED evidence ‘FOR’ evolution for THEMSELVES.

And nice caps to boot.

Swell. While you’re at it, could you please point me to some evidence, any evidence, for ID? Not against evolution, but For ID. Somehow I never see much of that on AIG. Where do I go for that?

Posters are right about creating cells and genomes from scratch. The minimum cell project is one such and shows how close our technology is. We’ve already recreated the polio and 1918 flu viruses from bottles of reagents. The next step of designing new viruses is very, very, short.

They are also right that it wouldn’t make any difference to the creos. They would just say, see it took a designer(s) which proves god exists. Evolution sits on top of a 150 year old mountain of evidence and has been consistent with everything found in other scientific fields, physics, geology, etc.. Anyone who can ignore that can ignore anything.

To really answer abiogenesis rigorously would take: 1. a newly condensed planet in a habitable zone around a G class star with a primordial atmosphere.

2. After bombarding it with comets and debris, cool slightly and then simmer for 500 million years or so.

At some point this just gets silly. If scientists are so smart, why don’t they just recreate the Big Bang? Of course if they did, that would be the last experiment for another 14 billion years or so.

Re “If scientists are so smart, why don’t they just recreate the Big Bang? Of course if they did, that would be the last experiment for another 14 billion years or so.”

Unless they make it in dimensions perpendicular to the ones we’re using at the moment. ;)

Just being a freshman, and new to these issues I don’t understand why it is so hard to create life. If it happened by a mindless process, IF, then it should be even easier with teams of the best scientists working on it. Whats the deal?

I’m willing to take a crack at it. Could you secure funding for me to run a laboratory the size of a planet for a half billion years? Once you line up the funding, I’ll get right to work.

…all they have to do is, get their brilliant heads together and assemble a ‘simple’ living cell.

Wait. It’s coming. Google the “Minimum Genome Project”.

The “minimum genome” specified in this project is most likely bigger than that available when the first cells formed. “Minimum genome” implies a certain set of functions in a certain environment. For example, this project probably requires genes for DNA replication. This would be unnecessary if you had a simpler RNA genome.

I don’t see this experiment as vindicating abiogenesis at all.

“Yet primitive Earth would have contained iron and carbonate minerals that neutralized nitrites and acids.”

Would primitive Earth have contained those things because of geologic evidence, or because they’re needed to neutralize nitrates and acids so life can begin? The word “would” seems to suggest its a requirement for abiogenesis only, not grounded in evidence. Besides, why did it take 50 years to realize Miller forgot these two ingredients? For two decades following Miller, there were a flurry of similar experiments performed by many scientists. None produced the results desired.

“When he reran it, he still got the same watery liquid as Miller did in 1983, but this time it was chock-full of amino acids.”

How many different amino acids were produced? I was unable to find the published number and quantities.

Of course, scientists must still find the natural mechanism that excludes right-handed amino acids, otherwise life will not spontaneously form.

What of the tremendous evidence for an oxygen-rich atmosphere early in geologic history? Bada requires zero-to-minimal oxygen in the primitive Earth for his amino acids to form. Does he simply ignore the evidence for an oxygen-rich early atmosphere?

“Another creationist Icon (strawman) seems to have bitten the dust.”

Such an absolute phrase! Considering these arguments “are extremely vulnerable to scientific knowledge,” what basis do you have to say such a thing? For all you know, next year a scientist could say Bada’s experiment does not represent primitive Earth at all.

By the way, I thought Flint’s post #168851 was well-said and I agree with much of it. This is coming from a Creationist. However, if you do a simple search for “evolution” on this very page, you will find EVERYBODY associates abiogenesis under the umbrella of the framework/worldview/paradigm called “evolution.” Given that, I suggest there are at least two definitions of “evolution” in play here: the scientific definition, and the name given to the paradigm.

And as a Creationist, I see non-Creationists attempting to distance themselves from abiogenesis, aka chemical evolution, aka spontaneous generation, because it is so tremendously unlikely to have occurred naturally, so non-Creationists quickly shout, “that’s not evolution!” Yet it’s REQUIRED for evolution to even begin. If spontaneous generation cannot happen, the paradigm of evolution is bunk.

In response to those that say, “we’ll create life when we have a lab the size of the world and several million years,” this just cinches the point of how general theories of the origin of life are unfalsifiable. Regarding specifics, such as amino acids forming in the primitive Earth, I would say this theory HAS been falsified with evidence for an oxygen-rich primitive atmosphere, but that never stops evolutionists from believing their theory as true, so in a sense, this can’t be falsified either.

The “Minimum Genome Project”, when/if successful, will look NOTHING like the conditions on the hypothetical primitive Earth, so will only show how intelligent scientists are at creating life and will prove nothing for abiogenesis, as Stevaroni pointed out. For that, millions of years will need to be provided. But that’s impossible to demonstrate! So much for a falsifiable theory!

Buho;

Wow, rational debate! Never thought I’d see that again!

And I do appreciate it.

Still, you’re wrong.

The problem is that this is not one of those “let’s compromise” things. Something happened way back in the way-back that led, eventually, to us clever apes typing to each other on computers.

Given the present state of human knowledge, the two current contenders are Darwinian evolution, and some form of the hand of God.

One, and only one of these things likely occurred, and both of them should have left plentiful evidence behind. By examining this evidence, we ought to get a pretty good idea of what actually happened.

On this point, I think we should still be able to agree, right?

This is where diverge.

The creation argument has for years been based largely on negatives. Every single one I’ve seen points to some natural feature or Darwinian concept and says “This won’t work”.

It’s always too complicated, or too unlikely, or defies some physical law or the other.

There is, simply, never, ever some positive proof offered, it’s all some form of “Can’t get there from here”.

Science, on the other hand, continually discovers possible paths. Is any given path the one, true, answer? Probably not. But we’re still looking, and every single thing we find removes another “couldn’t” from mankind’s book of knowledge.

Creationist “proof” depends on exclusion and impossibility - “There is no way bacterial flagellum could evolve, so by exclusion, it had to be the grace of God”. To counter that you don’t have to somehow demonstrate that you’ve found the exact, precise path the bacteria took, only that there were available paths, and visible evidence shows that at least some of them were trod.

It’s like you insisting that the cat must still be in the house because there’s no way it could possibly escape, and me pointing out that there are three open windows, and no cat to be found. No, it’s not absolute proof, but it still shoots big holes in your theory.

In this vein, the Miller/Urey/Fox experiments are important. No, they’re not an absolute eureka moment, but clearly, the demonstration that it’s possible to produce organic molecules without divine intervention goes a long way to demolishing yet another creationist “impossibility”.

Which, respectfully, is all creationists really have.

Creationists will continue to complain “Evolution can’t prove exactly how the first cell came to be”, but we both know that’s a straw man.

Those events were so small and lost so far back in the sands of time they will likely never be found. Still, we can make reasonable inferences based on what we do know.

The fact is that we’re pretty sure we can trace the tree back though it’s myriad branches to tiny little organisms that lived about a billion years ago. And that’s where the trail goes cold.

But that can’t be honestly conflated to the larger creationist claim that because we don’t know everything, it means we really know nothing.

I assume that, you, like me, know a lot about your parents, and a good deal about your grandparents, some smattering of information about your great grandparents, and so on. I also assume that based on the observable laws of biology being what they are, both of us actually have great-great-great-great-great grandparents, even though neither of us knows the first thing about them. (providing, of course, that I’m not addressing French royalty here, or something).

Buho said: If spontaneous generation cannot happen, the paradigm of evolution is bunk.

You are conflating independent questions. It’s like the theory of falling dominos. The theory of why each one falls in succession (evolution) is an independent question of how the first one was toppled (abiogenisis), and it seems likely the theories will be very different. Maybe the first life form was spontaneously generated. Maybe it was seeded here by aliens. Maybe we will one day find noncontradictory, truly prophetic religious writings that specifically describe how the gods poofed it here.

Or maybe, and here’s where creationists tend to blow it, maybe it is something that hasn’t occurred to any of us yet. In any case, evolution would remain as valid as it ever was. The nested hierarchies and all the other evidence that we are related to all the other creatures of this world isn’t going to go away, regardless of how the abiogenisis question is answered.

Stevaroni:

Thanks for the compliment.

I get a feeling that your biggest complaint with Creationists is that we operate on negatives. Ten potential explanations, conclude convincingly that one of the ten is impossible, then say, well, it absolutely must be option #3 then: God did it. The non-Creationist, on the other hand, finds new potential explanations while closing others. I’d just like to say that, while I can’t represent all Creationists, from my personal perspective, there seems to be a tendency for Creationists to point out that our theory, though it does not move, continues to be vindicated. It’s akin to a person asking a group of people for ideas, and in the back there’s that annoying kid that nobody likes who is waving his hand saying “I have an idea! I have an idea!” and the person deliberately ignores the kid, saying “anybody… anybody…” because nobody likes him. (A fun sketch in comedies.) Creationists hold onto “option #3” and watch how not much doubt is cast on option #3 but options 1, 2, and 4 through 32 have been shown to be impossible, and then look at the currently-open options #33-39 as probably not lasting very long. We insist, why is #3 so objectionable? Seems like a logical question to me.

At this point I am obliged to thank the non-Creationists for all of their hard work – indeed, Creationists seem to get a little lazy when God has already told us how things happened. For instance, I would not be nearly as motivated to search for extrasolar planets as those who are bent on vindicating evolution by finding life on other planets. However, I absolutely marvel at the discoveries made! Ironically, Creationists benefit from the hard work of the non-Creationists, and we must thank you for it. But to say that we work from negative evidence is a bit of a caricature, in my opinion. Both Creationists and non-Creationists are discovering evidence that both sides can use. The Creationist’s position does not move, therefore does not have to re-establish his position continually by affirming positive hypotheses. Non-Creationists, however, must continually create new stances with positive hypotheses because the old hypotheses were demolished. This isn’t exactly a rebuttal, just an off-the-cuff personal observation.

“The fact is that we’re pretty sure we can trace the tree back though it’s myriad branches to tiny little organisms that lived about a billion years ago. And that’s where the trail goes cold.”

But the Creationist asserts that this lineage is an illusion. The fossil record exhibits far more stasis than change. “Living fossils” abound and evolution is relegated to “instants” of rapid morphology. “Convergent evolution” creates statistical problems and does not align well with the general theory of evolution. All of those things make MUCH more sense in a Biblical framework, that creatures were created at once. To top it off, “the trail” that goes cold at the origin of life is explained clearly and logically with the Biblical framework. Going further, the problems with the Big Bang and the Prime Cause are avoided with the Biblical framework.

Science Avenger suggests the Biblical framework is contradictory, but in my studies I’ve found it to be logically coherent. What’s wrong with #3?

Yes, #3 is unfalsifiable, just as the assertion that all life came from rocks. But #3 has falsifiable tenets that remain unfalsified to this day. (For example, Creationists predict a “downward” and “smallward” progression of the genetic pool over time; evolutionists predict the opposite.)

“It’s like you insisting that the cat must still be in the house because there’s no way it could possibly escape, and me pointing out that there are three open windows, and no cat to be found. No, it’s not absolute proof, but it still shoots big holes in your theory.”

You insinuate that Creationists ignore evidence, which is false. But if it is shown that the windows are 30 feet off the floor with no accessible way to get to them, we are justified in saying that it is quite improbable for the cat to have left the house and must still be in it somewhere. (Declaring an absolute negative requires absolute knowledge, which we are usually short of. Atheists have this problem.) What would you have Creationists do? NOT measure the height of the windows? That would be scientifically inconsiderate of us!

It’s strange for me to say it, but I’m starting to think that Creationists and Evolutionists are spurring each other on to do better science, though it would the Creationists happy to see Evolutionists realize that they are wrong.

+ + + + +

While I’m here, I’d like to ask what you all think of this old Creationist metaphor: Take a frog and put it in a blender, and blend the frog until it is disassembled down to the component molecules. Wouldn’t this make an ideal “primordial soup” from which to create life? All of the proteins and DNA fragments are there. Free ATP is floating around. All of the 20 amino acids are present in large quantities, and they are all left-handed. Add electricity or heat and a simple cell should form spontaneously, right?

Ironically, Creationists benefit from the hard work of the non-Creationists, and we must thank you for it.

Well, it’s about time one of you admitted that biologists who understand and accept evolution get results, and creationists don’t. So when are you guys going to return the favor?

But the Creationist asserts that this lineage [the tree of life] is an illusion.

An illusion which your God knowingly created? What other illusions – a.k.a. lies – has he created? And since you’ve just admitted that your God creates illusions, how do you know the Bible itself, which the same God allegedly inspired, isn’t also packed with lies?

You insinuate that Creationists ignore evidence, which is false.

We’ve seen truckloads of cases in which creationists do just that. But you’ve ignored all of it, thus disproving your own argument.

It’s strange for me to say it, but I’m starting to think that Creationists and Evolutionists are spurring each other on to do better science…

You give evolutionists too much credit: what “better science” have we been able to inspire you to do? We haven’t seen one single peer-reviewed paper validating ANY incarnation of creationism; and when we flat-out ask you to produce something resembling honest science, as opposed to just PR and lies, you make lame excuses and disappear in a fog of name-calling and self-pity.

Take a frog and put it in a blender, and blend the frog until it is disassembled down to the component molecules. Wouldn’t this make an ideal “primordial soup” from which to create life? All of the proteins and DNA fragments are there. Free ATP is floating around. All of the 20 amino acids are present in large quantities, and they are all left-handed. Add electricity or heat and a simple cell should form spontaneously, right?

There are two problems with such an experiment: first, it would not approximate the conditions under which life actually began; and second, if it were performed, the creationists would simply claim it proves their argument whatever the actual result.

What’s wrong with #3?

IF “#3” is “goddidit,” then it can be trotted out to explain everything, and thus nothing; and that’s what’s wrong with it. This is why no one seriously tries to use such “explanations” in accounting or criminal justice.

Yes, #3 is unfalsifiable, just as the assertion that all life came from rocks. But #3 has falsifiable tenets that remain unfalsified to this day. (For example, Creationists predict a “downward” and “smallward” progression of the genetic pool over time; evolutionists predict the opposite.)

First you say it’s not falsifiable, then you say it is. Also, can you give us an example of ‘“downward” and “smallward” progression of the genetic pool over time?’ Those drug-resistant viruses and bacteria don’t seem to be evolving “downward.”

The Creationist’s position does not move, therefore does not have to re-establish his position continually by affirming positive hypotheses.

Translation: the creationist’s position is completely unmoored from reality, and therefore does nto have to adjust to new observations of fact.

Non-Creationists, however, must continually create new stances with positive hypotheses because the old hypotheses were demolished.

Translation: real scientists adjust their explanations to account for new evidence.

So who are we supposed to believe – the guy who admits and accepts new facts, or the guy who doesn’t (and pretends his willful ignorance is a virtue to boot)?

@ Raging Bee:

I enjoyed Stevaroni’s comments best. His comments are measured with reasonableness. Yours are, to be polite, far from that. They are more akin to knee-jerk reactions, not thought out, lacking substance. It’s as if you didn’t read what I wrote. You misrepresent me on at least three occasions, and then use these misrepresentations to construct strawmen.

+ + + + +

Raging Bee Wrote:

first, [the frog-blender experiment] would not approximate the conditions under which life actually began

I draw this out specifically because I’m curious: would not this experiment represent impossibly-good conditions for the origin of life, and that the “actual” conditions would then be much, much worse? If so, your answer does not give a good speculation as to why spontaneous generation has NOT been observed occurring all over the place, and why some scientists haven’t begun with this concoction, molding it piece by piece toward a semblance of the “actual” conditions. (I intentionally use the more offensive term for chemical evolution.)

+ + + + +

Quite by happenstance, I just ran across something Anthony Flew once said which relates to this topic:

Anthony Flew Wrote:

It seems to me that Richard Dawkins constantly overlooks the fact that Darwin himself, in the fourteenth chapter of The Origin of Species, pointed out that his whole argument began with a being which already possessed reproductive powers. This is the creature the evolution of which a truly comprehensive theory of evolution must give some account. Darwin himself was well aware that he had not produced such an account. It now seems to me that the findings of more than fifty years of DNA research have provided materials for a new and enormously powerful argument to design.

Now, for those who don’t know, Flew was the #1 greatest atheist for decades, and just a few years ago, convinced by the new evidence science was uncovering, became a Deist. Now, I’m quick to distance myself from the shaky foundations of pure Intelligent Design (as opposed to Young Earth Creationism grounded in the Bible), but the facts that ID elevate are intriguing and Flew’s conclusions are something to cause one to pause. Flew: “I had to go where the evidence leads.” And, according to Flew, that is not pure naturalism regarding the Origin of Life. If Flew erred, how? If not, why are so many here adamant that life most definitely came from rocks?

Buho says, of a blended frog

would not this experiment represent impossibly-good conditions for the origin of life

No. The mixture would be full of enzymes all busily breaking down everything in sight.

Both Creationists and non-Creationists are discovering evidence that both sides can use.

Huh? Please give me just one thing a creationist has discovered in the last 50 years that has been of use in evolutionary science.

Flew was the #1 greatest atheist for decades, and just a few years ago, convinced by the new evidence science was uncovering, became a Deist.

Apparently this was because he could not see how life started, not because of any new evidence. In other words, a god of the gaps. Besides, scientists are persuaded not by who is convinced but by what does the convincing. We can all think of otherwise respected people who have made utter chumps of themselves in an area in which they are not as well informed as they believe.

Buho wrote

The Creationist’s position does not move, therefore does not have to re-establish his position continually by affirming positive hypotheses.

Translated: Creationists don’t learn.

Doesn’t “knee jerk” generally refer to a reaction to something that one hasn’t already encountered a large number of times before?

Henry

That hasn’t should have been hasn’t.

“No. The mixture would be full of enzymes all busily breaking down everything in sight.”

But enzymes are critical for life. Anyway, I didn’t want to argue that bit here. I was just curious what the response was by those that believe chemicals spontaneously arranged themselves to produce life in the past.

“Please give me just one thing a creationist has discovered in the last 50 years that has been of use in evolutionary science.”

You’ll have to tell me; I’m not going to guess. I’m not that much interested in how evolutionists spin evidence to align to their worldview. But I can tell you (and you’ve probably already heard this) that there are thousands of scientists in the real world doing real science, producing real results, and finding new evidence – evidence that both sides can use – that believe in a literal six day creation a few thousand years ago. AiG has a fairly long list somewhere. I can point to a single example, the RATE project of ICR (helium in zircon, radiohalos, carbon in diamonds, etc.). They conducted experiments and the results can be filed side-by-side with the work the uniformitarians have amassed. I’m sure that their work will prove useful for some evolutionist in some way. RATE used the work of evolutionists to further their studies. It’s evidence, not subject to debate. (Only the interpretation is open to debate.) What kind of scientist ignores some evidence?

“Apparently this was because [Flew] could not see how life started, not because of any new evidence.”

So, if someone “follows the evidence” and concludes a deity created the first life, then that someone must be ignorant? “All REAL scientists believe the theory of evolution best fits the evidence.” That’s the “no true Scotsman” fallacy, thank you Flew.

You’ll have to tell me; I’m not going to guess.

Translation: “I can’t be bothered to back up any of my assertions, because I’m too lazy to get a real education and too scared to admit my ignorance.”

I’m not that much interested in how evolutionists spin evidence to align to their worldview…

Obviously you’re not interested enough to actually learn any actual science. So why should we be interested in what someone so ignorant and uncaring has to say?

…But I can tell you (and you’ve probably already heard this) that there are thousands of scientists in the real world doing real science, producing real results, and finding new evidence — evidence that both sides can use — that believe in a literal six day creation a few thousand years ago.

Yeah, we’ve heard that before. And here’s a question you’ve surely heard before (and still refused to answer): How many peer-reviewed papers have these thousands of scientists published to prove their creation-story?

AiG has a fairly long list somewhere.

And you’re too lazy to post a link even to that paltry bit of “evidence?” Go back to bed, Skippy.

I enjoyed Stevaroni’s comments best. His comments are measured with reasonableness.

And you completely failed to refute any of his claims. Can we take this as an admission that he’s right and you’re wrong?

Yours are, to be polite, far from that. They are more akin to knee-jerk reactions, not thought out, lacking substance. It’s as if you didn’t read what I wrote. You misrepresent me on at least three occasions, and then use these misrepresentations to construct strawmen.

Refute my arguments, answer my questions, and specify exactly how and where I’ve misrepresented your statements, and I’ll take your opinions seriously. Until then, all you’re doing is pretending to find excuses to dodge arguments you can’t handle.

Syntax Error: not well-formed (invalid token) at line 1, column 54, byte 54 at /usr/local/lib/perl5/site_perl/5.16/mach/XML/Parser.pm line 187.

Nay, the negatives are serious and must be addressed by the evolutionists.

They HAVE been addressed, and creationists keep on ignoring it and pretending they haven’t been addressed.

However, positives are brought fourth. Creationists assert that the massive genetic information present today was originally created…

By what mechanism? And how has that act of creation been proven to have happened? I don’t remember anyone even describing the specific act, let alone describing how it could be proven or disproven.

…and has since steadily declined over time via mutational degradation.

No one has even tried to quantify or measure this “information;” therefore, no, it’s not falsifiable.

The first part, although positive, can be proven no more than the precise hypothetical environment that spawned the hypothetical first living cell.

If your positive assertion cannot be proven by scientific means, then it is not science, and should not be confused with science. If you want to make this assertion in your church, as a religious belief, that’s perfectly okay; but if you call it “science,” then you’re participating in a con game.

But the second part is a positive assertion that is falsifiable.

No, it’s not – see my reference to the problem of quantifying and measuring “information.”

…The evolutionist attempts to elaborate on the naturalistic Origin of Life, where the evolutionist must bear the burden of naturalistic processes.

Yes, that’s how science is done. It’s a lot of work, and if you don’t do the work, you don’t get the credit.

The Creationist, on the other hand, can’t do the same.

Because he’s making bald assertions based on faith, not on reason, experiment or observation. In other words, the creationist is not actually doing science, and when he says he is, he’s lying. And he knows it.

God did it. That’s our hypothesis.

If you can’t describe HOW goddidit, then you can’t prove or disprove it; and if you can’t prove or disprove it, then it’s not a “hypothesis.” Get your terminology straight.

Does that make the Creationist hypothesis wrong? No.

No, it merely makes the creationist “hypothesis” scientifically vacuous. It’s not a hypothesis, it’s a belief. Learn the difference.

But I never said that.

Which is why I didn’t say you said it.

The illusion is this: the tree of life exists only in the minds of evolutionists; nowhere in reality does the tree of life exist.

It is believed to exist based on a planet full of evidence – all of which your God allegedly created.

You are employing devious debate tactics and conversational terrorism.

There’s that phony “persecution” angle again. I must really scare the crap out of you if you’re calling me a “terrorist.”

Buho: I asked you “Please give me just one thing a creationist has discovered in the last 50 years that has been of use in evolutionary science.”

Your response: “You’ll have to tell me; I’m not going to guess.”

But it was you who claimed that creationists are discovering evidence that others can use. So in other words, you were trying to con us? It seems to me that that is a typical creationist trick.

What of the tremendous evidence for an oxygen-rich atmosphere early in geologic history?

What evidence? All the references I have found indicate a reducing or neutral atmosphere with essentially no free oxygen. What citation are you using?

Creationists assert that the massive genetic information present today was originally created, and has since steadily declined over time via mutational degradation.

Creationists can assert this until they are blue in the face, but there is not one whit of evidence to support it.

I state that the tree of life is not real (and then give evidence, which you ignore).

I confess, I completely failed to see anything that passed as evidence. There are just a few statements about the fossil evidence seeming to show that there is frequently stasis rather than continuous change. So? Why do creationists have this fixation on fossils, which will never tell a complete story? The nested hierarchy of life is far more compelling, at least to me.

God did it. That’s our hypothesis.

No it isn’t. That is your assertion. As you are fully aware (but pretend not to know), to be a hypothesis you have to tell us what possible evidence you would accept as showing that God did not in fact do it.

The evolutionist is unable to bring forth very many negatives to this hypothesis.

Precisely! Science cannot consider the supernatural, and therefore biologists cannot show any evidence that any god (or gods) did or did not do it. Gods are an unhelpful concept when conducting science. However, what can be said from the scientific evidence is that neither of the creation myths in Genesis has any grounding in reality, unless there is a trickster god who planted lots of fake evidence to make it look like evolution had taken place on a much older earth.

I am frequently an observer of weakly educated supporters of evolutionary theory yielding to only slightly better educated (or more persuasive) creationists regarding the origin of life.

This is happening on this thread, as in many others on many other internet BBs.

It is an example that I consider as “Blind leading the blind where the blind (party of the first part) has a predetermined destination.”

It is fairly easy to BS about evolution and creationism without bothering with more than a few popular books and what one can gleen from lurking on a few BBs. Abiogenesis actually requires some work, and so it is the weakest point in the popular ev v cre sport.

Why Life’s Genesis Is Unrepeatable

QUOTE (HenisDov @ May 18 2007, PhysForum) A. If one accepts, intuitively and logically, Pasteur’s observation .… We are just beginning to comprehend the nature of the raw material called Life and that the purpose of OUR life is ours to choose and develop and follow. Dov

I am asked, by TracerTong, two questions:

A. Shouldn’t it (life’s genesis) be repeatable? Wouldn’t scientists have already been able to repeat it?

B. What about ‘spiritual’ happenings? Is it logical to assume only ‘natural’ genesis?

My answers:

A. Today’s “scientists” are unable to “repeat it” because (1) they do not know how the first “life” arose and (2) they do not and will never know and will not be able to duplicate the environments and circumstances of genesis and (3) they do not and will never know and will never be able to repeat the environments and circumstances of post genesis evolution.

B. “Spiritual happenings” are virtual reality affairs. They are feasible only for living organisms that have a culture, i.e. that have a pattern of sensings and reactions to the sensings. Genes, and therefore also genomes, are organisms and display virtual reality phenomena, therefore also multicelled organisms, like dogs and humans, display such “spiritual” phenomena.

Dov Henis (Comments From The 22nd Century) Life’s Manifest http://www.the-scientist.com/commun[…]112.page#578 EVOLUTION Beyond Darwin 200 http://www.physforum.com/index.php?[…]#entry396201 http://www.the-scientist.com/commun[…]22.page#1407

My answers:

A. Today’s “prophets” are unable to “repeat it” because (1) they do not know how the first “spirit” arose and (2) they do not and will never know and will not be able to duplicate the environments and circumstances of spirit genesis and (3) they do not and will never know and will never be able to repeat the environments and circumstances of post spirit evolution.

B. “Evolution” is a reality affair. It is feasible for living organisms that reproduce, i.e. that have a pattern of variation and reactions to the environment. Genes, and therefore also genomes, display such reality phenomena, therefore also multicelled organisms, like dogs and humans, display such “evolution” phenomena.

There that’s better.

Creationists are just straight up ignorant a-holes.

No exceptions

Dov Henis said:

A. Shouldn’t it (life’s genesis) be repeatable? Wouldn’t scientists have already been able to repeat it?

B. What about ‘spiritual’ happenings? Is it logical to assume only ‘natural’ genesis?

a: Actually, science is probably within 10 years of “repeating it”, if it even takes that long.

If they do so, which seems almost certain, at this point, are you going to admit you were wrong or are you going to simply move the goalposts, as creationists always do?

b: OK, what exactly is “spiritual happenings” other than word salad?

Please, by all means, give us a actual definition of “spiritual happenings”, because I’m willing to bet that within 50 years some computer science type will actually achieve consciousness on a silicon platform, and then, as always, creationists will move the goalposts again.

About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by PvM published on April 7, 2007 12:58 PM.

Three years and counting was the previous entry in this blog.

Mammalian Macroevolution Muddle is the next entry in this blog.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.

Categories

Archives

Author Archives

Powered by Movable Type 4.381

Site Meter