Wednesday, October 23, 2013

How Do the IDiots Explain the Origin of Life?

We don't know how life on Earth originated. We're not completely ignorant because we have a good idea of basic biochemistry and we know which enzymes and pathways had to be present in the earliest cells. We're pretty sure that the first life forms captured energy by oxidizing inorganic molecules. We're pretty sure that the first cells formed in the ocean.

We also know from the fossil record that the first organisms were single-celled organisms that resemble modern bacteria in size and shape. We know that they appear more than 3 billion years ago and there were no complex organisms for another billion years. We know that the idea of a primordial soup is nonsense and that speculations about an RNA world are not helpful.

Other than that, all we have is informed speculation. The correct answer to the question of how did life begin is "I don't know."

Denyse O'Leary asks: Origin of life: How are we doing?. She is shocked to learn that scientists have not figured out all the details of how life began. She acts like she knows the answer. She acts like she has an explanation that accounts for all of the data and for the subsequent history of life.

Why isn't she sharing that information? How do the IDiots explain the origin of the first primitive cells more than 3 billion years ago?


149 comments :

  1. Argument from ignorance. We don't know, therefore: god. She doesn't understand that when science says 'we don't know', it's usually inferred that the next word is 'yet'. Even a non-scientist like myself can understand that.

    Dave Bailey

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  2. A magic man without a physical body came from "outside of time and space"(whatever that means) and poofed the first cells into existence in a puff of smoke, simply through the power of thought.

    Because obviously that makes sense, that there are magic men without physical bodies, and that they can simply think matter and energy into existence and shape.

    The very basis for their blind faith in this proposition is, yes, our current ignorance. We don't know - therefore immaterial magic men with omnipotence.

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    1. Exactly, and these idiots and IDiots also think that if they can show that evolution is false, then magic men coming from outside time and space (whatever that means) without physical bodies who can think matter and energy into existence has to be the answer. :/

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  3. "We know that the idea of a primordial soup is nonsense and that speculations about an RNA world are not helpful."

    Can you elaborate on this point, please?

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    1. Seconded, especially re: RNA world. Is this statement in reference to RNA first theories specifically? Or the broader RNA world hypothesis that (many/most) genetically encoded proteins were preceded by ribozyme catalysts.

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    2. More recently, RNA-peptide world has been proposed.

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    3. The peptide-RNA world as outlined in 'Marcoli''s link below, where two peptide 'urzymes' catalyse RNA polymerisation, is a bit hazy when it comes to specification. They dismiss RNA as too unlikely given the probabilistic resources of the universe, but don't appear to address the equivalent problem in arriving at an 'ur-zyme' in the first place. And they have to come together, repeatedly, and somehow their structure must survive the transition to RNA-specified protein synthesis, or be rediscovered on the far side, given that they inferred ur-zyme structure from modern proteins.

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    4. ShadiZ1 asks,

      Can you elaborate on this point, please.

      Sure. The concept of a primordial soup full of spontaneously created organic molecules like glucose and amino acids is nonsense because there's no conceivable way to create those molecules at concentrations high enough to make a difference in the ocean—where life probably began. You can't get around this problem by postulating the existence of a warm little pond that just happens to have high concentrations of organic molecules and remains in existence for millions of years.

      "Metabolism first" is a much more reasonable hypothesis. See ....
      Changing Ideas About The Origin Of Life
      NASA Confusion About the Origin of Life: Part II
      Was the Origin of Life a Lucky Accident?
      Metabolism First and the Origin of Life
      More Prebiotic Soup Nonsense

      Speculation about an RNA world contributes very little to our understanding of the origin of life. True, there are RNA catalysts and some of them (e.g. ribosomal RNA) are extremely important. But in order to get to the RNA world, primitive life forms had to develop pathways for the synthesis of complex sugars (ribose) and nitrogenous bases (purines and pyrimidines). They also had to develop the ability to handle nucleotidyl group transfer reactions. These are very sophisticated reactions that could not have been among the first metabolic reactions.

      It's much more likely that the first catalysts were peptides because it's easy to imagine simple catalyzed reactions leading to synthesis of simple amino acids. The build-up of nucleotides would have occurred much later. By the time we get to anything resembling an "RNA world" all the important problems have already been solved.

      We don't have all the answers but I think we've reached the stage were we can eliminate some of the more outlandish speculations.

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    5. It's much more likely that the first catalysts were peptides because it's easy to imagine simple catalyzed reactions leading to synthesis of simple amino acids. The build-up of nucleotides would have occurred much later.

      I'm afraid I don't see how. How does repeatable peptide specification occur in the absence of a nucleotide template?

      If a 'lucky ribozyme' sequence is hit upon, this can be replicated and persist, and be tuned by selection. A 'lucky peptide sequence' can't, unless it is rooted in nucleic acid, or an equivalent system. I don't doubt that there was prebiotic interplay between various carbon molecules, and the nucleobases had to come from somewhere, but calling that 'metabolism' is a stretch, while 'primitive life forms' seems inappropriate if they lack the capacity to replicate. I don't see that your speculations are any less outlandish than the RNA-worlders'.

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    6. Allan Miller asks,

      How does repeatable peptide specification occur in the absence of a nucleotide template?

      I don't know. That's not generally part of the "metabolism first" hypothesis. Most origin of life workers seem to assume that "genetics" arose later and probably required something like nucleic acid and coding potential.

      ... calling that 'metabolism' is a stretch, while 'primitive life forms' seems inappropriate if they lack the capacity to replicate.

      I acknowledge your semantic objections.

      I don't see that your speculations are any less outlandish than the RNA-worlders'.

      I'm sorry you see it that way. Many people disagree with you. I guess the important point is to acknowledge that the "RNA-worlders" do not have a monopoly on origin of life speculations. I think that point needs more publicity because scientists and science writers have been promoting the RNA world scenario for decades as though it were a done deal.

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  4. As far as I have heard, no one has actually been able to get RNA to completely self-replicate. Getting RNA to splice together smaller pieces of RNA has been done, and getting long pieces of RNA to polymerize short pieces of RNA has been done, but getting RNA to self-replicate full length copies of itself from nucleotides does not happen in the laboratory. Correct me if I am wrong, but an 'RNA only' world seems unlikely.
    There are alternatives. There are other synthetic nucleic acids that do better than RNA, and there is interesting progress in a possible 'Peptide-RNA World' .

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    1. So, there's actually been a number of significant advancements with RNA replication recently: self - replicating and evolving ligase ribozymes (Lincoln and Joyce "Self-Sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme" Science 2009); RNA polymerase ribozymes able to transcribe other ribozymes (Wochner et al "Ribozyme-Catalyzed Transcription of an Active Ribozyme" Science 2011); and RNA polymerase ribozymes able to polymerize RNA sequences of greater length than itself (Attwater et al "In-ice evolution of RNA polymerase ribozyme activity" Nature Chemistry 2013). That last one was published today, oddly enough.

      More generally, we already know that RNA is capable of catalyzing the basic reaction of template-dependent RNA polymerization, Morevover, it does so using the same mechanism used by protein-based RNA polymerases - the same motif is seen in natural protein enzymes, natural ribozymes, and man-made ribozymes. That suggests that RNA-catalyzed RNA replication is possible. Going from that to building a whole replicative polymerase out of RNA is a tall order, but so would be building one out of protein, or even a peptide-RNA combo. It's hard to go from "it hasn't been done yet" to "it won't happen".

      Also, just to be clear, these kind of studies only support the theoretical feasibility of self replicating RNA based life. Whether modern life descended from RNA life and whether RNA life can emerge spontaneously (i.e. without evolving from earlier life or some very complex life-like chemistry) on the early earth are separate questions (for the record, I think the answers are probably yes and probably no, but with significant uncertainty in both cases).

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    2. The objection regarding our inability to create a self-replicating RNA would carry more weight if the alternatives had solved that problem!

      My own wild speculation is that RNA replication was preceded by RNA hybridisation, prolonging 'lifetimes' by double-strand stability and hence favouring bases with a complementary partner and homochiral ribose monomers over the rest of the chemical mess. Life has yet to crawl out of my kitchen table OoL-o-Matic though; I'll keep you posted!

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    3. I posted the following comment in the wrong track, so I’m reposting it here:

      Allan Miller: “My own wild speculation is that RNA replication was preceded by RNA hybridisation, prolonging 'lifetimes' by double-strand stability and hence favouring bases with a complementary partner and homochiral ribose monomers over the rest of the chemical mess."

      Allan,

      This reminds me of our previous discussion (http://sandwalk.blogspot.com/2012/05/all-idiots-believe-in-evolution.html) on the origin of life:

      Larry, Allan Miller: I think we have a lot of common ground here, and perhaps we can build a sensible scenario on the origin of life that integrates metabolism/catalysts, amino acid/peptides, ribo-nucleotides/RNAoligos, continuity/repeatability/heritability all within a compartmentalized environment or system that was energetically and physically able to sustain the chemical and bio-chemical evolution leading to the origin of first living entities or organisms on Earth. A few years ago, I proposed a “cell-like world” model for the origin of life in the context of a broader scenario for the origin and evolution of cellular and viral domains; please see pages 7-15 of a paper I posted at: http://precedings.nature.com/documents/3888/version/1. It would be great to hear your thoughts.

      Should I understand that you agree with some of the tenets associated with this model, specifically, those concerning the synthesis of the first RNA molecules and their evolution leading to the origin of coupled replication, transcription and translation (RT&T) system?

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  5. speculations about an RNA world are not helpful.

    To whom? The theory is perfectly respectable as far as I can see. Not a done deal, but with a significant body of supporting evidence.

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    1. I agree, though I still think the main hurdle isn't so much bona fide self-replication, but demonstrating the actual chemical synthesis of all four ribonucleobases of RNA under conditions that are compatible not only with each other, but also simultaneously with things like amino acids and primitive fatty acids.
      Speculations abound, there's still a lack of experimental support of the feasibility of this. And it's not because chemists and biochemists lack of trying.

      My own suspicion is that RNA monomer synthesis actually evolved through some kind of primitive metal cofactor and peptide catalyzed reactions.

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    2. Anyway, I think *most* scientists familiar with the topic are pretty confident that some kind of RNA world existed - that there was a period in the early stages of life, probably before the LUCA, where the genomes of life were based on RNA instead of DNA, and that DNA genomes were a later evolutionary invention a considerable time after the establishment of the translation system and the genetic code.

      The exact nature of that RNA world(the extend to which proteins and peptides played a role in the internal biochemistry of the cell), and how it came to be - is still hotly debated.

      On grounds of experimental abiotic geochemistry, It would seem almos unimaginable to say that amino acids and short peptides of some sort didn't have key roles already at the beginning of life. I simply haven't seen even one single experiment in abiotic organic chemistry that didn't yield amino acids of various sorts, in greater diversity and propotion, than almost anything else. It doesn't matter how they set up their experiments, whether spark-discharge atmosphere, simulating hydrothermal vent conditions at extreme temperature and pressure, or UV and infrared light bombarded cometary ice or heck, even meteorite impact simulations, they all churn out amino acids, even if they also make bases and fatty acids and various carbohydrates. I don't think such observations can be sensibly ignored or explained away. Nature wants to make amino acids.

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    3. Nature wants to make amino acids.

      Sure it does, but it is less keen to polymerise them. On the one hand we have monomers that are easy to synthesise abiotically but won't naturally polymerise in a 'useful' way, on the other those whose synthesis is elusive but which contain the energy of their own polymerisation in their own phosphate tail, surgically applied where it is needed. I still favour the latter igniting the spark of life without peptides, though I don't doubt that they discovered proteins pretty early on, and am well aware of the chemical difficulties faced by RNA polymerisation.

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    4. I somehow overlooked this passage in O'Leary's blogpost:

      Koonin has advocated multiverses as a solution. Sure. Export the problem to an infinite number of entities for which there is no evidence and it pretty well disappears. It’s the other losses (reason, logic, respect for evidence) that concern some of us.

      It appears, however, that "some of us" have no such concerns when the problem is exported to a single "entit(y) for which there is no evidence."

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  6. No one has mentioned the problem of chirality

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    1. *ahem* Some of us disagree, see my comments in that third post. Shorter version - handwaving descriptions of hypothetical enantioselective amino-acid synthesizing peptides solves the problem of chirality in the same way assuming you have a can opener solves the problem of opening a can of food when you're stranded on a deserted island.

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    2. *Ahem*

      If you have a better explanation then let's hear it. The "problem" was only created when people assumed that all the amino acids had to be present in a primordial soup before basic metabolism began. Once you start thinking about a stepwise procedure where more complex amino acids had to be synthesized from simple amino acids, the "problem" becomes much different.

      The existing biosynthesis pathways make only L-amino acids. What's wrong with assuming that the primitive pathways did this as well?

      I'm supporting an explanation that's plausible and possible. The fact that it makes the chirality problem disappear may be embarrassing to people who have written extensively about the "problem" but that's no reason to reject the solution.

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    3. It's not a "problem" for a scenario which places peptides second. If peptide and amino acid synthesis are hypothesised to have been ribozymal functions in their entirety in early life, these are stereochemically selective in themselves. All D acids have a hydrogen where the L acid has its side chain. If you can avoid mistaking Glycine for your substrate, you can avoid mistaking the D form for it too, which preference would be inherited by derivative pathways, including the subsequent enzymatic ones.

      As to sugar chirality - each strand of RNA binds the other, with greatest stability when both are homochiral. A mixture of RNA monomers may polymerise into all manner of weird shapes, but the most stable, and the only ones available to a macromolecular replicase or ligase, would be those that formed complementary hybrids.

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    4. Allan Miller says,

      As to sugar chirality - each strand of RNA binds the other, with greatest stability when both are homochiral. A mixture of RNA monomers ...

      Where does the "mixture" of D and L monomers come from in your scenario? Is it part of a primordial soup where the complex organic molecules are made spontaneously in uncatalyzed reactions?

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    5. I confess I rather take for granted a mechanism by which a range of ribose sugars of mixed chirality is phosphatised on one carbon atom, with or without various species on another - the familiar bases and others - and that such monomers polymerise. They won't all link 5' to 3', nor necessarily have the base on 1'. Definitely not in a soup, but perhaps in association with a proton gradient at a mineral surface.

      The result will be a mess of short polymers whose length is likely truncated by cyclisation. But out of such a mess, by hybridisation, complementary segments would be the most long-lived. Complementarity favours homochirality of the riboses, consistent attachment of the phosphodiester linkages and the side group, and bases that have complementary partners. Such hybridisation offers some protection from attack by the 2' -OH, and a pinning-in-place to allow the possibility of primitive ligation of nicks that do occur. I see this, rather than the formation of self-replicating ribozymes, as an early step - in fact, the only way I can envisage gaining the purity and complementarity necessary for any further development.

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    6. *Ah-ah-ah-EM* ;)

      Let me again point out that I’m not criticizing these ideas as some stalking horse for my own pet theories. There are a number of possible ways that the origin of homochirality _might_ be solved, but there isn’t anything approaching enough evidence for any of the possible candidates to justify blithely claiming that the problem has been solved, or that there was no homochirality problem in the first place!

      With that, a few points

      1) I am perfectly happy to be corrected with evidence here, but my own understanding is that the origin of biological homochirality has been a topic of interest to chemists and biochemists since the 19th century, when chiral molecules were discovered and life was shown to be homochiral. It’s not a problem unique to prebiotic soup people, I’m looking at a Bill Martin and Mike Russel paper right now which considers the issue, although they call it “holochirality” (Martin & Russel, Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond. B (2003) 358, 59–85). Homochirality is a chemically unnatural phenomenon – any theory for the origin of life has to deal with how and when symmetry in the abiotic world was broken, and how that bias was amplified to complete homochirality. It’s not an absolute mystery how that might happen like creationists often make it out to be, there are a number of models and a few prebiotically relevant experimental examples. But that’s the point – you have to do the experiments and prove that your solution works!

      2) Again, please correct me if you have evidence to the contrary, but my own understanding is that most of the ideas that might be lumped under “prebiotic soup” theories don’t require all 20 amino acids, or all 4 nucleotides before life began. I don’t have references at hand, but I’m pretty sure folks like Miller, Crick, and Orgel, amongst others, were discussing which amino acids were prebiotic, which came later, and likewise if 3 or 2-base systems of RNA could be viable.

      3) Most importantly – you ask “The existing biosynthesis pathways make only L-amino acids. What's wrong with assuming that the primitive pathways did this as well?” The existing biosynthetic pathways use large and stably folded proteins of 100+ amino acids with well-defined active sites. How much specificity do you think a peptide catalyst can achieve? Especially one made mostly of glycine with only a few simple chiral amino acids? If people could easily get enzyme-like efficiencies and selectivities with peptides or other small molecules it would be a huge breakthrough – fortune, fame, and an all-expenses paid trip to Stockholm! And again, maybe I’m wrong – its easy enough to screen a library of a million or even a trillion peptides nowadays, your hypothesis could be supported if someone _did_ the experiment!

      I mentioned this previously, but Leslie Orgel has a good discussion on related issues involving modern biosynthetic pathways working without modern enzymes in his 2008 PLoS article. Again, the point is not that such ideas are known to be impossible, but they are not, on their face, chemically plausible; to be taken seriously, they need to be shown to work experimentally.

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    7. Allen

      A quick point – homochirality will be an issue in an RNA-first scenario as with a peptide-first scenario. It was hoped that polymerization of RNA along a template could drive racemic RNA mixtures of monomers toward mixtures of homochiral polymers, in a model similar to what you’re suggesting. This was tested experimentally – it turns out that when D-RNA monomers polymerize on a D-RNA template, L-RNA monomers interfere. An L-RNA monomer in the syn-conformation looks enough like a D-RNA monomer that it is added to the growing chain; but once added, further polymerization is blocked. Thus monomers of the opposite chirality act as chain terminators, stopping polymerization of either homochiral polymer before more than a few nucleotides are joined. Look up enantiomeric cross-inhibition of RNA for more details. Most of the experiments were done in the 80s.

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    8. David, my model, such as it was, was in relation to the ability of hybridisation to selectively favour those chain pairs that stochastically happened to consist of 'mostly' one or the other form. These latter would not be template polymerised - they can't be until there's a template, and there can't be a template until the essentials of complementarity have been purified to some degree.

      It's not just D interference, but cyclisation, that truncates a simple model of polymerisation. But complementary hybridisation appears (to me) to be a potential way out of the difficulty that the early chemistry will have been a mess. Not just L and D sugars, but 2' phosphates, exotic bases and things-that-aren't-even bases; such groups stuck of something other than the 1' carbon, etc. If hybridisation stabilises complementary short chains, this preserves those components somewhat, enriching the chemistry in chiral ribose, and complementary bases. Such chains may eventually break down, but their differential persistence over the other molecules enriches the environment in their components, changing the landscape for future hybrids that can take a more active approach and incorporate free bases by 'micro-hybridisation' and ligation against an exposed template.

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    9. To correct myself: as far as chirality is concerned, there is obviously an equal likelihood of stable D-ribose and L-ribose RNA strand pairs arising. Therefore, hybridisation alone would not enrich the environment in either isomer, though I implied above that it would. Fixation of one form or the other would depend on subsequent capacities developed by the strands, or even an analogue of drift, since a precisely 50/50 mixture of such strands is not indefinitely stable. But hybridisation does provide a possible initial driver towards homochirality within a strand pair, and enrichment in the complementary bases.

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    10. David says,

      Homochirality is a chemically unnatural phenomenon – any theory for the origin of life has to deal with how and when symmetry in the abiotic world was broken, and how that bias was amplified to complete homochirality.

      We understand perfectly well why modern organisms use only L-amino acids and (mostly ) D-sugars. It's because those isomers are the only ones made by biosynthesis pathways in cells. The pathways ultimately begin with simple compounds that may not even be chiral.

      It seems perfectly reasonable to me that this observation applies to the earliest biosynthesis pathways during the first stages of the formation of life. The first simple amino acids and sugars were L- and D- isomers respectively and this could have just been by chance. Form them on, the accident was frozen.

      I don't understand why people are still obsessing about the chirality problem unless it's because they want life to arise in a primordial soup. Then, and only then, is there a serious problem.

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    11. Allan Miller says,

      To correct myself: as far as chirality is concerned, there is obviously an equal likelihood of stable D-ribose and L-ribose RNA strand pairs arising.

      Why? Many enzyme-catalyzed reactions are stereospecific. Why couldn't very early catalysts be stereospecific as well?

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    12. In my suggested system, I meant: a nonenzymatic system of polymerisation where the only 'selector' of homochiral sequence is another homochiral sequence, such pairs coming together by hybridisation.

      I can readily buy the possibility of stereospecific catalysts being made from *any* mixture of L and D monomers in principle. Descendants of the possessors of such catalysts could readily 'fix' on one orientation simply due to contingency from the earliest biochemical pathways of monomer or polymer synthesis.

      But there remains the specification issue - in the first instance, how could such catalysts be repeatedly built and persist, in the absence of something like a genome template, and how does genome-templating 'take over'? Building them on something other than themselves seems like a non-starter to me - mineral surfaces, etc, give no clear rationale why the product should be something that ultimately possesses antiparallel complementarity and heritability independent of any mineral.

      So I'm suggesting that complementarity could itself be foundational - that the first step is not catalyst construction, but local concentration of nonenzymatically produced homochiral hybridised strand pairs, favoured by their greater persistence over 'free' monomers and unpairable strands with racemic monomers and/or non-complementary bases. The earliest ribozymes produced by such paired-strand proto-genomes would possess a complement, and hence be capable of repeat production, 'true' inheritance and exponential increase. And incidentally homochiral.

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    13. We're starting to go in circles here. Let me reiterate: biochemical pathways are strongly stereoselective because they're catalyzed by enzymes. I'm sure the origin of homochirality does look simple if you assume simple peptide or mineral catalysts had the same degree of selectivity, but you'd be hard pressed to find a chemist who considers that plausible. And again, talk is cheap - if you think I'm wrong, I guarantee you a paper showing a peptide transaminase with greater than 99% ee would have a huge impact.

      Otherwise, I'll again recommend Orgel's 2008 PLoS paper. Although he doesn't consider chirality, he does explain how much the specificity of modern biochemical pathways depends on enzyme catalysis, and how this should influence our expectations for prebiotic pathways.

      Allen - selective hybridization as a route to homochirality is an interesting idea, I'm not sure if anyone has tested anything similar. I think you're overestimating the selectivity of duplex formation, certainly 2-5 and 3-5 linked RNA can cross-hybridize, and I'm sure more arcane variations could also be accommodated. It might work for L vs D however. I'd only emphasize that this is an untested hypothesis, amongst a number of other ideas, and it's a bit premature to say that this solves the homochirality problem without a lot of experimental validation. That's been my main objection through this entire thread.

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    14. *d'oh* Allen = Allan, my apologies for the misspelling.

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    15. David,

      You're right, 'solves' is putting it way too strongly. I hope I didn't say that; if I did, I retract! In a purely hypothetical RNA-first scenario, peptide chirality would be due to the stereospecificity of the ribozyme catalysts, while ribose chirality would be due to the constraint of template-based transcription and replication, but channelled initially (perhaps) by hybridisation. Of course, as the many detractors of the RNA World would point out, the beginning of that sentence is speculation. But the converse sentence - "In a peptides first scenario ..." - seems to offer no less conjecture. I prefer the evolutionary logic of the RNA World, pending further work.

      I don't think duplexes need to be perfectly selective to provide an initial driver in the direction of asymmetry. I'm just generally impressed by the ability of RNA probes and PCR primers to locate the target in 6 billion bps, and this affinity does seem an important consideration for RNA chemistry. A replicable RNA needs to be homochiral, and complementary partners need to exist for its bases. Hybridisation seems a potential way of filtering such an unlikely combination out of a mixture, initially perhaps as very short cyclic oligonucleotides. If (by some means I can only handwave) such cyclic chains could grow, a template-based RNA polymerase could provide both transcription of ribozymes and replication. Cyclisation itself seems interesting - it caps yields, but is also suggestive of the bacterial genome in miniature. It provides a potential source of both primer and overshoot bases for a replicase. Set two such ribozymes off in opposite directions and you have 'true' replication, with hybridisation of the displaced strands.

      From the comfort of my armchair, I see no problems! ;)

      Allan (Heh!)

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  7. Here's a new report on the topic:

    http://phys.org/news/2013-10-chemists-life-earth-fluke.html

    Chemists show life on Earth was not a fluke

    How life came about from inanimate sets of chemicals is still a mystery. While we may never be certain which chemicals existed on prebiotic Earth, we can study the biomolecules we have today to give us clues about what happened three billion years ago.

    Now scientists have used a set of these biomolecules to show one way in which life might have started. They found that these molecular machines, which exist in living cells today, don't do much on their own. But as soon as they add fatty chemicals, which form a primitive version of a cell membrane, it got the chemicals close enough to react in a highly specific manner.

    This form of self-organisation is remarkable, and figuring out how it happens may hold the key to understanding life on earth formed and perhaps how it might form on other planets.

    The 1987 Nobel Prize in Chemistry was given to chemists for showing how complex molecules can perform very precise functions. One of the behaviours of these molecules is called self-organisation, where different chemicals come together because of the many forces acting on them and become a molecular machine capable of even more complex tasks. Each living cell is full of these molecular machines.

    Pasquale Stano at the University of Roma Tre and his colleagues were interested in using this knowledge to probe the origins of life. To make things simple, they chose an assembly that produces proteins. This assembly consists of 83 different molecules including DNA, which was programmed to produce a special green fluorescent protein (GFP) that could be observed under a confocal microscope.

    The assembly can only produce proteins when its molecules are close enough together to react with each other. When the assembly is diluted with water, they can no longer react. This is one reason that the insides of living cells are very crowded, concentrated places: to allow the chemistry of life to work.

    In order to recreate this molecular crowding, Stano added a chemical called POPC to the dilute solution. Fatty molecules such as POPC do not mix with water, and when placed into water they automatically form liposomes. These have a very similar structure to the membranes of living cells and are widely used to study the evolution of cells.

    Stano reports in the journal Angewandte Chemie that many of these liposomes trapped some molecules of the assembly. But remarkably, five in every 1,000 such liposomes had all 83 of the molecules needed to produce a protein. These liposomes produced large amount of GFP and glowed green under a microscope.

    Computer calculations reveal that even by chance, five liposomes in 1,000 could not have trapped all 83 molecules of the assembly. Their calculated probability for even one such liposome to form is essentially zero. The fact that any such liposomes formed and that GFP was produced means something quite unique is happening.

    Stano and his colleagues do not yet understand why this happened. It may yet be a random process that a better statistical model will explain. It may be that these particular molecules are suited to this kind of self-organisation because they are already highly evolved. An important next step is to see if similar, but less complex, molecules are also capable of this feat.

    Regardless of the limitations, Stano's experiment has shown for the first time that self-assembly into simple cells may be an inevitable physical process. Finding out how exactly this self-assembly happens will mean taking a big step towards understanding how life was formed.

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  8. Recent studies suggest that RNA may have originated on Mars and then got transported to Earth via meteors. RNA is more readily formed in the presence of borate and molybdate, which were scarce on early Earth but abundant on Mars.

    http://mobile.nytimes.com/2013/09/12/science/space/a-far-flung-possibility-for-the-origin-of-life.html

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    1. Does anyone think this is crazy other than me? To get around "more readily" and "scarce" you depend on transport by meteors, with mean travel time in excess of 20ma, exposure to nasty radiation including lots of ultraviolet, and arrival as -- what? -- a few molecules in no particular concentration and no particular reason to have biological activity. Just sayin'.

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    2. John, let's face it, everybody involved in the study of the origin of life are so used to dealing with highly unlikely events that throwing in a transport by meteorite from one planet to another doesn't really make much difference.

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    3. What's new? If one neither can see the obvious nor replicate the process in the lab, what's left? One either believes in the impossible or transfers the problem somewhere else just like the multiverse morons have done with the origins of universe.

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    4. What's the "obvious" Louise? Falling back to superstition like those peoples who believe that the close by volcano is a god? As I have told you. Unsolved questions mean, exactly and unambiguously, unsolved questions. They don't mean "magic man in the sky." Hey, even unsolvable questions would mean nothing more and nothing else but unsolvable questions. They would not mean "magic man in the sky" either. Grow up.

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    5. John Harshman,

      I agree with you. I think that's a dismaying proposition. Anyway, I am not particularly fond of any other theories either, other than by the way they do suggest one possibility or another, still with lots of gaps. I think that the field is in its infancy, and that people are looking wherever they can and wherever they might think there could be an answer. With those eons and eons and eons erasing clues, if there's been clues left, as to how life started, maybe we will never know. My bet is that we will end up, after many years, and probably not during my lifetime, with several scenarios, all quite convincing, but no way of verifying which, if any of those, was behind how life started in our planet.

      Delete
    6. Does anyone think this is crazy other than me?

      I think it's absolutely crazy. Has anyone even bothered to estimate how many meteorites of Martian origin may have reached Earth, and how much RNA could have survived the journey? And what happened next? Lonely molecules in the chemically hostile environment of an alien planet began to flourish and replicate, just like that?

      Delete
    7. Piotr: I believe the estimates of the number of Martian meteorites reaching Earth are all on the order of "several" per year. But mean travel time is in the tens of millions of years, which is a problem. Your other objections seem quite telling too.

      Delete
    8. In general any prebiotic synthesis where one of the steps is "and then the molecules travel through space to another planet" will have some plausibility issues.

      Delete
    9. It's not *molecules* that "travel to space in meteors"; the idea is that life formed on Mars first and *microbes* traveled in meteors from there to here.

      Did you people even read the article at all?

      Delete
    10. John,

      I'm not an expert on this, but I remember reading two stories about research that demonstrated, at least in principles, that:

      (1) It is possible for life to survive traveling in space for an extended period of time.
      (2) It is possible for life survive a meteor impact to earth.

      What do you think of this?

      Delete
    11. Says Andy Wilberforce:

      (E)verybody involved in the study of the origin of life are so used to dealing with highly unlikely events that throwing in a transport by meteorite from one planet to another doesn't really make much difference.

      The origin of life is an unlikely event. If it wasn't, it would have happened lots of times. You know, like creationists say it did. Odd how the creationists never seem to realize that this observation is evidence against their side.

      Delete
    12. Pedro -
      Molecules vs. microbes - yes, in all fairness, Benner is relying on the delivery of life, in the form of some kind of replicator, to earth, not the delivery of prebiotic starting materials, and that's much more plausible, since you wouldn't need much to seed the planet. My apologies for confusing the issue in an attempt to be flippant.

      Still, it's a bit much to start talking about moving the origin to mars because a few minerals that are rare on earth help in one (of, well, not many, but more than one) possible prebiotic pathways to ribose (itself only a component of RNA monomers).

      Delete
    13. David -

      No apologies needed, although it's important not to distort what Steve Benner said.

      Regarding this issue, notice that there are other reasons beyond the one of the presence of said minerals. One reinforcing argument for Mars as origin of terrestrial life is that Mars formed half a billion years earlier than Earth, and achieved habitability hundreds of millions of years before earth did.

      Anyway, these arguments are not based on facts set in stone, and the conditions on early Earth are still speculative, much more so on Mars. I do think it's worth considering. However, Benner expresses a conviction for an origin of terrestrial life on Mars that he simply can't justify.

      Delete
    14. ShadiZ1:

      Many theoretical as well as experimental work has been put into analyzing the possibility of lithopanspermia (as this phenomena is known). Plenty of work has demonstrated that bacterial life can survive high velocity impacts under conditions similar to those of meteorites (delivery), and there is strong evidence for survivability of viable spores in space, protected by the rock material (how long can bacteria survive in spore form and still be viable is another matter that is still fuzzy and there's a lot of contradictory evidence right now). It has also been demonstrated that rock material can be ejected from a planet by impact of another body, without great damage to the ejected material.

      So, in theory, supported by experimentation, there are many good reasons to take lithopanspermia seriously.

      Delete
    15. David@SandWalk: Any OOL model where 1 of the steps is "and thn the molecls travl thru space 2 anothr planet" will hv some plausibilty issues

      [The above tweeted from DiogenesLamp0 -- a feed limited only to jokes & snark about science & pseuodscience.]

      Delete
  9. In other words, you don't have an explanation but the idiocy of their argument makes yours plausible. Proof by relative lack of stupidity.

    Talk about errors of logic.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Umm, except if one side says it has an explanation, but that explanation happens to be stupid, and the other side has yet to offer an explanation, those positions are not equivalent.

      Either life was created by God, or it wasn't. Is there a third option?

      Delete
    2. There is according to Lawrence M Krauss. He claims that life could have popped into existence thanks to quantum mechanics. He even thinks that he himself could have popped into existence but he's not sure yet. A theory like that has to be true...

      Delete
    3. photosynthesis,

      How many obvious facts would you like me to list?
      1. It is obvious that nobody on this blog or any other scientist in the world has any idea if life originated on its own.
      2. It is obvious that everybody has to pretend that the origin of life is no problem.
      3. It is obvious that RNA can't appear anywhere on its own even on Mars. There is not even water on Mars.
      4. It is obvious that proteins are involved in production of RNA.
      5. It is obvious that RNA is required to make proteins.
      6. It is obvious that both proteins and RNA would have to appear by chance in the same place
      7. It is obvious that the likelihood of such an event would be considered a miracle.
      8. It is obvious that even one protein containing 100 amino acids has a chance 1 in 10^125 of being randomly formed.
      9. It is obvious that stupidity has to be renamed.
      10. It won't matter even if I write 100 points because if one doesn't want to be convinced, no proof matters.

      Delete
    4. Louise,

      1. Since there's no other option, life has to have originated "on its own."
      2. There's no pretence. It's not a problem if you understand thermodynamics/energy-flow, self-organizing reactions, those kinds of things.
      3. So what?
      4. Today, yes. How would you know if this was so all along the history of our planet and of life? How do you know if that's the only way for it to be even today?
      5. Today, yes. How would you know if this was so all along the history of our planet and of life? How do you know if that's the only way for it to be even today?
      6. It's obvious that you have no idea of science if you think that the only way for having proteins and RNA would be by "by chance" and "in the same place," rather than via some natural processes and/or coming together or one much after the other/lead by the other, etc.
      7. By pure chance? Sure. But by the way nature works, I doubt it would be a miracle.
      8. Which is why no scientist proposes that such is the way proteins are formed. Creationists have sold you a false dichotomy: either gods or "random/chance." But scientists discover the way nature works instead of assuming pure randomness.
      9. Agreed. We could call it creationist misinformation.
      10. If your points were reasonable, rather than filled with fallacious and misinformed babble, then you would have some points worth considering. In the meantime your superstitions remain superstitions.

      As you said, if you don't want to be convinced no proof matters. Back you go to collect more misinformation from creationists, and then come back and post it. You will never acknowledge the points I just made. You will never renounce the false dichotomy (either gods or randomness), etc. No matter how well we explain such things to you. Right?

      Delete
    5. Photosynthesis writes: "1. Since there's no other option, life has to have originated "on its own.""
      That's really what it all boils down to, isn't it?
      The seed of the whole universe came from "nothing" through fluctuations in a quantum field and set of the Big Bang, because there is no other option. Life sprang into existence on its own through "thermodynamics/energy-flow, self-organizing reactions, those kinds of things", because there is no other option. The human mind is fully explained by materialistic processes making us all in to robots, because there is no other option...
      I for one think that there may be another option. I base this on personal experience from my own life, something I share with billions of people through out history. Does that make a solid argument? No, of course not, but that's my starting point. That's why I'm willing to consider explanations that do not always boil down to materialistic reductionism. I work with applied science, and reading the posts and comments on this blog you may think that not being a materialistic reductionist would pose a problem, but it doesn't. Nor did it pose a problem for some of the greatest scientists throughout history. In fact many have argued that moderne science developed in the west precisely because of the Christian belief in a rational creation that could be studied and understood.

      Delete
    6. In fact many have argued that moderne science developed in the west precisely because of the Christian belief in a rational creation that could be studied and understood.

      I must of missed the parts of the old testament that described a rational process of creation.

      I base this on personal experience from my own life...

      Why do I sense an extremely unreliable circumstance unfolding...?

      It is fine that you think there is a god behind it all. However, either this god and its acts are completely amenable to scientific investigation or they are not. You imply that creation occured via god...surely there must be process and mechanism associated with this that can be understood in terms of material reductionism.
      If there is not, then your idea is merely just an idea. An idea for which by definition there can never be any understanding, investigation, or comprehension by humans.
      What are you left with, but a cloud of unknowing that you fill with blind assertion and wishful thinking.
      Either that or you conclude these matters are ultimately and definitively unknowable - which includes the very idea of whether there is a god or not in the first place by the way - and that we should just stop bothering to investigate.

      This must be why sleeping was invented - the only useful act in a universe that cannot be rationally comprehended.

      Delete
    7. 1. It is obvious that nobody on this blog or any other scientist in the world has any idea if life originated on its own.
      But you do, right? A magic man did it. A magic man did it because you get a warm fuzzy feeling while singing in church. Right?

      2. It is obvious that everybody has to pretend that the origin of life is no problem.
      How is simply conceding "we don't know how it happened" equivalent to saying it isn't a problem. Where are these "everybody" you speak of?

      3. It is obvious that RNA can't appear anywhere on its own even on Mars. There is not even water on Mars.
      NASA seems to disagree. Don't you follow the Curiosity Rover news? But I guess you know better, you have "personal experiences" right?

      4. It is obvious that proteins are involved in production of RNA.
      Yes.

      5. It is obvious that RNA is required to make proteins.
      No. Spontaneous production and polymerization of amino acids is an observed fact under many different non-biological conditions.

      The existence of biologically relevant catalytic function in a randomized pool of even very short polymers (dipeptides) is an observed fact.

      6. It is obvious that both proteins and RNA would have to appear by chance in the same place
      Because 5 was wrong, 6 is wrong too.

      7. It is obvious that the likelihood of such an event would be considered a miracle.
      This conclusion of yours doesn't even follow from your premises even if they were true. Since spontaneous generation of amino acids through simple non-biological chemistry is pretty much an inevitability, the claim that it occuring simultaneously with the chemical synthesis of RNA is therefore "a miracle" is ridiculous in the extreme.

      8. It is obvious that even one protein containing 100 amino acids has a chance 1 in 10^125 of being randomly formed.
      Demonstrably false. The Szostak Lab found multiple functional proteins in a randomly generated mixture in many different experiments conducted in the late nineties and early 2000's.
      http://molbio.mgh.harvard.edu/szostakweb/publications.html

      Many different laboratories have produced similar results using similar protocols. In a randomly generated sequence library, multiple functional proteins will emerge simply through chance alone. The creationist fantasy about function being rare in sequence space is just that, a creationist fantasy. It is in direct conflict with observational reality. That means the fundamental premise of the creationist probability argument against finding functional proteins through a random process has been directly proven false empirically.

      9. It is obvious that stupidity has to be renamed.
      Yes, I suggest we call it "That which emerges from LuiseG's mouth".

      10. It won't matter even if I write 100 points because if one doesn't want to be convinced, no proof matters.
      That's because you're confusing your own counterfactual blind assertions with proof.

      Delete
    8. The Social Pathologist said:
      In other words, you don't have an explanation but the idiocy of their argument makes yours plausible. Proof by relative lack of stupidity.

      Talk about errors of logic.

      Nobody actually made that argument. Where did you even get this?

      Please quote the part where someone claims that "because the creationist argument is stupid, the alternative is right by default".

      You can't, because nobody is arguing this. On the contrary, we're simply saying we don't know.

      Delete
    9. There is according to Lawrence M Krauss. He claims that life could have popped into existence thanks to quantum mechanics. He even thinks that he himself could have popped into existence but he's not sure yet. A theory like that has to be true...
      That's not a third option. That siply falls under option two "not god".

      Christ LuiseG, how stupid are you?

      Delete
    10. Photosynthesis writes: "1. Since there's no other option, life has to have originated "on its own.""
      That's really what it all boils down to, isn't it?

      No, that's actually not the argument.

      The answer is simply "we don't know". It's not "the creationists are really fucking stupid, therefore we're right by default". it's not "there are no other options". It's not "spontaneous generation of an entire modern cell". It's none of those things. The simple truth of the matter is simply that we don't know how life began, but we have minor clues here and there.

      These clues don't hint at the supernatural. There has simply been zero evidence of the supernatural in any controlled experiment, ever. The supernatural has explained NOTHING in the entire history of science. There is no phenomena of physics, chemistry or biology for which science has discovered that a magic man was responsible.

      People got sick with fevers and died? Stillbirths? Epileptic seizures? Infectious microoganisms, mutations causing misdevelopments, bloodclots in the brain etc. etc. Again and again, natural causes of natural problems.

      There's a drought? It's raining? Storms, thunder, lightning? Physics, just the physics of the atmosphere of our planet with a day-night cycle and evaporating oceans.

      Earthquakes, tsunamies, exploding volcanoes? More physcis, more chemistry, more nature. Still no supernatural shenanigans.

      What makes the sun shine? Where does it go at night and where did it come from? What are the stars and the moon, where did they come from? Still just more physics, more nature.

      No evidence of the supernatural, no evidence of curses or witchcraft or anything of the sort. No evidence of angels or demons or gods of any kind. It's still just physics and chemistry doing it's thing. Cells aren't magical entities, they're ruled by the laws of physics just like everything else is.

      For centuries the claims of the supernatural have been tested by science, and not a single credible observation has ever been documented. So what you people have left, what religions have done in response, is to relegate the workings of the supernatural to unverifiable and unfalsifiable "inner personal experiences".

      Delete
    11. But heck, you don't even know what is causing those experiences. Even worse, we know of many examples of human beings having all sorts of weird experiences caused by emotional reasons, if not by drugs or physical trauma to the head.

      In order for something, an observed phenomenon or a data point or whatever it is, to be evidence for some hypothesis, it has to be evidence for that thing alone and not evidence for something else. If the same fact can be explained by multiple independent hypotheses, it is evidence of neither. Then it's just a data point.

      Then, in order to distinguish between them, you have to look elsewhere where their predictions diverge, or evaluate how probable that evidence is on each of those hypotheses. All the things you mention are expainable on other hypotheses and/or more probable on other hypotheses, so can't actually constitute evidence for god.

      Take your personal revelation for example(supposing your "personal experiences" are related in type). Can be explained as a psychoemotional phenomenon related to your subconscious, and also the tendency for human beings to tie in intent where there is none. In fact, since we already know human beings do such things and delude themselves in such ways, it is more probable as evidence of psychoemotional delusion than it is evidence of god. It gets worse still, because these personal revelations are different between cultures and religions. People raised in islamic faiths and countries have visions and feelings of islamic divinities and concepts, Sikhs have sikh revelations, christians have christian revelations and so on and so forth.
      People who believe in UFO reptilian overlords get "visions" from those.
      This makes it extremely unlikely to be actual evidence of anything truly divine, since these faiths are all mututally contradictory. Therefore the simplest, most probable hypothesis that explains all these discordant facts, is that it's a psychoemotionally related phenomenon.

      Even the very subject who has such "revelations" cannot know whether they're actually deluding themselves, and cannot reliably distinguish between them (delusion or actual revelation), because they cannot get independent confirmation of their own personal "revelation".

      So personal witnessing the "feeling of the holy spirit" or whatever it is, cannot ever constitute evidence of god given what we already know of human psychology. Not even to the recieving subject.

      It doesn't stop here, because the ID creationists aren't just using their personal experiences to argue they have evidence their gods exist. They're arguing that because they have these experiences they're justified in thinking these experieces come from a god who therefore made life, the universe and everything else.

      I'm sorry, that simply doesn't follow.

      Delete
    12. Andy,

      That's really what it all boils down to, isn't it?

      Not really. It summarizes the effectiveness of superstition. If your default is superstition, then something must be quite wrong with your thinking. That's what my comment means.

      The seed of the whole universe came from "nothing" through fluctuations in a quantum field and set of the Big Bang, because there is no other option.

      Actually, no. There's options. There's even options we might not know about. The idea you wrote here is quite specific, and cosmologists/astrophysicists are still arguing and gathering data, etc. Check my comment. It's much more generic than this. I am open to options. I'm just far from considering superstition as a valid one.

      Life sprang into existence on its own through "thermodynamics/energy-flow, self-organizing reactions, those kinds of things", because there is no other option.

      Well, if you understood what those kinds of things indicate you would know that whet they indicate is that there's nothing wrong with the idea that life could start naturally even if we were never to know the exact way it happened.

      The human mind is fully explained by materialistic processes making us all in to robots, because there is no other option...

      I don't know what you mean here by "materialistic processes," because materialism is a specific philosophical school of thought, which has evolved into physicalism, or if you mean that the physical is enough to explain the human mind, well, it's quite clear that the human mind is explained by natural processes. We have found plenty of ways in which the physical relates to our thoughts and such. From putting one side of your brain to sleep, thus depriving you from some of your brain function, and therefore from some parts of your mind, etc, etc. So, here your ignorance seems to reign.

      That's why I'm willing to consider explanations that do not always boil down to materialistic reductionism.

      And so am I. I just won't consider superstitions.

      I work with applied science, and reading the posts and comments on this blog you may think that not being a materialistic reductionist would pose a problem, but it doesn't.

      I don't think that I have ever said that you had to be a materialistic reductionist to achieve things. Let me check ... hum ... no ... I never said that.

      Nor did it pose a problem for some of the greatest scientists throughout history.

      Nor does leaving superstitions aside stop scientists today from doing their work all right.

      In fact many have argued that moderne science developed in the west precisely because of the Christian belief in a rational creation that could be studied and understood.

      Suppose that was so (The Enlightenment actually got rid of superstition as a starting point, and many things happened thanks to that, but let us not argue unnecessarily). How would that change the fact that superstitions are superstitions and useless as explanations?

      Delete
    13. Andy,

      The comment labelled:
      Mikkel Rumraket RasmussenFriday, October 25, 2013 6:11:00 AM

      There Mikkel talks quite clearly about the effectiveness of superstition. Maybe that will help you understand my position a tad better.

      Delete
    14. Andy and Louise,

      You should shut up and listen and learn while the adults (note that I do not include myself among the adults in this conversation, having none of the requisite education and experience required to participate) are speaking.

      It's a great opportunity to actually learn something.

      Delete
    15. Steve, thanks for making me laugh, it's a great start of the week-end. I don't really know Photosynthesis, but I made the mistake of having some exchanges with Space Rocket aka Rumraket before. He has so far thought me that gravitation elucidates the processes In the cell, that the order of nucleotides in DNA is determined by naturalistic law and that the Torah was written in Greek.

      Delete
    16. He has so far thought me that gravitation elucidates the processes In the cell
      They're part of them, sure. You know that both your cells, and their internal contents and constituents, are attracted by the gravitational center of our planet, right? I never claimed they're the full story, and you know this, you're only erecting this silly assertion to try to dismiss me without actually dealing with anything I say.

      that the order of nucleotides in DNA is determined by naturalistic law
      It is. When your cells divide and copy your genome, why is that copy almost identical to the template? Can I hear you say complementary base-pairing? What is the basis of complementary base-pairing? Can I hear you say physical attraction and discrimination through the 3-dimensional structure of the hydrogen bonding monomers?

      Oh, guess I was right then.

      and that the Torah was written in Greek.
      Actually I said the bible was, which was a mistake, because it only applies to the new testament.

      So, 1 out of 3 and still only partially correct you were. Not much grounds for your knee-jerk dismissal here I'm afraid.

      Delete
    17. Hey Andy, I have something for you. Go to the section called "Cell and Gravity":HUMANS IN SPACE & SPACE BIOLOGY

      Or how about this one?
      Microbial Responses to Microgravity and Other Low-Shear Environments
      Notice how there's an entire list of related citations on the left, documenting the effects of varying levels of gravity on various cellular mechanisms.

      Delete
    18. . Oberski,

      I have asked this question many times including, Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen and the rest.

      I never got an answer, except for name calling.

      "Enzymes are needed to produce ATP. However, energy from ATP is needed to produce enzymes. However, DNA is required to make enzymes, but enzymes are required to make DNA. However, proteins can be made only by a cell, but a cell can be made only with specific proteins.

      So, how is this ALL possible in view of evolutionary prospective??? Or how did the process leading to origins of life resolved this issue???

      Why do you think all these super scientists here call me names, if according to them I need education? Why? Why don't they show me some links to the studies that prove why I'm not educated on this subject? Tell me why? Can you? I doubt that because you only look at this problem from one prospective; the one you want to hear.

      So, I will tell you why they call me names instead of proving where my thinking is wrong:

      All the above mentioned components; enzymes, ATP, DNA, proteins need to be present at the same time for life to even get a chance to start. They will not admit it, becuse that would mean something they can't even utter out of their mouth.
      But, even this is not good enough. Because people like Venter and others have already tried that. No results.

      I know even more. Even if you put in the perfect conditions; next to the vents, volcanoes, test tube with all best condition -all the components of a living cell, not just the pieces of molecules- and I guarantee you that you can't get a living cell out of it. No way.
      This is not the end. Scientist have tried to engineer the "simplest" of cells and they could it either. No way


      Delete
    19. "There has never been a single instance of a living cell being deliberately produced by an intelligent being. Conclusion: Therefore, a living cell can only be produced by an intelligent being."

      Is that what you consider to be reasoning, Quest?

      Delete
    20. Well, since intelligent beings can't deliberately produce life, therefore the intelligent beings are just stupid, stupid, stupid since they can't replicate something that dumb lack did.

      Therefore, I suggest to all the Nobel Prizes received by the intelligent beings for discovering what dumb lack accomplished by accident to be returned to dumb lack.

      I mean, what else do you want me to conclude? If intelligent beings can't accomplish anything dumb lack did, they don't deserve to waste the oxygen.
      If beings claiming to be intelligent can't draw the simplest, logical conclusion, they don't deserve to be enlightened. No way. They deserve to be blind their entire life. I have a feeling that is exactly what they are getting for their deliberate ignorance because it's bliss.

      Delete
    21. Quest wrote:
      "Enzymes are needed to produce ATP. However, energy from ATP is needed to produce enzymes. However, DNA is required to make enzymes, but enzymes are required to make DNA. However, proteins can be made only by a cell, but a cell can be made only with specific proteins.

      Your premise is false. Enzymes, actual protein enzymes, can be synthesized non-biologically by simple geochemistry.

      So your entire line of argument is based on a false premise. Your mysterious problem therefore goes away when you properly consider the facts.

      Delete
    22. Mikkel,

      "Your premise is false. Enzymes, actual protein enzymes, can be synthesized non-biologically by simple geochemistry. "

      Well, that resolves the whole problem. Not what I wrote about, obviously, but your stupidity. Tell me you are not a scientist but just a regular moron?

      Delete
    23. I'm sorry that your big conondrum was solved long ago, you should find a way to deal with it emotionally other than just trying to insult me.

      Sincerely, have a nice day Quest.

      Delete
    24. I insult you? Read your comments regarding my previous requests to explain this issue? All you did was insulting me without providing any cause for it or any argument? Now, you write some fairy tale, and you expect me to accept it and believe it? The is supposed to be a science blog not a fairy tail convention; whoever has the best idea for nonsense wins. You can't handle the reality of the scientific issue because you don't like it, you'd better go and do something else pal. Science is supposed follow the the evidence, wherever it may lead you, not where you want it lead you. This is supposed to be the first commandment of science and honesty of science...

      You are lying to yourself and naive people like Oberski.

      Delete
    25. OK, Quest, let's see if it helps to break this down into tiny little pieces of information that your mind might be able to handle.

      You initially made this claim: "DNA is required to make enzymes."

      Mikkel responded by stating: "Enzymes, actual protein enzymes, can be synthesized non-biologically by simple geochemistry."

      Now, do you understand how this refutes your claim?

      If not, let me know and I can try remedy the comprehension problems you are experiencing.

      If you do understand, then you need to either:

      a) demonstrate that Mikkel's comment is factually wrong, or

      b) admit that your argument has been disproven.

      Because, you see, it's really silly to instead try and pretend you said something completely different, when the evidence to contrary is available in plain English just above.

      Delete
    26. Quest, may I suggest some light reading?:
      http://link.springer.com/article/10.1007%2Fs11084-008-9128-3
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23536047
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19399219
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20452963
      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18344011

      Delete
    27. They can be synthesized??? Can DNA be synthesized??? How about a cell? Can it be synthesized??????

      We are still talking about the origins of life, right? Or you are trying a crafty act to hide your inadequacy about the obvious picture of the origins of life issue?

      Why don't provide some papers or experiments that resolve the issue I have been asking about all along instead of trying to pretend that it doesn't exist instead of name calling?

      Don't you care that there is something wrong with this whole issue? How can you be so blind? Oh... I know...You are hoping to get a Noble Prize for finding out something that dumb lack did, right? lol

      Why don't you "synthesize" all the necessary components for life, put them in the right environment an see if they are going to synthesize life by themselves. Let me know when you are sucessful because, I will be coming not only with guys how give out noble prizes....lol

      Delete
    28. Qest,

      You forgot to ask your favorite part, if "stupidity can be synthesized without a brain".

      In this case you are proving me and everybody in the biz wrong thanks to Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen, latesuite and others soon to join in buhahahahahaa

      You are gettin old you dumb ass buahahahaha

      Delete
    29. Mikkel,

      Quest does not know what "protein" and "enzyme" mean. He/She does not understand what DNA or RNA mean either. I don't think that he will understand the word "fact" in your comment. He comes with some sentences copied from somewhere else, he concludes that if some creationist source said that such is an unsolvable "problem" then it is, whether he/she understand the "problem" or not.

      As an example of Quest's mental state, Quest is now requesting a link "proving" that he is not educated, as if our noticing that he/she does not know what he/she is talking about wasn't enough. I tried to show Quest a few of his/her mistakes, but the language was completely foreign to him/her. So we are left with nothing but an ignorant person. However, it is obvious that a normal person would realize that talking about things that he/she does not understand is nonsensical. Since Quest does not seem to realize that talking in ignorance is a problem, we are left to conclude that Quest is an imbecile. Too mentally challenged to understand something that basic. If someone doesn't understand the most basic of science, chemistry, or biology, for example, any claims by such person will look rather odd and a tad nonsensical. Of course, Quest has such mental problems that he/she thinks that calling him/her an imbecile is an insult, unable to understand that the word comes as just a logical conclusion. (I also doubt that Quest understand what "logical" means.)

      Delete
    30. Blah, bha, blah, blah...and Ohuuuuuuuuuu!!!!
      That's all you do.

      No one argument or prove to support that I'm wrong... So?

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4duOIDKlbos

      lol

      BTW: Do you know what self-denial is? It's a serious disorder. You should have a psychiatrist to check that out. But not a regular shrink for $80 . Should have a team of the best ones observe you in a seclusion 24/7 for a month lol

      Delete
    31. @Negative Entropy

      I agree, I've reached the same conclusion. No reason to bother debating this with him, he's totally clueless on the subject it seems.

      Delete
    32. So, the obvious is you have no clue. Well, ...I love it

      Delete
  10. ////Does anyone think this is crazy other than me?///

    This isn't such a crazy idea.
    The fleet of Mars probes have shown that Mars was warmer and wetter in the past. We also know Mars once had a protective magnetic field which helped maintain a thicker atmosphere. 3.5 billion years ago, asteroid impacts were much more common than today since there was abundant debris left after the formation of the solar system. So exchange of rocks between Mars & Earth would have been more frequent. Moreover, getting rocks off Mars is easier than getting rocks off Earth due to the comparatively low gravity on Mars.

    The borate papers proposes that ribose molecules were transported to Earth, not fully formed cells. Sufficiently large rocks can safely transport molecules deep within their interiors, where the molecules would be shielded from cosmic radiation and the heat & pressure of impact.

    But even the idea that cells can be transported on meteorites is not far-fetched. In a recent experiment, cyanobacteria survived for 553 days outside the international space station, exposed to radiation and all:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-11039206

    Bacterial spores are even more hardier than cells. A recent study showed that Bacillus endospores can survive a "trip to Mars" as well as hostile conditions on the surface of Mars:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22680691

    The following paper shows spores can survive high-velocity meteorite impacts:

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/18237257

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Most of this seems irrelevant to the claim or to expressed objections. Warmer and wetter? Irrelevant. Magnetic field? Irrelevant. More impacts? Relevant, finally. Escape velocity? Irrelevant.

      Is transport of ribose the claim? Previously you said RNA. I presume you know the difference.

      To continue: Shielding within rocks? Again, relevant, but introduces itsown problem. Now how does the ribose (or RNA) get out of the rock? Transport and/or survival of cells? Irrelevant.

      Delete
    2. Don't understand how everything is irrelevant!

      1. Conditions were ripe for early prebiotic chemistry on Mars (the warmer wetter environment, an atmosphere owing to the presence of a magnetic field and the right chemicals such as borate & molybdate).

      2. Good chance for pieces of rock to have been ejected from Mars and landed on earth 3.5 billion years ago (heavy bombardment during that time & lower escape velocity from mars).

      3. Decent chance for life's precursor molecules (ribose or RNA or something else) or life itself (in the form of spores) to have successfully made the trip from Mars to Earth.

      How does ribose get out of the rocks?! Have you ever heard of weathering? Alternatively, even the force of impact can trigger otherwise improbable chemical reactions.

      Delete
    3. Someone, I guess it was Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen, did say the Bible was written in Greek, which the New Testament was, but the Old Testament comes from the Torah which was written in Hebrew, as were the majority of the Dead Sea Scrolls. This shows that he is an imperfect creature, probably developed by some random iterative process. However, he went on to produce some excellent comments above in this sub-thread, so I am forced to conclude that he is less imperfect than I.

      A fair person would respond to MRR's best comments as well as criticizing his worst ones, would he not?

      Delete
    4. Vimal:

      1. It's only the borates and molybdenates that are a relevant difference between earth and mars, and this assumes there are no local concentrations of such things on earth.

      2. We can agree that quite a few pieces of rock from mars landed on earth 3.5 billion years ago, at a rate several times that today. Not a matter at issue.

      3. Which do you mean? One problem with these theories is that you keep switching from one thing to another being transported. It's too amorphous to argue with.

      So is it ribose now? Final answer? Is weathering from a rock really going to produce useful ribose concentrations in any one place? That sounds absurd. Is it just the ribose that earth can't make itself? And I have no idea what you're trying to claim in your last sentence.

      Delete
    5. From the abstract of Brenner's Florence lecture:

      Key are the presence of minerals, including borates and molybdates, that interact with organic species that are intermediates between atmospheric carbon dioxide and dinitrogen and RNA. Productive interaction requires as well a subaerial environment having only intermittent interaction with water. Recent data suggests that such environments might even be found today on Mars.

      [http://goldschmidt.info/2013/abstracts/finalPDFs/686.pdf]

      They may exist today, when all the water is frozen and most of it trapped in the planet's deeper crust. But wasn't early Mars pretty wet, with an ocean of liquid water? And didn't the early Earth have at least SOME areas of dry land?

      Delete
    6. The important thing is that there's no place on earth that has both borates and only intermittent interaction with water. Death Valley doesn't count, for reasons that do not immediately come to mind.

      Delete
    7. John,

      1. It may or may not be just about borates & molybdates. We just don't know. All I said was recent studies by Benner etc suggest that ribose (and therefore RNA) may have formed on Mars more readily than on Earth. This is because stable synthesis of ribose requires borates & molybdates, which are oxidized forms of boron & molybdenum. Early Mars had oxidizing conditions whereas early Earth was oxygen-poor. Therefore borates & molybdates were more likely on early Mars. In addition, RNA is not very stable in water. Early earth is thought to have been largely covered with oceans. But early Mars was not that wet although it was wetter than the present. Thus, Mars may have likely had the right balance between dry & wet conditions for prebiotic chemistry.

      Of course, all this is not conclusive or settled by any means. There are just leads or possible scenarios.

      2. You agree, good :-)

      3. I had posted papers in my post above showing how some hardy microbes can survive the harsh conditions in space. For eg: cyanobacterial cells survived outside the International Space Station for 553 days exposed to radiation, desiccation etc. And Bacillus endospores survived a simulated "trip to mars" as well as simulated conditions on the surface of mars.
      All this suggests that the idea of life's molecules or life itself arriving on earth from mars is not as crazy as some of you make it out to be.

      ////So is it ribose now? Final answer?////

      C'mon John, this is just nitpicking. The hypothesis is that early Mars had better conditions for ribose synthesis as well as RNA stability. That's why I used both terms. You get the idea.

      ///Is weathering from a rock really going to produce useful ribose concentrations in any one place?///

      Your initial problem was to get the stuff out of the rocks. When I pointed out the process of weathering, you're now wondering about concentrations. Well, I don't know. The Earth was receiving a lot of material from meteorites at that time and if there were relatively dry spots on Earth, sufficient concentrations of these could have built up.

      ////And I have no idea what you're trying to claim in your last sentence.////

      I said that prebiotic chemical synthesis is possible by the sheer shock & force of comets/asteroid impacts. For eg: see the following paper. Their simulation shows that such impact synthesis is possible independent of the ambient conditions on the planet:

      http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23639050

      Here's a more popular version of the same study:
      http://www.astrobio.net/pressrelease/5646/the-shocking-source-for-lifes-origins


      Delete
    8. Here's another new study in Nature Geoscience that shows phosphate was more readily available for abiogenesis on Mars than on Earth.

      From the abstract:

      "Our experimental findings predict phosphate release rates during water–rock interactions on Mars that are as much as 45 times higher than on Earth and phosphate concentrations of early wet martian environments more than twice those of Earth. We suggest that available phosphate may have mitigated one of the hurdles to abiogenesis on Mars."

      http://www.natureasia.com/en/research/highlight/8701

      Delete
    9. I find myself blinking slightly at this idea. One whole planet has overall 'better conditions' for RNA formation than another whole planet, and so one hypothesises it happening on the first and then being whacked out of it and transported to the second in sufficient concentration? It's not impossible, but relying on a probabilistic view requires that the overall probability is increased, not just a component.

      It seems likely that the 'spark of life' was ignited in one or a few localities and spread. Since we don't know the actual conditions, we don't know whether the early earth had such a locality or not. If a particular concentration of a particular element is necessary, the greater likelihood of finding such a concentration on another planet does not force us to conclude that's where it happened. Especially since a probabilistic calculation would have to include this detail: 'hit-by-a-meteorite-and-transported-on-fragments'. I'll take an n-fold reduction in available environments any day.

      Delete
    10. What's going to be crucial is the discovery of extinct or extant life on Mars. Extinct life may not tell us what its chemistry was, although we could still infer whether it carried out photosynthesis etc. If there's extant life and if it turns out to have a similar chemistry as ours, that may point to a common origin.

      Delete
  11. Serious questions for 'God' pushers:

    Could 'God' be:

    1. A 10,000 headed, 40,000 armed, 3 legged, 16 winged, million eyed, single tailed, rainbow colored, slimy, hermaphroditic, water breathing, toothless being that is a trillion times the size of our universe and that is sustained by absorbing atomic particles that are ejected from black holes through wormholes into a supernatural aquatic domain outside of our universe and other universes?

    2. A supernatural, omnipotent, omniscient, ornery donkey named Hank?

    3. A female ape-like being?

    4. A being whose cells are universes?

    5. An infinite number of elves who construct universes at a workshop in the 99th dimension?

    If not, why not? Is there any more evidence for the so-called 'God' that you imagine than for any or all of the above? Just wondering.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I only have one question for you: Did the universe have a beginning? If not, why not?

      Delete
    2. Quest, is that your answer to my questions?

      Delete
    3. Well, you can stop right there, Quest, because we've already heard that joke. At this point, the only thing that's funny about it is that theologians keep telling it.

      Delete
    4. Joke? I was going to "...tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me logic". Why are you afraid of logic? Because it's inconvenient?

      Delete
    5. I only have one question for you: Did the universe have a beginning? If not, why not?
      We don't know.

      In either case, postulating a god outside of time and space is a ridiculous proposition. If time really did begin, if the past is a finite dimension, then there cannot ever have been a time at which the universe didn't exist. Even if time does not extend infinitely into the past, we can still unambigously state that there was never a time at which there was nothing, because this would obviously entail that there was a time before spacetime, but if there was time, there wasn't nothing. The logical consequence here is that there was never a transition in state from non-being to being of the universe, because there has never been a time at which the universe didn't exist. This argument seems to entail that the universe be something of a brute fact, simply through spacetime being a property of it.

      So again, we don't need imagined immaterial magic men living "outside of time and space" to "create universes out of nothing". It is an incoherent concept.

      Delete
    6. Your argument, or the lack of, leads to infinite regress.

      If I were you, I would stop reading Lawrence Krauss who made a fool of himself by, among other things, contradicting himself.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQvL8U0f-NA

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9L1O3IHnyOY

      You can watch the whole debate, if you think it is out of context.

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=V82uGzgoajI

      Enjoy!

      BTW: "So again, we don't need imagined immaterial magic men living "outside of time and space" to "create universes out of nothing". It is an incoherent concept".


      To CREATE universes out of nothing? Every creation has a beginning and every beginning has a cause. You see the problem here? I doubt that.

      Delete
    7. Quest, sometimes it helps you understand things when you read what people write. You should try it sometime.

      Quick hint: Nothing I say has anything to do with infinite regressions or Lawrence Krauss.

      Delete
    8. Mikkel,

      Oh yes, I forgot to tell you that Quest can't read either.

      Delete
    9. Mikkel Rumraket Rasmussen,

      Really, Are you trying to tell me that there is more than one moron in the world like Lawrence M Krause who claims that universe can be CREATED out of nothing? Do you also claim that 2=2=5?


      What was before all the ifs???
      "Even if time does not extend infinitely into the past, we can still unambigously state that there was never a time at which there was nothing, because this would obviously entail that there was a time before spacetime, but if there was time, there wasn't nothing."

      Does it ring the bell? Maybe you should look up the the definition of infinite regress in Finish or Danish?

      Delete
    10. Negative Entropy,

      Maybe, How does that help you empty-handed on the issue?

      All you can do is howl at the moon lol

      Delete
    11. Really, Are you trying to tell me that there is more than one moron in the world like Lawrence M Krause who claims that universe can be CREATED out of nothing?
      No. Try to read what I write. In fact I'm saying the complete opposite. Creatio ex nihilo is a logically incoherent concept, it never happened.

      Why do I even bother? You can't read!

      Delete
    12. Quest babbled,

      Does it ring the bell?

      Yes, it reminds me that you can't comprehend what you read and that you can't reason. Try again, try and read that quote again and again, and maybe you'll see your problems. Hint (as if you knew what "hint" means, right Entropy, keep imagining that Quest can understand what he/she reads and thinks), ahem, hint: how can there be an infinite regress without time?

      Maybe you should look up the the definition of infinite regress in Finish or Danish?

      Maybe you should learn to read for comprehension and a lot of logic. I doubt that you have the capacity, but hell, maybe if I insist enough it'll click and you'll realize about your lack of education and mental challenges. If at the very least you learned that you have such disabilities and lack of education you might stop making this prideful display of your imbecility. Maybe. Just maybe.

      Delete
    13. Personally I thing that toilet-paper a sixpack is more likely to self assemble than all this garbage your propose. You all must be mentally ill to believe in such an idea. Well somehow I'm not surprised.

      Delete
  12. "In fact many have argued that moderne science developed in the west precisely because of the Christian belief in a rational creation that could be studied and understood."

    Was Galileo one of them? Guessing not....

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Judmarc, You make the mistake of confusing Christianity with the church. Many great Christians, just like Galileo have been at odds with the church. It's however worth noting that Galileo's heliocentrism was controversial within his lifetime. He met with opposition from astronomers, who doubted heliocentrism due to the absence of an observed stellar parallax. The matter was investigated by the Roman Inquisition in 1615, and they concluded that it could be supported as only a possibility, not an established fact. Galileo later defended his views in Dialogue Concerning the Two Chief World Systems, which appeared to attack Pope Urban VIII and thus alienated him and the Jesuits, who had both supported Galileo up until this point.


      “Mathematics is the language with which God has written the universe.”
      ― Galileo Galilei

      “I do not feel obliged to believe that the same God who has endowed us with sense, reason, and intellect has intended us to forgo their use.”
      ― Galileo Galilei, Letter to the Grand Duchess Christina

      Delete
    2. Andy Wilberforce says:

      You make the mistake of confusing Christianity with the church.

      Well, that's only fair, since it's the same error you make in your original argument. That many of the early leaders of Christianity also happened to be interested in extending the intellectual traditions of Ancient Greece and Rome has nothing to do with Christianity itself.

      Delete
    3. The idea that Christianity (as in the doctrines of the faith) are responsible for modern science has been so thoroughly debunked so many times it's almost a joke that there's still people around who believe it.

      Any, I recommend you read the book "The Christian Delusion" by John Loftus.

      Delete
    4. Agreed. We all know that it was Satan who created science.

      Delete
    5. Not only is Christianity the starting point of modern science, it's also the source of western civilization. To quote Jurgen Habermas:
      "For the normative self-understanding of modernity, Christianity has functioned as more than just a precursor or catalyst. Universalistic egalitarianism, from which sprang the ideals of freedom and a collective life in solidarity, the autonomous conduct of life and emancipation, the individual morality of conscience, human rights and democracy, is the direct legacy of the Judaic ethic of justice and the Christian ethic of love. This legacy, substantially unchanged, has been the object of a continual critical reappropriation and reinterpretation. Up to this very day there is no alternative to it. And in light of the current challenges of a post-national constellation, we must draw sustenance now, as in the past, from this substance. Everything else is idle postmodern talk."

      Delete
    6. Universalistic egalitarianism
      ideals of freedom
      autonomous conduct of life and emancipation
      individual morality of conscience
      human rights and democracy

      wow. what a list. the things that virtually every religion has been implacable opposed to throughout history and to varying degrees to this day.
      good start. probably should throw in a word about support for education too. Never mind how typically theocratic it is to shoot a little girl in the head when threatened by the idea that people like her might become educated. Or is that sort of theocracy too neo-middle-eastern for you...would you like some historical examples from christianity in the western hemisphere too?

      Delete
    7. “We are not some casual and meaningless product of evolution. Each of us is the result of a thought of God.”
      ― Benedict XVI

      “What seems to me white, I will believe black if the hierarchical Church so defines.”
      ― St. Ignatius of Loyola

      "Thirdly, there is no consensus among those involved in public health in Canada that HPV vaccination is the most prudent strategy in terms of allocating health care resources to address the goal of preventing deaths resulting from cervical cancer."
      --- Calgary's Roman Catholic Bishop Fred Henry

      "The most effective presence on the front in the battle against HIV/Aids is the Catholic church and her institutions."
      ― Benedict XVI

      "Condoms have a 10-15 percent inefficacy or failure rate because minute AIDS viruses are much more able to pass through condoms than the sperm"
      ---Cardinal ALFONSO LOPEZ TRUJILLO

      "The spread of AIDS can be combated and it is being reversed in some places by promoting family values, the virtue of fidelity and by encouraging young people to have a mature attitude towards sex."
      ---Cardinal ALFONSO LOPEZ TRUJILLO

      “The Holy See in no way endorses contraception or the use of condoms, either as a family planning measure or in HIV/AIDS prevention programs.”
      --- Father Philip Bené, Mission of the Holy See to the United Nations

      Delete
    8. You're all wrong. Science was invented by Xenu in order to confuse Thetans into staying trapped on Teegeeak. It is known.

      Delete
    9. "There is another form of temptation, even more fraught with danger. This is the disease of curiosity. It is this which drives us to try and discover the secrets of nature, those secrets which are beyond our understanding, which can avail us nothing and which man should not wish to learn."
      — St. Augustine

      "I believe BECAUSE it's impossible."
      — Tertullian

      "The opinion formulated by the Church has more value in my eyes than human reasons, whatever they may be."
      — Desiderius Erasmus, 1466 – 1536

      "For if the truth of God hath more abounded through my lie unto his glory; why yet am I also judged as a sinner?"
      — The Apostle Paul, Romans 3:7

      "I am now as before a Catholic and will always remain so."
      — Adolf Hitler, to Gen. Gerhard Engel, 1941

      "The doctrine of the double motion of the earth about its axis and about the sun is false, and entirely contrary to Holy Scripture."
      — Congregation of the Index (of Prohibited Books), 1616, under Pope Paul V

      Like many other scientists who hold the Catholic faith, I see the Creator's plan and purpose fulfilled in our universe. I see a planet bursting with evolutionary possibilities, a continuing creation in which the Divine providence is manifest in every living thing. I see a science that tells us there is indeed a design to life.
      -- Kenneth R. Miller

      God in his infinite freedom continuously creates a world which reflects that freedom at all levels of the evolutionary process to greater and greater complexity.
      -- Father George V. Coyne, SJ

      "A little bit of kink was one of the most delicious of erotic pleasures. Catholic school girls were often the horniest—Brett could hardly contain his elation.”
      ― Jess C. Scott, Catholic School Girls Rule

      One cannot really be a Catholic and grown up.
      -- George Orwell

      Delete
    10. Andy Wilberforce said:

      "You make the mistake of confusing Christianity with the church."

      If it's a church that pushes christianity, how is it different from christianity?

      Your attempt to differentiate christianity from "the church" is just another typical, lame example of a so-called christian (you) making up your own religion out of selfishly and sanctimoniously selected bits and pieces of the bible and whatever you imagine and calling it christianity.

      Your quote of what Habermas (whomever that is) said might be funny if it weren't so erroneous, and so contradictory to what christianity (including "the church") actually is and always has been (a stifling, bigoted, terroristic cult of narcissistic dominionists).

      And let's take a look at a couple of biblical examples of "the Christian ethic of love", from 'Jesus Christ' himself:

      "Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's foes shall be they of his own household." (Matthew 10:34-37)

      "Suppose ye that I am come to give peace on earth? I tell you, Nay; but rather division: For from henceforth there shall be five in one house divided, three against two, and two against three. The father shall be divided against the son, and the son against the father; the mother against the daughter, and the daughter against the mother; the mother in law against her daughter in law, and the daughter in law against her mother in law." (Luke 12:51-53)

      Delete
    11. TWT writes: "Your quote of what Habermas (whomever that is)"
      I take it that philosophy is not a required subject in your school system...
      You go on to quote a passage from Luke 12. A good advice is that when reading the Bible it's easier to understand if you have the whole context instead of picking out bits and pieces. This trick actually works on most books. Jesus message of love is well known, so what is it that he is saying here where he surprises his disciples and it appears that he's contradicting his own key message? In the verses before he talks about having come "to cast fire upon the earth". Fire is in the Bible associated with God and his actions, i.e. he is saying that he has come to bring the message of God. Jesus then goes on to explain that this message will bring division to the world, for and against him and that those that follows him must place this loyalty above even family bonds. This message can be found in different forms in the New Testament.


      Delete
    12. Ah, the old reading out of context soft shuffle.

      So are we to assume that the 33,000* xtian sects have read the bable in context have and come up with vastly different interpretations ?

      Or that they just can't be bothered to read the thing ? I can certainly sympathize with that possibility, given that it consists of mind numbingly tedious swaths of fictional genealogy and history larded with primitive, goat herder ethics and morality.

      And somehow your "in context" reading of this nasty book is the correct one ?

      Oh, the humility of the humble christian.

      * wikipedia, number used as a rough estimate, I'm sure Andy can rationalize this as well

      Delete
    13. Andy,

      What Steve said, and:

      There are lots of examples in the bible that clearly show that "the Christian ethic of love" is based on fearful submission to a threatening, murderous, monstrous 'God' and 'Lord' called yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost. The examples that I referred to are just the tip of the iceberg. The bible, which is THE foundation and doctrine/dogma of christianity is much more than your selective interpretation. It is a horror story of threats, dominance, punishment, and submission. It's 'ethic' is not 'love'. Love isn't given or gotten by demands.

      How about another example of the 'Lord God's love':

      "I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things." (Isaiah 45:7) (my bold)

      Delete
    14. Not only is Christianity the starting point of modern science, it's also the source of western civilization.

      Oh dear. Yes, like the technology built on mathematics such as algebra (from the Arabic "al-jabr," meaning "restoration") and our very numbers themselves (try addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, etc., using Roman numerals some time); medicine, given a kick start by the writings of Avicenna; and there is much, much more.

      Most of the first 1500 years of Christianity in Europe is popularly known to history as "the Dark Ages."

      But I am sure this is just coincidence, and that the true Christians were just biding the centuries until they could be responsible for scientific breakthroughs like relativity. Oh, but Einstein, to the extent he could be said to be religious, was Jewish, wasn't he? That's OK, though, I'm sure he was just a front man for those diligent Christian scientists (not to be confused with Christian Scientists) carrying the light of Western civilization and knowledge....

      Delete
    15. I'm the first to admit the Jewish contribution to Western civilization. Christianity builds on the Jewish tradition and many of the greatest scientist are and have been Jewish.
      I'm afraid that your view of history is based on very one sided propaganda so I will have to make a quick overview to give you a glimpse of the history and foundations of western civilization and the roots of the scientific revolution. Christendom first took it's roots in Europe in the south eastern Hellenistic parts, the first Roman Emperor to convert to Christendom was Constantine in 300 AD. The Roman Empire eventually succumbed to invading Germanic tribes, but they also eventually adopted Christianity. Charlemagne became king over the Franks in the early phase of this process. He became instrumental in spreading the Christian influence in Western and Central Europe. He went on to become the first emperor of the Christian West Roman Empire in 800 AD. This spurred the Carolingian renaissance on models drawn from the example of the Christian Roman Empire of the 4th century. During this period there was an increase of literature, writing, the arts, architecture, jurisprudence, liturgical reforms, and scriptural studies. Monasteries were important contributors to the surrounding community. They were centres of intellectual progression and education. They welcomed aspiring priests to come study and learn, allowing them to challenge doctrine in dialogue with superiors. In the monasteries eventually scholasticism developed. It was not so much a philosophy or a theology as a method of learning. Scholasticism places a strong emphasis on dialectical reasoning to extend knowledge by inference, and to resolve contradictions. Scholastic thought is also known for rigorous conceptual analysis and the careful drawing of distinctions. This became the stepping stone from which modern science took off around 1500 AD. This coincides with the Protestant reformation.
      Given this background not surprisingly most notable figures of the scientific revolution—including Nicolaus Copernicus, Tycho Brahe, Johannes Kepler, Galileo Galilei, Francis Bacon, René Descartes, Isaac Newton and Gottfried Leibniz— were all devout Christians.

      Delete
    16. The assertion by christian creationists that a handful of long-dead people were devout christians and that without them being christians there would be no science and "Western civilization" is incredibly lame. And what the hell is "Western civilization" anyway? Is it just carefully selected parts of European history and current ways of living in certain parts of the world that make for a self-righteous soundbite?

      Long before and during the advent and extension of so-called "Western civilization" (whatever that is) there were lots and lots of scientific discoveries made by many people of different cultures/civilizations around the world. Many of the advancements of "Western civilization" science and technology are based on or directly derived from discoveries made by people who were/are not christians. As more archaeological work is done, more and more is learned about ancient scientific discoveries by people of various cultures/civilizations and some of the things that those people discovered are even useful in modern science, such as helping to direct scientists toward particular medicinal uses of certain plants and animals or their parts. In many cases modern science is just refining what ancient people (including non-christians) discovered.

      To this day, with all of the current knowledge and technology available to "Western civilization", scientists (including the christian ones) still haven't figured out many of the things that ancient, non-christian civilizations accomplished.

      If christianity was and is so scientifically mind-opening and beneficial to the advancement of civilization, why didn't yhwh-jesus-holy-ghost do something to get science started a lot sooner, why have so many christians done (and still do) so much to stop beneficial scientific advances, and why do so many christians want the whole world to go back to the dark ages or worse? Oh, and why do so many christians do so many things that are detrimental to civilization, such as opposing environmental protection, opposing reasonable human population control, opposing vaccinations, opposing the use of condoms for prevention of AIDS and other diseases, opposing scientific education, opposing non-obedience to their stifling religion, opposing many personal choices and rights, opposing sex education, opposing programs and efforts that are helpful to the poor elderly, and disabled, opposing the control and decrease of weapons (both personal and military), and much more?

      Delete
    17. I meant to put a comma between poor and elderly.

      Delete
    18. TWT writes alot of unsubstantiated gibberish, and seem to get most of his/her "information" from TV shows. It would be nice if TWT could substantiate some of the unfounded claims, maybe starting with: "To this day, with all of the current knowledge and technology available to "Western civilization", scientists (including the christian ones) still haven't figured out many of the things that ancient, non-christian civilizations accomplished."

      Delete
    19. Contrary to what christians delude themselves about the "foundations of western society", here's the real basis:
      http://www.infidels.org/kiosk/article2.html

      Delete
    20. Well then Andy, since scientists have already figured out everything that all ancient civilizations accomplished, they might as well stop studying ancient civilizations, eh?

      Delete
    21. TWT, now you're shifting focus from tracing the roots of the scientific revolution back to "the ancient civilizations" to argue if it's worth while studying them or not. I must say that I'm a little disappoint, I was kind of hoping for the old pyramid mystery.

      Delete
  13. Something I've wondered about from time to time:

    - The only viruses we're aware of today need living hosts to reproduce.

    - Might there have been viruses on Earth prior to cellular life, reproducing by utilizing pre-cellular biological molecules, which were then superseded after the advent of cellular life by viruses using the much more conveniently packaged biological molecules in cells in order to reproduce themselves?

    Just idly speculating that such viruses might have served as a stepping stone to life based on cells.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Eugene Koonin is the most prominent supporter of that idea. Read his book: "The Logic of Chance: The Nature and Origin of Biological Evolution." Chapter 10 is "The Virus World and its evolution."

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    2. Thanks. It's on my Kindle, so as soon as I'm done reading Pynchon's latest....

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    3. Personally, I find it more likely that viruses arose out of cellular genomes, as packaged 'selfish elements'. eg, some jumping genes generate a protective coat similar to a virus's, even though they aren't going 'outside', which seems but a short step from a 'true' virus.

      Koonin's paper here: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1594570/ complete with reviewer comments (an appealing eccentricity of Koonin's Biology Direct journal).

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    4. For an alternative perspective that is more in sync with the current evidence, you might want to see this paper by Patrick Forterre:

      P. Forterre, Giant viruses: conflicts in revisiting the virus concept. Intervirology 53, 362, (2010). (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20551688

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    5. Interesting, though the most resonant part was Forterre's own heading "You see what you want to see". Concentrating on giant viruses such as Mimivirus can lead to its own skew. Their possession of large numbers of genes gives a richer dataset (though still with considerable latitide in interpretation), but importantly, there remains the possibility that Mimivirus's history is not representative of the generality of viruses. There is still no clear way to distinguish between a reductive rationale and an escape of fortuitious gene combinations on genetic grounds alone. My own prejudices are rooted in the lesser likelihood of a pre-LUCA 'free' lineage with vertical inheritance persisting by getting another organism to replicate its genome. A more logical path is provided by a genetic element that has always relied upon replication by a 'host'. Such logic can be defeated by data, but the definitive test is elusive.

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    6. What about the following rationale:

      Without exception, all parasitic and endosymbiotic cellular organisms have evolved toward smaller genomes and lower complexity: why would viral lineages evolve any other way?
      (http://precedings.nature.com/documents/3886/version/1)

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  14. Every one his his own theory of looking for the origin of life there are only assumptions that this must have happened.So if you disagree you must have a reason.

    Thanks
    Sanola Jerry

    Plos Constructions

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  15. Looks like the problem of the origins of life has been solved by paleontology proffesor at The Museum of Texas Tech University.

    Thank goodness! Deep sigh of relieve. Phew!!!

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/10/131029133124.htm

    Last part of this scientific article resolves it all:

    "The problem with theories on the origins of life is that they don’t propose any experiments that lead to the emergence of cells, Chatterjee said. However, he suggested an experiment to recreate the ancient prebiotic world and support or refute his theory."

    Why write a 3 page article if 1 sentence resolves it all?

    Maybe he gets paid per letter? Could be. lol

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  16. Origin of life and its evolution are the result of action of laws of hierarchical thermodynamics.

    Criterion of evolution
    The approval about the reduction of the entropy of living systems as a result of biological evolution is incorrect. The criterion of evolution of living system is the change (during evolution) of the specific free energy (Gibbs function, G) of this living system. The evolution of living system takes place against the background of flows of energy (e.g., light, energy of physical fields) from the environment. It increases its specific free energy. At the same time, the specific free energy of this living system is decreased as a result of spontaneous processes in this system.
    Thus, the total change in the specific free energy of a living system is composed of two parts: 1. The change of free energy due to the inflow of external energy (G1> 0) and 2. The change of free energy due to spontaneous transformations in the system (G2 < 0) . The evolving system constantly adapts to a changing environment. The principle of substance stability contributes to this adaptation.
    Thermodynamics of evolution obeys the generalized equation of Gibbs (that is the generalized equation of the first and second laws of thermodynamics)*. Biological evolution and the processes of origin of life are well described by the hierarchical thermodynamics, established on the firm foundation of theory of JW Gibbs. Our theory created without the notion on dissipative structures of I. Prigogine and negentropy of L. Boltzmann and E. Schrodinger.
    “Thermodynamics serves as a basis for optimal solutions of the tasks of physiology, which are solved by organisms in the characteristic process of life: evolution, development, homeostasis, and adaptation. It is stated that the quasi-equilibrium thermodynamics of quasi-closed complex systems serves as an impetus of evolution, functions, and activities of all levels of biological systems’ organization. This fact predetermines the use of Gibbs’ methods and leads to a hierarchical thermodynamics in all spheres of physiology. The interaction of structurally related levels and sub-levels of biological systems is determined by the thermodynamic principle of substance stability. Thus, life is accompanied by a thermodynamic optimization of physiological functions of biological systems. Living matter, while functioning and evolving, seeks the minimum of specific Gibbs free energy of structure formation at all levels. The spontaneous search of this minimum takes place with participation of not only spontaneous, but also non-spontaneous processes, initiated by the surrounding environment.”
    Works of the author: http://endeav.net/news.html http://gladyshevevolution.wordpress.com/ http://www.mdpi.org/ijms/papers/i7030098.pdf http://ru.scribd.com/doc/87069230/Report-Ok-16-11-2011

    Sincerely,
    Georgi Gladyshev
    Professor of Physical Chemistry

    *) The generalized equation of Gibbs (See: http://creatacad.org/?id=57&lng=eng
    http://gladyshevevolution.wordpress.com/article/thermodynamic-theory-of-evolution-of-169m15f5ytneq-3/ )

    P.S. Lastly, it is important to take into account, from the viewpoint of hierarchical thermodynamics, that anti-aging diets and many drugs can be used for the prophylaxis and treatment of cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and for numerous other illnesses.
    http://endeav.net/news/21-nutrition-aging-thermodynamics.html
    http://ru.scribd.com/doc/87069230/Report-Ok-16-11-2011

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  17. Professor full of shit; You can't stop aging. I know it and people like C. Venter know it. So, don't bullshit us. We have spent millions on this and it can't be done. Slowing down the aging process is possible in theory but I don't agree it is significant. You can do many really good things by changing your diet an lifestyle but you can't stop aging. So, go your own way professor of shitty shit

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  18. Quest: I share your views on the difficulty of the 'spontaneous' generation of life, and evolution driven by 'errors'. However I am truly appalled by your language and the tone of your posts. Why do you suppose Prof. Moran doesn't delete your comments? He obviously realizes that you are doing your cause a huge disservice. And in so thinking he is correct. You have utterly destroyed any 'legitimate' point you have been trying to make. If you can't control your nastiness and vituperative language, then do what is next best: Remain completely and totally silent.

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  19. Its obvious that people who are trumpeting this as a victory towards explaining how life may have started by self assembly, have failed to look at one tiny problem, namely that they used biomolecules from life forms that are allready existing, but we all know how nonbias the pro evolutionists are here dont we ;)

    This is yet another example of how the media sensationalizes darwinian research and makes it to be be more then it is.
    Showing that a cell membrane (a primitive one at that) can be formed from existing material that is organic doesnt explain anything at all to us about the origin of life. This is handwaving and cheerleading at its finest.

    But then again you guys all probably knew this as we both know that darwinists are the most honesty and scientifically neutral people on earth.

    What was I thinking?

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  20. sez bob smith:
    Its obvious that people who are trumpeting this as a victory towards explaining how life may have started by self assembly, have failed to look at one tiny problem, namely that they used biomolecules from life forms that are allready existing, but we all know how nonbias the pro evolutionists are here dont we ;)
    Thanks to Muller and Urey, we know that mindless, unguided, prebiotic chemistry can easily generate "biomolecules"—amino acids. This being the case, what's problematic about assuming "biomolecules" (amino acids) are an ingredient in abiogenesis?

    This is yet another example of how the media sensationalizes darwinian research and makes it to be be more then it is.
    Showing that a cell membrane (a primitive one at that) can be formed from existing material that is organic doesnt explain anything at all to us about the origin of life.

    Well, given that the original abiogenesis event occurred something like 3 gigayears ago, nothing short of a time machine will let us investigate the One True Way in which abiogenesis occurred on Earth. All we can do today, gigayears after the fact, is investigate various possible scenarios for how abiogenesis could have occurred. And the work you'[re disparaging does a pretty good job of that, not so?

    This is handwaving and cheerleading at its finest.
    You may be right. Do you have any specific critique to make of this work? Or are you merely content to point at it and say it's Teh Suxxors! ?

    But then again you guys all probably knew this as we both know that darwinists are the most honesty and scientifically neutral people on earth.
    They're certainly more honest and scientifically neutral than Creationists, inasmuch as Creationists literally swear oaths that they will not arrive at any conclusion which contradicts their religious beliefs…

    What was I thinking?
    [shrug] Beats me. What were you thinking, assuming you actually did think?

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