|Evolution in the News - February 2014|
|by Do-While Jones|
Despite the evidence, evolutionists still believe in abiogenesis.
Despite the quiet suspension of the Origin of Life Prize we told you about in our feature article, science tabloids continue to proclaim that scientists are just about to discover how life began.
New Scientist ran an article on page 10 of their 25 January 2014 print issue with the title, “Fountain of life may be a shower of dust.” When they published the article on their website, they changed the title to, “Water found in stardust suggests life is universal”. We don’t know why they changed the title. Both titles suggest a breakthrough in the search for the origin of life has been made. Regardless, the article begins,
A sprinkling of stardust is as magical as it sounds. The dust grains that float through our solar system contain tiny pockets of water, which form when they are zapped by a blast of charged wind from the sun.
Combined with previous findings of organic compounds in interplanetary dust, the results suggest that these grains contain the basic ingredients needed for life. As similar dust grains are thought to be found in solar systems all over the universe, this bodes well for the existence of life across the cosmos. 1
Inadvertently, they admit that the origin of life depends upon something “magical.” Don’t they know that life originated through natural (not supernatural) processes?
They claim “the basic ingredients needed for life” have been found in outer space. What are these basic ingredients?
What's more, interplanetary dust in our solar system – and in others – contains organic carbon. If stardust contains carbon and water, it means the essentials of life could be present in solar systems anywhere in the universe and raining down on their planets. 2
All you need for life to begin is carbon and water! That’s amazing!
There’s nothing new here. Scientists detected carbon and water outside Earth’s atmosphere long ago. Besides, did anyone ever believe that the only place in the universe where carbon and water might be found is on planet Earth?
If all it takes for life to begin is to “take carbon and add water,” why hasn’t anyone produced life in the lab?
Granted, New Scientist is just a supermarket science tabloid. They sensationalize stories in order to sell magazines. New Scientist isn’t a peer-reviewed technical journal, so we should not take what they say too seriously. Instead, let’s look at what a real science journal said on the subject last month.
The origin of life remains a daunting mystery in part because rather than knowing too little, we increasingly know about too many possible mechanisms that might have led to the self-sustaining replication of nucleic acids and the cellularization of genetic material that is the basis of life on Earth. 3
Yes, the origin of life is a daunting mystery, more so now than in the past because we know more now than we did in the past. But it isn’t that we know so many plausible methods that we can’t choose the most likely one. We know now that all proposed methods are implausible. That’s why the Origin of Life Prize is no longer being offered.
But, one can’t get research funding if one admits there is no chance of success, so Gollihar had to spin the article this way:
It is possible that it is not a knowledge of prebiotic synthesis that is wanting, but knowledge of prebiotic replication. Simple organic replicators can be generated with varying degrees of efficiency and fidelity, and it is easy to imagine how such simple replicators might have evolved in complexity. However, what remains unknown is the degree to which the replication cycle would have led to the purification of materials (such as ribose) from otherwise complex mixtures of prebiotic chemicals. 4
He admits there is “not a knowledge of prebiotic synthesis.” In other words, nobody knows how chemicals were synthesized (put together) in a prebiotic (before life) environment. But he just skips over that insurmountable obstacle, and moves on to the problem of “prebiotic replication”. In other words, assuming something was somehow synthesized before there was any living thing, how did that thing reproduce itself? It wasn’t alive yet, but somehow it reproduced itself. If he just knew how it reproduced, he says, that would be a great breakthrough. Here is his suggestion:
Biochemistry occurred on geochemical time scales, in which millions of years of a poor replicator (a blink on the geological time scale) might well have been necessary to craft a feedback cycle that led to a slightly better replicator, or to a replicator that could better feed itself by directing the chemistry around it. Of course, none of these speculations even touches on key issues relative to surface chemistry and nascent cellularizations. 5
So, since it is inconceivable that a good reproduction process happened by chance, one must assume that a poor reproduction process happened by chance, and natural selection must have made the process better. There is no evidence that the unknown inefficient reproduction process evolved into an unknown efficient reproduction process, but it must have happened. But, he admits, there is more to life than just reproduction. In particular, life needs to be encased in some sort of membrane (cell) which allows fuel to enter the cell, and waste material to exit the cell. And “none of these speculations even touches on” this problem.
Although there are many ill-defined paths (in some ways all equally plausible and all equally implausible) to life on Earth, recent research has begun to expand the likelihood of several of these paths. 6
If some paths to life are becoming less implausible, why did the Origin of Life Foundation suspend their prize?
Finally, he alludes to Stanly Miller’s classic experiment in 1953.
The great benefit of the demonstration of prebiotic amino acid synthesis from a simple gas mix and an electrical spark was not that it was a cookbook for how things occurred, but rather that it was the identification of a plausible path to an origin of life that would continue to bear experimental fruit. 7
Miller’s famous experiment did not identify a plausible path to the origin of life. Miller recognized that, and spent the rest of his life (more than 50 years) looking for another plausible path as we told you when he died. 8 His subsequent research never bore experimental fruit (and neither did anyone else’s research).
Dr. Miller, and the Origin of Life Foundation, both deserve our admiration and praise for honestly discovering and documenting the scientific obstacles to the natural origin of life. The insurmountable problems they discovered should be presented in (not censored from) public school science classes.
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Catherine Brahic, New Scientist, 20 January 2014, “Water found in stardust suggests life is universal”, http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn24907-water-found-in-stardust-suggests-life-is-universal.html#.UwAFHfuKKSo
3 Jimmy Gollihar, et al., Science, 17 January 2014, “Many Paths to the Origin of Life”, https://www.science.org/doi/10.1126/science.1246704
8 Disclosure, June 2007, “Stanley Miller’s Final Word”