Debate stumped

Apr 22, 2013


Discussion by: GilliReason
Hello fellow reasoners. I was hoping you could help chip away at my ignorance. I found myself stumped the other day while having a friendly debate with a religious person about evolution. They were clearly confusing the concept of evolution with the concept of the origin of life (something I’ve heard Dawkins say he encounters endlessly). Along with that confusion came their argument for not believing in evolution, which was “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?” I unfortunately could not think of an appropriate response. I have not yet had the chance to read The Selfish Gene, in case the answer is in the book. Also, being a med student with exams coming up, I don’t currently have the time for researching the answer on my own, so I thought I’d turn to you for help. I know the details of the origin of life are still a mystery, albeit one increasingly nearing solution. Is the above question also still mystery? If not, what is the answer?

43 comments on “Debate stumped

  • Because the conditions that produced life from (not actually nothing) nothing are not with us today. It is pretty much that simple.



    Report abuse

  • 2
    Daniel Schealler says:

    To elaborate:

    Most models for how proto-life came about take as their starting point a certain amount of prebiotic chemistry. Simple fatty acids and organic molecules (organic in this case just means ‘the kind of carbon-based molecules that living things use lots of’), that sort of thing.

    Thing is, fatty acids and organic molecules are FOOD.

    Given that the modern environment is completely full of bacteria everywhere, we shouldn’t expect that proto-life would be able to form anew. The resources will be quickly devoured as soon as they become available.

    And if it DID emerge? Proto-cells would also be pretty tasty to a modern bacteria. And given that they’re primitive, they wouldn’t have any of the sophisticated defence mechanisms that modern bacteria need to keep themselves from being absorbed, eaten, or other wise killed off by their competitors.

    It’s a silly demand to be making.

    At a stretch, it’s a little bit like why we don’t see the sudden emergence of a widespread flint-tool use in the developed world: The conditions aren’t right any more. But that isn’t an argument against the historic emergence of widespread flint tool use, because historically the conditions were different.

    Hope that makes sense. Could probably be more succinct. 😛



    Report abuse

  • 3
    zengardener says:

    Maybe in a sterile environment, life would have a chance to begin anew. The life that already exists will prey upon the new forms before they can get started.



    Report abuse

  • We know from genetic comparisons that all known life is related, and therefore has a common ancestor. Therefore, all known life stems from a SINGLE event of the emergence of life from non-life. If life sprang from non-life all the time, the world would be full of life forms which weren’t related at all. (Until Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, people actually assumed this was the case and life was constantly being formed from scratch, for instance that unprotected bags of grain literally created maggots. It was known as “spontaneous generation”.)

    Whether or not the conditions necessary for abiogenesis still exist today, even at the time when it produced our first ancestor it is safe to assume the conditions were extremely rare, perhaps even unique to one place and time. No one said that getting life from non-life is easy; it’s merely plausible that a billion years and a whole planet was enough time and space to allow it to happen once.



    Report abuse

  • 5
    Daniel Schealler says:

    In reply to #4 by SmartLX:

    We know from genetic comparisons that all known life is related, and therefore has a common ancestor. Therefore, all known life stems from a SINGLE event of the emergence of life from non-life. If life sprang from non-life all the time, the world would be full of life forms which weren’t related at all. (Until Louis Pasteur in the 19th century, people actually assumed this was the case and life was constantly being formed from scratch, for instance that unprotected bags of grain literally created maggots. It was known as “spontaneous generation”.)

    Whether or not the conditions necessary for abiogenesis still exist today, even at the time when it produced our first ancestor it is safe to assume the conditions were extremely rare, perhaps even unique to one place and time. No one said that getting life from non-life is easy; it’s merely plausible that a billion years and a whole planet was enough time and space to allow it to happen once.

    From what I understand (I am not a biologist) you’re slightly overselling the SINGLE-ness of the event.

    From what I know, the roots of the tree of life extends back to an era where proto-cells had various methods of stealing/copying/splitting that were not what we would consider to be strict parent/child heritability of traits, so evolution-proper hadn’t quite kicked in yet.

    At the time when recognizable heritability kicked in, there were already differentiable lineages of primitive life.

    So while it’s true that all life is related and can be shown to be related, there’s no actual time or location we can point to and say: BAM! That’s it! Life, y’all!

    As usual, the details of life turn out to be messier, more complex, and more interconnected than we might like.

    But as I said above: I am not a biologist. I got most of this view from an AronRa video. Once of his ‘Foundational Falsehoods of Creationism’ series, but I cannot remember which and can’t check from the office. 😛



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #4 by SmartLX:

    We know from genetic comparisons that all known life is related, and therefore has a common ancestor.

    True

    Therefore, all known life stems from a SINGLE event of the emergence of life from non-life.

    Not necessarily true for several reasons:

    1) It’s possible that there were several events at about the same time but possibly in several distinct geographical areas, and one group ‘won’ the ensuing feed-off. This group went on to populate the world.

    2) The earliest organisms might not have used RNA and DNA like they do now, and may indeed not have such distinct cellular boundaries as today (kind of ‘porous’). In this model, life is more a volume than a group of cells. At some point in time and space, one proto-organism started down the path of using RNA and developed a specific coding strategy. This organism and its descendants became the most successful and completely replaced all non-RNA-using organisms.



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #3 by zengardener:

    Maybe in a sterile environment, life would have a chance to begin anew.

    Absolutely – but the conditions have to be just right – the right temperature, acidity, UV strength, level of electrical discharges, collection of solid and/or liquid components, structure and shape (which strongly correlate to catalytic effect), chemicals (including the right concentrations of fatty acids, nucleotides, sugars, metal ions, perhaps clays, etc). And maybe the thing that triggered life was one or more changes to the environment, such as repeated drying then wetting events, or temperature cycles, or … Or perhaps it was the gradients of chemical concentration, temperature, acidity or similar.

    Even then, it may take hundreds, thousands or perhaps millions of years for the first glimmers of life to emerge. Or maybe (if everything is just perfect), it’ll be really quick.



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #2 by Daniel Schealler:

    At a stretch, it’s a little bit like why we don’t see the sudden emergence of a widespread flint-tool use in the developed world: The conditions aren’t right any more. But that isn’t an argument against the historic emergence of widespread flint tool use, because historically the conditions were different.

    That is a brilliant analogy. I’ll use this in future.



    Report abuse

  • 9
    Reckless Monkey says:

    Scientists are working on how life may have been generated. If they figure it out they will simulate another primitive life form.



    Report abuse

  • 10
    bob_e_s says:

    The other comment worth making is that the process of abiogenesis may be an extremely rare and unlikely event. But, in order to initiate life on earth, it only had to happen once. If you compare the probabbility of the event occuring with the timespan in which it could have happened, and the area of which it could have happened (i.e the volume of ocean of the early earth), it isn’t that surprising that it happened.

    And then, if it were to happen again, as has been stated above, there is a good chance the primitive cells would have been consumed quickly. Or, we haven’t found them.

    And as has also been stated, the conditions which existed on the early earth are not the same as now, so if abiogenesis was occuring, it wouldn’t be happening in the same way (for example, there was little oxygen in the atmosphere).

    This is an area of research which I’m very interested in keeping an eye on.



    Report abuse

  • 11
    SaganTheCat says:

    couple of simple answers.

    1. non-life to life would not have happened overnight. in fact the problem with your religious friend is they see a sharp dividing line between the two that doesn’t exist (Richard calls this the curse of the discontinuous mind). defining life is difficult. when the bible was written no one would have known that a handful of soil would contain millions of living organisms. the microscope is only a few hundred years old. but something that replicates is all that’s needed, crystals are “almost” alive but life in a bronze age mindset generally means breathing thinking individual (indeed spirit or soul are terms that originate with “breath”). an alien watching the planet in the early days of earth would not be able to define the point where biochemistry became life in current human scientific terms. it most probably had many false starts until a critical mass of self replicating molecules were able gain a foothold.

    2. it probably doesn’t because there are so many living organisms here using up every bit of availbale nutrient (worlds biomass is 90% single-celled) but even if it did, we wouldn’t “see” it because it happens at a microscopic level. it may be that it goes on every day however but until science understadns how it happens, we wouldn’t know what to look for. for all we know other forms of life have evolved seperate from our RNA/DNA based life but how can you tell?

    science is a work in progress. religion is a finished.



    Report abuse

  • 12
    SaganTheCat says:

    sorry i have a 3rd answer.

    embryology. sperm are not living in as much as they don’t replicate, nor do eggs but together they create a single-celled organism from genes donated by 2 individuals. it’s not the same as non-life to life but i always think getting people thinking about embryology is a good way of getting over the argument from personal incredulity



    Report abuse

  • 13
    Alan4discussion says:

    Along with that confusion came their argument for not believing in evolution, which was “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?” I unfortunately could not think of an appropriate response.

    One of the basic reasons for this misconception, is that church promoted “theistic evolution”, (which is NOT a scientific theory) mixes real science and god-did-it pseudoscience, mixing the physical evolution of the universe from the big-bang, with the biological evolution from LUCA.
    (When theologians say they “BELIEVE IN EVOLUTION”, this usually means they have hi-jacked the word, rather than they have understood the science!)

    The basic answers about abiogenesis are really quite simple.

    • First the conditions on Earth today do not resemble the conditions on primordial Earth shortly after the Hadean period, when it had a reducing atmosphere. Our oxygen atmosphere was a later development.

    • Second, life is predatory and competitive, so any new life would be likely to be out-competed or eaten by existing life. This is why new-born babies do not win marathon races and why LUCA was the sole survivor.

    If you want some explanations, here is a simple video on The Origin of Life – Abiogenesis by Dr. Jack Szostak – Nobel Laurette in medicine for his work on telomerase.

    SmartLX @4 – We know from genetic comparisons that all known life is related, and therefore has a common ancestor. Therefore, all known life stems from a SINGLE event of the emergence of life from non-life.

    The present hypothesis is that between abiogenesis and LUCA (the Latest Universal Common Ancestor of all present life on Earth), there were various (now extinct) RNA life forms which slowly evolved into the DNA based LUCA. Some of the RNA from these, seems to be included in modern cells along with the later evolved DNA.

    Many diverse organic molecules from which life could have formed, are common in nebulae, galaxies and the Solar System.
    >
    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2011/10/111026143721.htm
    >

    Astronomers report in the journal Nature that organic compounds of unexpected complexity exist throughout the Universe. The results suggest that complex organic compounds are not the sole domain of life but can be made naturally by stars.

    I hope this concisely covers the basics.



    Report abuse

  • 14
    bob_e_s says:

    In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

    Is there any chance that fossil ‘dead-end’ RNA life forms might be found? Or are they just to small, basic and ancient?

    Surely if evidence of extinct life of different forms to LUCA were presented, it would be death-blow to the creationist arguements presented by the OP?



    Report abuse

  • 15
    Godslayer says:

    Hello there. While the answer to that question is still unknown, there have been some proposed and, in my opinion, satisfying hypothesis both of which I came across by watching Dawkins, Sagan and many others on youtube. One is that the event that led to life is extremely unlikely, but still only had to happen once for natural selection to take over. As unlikey as it mught be there are billions and billions of galaxies/solar systems/planets so that the likelihood of life arising on at least one is still high (you know how that argument goes).
    Another idea is that even if new life is always been “created” it would be consumed by the more evelved and already existing forms of life. If in some pond somewhere a new self replicating molecule appeared, it would serve as a source of food and energy to life already higher on the food chain; the new life would not have time to evolve.
    Hope that helps.
    keep up the fight!



    Report abuse

  • 16
    achromat666 says:

    Along with that confusion came their argument for not believing in evolution, which was “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?” I unfortunately could not think of an appropriate response.

    In addition to some great information below on the nature of abiogeneisis and the such , bear in mind this question is not dissimilar to other questions like “why don’t we see things evolve in front of us?”

    In addition to a lack of understanding of science it reflects a lack of understanding of how long these processes take to occur, to say nothing of the unique circumstances that have to take place to make them do so.



    Report abuse

  • 17
    The Jersey Devil says:

    From the OP

    “They were clearly confusing the concept of evolution with the concept of the origin of life…”

    While it’s true that these are two different topics, it is also the case that for evolution to be true at some point simple life forms had to come from non-life. We may never know precisely how that happened. Fine.

    How is this proof of a magical being?



    Report abuse

  • 18
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #14 by bob_e_s:

    In reply to #13 by Alan4discussion:

    Is there any chance that fossil ‘dead-end’ RNA life forms might be found? Or are they just to small, basic and ancient?

    Surely if evidence of extinct life of different forms to LUCA were presented, it would be death-blow to the creationist arguements presented by the OP?

    As fossils, it is very unlikely material has been preserved, but as genetic parts of modern organisms there are indications of processes. LUCA is now also long extinct!

    Both mitochondria and chloroplasts seem to have become parts of modern cells, having started as independent organisms, and then gradually, via symbiosis, become incorporated into host cells.

    http://www.ruf.rice.edu/~bioslabs/studies/mitochondria/mitorigin.html

    >
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Endosymbiotic-theory

    The endosymbiotic theory postulates that several key organelles of eukaryotes originated as symbioses between separate single-celled organisms. According to this theory, mitochondria and plastids (e.g. chloroplasts)–and possibly other organelles–represent formerly free-living bacteria that were taken inside another cell as an endosymbiont. Molecular and biochemical evidence suggest the mitochondrion developed from proteobacteria (in particular, Rickettsiales, the SAR11 clade,[1][2] or close relatives) and the chloroplast from cyanobacteria.

    A similar building of complexity may well have happened in RNA World.



    Report abuse

  • 19
    papa lazaru says:

    “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?”

    Dunno. Current environments unsuitable, to much competition from living organisms which are everywhere (abiogenesis, yeah?), therefore not giving proto-cells the time to develop (and we’re talking quite a few million years complete isolation). Or maybe it is happening, we just haven’t been looking in the right places…. There is no real ‘mystery’ here. Nothing that would turn the current abiogenesis research on its head.

    Is the above question also still mystery?

    It’s just part of the stuff we don’t know yet. Maybe you should ask them their opinion on Dark Matter, Dark Energy, and what’s going on inside a Black Hole. I’m sure they’ll have equally enlightening answers to provide.



    Report abuse

  • 20
    EnigmaticSkeptic says:

    sbooder you just summed it up into a few key words. Kudos to you!In reply to #1 by sbooder:

    Because the conditions that produced life from (not actually nothing) nothing are not with us today. It is pretty much that simple.



    Report abuse

  • 21
    EnigmaticSkeptic says:

    During my latest reading of The God Delusion, if I am not mistaken, in the sections of Anthropic Principles we can take a bit of the information given and use it as a way to explain a part of what you may have been able to say. The Basics: it only had to happen once. However, researches last year were able to find a new type of “insect” being born out of stockings in a plant somewhere in Japan. There were several jokes about it in which people said: “hey I guess Noah forgot to bring these along with him.”



    Report abuse

  • 23
    God fearing Atheist says:

    “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?”

    Abiogenesis might be a very rare event. It might have taken 100 billion tons of reactants churning over for 100 million years to form the first life. After that, life “ate” the 1 billion tons of useful pre-biotic reaction products left hanging around from the churning.

    You might. I’d put money on a research team cooking up “life” is a sterile lab. vessel in the next 50 years.

    Try this random selection:-

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/full/nature08013.html

    http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v459/n7244/full/459171a.html

    http://media.medfarm.uu.se/flvplayer/darwinsymposium/video2



    Report abuse

  • It is quite simple,

    The origin of life must have been an improbable event, or else it would keep on popping up all over the place.

    Since the origin of life would have had to happen only once (we have no proof that it did happen only once, but it had to have happened at least once) the fact that it happened at least one time within the last 4 billion years is not surprising at all.

    Natural selection, however, is not a function of probability or a single time event – it is a process that happens every second of every day.



    Report abuse

  • 25
    RealityVisible says:

    In reply to #24 by seanl:

    It is quite simple,

    The origin of life must have been an improbable event, or else it would keep on popping up all over the place.

    It HAS already popped out “all over the place”, the earth is filled with life. If you mean “popped out all over in space”, then obviously that could not happen, as no life can exist in space. If you mean to say “popped out on planets in different solar systems”, well we can’t detect that too easily from such a great distance. We can only find a very few planets nearby and analyze what material and circumstances exist on that planet, but we have very little insight into other planets in the cosmos.



    Report abuse

  • 26
    Dublin-atheist says:

    Heigh gillreason, Their are lots of events that happened long ago, that aren’t happening today or that are still happening, but are happening so slow that we think they have come to a stand still, such as evolution for example we view ourselves as evolved humans, but evolution is on going and has no reason to stop. I’v heard the religious crowd ask ” if we evolved from a chimp-like animal why do we not observe todays primates become homo-sapians?” I hope this helps to answer your friend’s question.



    Report abuse

  • 27
    elvi924 says:

    Your response should have simply been “Why do we not see the spontaneous appearance of god while he is in the process of creating life and designing species?” Or if you really wanted to mess with this person you should have said “Because god was the only one capable of creating life and since we can clearly see that life is no longer starting spontaneously, that must mean god is dead”



    Report abuse

  • 28
    Daniel Schealler says:

    In reply to #8 by Modeler:

    In reply to #2 by Daniel Schealler:

    At a stretch, it’s a little bit like why we don’t see the sudden emergence of a widespread flint-tool use in the developed world: The conditions aren’t right any more. But that isn’t an argument against the historic emergence of widespread flint tool use, because historically the conditions were different.

    That is a brilliant analogy. I’ll use this in future.

    Thanks!

    Please just be more consistent with your hyphenation than I was. cringes



    Report abuse

  • 29
    Stephen of Wimbledon says:

    sbooder [comment1] is correct … as far as they go.

    Example: We can see from the geological record that oxygen was essentially not present (except, possibly, in trace quantities) in the Earth’s early atmosphere.

    Indeed, it seems pretty likely that the early Earth could not have supported any of the life-forms currently around.

    This answers two of your Debater’s questions:

    “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?”

    Because to start life requires a different planet – like the Earth of 3.5 billion years ago.

    “What is the origin of life – or; how did life evolve from non-life”?

    The Earth was so different at biopoiesis [the process by which living organisms develop from non-living matter], and the resulting organisms so simple that very little evidence survives (the increase in atmospheric oxygen in the geological record is our biggest clue to the development of photosynthesis, for example). It is highly likely that we will never have a definitive answer. However, there are two interesting points to note:

    • A minority of scientists who have studied biopoiesis support the view (without substantive evidence, it must be said) that life may be being created all the time on today’s Earth, but that the advanced nature (after billions of years of evolution) of other forms of life means it cannot persist, and is therefore extremely difficult to detect.

    • No-one is saying that we can’t find the answer to how biopoiesis occurs. The problem is more that there are so many different ways that it could have happened, how do we choose between the many options?

    Being a Med student, I would hope you know that science is about probabilities. Evolution and biopoiesis are no different. Just like attempting a diagnosis, both these scientific endeavours require that we look at what is happening or has happened – symptoms or other facts like test results – first. Only from these can we draw conclusions.

    The bottom line is that Darwin thought that biopoiesis was a trivial step – while recognising that significant additional scientific research was required beyond research on evolution. In addition, it was immediately clear, from the moment that evolution of species was discovered, that biopoiesis only had to happen once. Some have even hypothesised that biopoiesis need only happen once per galaxy – that over billions of years collisions of objects would tend to spread biochemical goods around.

    This once only thing is very important. As Lawrence Krauss has observed (and I apologise for any paraphrase):

    The universe is huge and very old and improbable things occur all the time, including life.

    But just how big does the Universe have to be – for improbable things to happen all the time? To quote Douglas Adams:

    Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind- bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts compared to space.

    I studied Chemistry and, having skimmed the surface of the most recent research (I would spend time on it, but, frankly, it just doesn’t seem an important subject to me) my personal view is that the transition between inorganic chemistry and organic chemistry is almost entirely down to the inclusion of carbon chains in molecules. Then there is the supposed barrier of auto-catalytic self-replication – which turns out to be not merely trivial, but piffling, in its inanity.

    Which brings me to my best advice:

    Stop having debates with ignoramuses who deny the existence of facts and haven’t tried to understand probability. I promise you’ll feel so much better after a conversation with someone who thinks.

    Peace.



    Report abuse

  • “Why then do we not see the spontaneous start of life from non-life every day?”

    1. Because it wasn’t spontaneous (the definition of life is a grey area at its most simple, so the relevant molecules became more complex over millions of years most likely.

    2. Because such molecules would be out-competed by existing life (which exists almost everywhere on the earth), so never get a free million years to demonstrate life starting.

    3. Because, if it did happen, we wouldn’t necessarily be looking in the right place, or even realise that this was the process of life forming. Most molecules on earth are not being observed by scientists.

    4. Because it is possible that certain parts of the formation of life could be very unlikely. We are only sure that it happened once in the universe so we cannot judge how improbable it is.



    Report abuse

  • 31
    HalfaMind says:

    Gillireason,

    The other commenters have covered the ground very well, but in one sense maybe life is starting all the time.

    Whatever biogenesis is, it must be a continuous sequence from inanimate matter to what we call life. It started with some sequence of chemical reactions and kept on going. Somewhere in that process replicators emerge and then we’re cooking. But at the start, that’s what happened.

    Ok, the probability is that if those reactions are still carrying on, they don’t get very far – other life nomming it, oxygen etc. But…we aren’t watching the whole planet at the molecular level 24×7, so we could easily miss it. And we have only been watching for about 100 out of 4.7 billion years – a bit of a snapshot.

    And would we recognise it even if we were watching it? Even if we stumbled on some nice promising structures laying down in clay, we wouldn’t know if we were watching life starting for millions of years…



    Report abuse

  • 32
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #25 by RealityVisible:

    In reply to #24 by seanl: – It is quite simple,

    The origin of life must have been an improbable event, or else it would keep on popping up all over the place.

    It HAS already popped out “all over the place”, the earth is filled with life.

    ..But life has not “popped up all over the place” by abiogenesis. All present life on Earth has evolved from LUCA and spread all over the place by evolutionary adaptation.

    If you mean “popped out all over in space”, then obviously that could not happen, as no life can exist in space.

    Actually some extremophile life forms can exist in space for quite a long time as experiments have shown.

    Scientists recently revealed that tiny creatures called water bears are the first animals to survive exposure to space. Sending water bears into space is one of several ESA experiments looking at organisms which can survive longer periods in open space.

    Water bears, also known as tardigrades, are very small, segmented animals. The largest species is just over one millimetre in length. Water bears live in temporary ponds and droplets of water in soil and on moist plants. They are known to survive under conditions that would kill most organisms – they can withstand temperatures ranging from -272 deg C to +150 deg C, they can be without water for a period of 10 years, and they are extremely resistant to radiation.



    Report abuse

  • Just a small historical correction on the otherwise “right on” explanation by SMARTLX in Comment 4: The concept of spontaneous generation had been pretty much disproved years before Pasteur by Spallanzani and others. Pasteur’s all-important contribution to science was in the “germ theory” of disease, including “disease” of wine.



    Report abuse

  • 35
    Zeuglodon says:

    In reply to #31 by HalfaMind:

    Gillireason,

    The other commenters have covered the ground very well, but in one sense maybe life is starting all the time.

    Whatever biogenesis is, it must be a continuous sequence from inanimate matter to what we call life.

    Well, the main point is that life is made up entirely of inanimate matter anyway. A pair of gametes in different bodies and several kilograms of food can, within nine months, make up a fully functional human baby. A bacterium facing a small amount of organic chemicals can assemble a copy of itself, and the bacterium is essentially a bunch of chemical compounds, each of which is built out of proteins, which are built out of amino acids, which are built out of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen atoms. Even DNA and RNA can be broken down to nucleotides and phosphates, and then broken down again to the raw atoms. The basic elements you’d need to assemble all of these occur naturally, even if only at the atomic level, and then each one can attach to other atoms under certain conditions, and the resulting compounds attach to other compounds, and so on. You just have to figure out which conditions were enough to get them to attach, sum it up until you get to at least RNA, which is probably the original replicator and certainly preceded DNA, and then let the phenotype assembly (at this early stage, that would be protein assembly by RNA encountering the basic building block compounds) begin.



    Report abuse

  • 36
    RealityVisible says:

    In reply to #32 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #25 by RealityVisible:

    In reply to #24 by seanl: – It is quite simple,

    The origin of life must have been an improbable event, or else it would keep on popping up all over the place.

    It HAS already popped out “all over the place”, the earth is filled with life.

    ..But life has not “popped up all over the place” by abiogenesis. All present life on Earth has evolved from LUCA and spread all over the place by evolutionary adaptation.

    Earth was bombarded with life all over the place, most of it vanished. I view all forces of nature as part of evolution, it’s just convenience that you view some of it as “not part of reality”.

    If you mean “popped out all over in space”, then obviously that could not happen, as no life can exist in space.

    Actually some extremophile life forms can exist in space for quite a long time as experiments have shown.

    Scientists recently revealed that tiny creatures called water bears are the first animals to survive exposure to space. Sending water bears into space is one of several ESA experiments looking at organisms which can survive longer periods in open space.

    Water bears, also known as tardigrades, are very small, segmented animals. The largest species is just over one millimetre in length. Water bears live in temporary ponds and droplets of water in soil and on moist plants. They are known to survive under conditions that would kill most organisms – they can withstand temperatures ranging from -272 deg C to +150 deg C, they can be without water for a period of 10 years, and they are extremely resistant to radiation.

    You are describing the exception rather than the rule and organisms spreading INTO space has nothing to do with organisms POPPING out IN space, which is the major point we were discussing before you came in to the discussion. Thirdly, SENDING organisms into space just to figure out if it can survive under certain conditions doesn’t mean that this actually happened, it’s just an experiment, and the EXACT reason we do these kind of experiments, is because space lacks life, so we have to ship them into space ourselves to find out.

    Even if an experiment succeeds in having life forms survive in space, one contributing factor to make this happen cannot possibly, ever, give reason to believe it can overrule millions of years of evolution and adaptation which truelly makes life possible at a place and condition, we can’t artificially recreate this without making a mistake, sometimes visible sometimes not visible. You can’t perfectly recreate millions of years of adaptation and say “Hey, this happened”. If a million changes made it possible for a life form to exist under a certain condition, and you pluck out 1 of these conditions, you are not even close to find out whether that life form could exist there. It’s basically lottery in a nut.

    Food for your thought: If life CAN exist at a place and condition doesn’t mean that it CAN exist at a place and condition. (Circumstances for life may be narrowed down to chemistry, but 99% of the other circumstances points back to other circumstances and convenience)



    Report abuse

  • 37
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #36 by RealityVisible:

    ..But life has not “popped up all over the place” by abiogenesis. All present life on Earth has evolved from LUCA and spread all over the place by evolutionary adaptation.

    Earth was bombarded with life all over the place, most of it vanished.

    Unless you are suggesting the Panspermia hypothesis, I don’t see what you are trying to say. A comment on the uncertainties of the extent of RNA World perhaps? There are certainly organic molecules in space which have rained down bombarding Earth, but these are not “life”.

    I view all forces of nature as part of evolution, it’s just convenience that you view some of it as “not part of reality”.

    Again I don’t see where you got this. The cosmic evolution from the big-bang, and biological evolution following abiogenesis, are usually dealt with respectively by physicists and biologists, but no-one is suggesting they are “not part of a continuous reality”.

    You are describing the exception rather than the rule and organisms spreading INTO space has nothing to do with organisms POPPING out IN space, which is the major point we were discussing before you came in to the discussion.

    This seems to be conflicting with your claim that, “Earth was bombarded with life all over the place”. Life arose somewhere by abiogenesis, so if it was not on Earth, it was some other planet.

    Thirdly, SENDING organisms into space just to figure out if it can survive under certain conditions doesn’t mean that this actually happened, it’s just an experiment, and the EXACT reason we do these kind of experiments, is because space lacks life, so we have to ship them into space ourselves to find out.

    Tardigrades and some spores can survive in space. The implications of this are that life COULD be transported from one planet to another on meteorites launched, by impacts or volcanic activity.

    Even if an experiment succeeds in having life forms survive in space, one contributing factor to make this happen cannot possibly, ever, give reason to believe it can overrule millions of years of evolution and adaptation which truelly makes life possible at a place and condition,

    The abiogenesis and evolution had to take place somewhere. Earth looks like the most likely place. (see comment @13)

    You can’t perfectly recreate millions of years of adaptation and say “Hey, this happened”. If a million changes made it possible for a life form to exist under a certain condition, and you pluck out 1 of these conditions, you are not even close to find out whether that life form could exist there. It’s basically lottery in a nut.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, apart from there being some uncertainty about the details of evolution in the far distant past.



    Report abuse

  • 38
    RealityVisible says:

    In reply to #37 by Alan4discussion:

    In reply to #36 by RealityVisible:

    ..But life has not “popped up all over the place” by abiogenesis. All present life on Earth has evolved from LUCA and spread all over the place by evolutionary adaptation.

    Earth was bombarded with life all over the place, most of it vanished.

    Unless you are suggesting the Panspermia hypothesis, I don’t see what you are trying to say. A comment on the uncertainties of the extent of RNA World perhaps? There are certainly organic molecules in space which have rained down bombarding Earth, but these are not “life”.

    It is not life but it means there were circumstances everywhere to provide life, yet the claim was that “life would pop up everywhere”. Life could have popped up everywhere because circumstances were available everywhere to begin with but nature didn’t allow for life to sprawl everywhere to begin with.

    I view all forces of nature as part of evolution, it’s just convenience that you view some of it as “not part of reality”.

    Again I don’t see where you got this. The cosmic evolution from the big-bang, and biological evolution following abiogenesis, are usually dealt with respectively by physicists and biologists, but no-one is suggesting they are “not part of a continuous reality”.

    You are describing the exception rather than the rule and organisms spreading INTO space has nothing to do with organisms POPPING out IN space, which is the major point we were discussing before you came in to the discussion.

    This seems to be conflicting with your claim that, “Earth was bombarded with life all over the place”. Life arose somewhere by abiogenesis, so if it was not on Earth, it was some other planet.

    It does not conflict at all, life came to earth in mini-planets, not in vacuum.

    Thirdly, SENDING organisms into space just to figure out if it can survive under certain conditions doesn’t mean that this actually happened, it’s just an experiment, and the EXACT reason we do these kind of experiments, is because space lacks life, so we have to ship them into space ourselves to find out.

    Tardigrades and some spores can survive in space. The implications of this are that life COULD be transported from one planet to another on meteorites launched, by impacts or volcanic activity.

    Life can be transported on most rocks, right now life is being transported around the milky way at 220 km per second on a rock that we recognize as earth.

    Even if an experiment succeeds in having life forms survive in space, one contributing factor to make this happen cannot possibly, ever, give reason to believe it can overrule millions of years of evolution and adaptation which truelly makes life possible at a place and condition,

    The abiogenesis and evolution had to take place somewhere. Earth looks like the most likely place. (see comment @13)

    Evolution doesn’t really take any place, biological evolution is a part of everything in nature. If life arises at a specific location on earth does not mean that nature provided everything usable for life to grow at that exact spot, but because the rest of nature had other conditions is precisely because the other place had other conditions, evolution does not “take place”, evolution only evolves to a point where it becomes significant at a specific place on earth at a specific time frame, its different yet very relevant and important.

    You can’t perfectly recreate millions of years of adaptation and say “Hey, this happened”. If a million changes made it possible for a life form to exist under a certain condition, and you pluck out 1 of these conditions, you are not even close to find out whether that life form could exist there. It’s basically lottery in a nut.

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, apart from there being some uncertainty about the details of evolution in the far distant past.

    You understood what I said, judging the text that comes after your comma character. If you can also understand that chemistry and all the biological circumstances that is needed for life to take place and evolve, is to many people alfa and omega, but the truth is, listen carefully, the truth is that chemistry counts for only a tiny fraction of a percent for life to form and evolve. 🙂



    Report abuse

  • 39
    Alan4discussion says:

    In reply to #38 by RealityVisible:

    Unless you are suggesting the Panspermia hypothesis, I don’t see what you are trying to say. A comment on the uncertainties of the extent of RNA World perhaps? There are certainly organic molecules in space which have rained down bombarding Earth, but these are not “life”.

    It is not life but it means there were circumstances everywhere to provide life, yet the claim was that “life would pop up everywhere”.

    You seem very vague and confused with some wild speculations and over-extended generalisations.

    Life could have popped up everywhere because circumstances were available everywhere to begin with but nature didn’t allow for life to sprawl everywhere to begin with.

    There is no evidence to support this claim. There are organic molecules throughout the galaxy, but there are no suggestions that there are extensive life forming conditions. Life probably started at a small locality such as a hydrothermal vent in Earth’s seas. Much is unknown.

    This seems to be conflicting with your claim that, “Earth was bombarded with life all over the place”. Life arose somewhere by abiogenesis, so if it was not on Earth, it was some other planet.

    It does not conflict at all, life came to earth in mini-planets, not in vacuum.

    There is no evidence whatever to support the claim that “life popped up all over the place”. The indications are that early abiogenesis, followed by RNA replicators started at limited location(s), in a geologically narrow time frame.

    The panspermia claim is very speculative and probably wrong. It is however a remote possibility which cannot be totally discounted.

    Life can be transported on most rocks, right now life is being transported around the milky way at 220 km per second on a rock that we recognize as earth.

    This is well known, but has little to do with abiogenesis.

    Evolution doesn’t really take any place,

    This sounds meaningless!

    biological evolution is a part of everything in nature.

    or more precisely part of everything in a specific ecosystem. – But possibly only on Earth, and only since abiogenesis. Earth-life has nothing to do with the present far distant parts of the universe.

    If life arises at a specific location on earth does not mean that nature provided everything usable for life to grow at that exact spot,

    It simply does not happen if the needed resources are missing! If you are saying necessary materials accumulated from extensive areas of space over a long time, that is correct.

    evolution does not “take place”, evolution only evolves to a point where it becomes significant at a specific place on earth at a specific time frame, its different yet very relevant and important.

    Since the initial abiogenesis, evolution has been a continuous and opportunist branching on-going process on Earth, expanding from life in the early seas to progress to the land and the air. The physical condition of the whole planet has changed as a result of this – (for example acquiring a high oxygen atmosphere which killed most earlier organisms in an early mass extinction event).

    I’m not sure what you are trying to say here, apart from there being some uncertainty about the details of evolution in the far distant past.

    You understood what I said, judging the text that comes after your comma character. If you can also understand that chemistry and all the biological circumstances that is needed for life to take place and evolve,

    Leading genetic scientists are still working out the details of how life could have started, but already have partial answers. We already know how evolution progresses and species constantly diversify and evolve.

    the truth is that chemistry counts for only a tiny fraction of a percent for life to form and evolve. 🙂

    You seem to be struggling with the science and to some extent with the scientific language. There is plenty of detail on my links as to how these processes work.
    However here is a concise summary on a time-line of the history of the Earth and the evolutionary history of life. Timeline of evolutionary history of life

    The biochemistry is the major factor in abiogenesis (and subsequent evolution) with other factors being the formation of the elements and compounds by stars, the thermal and radiant energies involved in the reactions, and the climatic and orbital stability of the Earth and Sun over billions of years.
    The Earth works as a global ecosystem, but the evolution of individual species, works in response to local conditions, in smaller ecosystems.



    Report abuse

  • In reply to #1 by sbooder:

    Because the conditions that produced life from (not actually nothing) nothing are not with us today. It is pretty much that simple.

    This answer as a non-answer.



    Report abuse

  • 41
    Myles_Delfin says:

    Life comes from basic elements, it does not come from objects. I would not comment about the origin of life unless you were qualified to discuss the scientific explanation for it authoritatively. The reason why debates never end is because often the participants do not have a grasp of all the complexities of the subject, they simply try to make things sound complicated with random quotes from famous people and the odd scientific factoid. Furthermore, If the origin of life were that easy to explain, there would be no discussion about it. Reason, if you are a big fan of it, must help you realize the difference between helping understand something and winning a pointless discussion.



    Report abuse

  • 42
    nick keighley says:

    you also need to make it clear evolution and abiogenesis are, if not completely unrelated, to some extent independent. The creationists are being slippery if they deny evolution because they find abiogenesis lacks a complete explanation. Ask them if the believe any evolution occurs. What does it mean to say “this species “is related” to that species”? Are rats and mice related? mammals? fish? And so on. Why does every bone in my body have a corresponding one in a bear or a dog? Why is my DNA so similar to chimp DNA?



    Report abuse

  • 43
    CrockoDucky says:

    Well, first you have to disabuse that person of the notion that the Origin of life and Evolution are the same thing, because they are not. Explain that they are two completely different ideas. Evolution only deals with the way life evolves over time, not how it got here to begin with. The Origin of Life is certainly more vague than Evolution, but the basics of it are : The conditions to create life are pretty different than the conditions of the earth today.
    For more information on ideas of the origin of life, here’s a great link to show them:
    http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/originoflife.html



    Report abuse

Leave a Reply

View our comment policy.