They also want to believe because their arch opponents - religious fundamentalists such as creationists - do not believe in life's spontaneous origin. It is this combative atmosphere which sometimes encourages scientists writing and speaking about the origin of life to become as dogmatic and bigoted as the creationist opponents they so despise. That notion has had to be painfully shed. At the moment, I can't find any rational argument to knock down the view which argues for conversion to God.
We used to have an open mind; now we realize that the only logical answer to life is creation-and not accidental random shuffling. Cynically, one might conclude that much of his vague thinking in fact represents the sad state of affairs in this field of research. We are nowhere near understanding the origin of life.
But let us try to avoid invoking miracles.
Many scientists have taken this position on the origin of life. Jacques Monod, the distinguished French molecular biologist, said as much in in his elegant book Chance and Necessity. There is no way, he argued, that an event as improbable as the emergence of life on Earth could be analyzed by science, which is able to deal only with events that form a class A decade later, Francis H.
Crick, co-originator of the structure of DNA, put the argument more specifically: the chances that the long polymer molecules that vitally sustain all living things, both proteins and DNA, could have been assembled by random processes from the chemical units of which they are made are so small as to be negligible, prompting the question whether the surface of the Earth was fertilized from elsewhere, perhaps from interstellar space. This study is indispensable, as we expect to base our arguments on scientific methods and on mathematical reasoning to demonstrate that they both lead to the necessity of admitting the intervention of a transcendent, extra-earthly force in order to explain life.
As with all great inventions, details are top secret; however, even top secrets may become known. I find it a great privilege to live in a time where God allows us to gain some insight into His construction plans, only a short step away from giving us the power to control life processes genetically.
I hope it will be to the benefit of mankind, and not to its destruction. After having chided the theologian for his reliance on myth and miracle, science found itself in the unenviable position of having to create a mythology of its own: namely, the assumption that what, after long effort, could not be proved to take place today had, in truth, taken place in the primeval past.
God cannot be explained away by such naive thoughts. To introduce molecular structures or processes that are not subject to continuity is once again to violate Ockham's razor. The reasons are psychological rather than scientific.
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Orgel suggested that the process may be guided by a "principle of continuity which requires that each stage in evolution develops continuously from the previous one. Individual viewpoints often reveal ideological, philosophical, or religious biases more than they express objective appraisals, for the simple reason that not enough elements are available for objective analysis.
This is still just an assumption. It is conceivable that living material might have suddenly appeared on this world in some peculiar manner, say from another planet, but this then raises the question, "Where did life originate on that planet? Instead, the explanation that nonliving things could have given rise to complex systems having the properties of living things is generally more acceptable to most scientists.
There is, however, little evidence in favour of biogenesis and as yet we have no indication that it can be performed. There are many schemes by which biogenesis could have occurred but these are still suggestive schemes and nothing more. They may indicate experiments that can be performed, but they tell us nothing about what actually happened some 1, million years ago. It is therefore a matter of faith on the part of the biologist that biogenesis did occur and he can choose whatever method of biogenesis happens to suit him personally; the evidence for what did happen is not available.
But to the Darwinist, the idea is accepted without a ripple of doubt - the paradigm takes precedence! Timescale " This brings the theory for the Origin of Life on Earth down to a very narrow range. Allowing half a billion years for the disturbed conditions described above we are now thinking, in geochemical terms, of instant life Wickramasinghe, Evolution from Space , pages reprint, London: Paladin, In other words, in the very oldest rocks that stand a chance of showing signs of life, we find those signs--those vestiges-of life.
Life is intrinsic to the earth! But privately, some would prefer I were mistaken, since they and I, too would prefer a simpler evolutionary story, one that told us these oldest organisms were capable only of primitive ways of living and that advanced metabolic lifestyles evolved much later. But the evidence seems strong, and what one might "prefer" shouldn't matter.
William Schopf, The Cradle of Life "Summing up, the available findings suggest that a well developed biosphere was present on Earth million years ago. Consequently life's origin must be considerably older. Essay to the Memory of Bartholomew Nagy". Everett Koop, former US Surgeon General "The important point is that since the origin of life belongs in the category of at-least-once phenomena, time is on its side.
However improbable we regard this event, or any of the steps which it involves, given enough time it will almost certainly happen at least once. And for life as we know it, with its capacity for growth and reproduction, once may be enough. Time is in fact the hero of the plot. The time with which we have to deal is of the order of two billion years.
What we regard as impossible on the basis of human experience is meaningless here. Given so much time, the "impossible" becomes possible, the possible probable, and the probable virtually certain, one only has to wait: Time itself performs the miracles.
Blaise Pascal (1623–1662)
Since the oldest dated rocks, the Isua Supracrustals of West Greenland, are 3. When for practical purposes the concept of infinite time and matter has to be invoked, that concept of probability is annulled. By such logic we can prove anything, such as that, no matter how complex, everything will repeat itself, exactly and immeasurably. Since the oldest dated rocks, the Isua Supra-crustals of West Greenland, are 3.
In Wald's view Thousands of steps each requiring the one before, each improbable in itself. Only the immensity of time guaranteed the result Still, the notion that life has been found in the oldest rocks that could contain evidence of it forces us, I think, to abandon the view of life's slow, steady, and improbable development.
Life arose rapidly, perhaps as soon as the earth cooled down sufficiently to support it. Spontaneous Generation "One escape hatch yet exists for spontaneous generation. Why need the event have been probable? We can just stare at the odds, shrug, and note with thanks how lucky we were After all, improbable events occur all the time. The familiar Latin tag is omne vivum ex vivo-All that is alive came from something living; in other words, every organism has an unbroken genealogical pedigree extending back to the first living things.
In its negative form, the law can be taken to deny the occurrence or even the possibility of spontaneous generation. The Law of Biogenesis is arguably the most fundamental in biology That is a little bit like saying: put a stick of dynamite under the pile of bricks, and bang, you've got a house!
See a Problem?
Of course you won't have a house, you'll just have a mess. The difficulty in trying to explain the origin of life is in accounting for how the elaborate organisational structure of these complex molecules came into existence spontaneously from a random input of energy.
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How did these very specific complex molecules assemble themselves? Odds, Likelihood, Probabilities, and Statistics " Life cannot have had a random beginning The trouble is that there are about two thousand enzymes, and the chance of obtaining them all in a random trial is only one part in 10 to the power of 40,, an outrageously small probability that could not be faced even if the whole universe consisted of organic soup. If one is not prejudiced either by social beliefs or by a scientific training into the conviction that life originated on the Earth, this simple calculation wipes the idea entirely out of court Furthermore, the chance of the emergence of a certain protein chain is so slight as to be called astronomic.
Joyce and L. Gesteland and J. It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of evolution Then let me conclude by asking which came first - the DNA which is essential for the synthesis of proteins or the protein enzyme DNA-polymerase without which DNA synthesis is nil? The probability of dust carried by the wind reproducing Durer's 'Melancholia' is less infinitesimal than the probability of copy errors in the DNA molecule leading to the formation of the eye; besides, these errors had no relationship whatsoever with the function that the eye would have to perform or was starting to perform.
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There is no law against daydreaming, but science must not indulge in it. Most observed mutations are harmful, and there is no experimental evidence to show that a new animal organism or even a novel structural feature has ever been produced from the raw material produced by mutation. Davis and D. This is an easy exercise in combinatorials. Suppose the chain is about two hundred amino acids long; this is, if anything rather less than the average length of proteins of all types.
Since we have just twenty possibilities at each place, the number of possibilities is twenty multiplied by itself some two hundred times. This is conveniently written and is approximately equal to , that is, a one followed by zeros. Moreover, we have only considered a polypeptide chain of rather modest length.