What Was the Origin of Life?

Creationists are always saying that the origin of life had to be a miracle. As long as scientists haven’t yet created life in the lab, they’ll keep on saying it, and they endlessly denigrate work like the Miller–Urey experiment that demonstrates how complex organic compounds can be generated by natural causes.

Now they have something else to squawk about. Take a look at this article in PhysOrg: Scientists re-create what may be life’s first spark, which says:

Scientists in a lab used a powerful laser to re-create what might have been the original spark of life on Earth. The researchers zapped clay and a chemical soup with the laser to simulate the energy of a speeding asteroid smashing into the planet. They ended up creating what can be considered crucial pieces of the building blocks of life.

The findings do not prove that this is how life started on Earth about 4 billion years ago, and some scientists were unimpressed with the results. But the experiment does bolster the long-held theory.

“These findings suggest that the emergence of terrestrial life is not the result of an accident but a direct consequence of the conditions on the primordial Earth and its surroundings,” the researchers concluded in the study published Monday in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Here’s the paper in PNAS, for which you need a subscription to see anything but the abstract: High-energy chemistry of formamide: A unified mechanism of nucleobase formation.

Creationists can’t ignore something like this, but we haven’t yet seen anything about it at the usual websites. However, we found a letter-to-the-editor in the Tuscaloosa News of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, titled Creation or evolution more farfetched? There’s a comments section at the end.

The letter isn’t much, but until the Discoveroids or ol’ Hambo have something to say, this is the best we can do. The letter-writer, whose first name is Charles, says he read about the experiment in the newspaper, and he gives us his reaction. The bold font was added by us:

A billion kilowatts of energy zapping a prepared chemical soup, and ta-da, the components needed for RNA produced! This was done by scientists endeavoring to replicate that, which could have happened only by random chance?

Huh? What’s the problem? Let’s read on:

Should we then believe that RNA worked itself into the more complex DNA? This isn’t science. This is science fiction. I guess when one is so committed to any explanation other than “In the beginning, God … ,” a meteorite slamming into planet Earth creating a chemical RNA compound is as good as anything else.

Charles is missing the point. Here we have the demonstration of a natural event, which is a possible explanation for something that creationists have always insisted is utterly impossible. That’s a big deal. Unimpressed, Charles continues:

With that in mind, is it so farfetched to believe God created all things?

A miracle performed by a deity is a wee bit more farfetched than a naturally caused event. But Charles sees things differently. He tells us:

The cosmological order, the gene map of the human genome, the mystery of life, the wonder of a newborn — all point to a designer.And He doesn’t need a super laser to do it.

Yeah — stupid scientists! We wanna see ’em do it without a laser, like the designer did.

Copyright © 2015. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

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11 responses to “What Was the Origin of Life?

  1. “is it so far fetched to believe God created all things?”

    The difficulty with this idea is that numerous historic deities have been credited with being the cause of life on this planet.

    As with Pascal’s wager, the premise falls apart once more than one mystical entity is included in the wager.

    But a bug that is snug (or smug as in this case) in a rug won’t generally be concerned with self honesty.

  2. No scientific evidence or demonstration will convince the current — or any — crop of cretinists or IDeologues. Charles supplies good evidence and ample demonstration of this. In response to a successful experiment, they’ll say something inane like, “See!? It takes intelligence and directed effort to make life!

    You can’t compete with such crafty cunning. All you can do is enjoy the dumbpiphanies that are sure to follow.

  3. How does Charles know hat God didn’t use a high power laser? Was he there?

    Checkmate, theist!

  4. Good ol’ Charlie pretty much convinced me that my presonal favorite god, Ganesha, must be responsible.

  5. my presonal favorite god, Ganesha

    I do like a god with a good belly on him!

  6. Should we then believe that RNA worked itself into the more complex DNA? This isn’t science. This is science fiction. I guess when one is so committed to any explanation other than “In the beginning, God … ,” a meteorite slamming into planet Earth creating a chemical RNA compound is as good as anything else.

    “In the beginning, God . . .” isn’t an explanation, it’s an assertion, with no evidence backing it up.
    [Is] it so farfetched to believe God created all things?And is it so far-fetched that God would choose to do so via the natural laws and phenomena He established? Why would He have bothered to establish those laws and phenomena if He intended to run the universe by decree, moment by moment?

    The cosmological order, the gene map of the human genome, the mystery of life, the wonder of a newborn — all point to a designer. … And He doesn’t need a super laser to do it.

    The “mystery of life”? The “wonder of a newborn”? This isn’t reasoning, it’s poetry.

    As for the cosmological order and the human genome, one can see God in them if one wishes–one can see the face of Jesus in cracked wall plaster, too. But that’s beside the point, for the origin of the universe wasn’t something Darwin concerned himself with.

    And the human genome can be perfectly readily explained by evolution alone, whereas its imperfections require creationists to intervene twice–first at the initial creation, then at the Fall, when God, frightened that Adam and Eve might eat the fruit of the tree of immortality as well as that of the knowledge of good and evil and “become as one of us” (Us, vas ist das“us”?), kicks them out of the Garden and posrs an armed guard (isn’t His own vigilance enough?) to keep them from sneaking back in. This second time, not only is God supposed to have corrupted the human genome as punishment, he’s also supposed to have done it to all other creatures.

  7. “Scientists in a lab”
    Creationists are anticipating this. “Evidence for ID! Those scientists design life!”

    “Charles is missing the point.”
    Only if some creationist failed to missed the point it would be news.

    “we have the demonstration of a natural event”
    Nonononono. No. Because lab.

  8. For what it’s worth, I am mightily unimpressed with the paper. There have been hundreds of other papers showing that it is relatively easy to generate the building blocks of life, especially if you allow yourself a reactive starting material like formamide, and a powerful energy source.

    None of which excuses the creationist blethering.

  9. … the wonder of a newborn — all point to a designer.

    Yet who is there complaining about reproductive biology being atheistic?

    Yes, the wonder of a newborn is poetic and unscientific and religious, but it is not anti-scientific.

    I find it ironic that when the subject is the individual, there are none who attack reproduction, growth, and metabolism because of the individual, personal, relationship with one’s Creator, Sustainer, and Redeemer. (I am not writing this in defense of these ideas, but to point out how the creationists are not true to their claimed principles.)

    Values are supposed to be personal.

    What the creationists are attacking is the science of the population, the species, the abstraction of the clade or the vague “kind”.

  10. Well, I know for a fact that the answer to life, the universe and everything is 42. So I’m happy even if Beeblebrox doesn’t like it.