Klinghoffer: The Impossible Origin of Life

The latest at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog is certain to demolish your foolish faith in evolution and convert you to intelligent design. It’s For the Origin of Life, on Earth or Elsewhere, “Ingredients and Conditions” Aren’t Enough. It was written by David Klinghoffer, a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger.

Klinghoffer begins in a beguiling manner with a scenario everyone can understand — cooking a meal. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

You carefully set out the implements and ingredients on the kitchen counter. Two cans of tuna, bag of egg noodles, block of Cheddar cheese, onion, frozen green peas, condensed cream of mushroom soup, can of sliced mushrooms, a cup of potato chips (for the topping).

Yuk — that is a disgusting collection of goop! Where is Klinghoffer going with this? It takes a couple of paragraphs for him to get around to it, but eventually he says:

How long before these items assemble themselves into a tuna casserole? Pour yourself a glass of wine and watch what happens.

Isn’t he clever? What a brilliant analogy! Let’s read on:

Oh, you’re concerned that the stuff has no means of coming together physically? Well, as days pass and you continue to stare intently at your unassembled casserole, perhaps that promised Seattle mega-earthquake comes along and jostles things around.

He wastes another paragraph describing the effect of the earthquake on the stuff assembled in the kitchen. We’ll skip that. Then he says:

Ridiculous? No more so than stories that are a regular feature of science news that expect incomparably greater wonders to follow automatically when the “ingredients” of life, or some of them, appear to be in place — whether on a distant, Earth-like exoplanet or on the early Earth itself.

Finally, he ties this in with some current science news that he wants his readers to dismiss:

NASA reports the discovery of a new world, Kepler-452b some 1,400 light years away, that is seemingly Earth-like in key respects, orbiting in the “habitable zone” around a star like our sun.

We wrote about that here: Update on Extra-Solar Planets. Then he quotes a recent article that describes Kepler-452b, and which dares to say: “That’s substantial opportunity for life to arise, should all the necessary ingredients and conditions for life exist on this planet.”

“Ingredients and conditions” — is that all? Klinghoffer knows it’s not enough. Not nearly enough. Finally, after all that introductory foolishness about tuna casserole and earthquakes, we get to the point he wants to make. Like all Discoveroids — and creationists in general — Klinghoffer hates the idea of alien life. It’s blasphemy! The Earth is a Privileged Planet. Skipping a bunch about oxygen (you can click over there and read it if you like), he then reminds us:

We’ve said many times before that whether on our planet or any other, “ingredients and conditions” fall wildly short of being enough to explain the development of life from non-life, or complex from simple.

Yes, the Discoveroids are always telling us that there can’t be merely a natural explanation. There must be something more — which only their intelligent designer — blessed be he! — can provide. Klinghoffer continues:

It isn’t merely oxygen, but information, that’s needed.

Ooooooooooooh — information! See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Here’s more:

Identifying the ingredients and lining them up in a working kitchen is different from knowing how they’re supposed to come together. If life has a recipe, we are utterly ignorant of what that might be, otherwise we would have sparked life ourselves in a laboratory by now.

Your casserole is a complex structure, in the sense of being an unlikely assemblage, but it is also specified or functional. (The function is to serve as a tasty and nutritious meal, more so than the unprepared ingredients.) So too with the structures of life, which in addition give evidence of irreducible complexity.

Specified complexity, irreducible complexity! [*Curmudgeon swoons*] This is so persuasive! Klinghoffer finishes his essay with one last, devastating blast at those wicked evolutionists:

If you’re hungry now, do you think it’s only a matter of time before the table can be set and the food served? With these science news items, that is the level of absurdity we’re talking about.

So there you are. Now, in addition to mocking evolution by blurting out Tornado in a junkyard!, you can add: Tuna casserole in an earthquake! And remember to give Klinghoffer the credit.

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

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39 responses to “Klinghoffer: The Impossible Origin of Life

  1. michaelfugate

    Tuna casserole – tasty? Only if the designer is evil.

  2. I thought that the parameters of physics are fined-tumed to the existence of life. And now we hear that nature is so far from that, that it is impossible for life to arise.

  3. waldteufel

    Do the Discoveroids award a black belt in stupidity? If so, Klinklepooper must have one. Nobody at NASA is saying that because an exoplanet about 1.5 times the diameter as earth that occupies an orbit in the “Goldylocks Zone” around a sun-like star is proof of life there. They are merely saying that this exoplanet might have the conditions favorable to life as we know it. Ain’t science inconvenient to the Discoveries’ medieval theology? They know that it is far more productive to human progress if we just continue to pick lint out of our navels as we read and re-read Iron and Bronze-age mythology in their bible.

  4. I’m pretty sure if you leave cheddar cheese, onion, green peas and a cup of potato chips on the counter for a while you’l get lots of new and unexpected growth.

  5. @waldteufel
    But there is nothing in the Bible about there not being life among the stars. That’s just one of the things that people make up. For some reason or other, they don’t like it.

  6. waldteufel

    In a century like ours, when new discoveries about our universe come frequently, life for the creationists at DI must be difficult. After all, the main purpose of the Discoveroids is to vigorously defend the borders of ignorance.

  7. michaelfugate

    It is all based on a simple philosophy that starts with the intelligent design proponent thinking he or she is the center of the universe, the most important thing since sliced bread. It goes from there, to all Christians and then all humans and in other directions to the US and then the earth and so on. The farther away from me and my beliefs the farther one is from God.

  8. waldteufel

    @TomS

    The bible merely identifies the stars as points of light attached to a firmament. No concept at all of “out among the stars” is presented. No concept of stars as we know them as masses of thermonuclear fusion is present in the bible. The bible stands as the citadel within those borders of ignorance defended by the Discoveroids.

  9. Derek Freyberg

    I can’t help but wonder if the Intelligent Designer that created all the wonderful life on Earth (and the Klinkhopeless and his ID colleagues) might also have done that same creating on Kepler 452-b: the possibility of a giant green multi-tentacled Klinkhopeless denying the existence of life anywhere else is rather appealing.

  10. waldteufel

    @Derek Feyberg

    “. . .the possibility of a giant green multi-tentacled Klinkhopeless denying the existence of life anywhere else is rather appealing.”

    Exquisitely put!

  11. Your casserole is a complex structure, in the sense of being an unlikely assemblage, but it is also specified or functional…. So too with the structures of life, which in addition give evidence of irreducible complexity.

    Uh, we must repeat over and over again: we have observed natural processes creating information, specified complexity, and irreducible complexity. Most of the information in the universe is created by natural processes. Therefore, if life has information, etc., in it, that should make us assume a priori that life was created by natural processes, at least until evidence proves otherwise.

  12. Holding The Line In Florida

    @Freyberg. Oh how wonderful a vision! Almost snorted up some of my Margarita!
    Tuna casserole! Truly the heavens declare this horror of the cluniary world! Only in the Discoveroid world could this declared a toothsome meal!

  13. His recipe sounds absolutely disgusting. But he has changed the narrative for the Northwest, i.e., earthquake versus the traditional tornado in the junk yard. So as he gets soused on his wine, his ingredients get moldy, ah, but where did that come from? And an earth-like planet recently was found in a goldilocks zone around a sun-like star! In regard to other life and distant stars versus points of light stuck in a solid firmament, the first successful measurements of stellar parallax wasn’t made until 1838 for the star 61 Cygni…, so from that point on the stars were no longer attached to the magical immovable firmament.

  14. Holding The Line In Florida says: “Tuna casserole! Truly the heavens declare this horror of the cluniary world!”

    Nothing in the universe can compare to an old-fashioned, down-home, deep-dish toad pie.

  15. This is very similar to the peanut butter argument. You can’t use modern canning technology that has been engineered to kill everything off and to remain sealed as an example.
    Another issue is that the conditions to start life have certain conditions like a reducing atmosphere, a solvent like water, energy etc. for life to occur. The rest of the solar system looks sterile and devoid of life. There is a reason that the moon isn’t crawling with critters the conditions for life are not everywhere.

  16. Identifying the ingredients and lining them up in a working kitchen is different from knowing how they’re supposed to come together. If life has a recipe, we are utterly ignorant of what that might be, otherwise we would have sparked life ourselves in a laboratory by now.

    And if we’re ignorant of the “recipe” for life, how does that prove there isn’t one which doesn’t involve a supernatural cause?

  17. So…..it’s impossible for life to have happened….and yet it did.

    To say that it couldn’t have happened by natural processes alone is not science. But we in the academy have certainly heard of it. In fact, we heard of it a very long time ago. So we even have a technical term for it. It’s called theism!

    It must be discouraging to repurpose your non-profit organization around an exciting new concept—and then discover that somebody beat you to it! (In fact, literally hundreds of educational institutions have been talking about it for many years now.)

  18. @Diogenes
    we have observed natural processes creating information, specified complexity, and irreducible complexity.

    Assuming that we know what those things look like. How to measure them.

  19. THE ONLY information Klinkledoopman shared with his 14 readers out there in Discorhoid land was what he considers to be a culinary achievement.
    Tuna noodle casserole. Never mind Klinleman that tuna are under tremendous ecological pressure from overfishing, or that mushroom cream soup is loaded with salt.
    The good news is, Klinkleman’s arteries are going to need some real root rooter work if thats what he considers a nice dinner(complete with a glass of Boone’s Farm).

  20. Like his Intelligent Designer used the same plan for the appendages of bats, whales, and humans, Klinghoffer probably uses those same ingredients for every dinner. Except that tomorrow, he calls it “spaghetti.”

    And Klinghoffer is being a little disingenuous (shocked, shocked!) when he makes his analogy. The conditions for a tuna casserole probably include 350° F for 30 minutes, not Room° F for a long night of drinking. And the conditions on the early Earth didn’t have the many elements distributed in their own separate, yet easy-to-carry, containers.

  21. It isn’t merely oxygen, but information, that’s needed.

    I very much doubt that free Oxygen (O2) was a big part of the original life recipe.

    If life has a recipe, we are utterly ignorant of what that might be….

    I assume by “we” he is referring to IDiots. Science knows a lot of the must haves and the must not haves – O2 being a big have-not.

  22. Holding The Line In Florida

    @SC. YeeeeHawww. Now fried frog legs…. Come on down good buddy!

  23. Has Klinglehooper ever considered that the total lack of any evidence of an intelligent designer around here is because he/she/it was so disheartened by the total ignorance of some of its/her/his creations that she/he/it has left us to our own devices and hopped off to Kepler-452b to try to do a better job?

  24. Dave Luckett

    For god’s sake, tuna casserole out of a can with peas specified to be frozen! And potato chips, spare me bloomin’ days!

    There’s such a thing as appealing to the demotic, but this is going too far.

  25. Charles Deetz ;)

    Klingy, dammit all, the proper metaphor is SOUP. As in primordial soup! Water is highly highly likely a key tool in bringing the ingredients of life together. That’s why we get excited about these goldilocks planets, they likely have liquid water.

  26. You don’t need all that to have a meal

  27. @TomS It’s not difficult to see why creationists are opposed to the idea of life beyond earth. Genesis describes life as a de novo creation by God that occurs only on earth. The discovery of life elsewhere would force them to reevaluate these passages like Copernicus’s heliocentric model required a rethinking of the “long day” miracle in Joshua.

  28. Hey, wait a minute, guys — I like tuna-noodle casserole! At least, the way my dear mother made it — noodles, a can of Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup, a can of a good brand of tuna (there is a difference), salt, pepper and topped with corn flakes and a bit of butter. Simple. But then, I come from ancestry that considers ludefisk a delicacy, so that might explain it.

  29. Dave Luckett

    And having calmed my culinary catharsis, I am again forced to the reflection: what is it with these guys? Why can they only think in terms of false analogies? Surely it must be plainly obvious, even to the thought-challenged among their following that there is no connection between grandma’s tuna surprise (the surprise would be if it contained any tuna) and the origin of life. Why on earth does Klinghoffer imagine that this sort of baloney can convince anyone but the terminally convicted?

  30. So let’s see, life is impossible elsewhere in the universe but our imaginary friend with unimaginable powers and who continues to work in very mysterious ways is very much alive and well; at least in the Klingon’s mind. Stupid is as stupid does. Mmmm, chocolates!

  31. The whole truth

    TomS said;

    “I thought that the parameters of physics are fined-tumed to the existence of life. And now we hear that nature is so far from that, that it is impossible for life to arise.”

    Yeah, creationists (including the IDiot variety) jump around more than a frog with a hotfoot when it comes to their ‘position’ about ‘fine-tuning’ for life: The universe is ‘fine-tuned’ for life, only Earth is ‘fine-tuned’ for life, the universe is ‘fine-tuned’ for life, only Earth is ‘fine-tuned’ for life, if there’s life elsewhere it’s only because ‘God’ ‘fine-tuned’ that place for life and ‘fine-tuned’ the life that is there, only Earth is ‘fine-tuned’ for life, the universe is…

    As with their other assertions, they blurt out whatever is convenient for them at the time, even when it totally contradicts what they blurted out many other times, and they get huffy and defensive when their massive inconsistencies and contradictions are noticed and pointed out.

  32. Kling tells us that a tuna casserole, in addition to the normal ingredients, must have an infusion of complex specified information. If so, I’m willing to be Kling’s version has less than most cook’s.

    I’ve been waiting for the discoveroids to describe something other than a pile of dirt that exists without complex specified information. Probably they would argue that even that pile of dirt has SCI – it is, after all, in the shape of a pile, and may even function as an eyesore.

  33. Oops – the slash in the [i] was somehow omitted. Perhaps an infusion of CSI could fix it?

    [*Voice from above*] All is well.

  34. @Ed
    A pile of dirt …
    How has it formed? Is it the result of someone plowing? An anthill? Worms? Does it have organic matter? If one is a archeologist or an paleontologist or geologist, what information does it carry?

  35. I’m waiting for the DI to publish a list of living organisms that exist because they were assembled from components rather than grown from adaptable stem cells

  36. Cooking is always being compared to people setting up chemical reactions, not to reactions themselves spontaneously proceeding. (An invalid comparison, BTW: I am a dreadful cook, but really good at synthesis.)

    And, as was noted above, free O2 wasn’t present on earth until after plants had evolved and been doing photosynthesis. So no, free O2 wasn’t necessary to start life going.

  37. This is painful, but on reflection, I now realise that Klingy’s Tuna-Noodle Kasserole Kase is indeed absolute proof of the TRVTH ™ of Intelligent Design, and I must herewith abandon my previous godless materialistic ‘Molecules to Meals’ delusion!

    The man is absolutely right, there is no way that Tuna-Noodle Casserole could ever have been assembled by any conceivable concoction of undirected and random evolutionary events. It is irreducibly complex (take away a single ingredient, and you will have nothing to take to the PTA pot-luck banquet), and the individual ingredients could not have ‘evolved’ independently (when did anyone ever use a can of Campbell’s Cream of Mushroom Soup as just a can of soup?). Quod erat demonstrandum.

    Of course, the DI is careful not to claim (though doubtless many of their Fellows know it to be true) that the recipe for Tuna-Noodle Casserole was in fact encoded within the Apple of Forbidden Knowledge that Eve ate. The DI prefer to argue that there are no precursors to Tuna-Noodle Casserole prior to the Cambrian Culinary Explosion, when a veritable smörgåsbord of dishes suddenly appeared on dining tables across the planet, and things such as lobsters first appeared (in bisque, and a la Thermidor).

  38. Egad! I had previously spotted several typos in my previous post but had not facility to offer up a humble supplication to the Great Invisible Hand of Correction until just now–and lo! I find the corrections have already been applied!

    Praise be! ‘Tis a wonder and a miracle! My heart overfloweth with gratitude!

    [*Voice from above*] All that is required is an acknowledgement of your many imperfections.

  39. waldteufel

    @great claw

    “Molecules to Meals” . . . .pure gold!