Klinghoffer: Theater of the Absurd


It would seem that David Klinghoffer has become the Discoveroids’ expert in the origin of life. We recently wrote about an earlier essay of his on that subject: Klinghoffer: The Impossible Origin of Life. You remember that one, in which he compared the origin of life to making a tuna casserole from its ingredients which are tossed around in an earthquake.

His overlords at Discoveroid headquarters were so impressed that they assigned this latest essay to him. It’s titled Origin of Life, Theater of the Absurd. They made a good choice. Klinghoffer is a Discoveroid “senior fellow” (i.e., flaming, full-blown creationist), who eagerly functions as their journalistic slasher and poo flinger. The graphic above this post is in his honor. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us for emphasis:

See if you can follow the logic here all the way through.

We’ll try. He tells us:

Researchers sampled ancient water trapped for 1.5 billion years around what were deep-sea hydrothermal vents two kilometers under the earth’s surface. The water included apparent necessities for “kick-starting” life — like a primordial soup still in situ.

He’s talking about this article in New Scientist: Watery time capsule hints at how life got started on early Earth, which says:

It has all the ingredients of a primordial soup. What’s more, the chemicals of life – discovered in a pocket of water that last saw the light of day 1.5 billion years ago – appear to have formed without any influence from biological processes. That means the idea that life got started as a result of chemical reactions around deep-sea vents looks more likely.


The rocks are the ancient remains of hydrothermal vents formed at the bottom of Earth’s early oceans, and that means the water they contain could reveal important details about the chemistry that might have occurred at such vents before life began exerting its influence.


[Christopher] Glein emphasises that the water pockets in Kidd mine, while ancient, are not as old as life on Earth itself. “We’re not claiming that Kidd [the Kidd mine near Timmins in Ontario where the water was found] actually contains the original prebiotic soup, or a second origin of life,” he says – but it’s a useful system for understanding the kind of hydrothermal chemistry that might have helped kick-start life about 4 billion years ago. “While not the first brand of prebiotic soup, it’s a variety that can potentially provide new clues about the origin of life.”

A modest claim, but exceedingly interesting. Klinghoffer, however, is disgusted. He says:

Note, they found no life, which given the overall liveliness of our planet is a quite unusual thing. Instead, it’s the usual building-blocks scenario: [quote from the article].

Building blocks? That’s naturalism! Where’s the Oogity Boogity? Klinghoffer continues:

Stephen Meyer has explained in Signature in the Cell: DNA and the Evidence for Intelligent Design why life — dependent on information, an expression of design — doesn’t just come together or kick-start itself even under what might seem to be ideal conditions.

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

And sure enough, the water from the Canadian source is sterile, devoid of any hint of life, after a billion and a half years. Yet this water is taken as evidence that it looks likelier than it seemed before that this represents a model of the environment where life began.

Klinghoffer seems to be missing the point. It’s what origin of life researchers have been saying for a long time, but haven’t yet been able to demonstrate. The water from the Kidd mine clearly shows that the building blocks of life not only could exist on Earth before there was life, but now there’s evidence that they actually do exist in the absence of life.

But Klinghoffer sees it differently. His final paragraph gives us the Discoveroids’ way of looking at this evidence:

A rare absence of life confirms the ease with which life — biological information — originated without design. The sterility itself actually strengthens the case! It’s science as a theater of the absurd.

Klinghoffer is happily unaware that in the actual theater of the absurd, he plays one of the principal characters, and his little essay was a grand performance.

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

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6 responses to “Klinghoffer: Theater of the Absurd

  1. I suppose old Klunkhammer would say, if life had been found along with these precursor chemicals, that that proved those chemicals couldn’t have been building blocks for life because if they were, they’d all have been used up and the rocks would be full of living things or their remains.

    It’s classic “gotcha” reasoning of the sort creationists love. You’ll notice, though, that Special K manages to tiptoe past the issue of these rocks being a billion and a half years old. He doesn’t quite come out and accept it, which would get him kicked out of his cushy gig at Discovery–but he doesn’t challenge it either, as a good creationist should.

  2. You’re right, Klinghoffer — magic makes more sense.

    All the Intelligent Design promoters (or creationists, if you prefer) want to overlook the fact that the atoms making up the self-replicating DNA molecule only had to come together randomly once. After that… well, they are self-replicating, right?

  3. A complete, but ultimately very quick, search for all of Klinghoffer’s peer published research papers on the origins of life:


    And now he references Stephen Meyer, the guy who still references his discredited Smithsonian fiasco paper that was withdrawn from publication by the editors! Tsk, tsk, shame on them all.

  4. What a queer nether world Klinghoffer must live in, dreading every scientific announcement and feeling the need to rebut every scientific discovery that threatens his cherished views of the creator. Sad, pathetic and rejected even by rabbinical Jews.

  5. Charles Deetz ;)

    I think Klingy has a point, it seems a pretty obvious thought to say, ‘so why didn’t life occur here then?’ If he thought about it a second longer, it is a sealed-off microcosm without other inputs, thus probably keeping the odds extremely low of anything happening. The soup was in the can, you might say. One needs to open the can, heat it up, and leave it open for a few days.

  6. The original “soup” was mixed and churned and exposed to various forms of energy on a planet-wide scale for hundreds of millions of years before life began. Given the number of molecules involved and the amount of energy available of every sort, the opportunity for the right combination of events to occur was essentially infinite.

    Klinghoffer offers an analogy to natural forces acting on lego blocks to assemble them into a complex structure that is “alive.” Lego blocks as an analogy has its merits, but of course legos are fixed objects which do not natural attract each other and must be joined together by an outside force. A more accurate analogy would involve organic lego blocks which naturally bond to each other in a variety of ways when they bump together. Further, those combined legos sometimes split into new types of legos, which bond with other legos in novel ways – and as the “stew” of ever-changing legos produces yet more complex structures, some of those structures sometimes spontaneously change due to radiation or other energy inputs into yet more novel forms, creating new opportunities to bond to other legos in various ways to create even more complex and interesting structures. He could add that natural forces acted on this immense stew of evolving and reacting legos over an inconceivably long period of time.

    I wonder if Kling believes in his lego analogy, or if he knows better. It’s hard to tell from his writing. It’s certainly convenient to his ideology to pretend that the molecules available for life’s origins were a limited set of unchanging lego blocks which had to be pressed together by some outside force in a single, unique way. But does he actually believe that? I