When this showed up at the Discovery Institute’s creationist blog yesterday, we just rolled our eyes and moved on, regarding it as too bizarre to bother with. But nothing else worth writing about has turned up, so we’ve returned to it. We regard this as a strong indicator of the downward trend of the Discoveroids’ movement — which is quite an accomplishment, considering that they were already at the bottom when their “think tank” began.
The Discoveroid post we’re talking about is What Origin-of-Life Researchers Forget. It doesn’t have a byline, and it doesn’t require much — if any — commentary from us. A few excerpts should be sufficient, with some bold font added for emphasis. They start with this:
The origin-of-life field is often guilty of ascribing personality to molecules.
See what we mean? It’s hard to believe, but the thing goes downhill from there. This comes next:
You see this in the popular literature, but even the serious scientists slip into the habit. It takes the form of an invisible hand, directing the assembly of multiple parts like a foreman at a construction site. Need a membrane? Here are some fatty acids that can make a simple one for starters. Need a replicator? This RNA isn’t great, but he can learn. Need proteins? We found some in this meteorite that are willing to lend a left hand.
Uh huh — we all think there’s “an invisible hand directing the assembly” of organic molecules. However, as you already know, it’s not scientists who think there’s some mysterious assembler who puts molecules together — that’s the exclusive belief of creationists. But in this weird post, the Discoveroids are projecting their fantasies onto us. Their article proceeds:
A more realistic image would be an arena of dead runners surrounded by hurdles as high as mountains. They don’t “want” to leap over the hurdles and win a race to become alive, because they can’t. They’re dead. So are molecules often dubbed “The building blocks of life.” They have no interest in jumping over hurdles on a path to a protocell. Much as the origin-of-life researcher wants them to win the Protocell Prize, they couldn’t care less. They’ll just do whatever the unguided forces of nature make them do.
Amazing, isn’t it? The Discoveroids are claiming to be sensible, and accusing us of being advocates of an invisible designer. Their incredible post continues:
The only way dead runners can get over a hurdle without intelligent help is to wait for an earthquake, a tsunami, or a meteorite to launch them. With a lot of luck, one runner might land on the other side of the first hurdle. But then he won’t have any interest in continuing on over the second hurdle. He is incapable of wanting.
What they’re describing seems to be a precursor of the false dichotomy between “micro evolution” and “macro evolution,” but applied to organic chemistry. Their claim is that “macro assembly” of complex organic molecules by natural means is impossible. Here’s more:
This is the only realistic way for an origin-of-life researcher to approach the problem: molecules are dead things. They don’t want to become alive. No amount of coaxing, sweet-talking, or intelligent interference will make them want to live. They will behave like the lifeless things they are, blindly following the laws of chemistry and physics, just as dead runners will obey the law of gravity and lie on the ground unless launched by a force strong enough to overcome gravity. Even if they make it over the top, they will fall back on the ground without any interest in making it over the next hurdle.
Ah, we get it. They’re saying that unaided chemistry can’t produce anything more complex than, say, H2O, without help from some transcendent helper; and if we think otherwise, we’re fools! Moving along:
Origin-of-life researchers think they have done their job if they find a possible earthquake or tsunami that might get one body over a hurdle. This “sheds light” on the problem, they say. Different labs find additional earthquakes and tsunamis to help with the other hurdles. Accident #1 “might” work, accident #2 “might” get a body over the next hurdle, and so on. The series of lucky accidents “sheds light” on how life got here, the materialists assure us. They feel justified making up various scenarios because they think, “We’re here, aren’t we? It must have happened somehow.” Having abandoned intelligence as a cause, they’re stuck.
With that nonsense as background, the article proceeds to criticize a recently published paper in Current Biology: Origin of Life: Protocells Red in Tooth and Claw. You can’t read it without a subscription, but the Summary says:
To study the origin of life, synthetic biologists construct simple ‘protocells’, but previous models were not able to reproduce both genome and membrane sustainably. A recent advance feeds the protocells by vesicle fusion, suggesting a practical pathway for indefinite self-reproduction.
It appears to be yet another study showing a possible pathway for the appearance of self-reproducing organic molecules. Such studies drive creationists crazy, because the demonstration of any way such things can happen naturally is a total refutation of their incessant claims that the natural appearance of life is impossible — it requires supernatural assistance. That mystical dogma is what inspired the Discoveroid post.
We’ll skip their critique of the Current Biology paper, and give you one last excerpt from the end of the Discoveroid post:
If you find it troubling that scientific journals can publish stuff like this and be rewarded for it — with no complaints from sensible realists or opportunities for rebuttal — you’re not alone.
We have nothing to say — well, nothing that would get by our profanity filters — but maybe you do, dear reader.
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