Discoveroids: Science Almost Understands Us

If there is one thing the Discovery Institute insists upon, it’s the mystery and miracle of life. They claim that life is impossible (even though their magical intelligent designer — blessed be he! — created the universe to be congenial to life), so the existence of life can only be attributable to some additional miraculous activities of their unseen designer, who does things that nature alone couldn’t possibly do.

We see that doctrine today at their creationist blog in Origin-of-Life Research: Start Over, which has no author’s byline. Here are some excerpts, with bold font added by us:

Hardly a month goes by without a celebration in the news that the “building blocks of life” have been found somewhere in space, or that chemical reactions “show how life emerged” on the primitive earth.

Yes, and it’s an outrage! The Discoveroids have already announced the foolishness of such research — see Klinghoffer: The Impossible Origin of Life. They say:

The mainstream media typically report such findings uncritically. It’s refreshing, then, to see a chemist and a space scientist take a hard look at the failings in origin-of-life research. In America’s leading journal, Science, they ignore the hype about water and simple chemicals implying life. They “get real” about the limits of chemistry. And they seriously look for radically different ways to approach the problem — some of which will be of interest to design theorists.

This is the article they’re talking about: Beyond prebiotic chemistry, but you can’t even see the abstract without a subscription. Let’s read on:

One of the authors is Leroy Cronin, a chemist at the University of Glasgow (where, incidentally, Darwin critic William Thomson — Lord Kelvin — had his long and distinguished career).

Darwin critic Kelvin? BWAHAHAHAHAHA! As we’ve said before:

Darwin’s biggest problem, largely unnoticed by today’s creationists, didn’t come from experts in his own field, but from non-biological sciences. Darwin understood that the grand course of evolution requires hundreds of millions of years, but Lord Kelvin’s calculations of the age of the earth and the sun — before anyone knew about nuclear physics — indicated that the earth and the sun were far younger than the eons Darwin required. Later discoveries showed that Kelvin, through no fault of his own, was exceedingly wrong,

Having successfully attacked Leroy Cronin’s reputation by hinting that he’s an ignorant Darwin supporter, they attack his co-author:

The other is Sara Imari Walker from Arizona State where space science is big and aggressive atheist cosmologist Lawrence Krauss is a campus celebrity; she’s also a member of the Blue Marble Space Institute for Science here in Seattle.

Well — those are two bad people! The Discoveroids then quote from their paper, but we haven’t verified their quote or its context:

Most studies have focused on the likely chemistry of RNA, protein, lipid, or metabolic “worlds” and autocatalytic sets, including attempts to make life in the lab. But these efforts may be too narrowly focused on the biochemistry of life as we know it today. A radical rethink is necessary, one that explores not just plausible chemical scenarios but also new physical processes and driving forces. Such investigations could lead to a physical understanding not only of the origin of life but also of life itself, as well as to new tools for designing artificial biology.

What do the Discoveroids make of that? Here it comes:

In one fell swoop, Cronin and Walker have cast doubt on essentially the whole history of origin-of-life research. Whether from Oparin, Miller, Orgel, Benner, Hud, Russell, Cairns-Smith, Wachtershauser, Shapiro, or maybe even “warm little pond” Darwin himself — it’s all inadequate and probably misguided. Otherwise, why would a “radical rethink” be necessary?

BWAHAHAHAHAHA! They continue:

[W]hat do Cronin and Walker advise for their radical rethink? What should origin-of-life research focus on instead? Here it is — (drumroll) — information. We’ll understand life, they say, when we look at how information flows in networks.

[*Begin Drool Mode*] Ooooooooooooh — information! [*End Drool Mode*] See Phlogiston, Vitalism, and Information. Somehow, we doubt that when the authors of that paper use the word “information,” they’re talking about the Discoveroids’ magic pixie dust, but the Discoveroids give us what they say is a quote from the paper:

Life requires chemistry, but the properties of the living state emerge from the dynamical properties of that chemistry, including the temporal and spatial organization of molecular networks and their information management.

Does that mean what the Discoveroids hope it means? They think it does, but the authors of that paper don’t yet realize it. They say:

But doesn’t information presuppose sentient agents, or systems designed by sentient agents? Otherwise, how do they recognize and respond to information? How can they perform “information management”? … So close, yet so far away. Cronin and Walker immediately return to a chemistry focus of their own, trying to compare the emergence of life to a “phase transition,” using one of the origin-of-life field’s favorite magic words, emergence, a dozen times.

Foolish scientists! They don’t grasp the necessity of Oogity Boogity! The Discoveroid article ends by expressing their disappointment:

One appreciates their call to scientific rigor: “speculation should be restricted to the development of experimentally testable hypotheses that address key questions and provide a focus for progress.” And one appreciates their insertion of the design-rich terms [Hee hee!] machinery, information, and networks in the discussion. Unfortunately, their own “radical rethink” relies on the same materialistic assumptions that have stifled and baffled researchers since Darwin.

Silly materialists! One day, perhaps, they may catch up with the advanced science of the Discoveroids.

Copyright © 2016. The Sensuous Curmudgeon. All rights reserved.

add to del.icio.usAdd to Blinkslistadd to furlDigg itadd to ma.gnoliaStumble It!add to simpyseed the vineTailRankpost to facebook

. AddThis Social Bookmark Button . Permalink for this article

8 responses to “Discoveroids: Science Almost Understands Us

  1. “design-rich terms”
    Ooooh! Now this is terminology that makes me drool. It means nothing, so I love it!

  2. Ken Phelps

    “One appreciates their call to scientific rigor… Unfortunately…”

    Yeah, sucks to be unable to answer the call, doesn’t it.

  3. michaelfugate

    What’s comical is that Cronin and Walker’s approach makes the non-supernatural origin of life more probable – not less; it requires lower concentrations of less complex molecules. Simple feedback mechanisms are abundant in non-living systems. Once again god is superfluous.

  4. Unfortunately, their own “radical rethink” relies on the same materialistic assumptions that have stifled and baffled researchers since Darwin.

    Why be stifled and baffled when it’s so much easier to just say “godidit?”

  5. Eric Lipps

    In one fell swoop, Cronin and Walker have cast doubt on essentially the whole history of origin-of-life research. Whether from Oparin, Miller, Orgel, Benner, Hud, Russell, Cairns-Smith, Wachtershauser, Shapiro, or maybe even “warm little pond” Darwin himself — it’s all inadequate and probably misguided. Otherwise, why would a “radical rethink” be necessary? . . .

    [W]hat do Cronin and Walker advise for their radical rethink? What should origin-of-life research focus on instead? Here it is — (drumroll) — information. We’ll understand life, they say, when we look at how information flows in networks.

    Groan.

    “Information” has a physical meaning, one which eludes creationists. It doesn’t require life; crystals, for example, can and do contain information in their structures. Nevertheless, scientists remain interested in information because it’s so obviously present in the structures and processes of life.

    Creationists make at least two fatal errors regarding information: they assume new information cannot be created (in which case multicellular organisms like humans, which are indisputably more information-rich than the fertilized ova from which they grow, couldn’t exist) and that it cannot be transferred from a source with a lot of it to an object with less (in which case no one could learn anything).

    Information isn’t magic as creationists seem to believe. But then, “magic” is another name for “something that works but that I don’t understand”—and creationists don’t understand much.

  6. What I find that elucidates reading creationists claims is to insert “mis” in front of their every mention of “information”. Their statements suddenly make sense that way.
    http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/you-keep-using-that-word-i-do-not-think-it-means-what-you-think-it-means

  7. Excellent, EricL!

    “they assume new information cannot be created (in which case multicellular organisms like humans, which are indisputably more information-rich than the fertilized ova from which they grow, couldn’t exist)”
    You just conclusively have demonstrated god’s eeeehhhh an Unidentified Intelligent Designer’s (blessed be Him/Her/It) helping hand in human beings growing up! QED!
    (Yeah, I’m still in drool mode).

  8. Christine Janis

    the reason why you can’t see an abstract is because it’s not a full article, but a short “perspective”.

    here are some more quotes that rather put paid to what the DI is claiming that this says:

    “The first networks would have had to be simple,
    challenging the notion that highly complex
    and improbable molecules are needed to
    jump-start life. The molecular constituents of
    simple networks are more likely to arise by
    chance than the highly evolved molecules of
    extant life. Starting from networks composed
    of simple molecules could therefore dramatically
    reduce the time necessary for the
    emergence of life and potentially increase the
    probability of an origins event.”

    “Adami and LaBar have described life at a basic
    level as “information that copies itself ”

    “Heterogeneity in the early Earth environment
    played a central role in facilitating the
    emergence of life by helping to sustain, select,
    and drive the emergence of organized
    systems that could persist over time. For example,
    pores in rocks may have influenced
    chemical selection, leading to increasingly
    lifelike chemistries over time”