February 2, 2018 | David F. Coppedge

Origin-of-Life Speculation Is Out of ContrOOL

OOL is short for Origin of Life. There’s only one theory that works. The rest are so improbable, their supporters go to ridiculous lengths to believe them.

Poison Soup

At Astrobiology Magazine, Lisa Kaspin-Powell asks a very suggestive (but evidence-free) question: “Does Titan’s Hydrocarbon Soup Hold A Recipe For Life?” Let us respond by noting some facts about Titan. Saturn’s large moon Titan has no oxygen. Titan is cold, like very, very cold (-290° F at the surface). Titan has no liquid water, no plate tectonics, no magnetic field, nor any of the other things usually considered requirements for habitability. To cap off all these drawbacks, it has poisons in its thick atmosphere, and the only liquids on its surface are scattered lakes of oil. Now let’s ask the question again: “Does Titan’s Hydrocarbon Soup Hold A Recipe For Life?” Common sense suggests a negatory answer faster than you can say fOOL. But Lisa has an overactive imagination:

NASA researchers have confirmed the existence in Titan’s atmosphere of vinyl cyanide, which is an organic compound that could potentially provide the cellular membranes for microbial life to form in Titan’s vast methane oceans. If true, it could prove to us that life can flourish without the ubiquitous H2O.

Vinyl cyanide? You mean that toxic, flammable gas we learned about last August? There’s no sense reading any further, even apart from the fact that no life anywhere in the universe survives on vinyl cyanide. The lady has alien derangement syndrome so bad, she needs therapy before anything else. What does this say about NASA that gave her good press? She says, “Vinyl cyanide has yet to be proven to produce life, but an earlier study by Cornell University researchers that was also published in Science Advances made it an intriguing prospect….” Stop. Please. Leprechauns and fairies are intriguing prospects, too. Anything can be an intriguing prospect. What does this tell you about Cornell and Nature that urged on her delusions?

How Dry Iambic Pentameter

Another Lisa used the power of suggestion at Phys.org. Lisa Zyga asks, “Did water-based life originate without water?” Here’s her idea. What does this say about Harvard University these days?

When trying to understand the origins of life on Earth, researchers run into a paradox: while water is an indispensable solvent for all known life forms that exist today, water also inhibits the formation of string-like chains of nucleic acid polymers such as RNA that were likely precursors of life. This raises the question: how could the nucleic acids have formed in the first place? One solution to this “water paradox” is that life may have originated in something other than water, and only later adapted to the presence of water.

We are fascinated by the possibility that water-based life may have originated without water at all,” Zachary Adam, a researcher at Harvard University, told Phys.org.

Let’s get this straight. The paradox presents a falsification of common beliefs that life originated by natural causes. But Adam, instead of thinking like Adam, thinks like Satan: cells can be like gods, knowing good and evil. But why stop the speculation game with their “possibility that water-based life may have originated without water at all”? The possibilities are endless! Life could have originated out of thin air. It could have originated in a vacuum. It could have originated without intelligent design. (Actually, that last idea is a requirement for materialists.) Humming How Dry I Am, Adam visualizes precocious formamide wanting to evolve into RNA.

But there is a glaring problem with this proposal: formamide does not occur naturally in any significant quantity anywhere on Earth. Although formamide is widely used in industry as a solvent for making pharmaceuticals and pesticides, all of this formamide is synthetically produced.

Formamide does exist in space, however, which has previously motivated researchers to suggest that it may have been transported to Earth via comets or meteors. But it is unlikely that this scenario could have produced the large, concentrated reservoirs of formamide needed for life’s precursors to form.

To shield his eyes from the blinding evidence for intelligent causes behind the origin of life, Adam tries other causes, like radiation. Maybe natural fission reactors formed that irradiated two poisons (hydrogen cyanide and acetonitrile) to get them to form formamide in sufficient quantities for his theory, which naturally wanted to become RNA (after all, we’re here, aren’t we?). Sure, anything is possible when open-ended imagination invades the science lab. Toxic chemicals become primordial soup, which becomes Shakespeare.

The Answer, My Friend, Is Dust in the Wind

At Phys.org, Karl Gruber sings the Sagan ballad, We are all made of starstuff. Pondering the epic myth, he asks, “Is the origin of life just cosmic dust in the wind?” My, what a glorious thought.

Just like the wind blows dust into your house, cosmic dust can be blown across space and between planets. Cosmic dust is the stuff planets and stars are made of: carbon, oxygen, iron and other tiny particles less than 1 micrometre in size.

A new study proposes that life on Earth started from particles flying as dust from outer space.

“A new study.” How hard did these students study? Were they napping with their chemistry textbooks open? Let’s ask them if they could do some real scientific controlled experiments.

Is the origin of life just cosmic dust in the wind?

Shake some carbon, oxygen, iron and ‘tiny particles’ of dust in a flask for a year. For a control, design a robot by applying intelligent causes to inanimate matter. Which one comes closer to resembling life? Explain your answer. Be sure to include a discussion of how dust in the wind produced a scientist. You may want to include a reference to this philosophical article by Michael Egnor, “Naturalism and Self-Refutation” at Evolution News & Science Today.

Smash & Shake

Here’s a science experiment a child can do. (1) Take a replica of the Capitol made out of Legos. (2) Smash it with a bat. (3) Shake well. (4) Watch it re-assemble into the Capitol. This seems to be the latest bright idea at Rutgers, where OOLers tried to imagine the origin of proteins. Amina Khan from the Los Angeles Times reported the story, which was reproduced on Medical Xpress:

By “smashing” proteins and looking at the broken bits, scientists at Rutgers University say they’ve discovered four basic building blocks that can be stacked like Legos to build all kinds of different proteins.

The results described in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences could help researchers better understand the origins of life….

What does this tell you about the National Academy of Sciences these days? The scientists try to cover improbability with imagination, upping their perhapsimaybecouldness index in the process:

You couldn’t imagine that complex nanomachine just emerging out of the primordial soup and just coming into existence,” Nanda said. “There had to have been simpler intermediates. But the challenge is we don’t have any fossil record of what proteins look like. All we have is the modern proteins, and we have to somehow infer what the simpler proteins may have looked like.

If this idea is to be taken seriously, the mere presence of Lego pieces is sufficient to expect Capitols to emerge. Interestingly, their idea relies on hydrothermal vents, not dry conditions. This is how OOL speculations cancel each other out.

Giving Something a Name Does Not Make It Real

At Science Daily, an article presents OOLers at the Ludwig-Maximilian Institute discussing “Chemical evolution: Progenitors of the living world.” But ‘chemical evolution’ is just a phrase. What does it mean? It cannot mean evolution in the Darwinian sense, because before life could replicate, natural selection was impossible (even if natural selection is taken to mean something more elegant than ‘stuff happens’). Chemicals are not ‘progenitors’ of anything. They are mindless particles that obey some well-known laws of valences and mass action. That’s all.

By imbuing lifeless particles with purpose, these speculators (unworthy of the name researchers or scientists) are sadly myth-taken. The religious nature of their speculation (18 January 2018) is evident when they quote Genesis 1, “And the earth was without form and void — before the emergence of life.” Maybe that’s what all this speculating is about.

We said there was only one OOL theory that works. Here it is: creation by an intelligent Creator. Such a cause is sufficient. Such a cause is necessary. Such a cause conforms with our uniform experience that complex, functional wholes never ’emerge’ but are always traceable to intelligent, purposeful action by a mind. No scientist will ever get from ‘without form and void’ to a butterfly or a whale without it. Since fOOLs refuse to acknowledge this Cause, what else do they have? Rampant speculation, evidence-free visualization, ad hoc reasoning, mythmaking, and self-refutation.

Paul was so right on when he said, “For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools” (Romans 1:21-22). Has not his prophecy come true since Darwin wrote about a warm little pond? “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths; (I Timothy 2:3-4). You are seeing vindication of these words in our own time. Sometimes ancient wisdom is more up-to-date than “science daily” (more appropriately dubbed, science dilly-dally; or, if you prefer John Herschel‘s term for evolution, “the law of higgledy-piggledy”).

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