January 31, 2020 | David F. Coppedge

Tomfoolery in OOL

Origin-of-life scientists know chemistry, but not logic.

Having presupposed materialism, origin-of-life scientists are stuck with it. They cannot consider ideas outside the materialist box. They can talk endlessly about chemistry, which is fine; but logic is not their specialty, because materialistic origin-of-life (henceforth OOL) leads to bad math, bad logic and bad conclusions. Some of the conclusions are truly absurd.

The basic logical defect in OOL studies is this: nature has no obligation to conform to human imagination. Just because a chemist can imagine a way that some building block “might” contribute to a materialistic origin of life, that doesn’t obligate nature to perform it. The logical fallacy is much worse than imagining one step. Robert Shapiro once likened OOL to playing 18 holes of golf (15 April 2007).  If the OOL scientist can imagine how a ball might roll down a mountain and possibly land in the cup, there are still 17 more holes to win the game. The scientist might next imagine an asteroid impact launching the ball up a mountainside where the next cup is. The sequence of necessary steps to complete the course quickly becomes absurdly improbable. Shapiro said,

The analogy that comes to mind is that of a golfer, who having played a golf ball through an 18-hole course, then assumed that the ball could also play itself around the course in his absence.  He had demonstrated the possibility of the event; it was only necessary to presume that some combination of natural forces (earthquakes, winds, tornadoes and floods, for example) could produce the same result, given enough time.

To a materialist, though, these absurdities fall on deaf ears. So convinced are they that life arose by material processes, they will respond, ‘Well, we’re here, so it must have happened.’ Only the critical thinker who takes the materialist glasses off can see through the fogma. While examining these recent announcements in the science media, notice the high perhapsimaybecouldness index (use of words like might, may, perhaps, could, or possibly).

Early ‘soda lakes’ may have provided missing ingredient key to the origin of life (Space.com).

The first life-forms on Earth needed a pu pu platter of ingredients to exist, but one of those ingredients, the mineral phosphorus, has long puzzled scientists. No one knew how phosphorus, one of the six main chemical elements of life, became plentiful enough on early Earth for life to burst forth.

Now, researchers may have the answer; lakes that thrived in dry locations on early Earth likely played a key role in supplying phosphorus…

New evidence shows the first building blocks of life on Earth may have been messier than previously thought (Phys.org).

In a paper published in the Journal of the American Chemical Society, Szostak and colleagues present a new model for how RNA could have emerged. Instead of a clean path, he and his team propose a Frankenstein-like beginning, with RNA growing out of a mixture of nucleotides with similar chemical structures…

To make amino acids, just add electricity (Phys.org).

Electrochemical processes are also believed to have played a role in the origin of life by producing fundamental chemicals for life through non-biological pathways, so our findings may also contribute to the elucidation of the mystery of the creation of life…

Mars’ water was mineral-rich and salty (Astrobiology Magazine).

Earth’s oceans are of course host to myriad forms of life, thus it seems compelling that Mars’ early surface environment was a place contemporary Earth life could have lived, but it remains a mystery as to why evidence of life on Mars is so hard to find.

Alien breakthrough as water on Mars contained just the right ingredients to support life, scientists say (Fox News Science).

No evidence has yet been found that life ever existed on the planet [Mars], but scientists have recently looked to find out what its oceans contained and whether they could have supported life.

Ammonium salt and its role in the emergence of life (Astrobiology Magazine).

…researchers have found an explanation for why very little nitrogen could previously be accounted for in the nebulous covering of comets: the building block for life predominantly occurs in the form of ammonium salts, the occurrence of which could not previously be measured. The salts may be a further indication that comet impacts may have made life on Earth possible in the first place….

The ammonium salts discovered include several astrobiologically relevant molecules which may result in the development of urea, amino acids, adenine and nucleotides. Kathrin Altwegg says: “This is definitely a further indication that comet impacts may be linked with the emergence of life on Earth.”

Each of these articles (out of a steady stream of press releases like them over many years) has common elements: (1) mindless chemistry, (2) reliance on perhapsimaybecouldness words, (3) outrageous speculation, (4) blindness to any alternatives to materialism. Like Shapiro said, they imagine that since they can play at least one hole of golf, nature must have been able to play the whole 18-hole course by itself, given enough time.

No theist believes in more absurd miracles than OOL researchers. We remind readers that nature does not ‘want’ to create life. It wants not to! The laws of physics and mathematics guarantee that highly improbable things do not happen. Remember that there is no natural selection before a replicating cell (as if NS would help). Remember, too, that since all the reactions are reversible, nature favors the dissolution of so-called “building blocks of life” rather than their formation. A thousand monkeys typing on a thousand typewriters will never, ever, ever type Shakespeare by chance if the letters fall off the page as soon as they are typed! That’s a very important point for people who think that anything could happen, given enough time.

For backup to our conclusion, we recommend two important resources:

1. The Discovery Institute’s Center for Science and Culture has just re-published an expanded edition of a pivotal book that strongly accelerated the intelligent design movement: The Mystery of Life’s Origin by Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen (first published in 1984). Read about it here. The authors, all three of whom are still living, recently were featured at a large book-signing event in Dallas (see photos here). This book was powerful enough to make a leading OOL researcher, Dr. Dean Kenyon, reject materialism and embrace intelligent design (see him and his story in the Illustra classic Unlocking the Mystery of Life).

2. Illustra Media’s film Origin explains some of the major chemical and mathematical challenges to secular origin-of-life speculations in a compelling visual way.




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