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Origins Of Life May 14, 2009

Posted by Dwight Furrow in Dwight Furrow's Posts, Science.
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Evolutionary theory provides us with a powerful and well-confirmed account of the development of life. But it provides no explanation of how life started, of how organic matter developed out of inorganic matter.

This lacuna has provided fodder for the “God of the gaps” crowd to remonstrate about “evil scientists” foisting their “religion” on “good Christian folk”.

But there is a discipline called “origin of life research” (or prebiotics) and it is making progress:

Recent years have seen a number of discoveries about DNA’s close chemical relative, RNA, that suggest it played a key role in early protolife, leading to a proposal that life started out in an RNA world. One of the problems with this concept, however, was the fact that chemists hadn’t come up with a way to synthesize the basic building blocks of RNA using the chemicals that were likely to be present in the early earth. Now, by taking a systems chemistry approach, a team of researchers at the University of Manchester have neatly cleared that hurdle…

An RNA molecule is basically a polymer of individual units comprised of a ring-shaped base molecule, a sugar, and a phosphate. Chemists had figured out different ways that simple organic chemicals that were likely to be present in the early earth could form the base and sugar (phosphates are abundant). But, so far, they’d failed to chemically link them together in a functional unit…the researchers found that, by having the phosphate present in the reactions from the start, they could build up a three-ringed structure that would then react with the phosphate. That reaction would split open one of the rings, with the remaining two linked rings forming the cytosine base and sugar, all hooked up to a reactive phosphate that could undergo polymerization into RNA.

Of course, this doesn’t explain how, in fact, organic life emerged on earth, but answering the “how possible” question is the first step in that explanation.



1. Paul Moloney - May 16, 2009

To posit the “God of the gaps” is a good way to impede scientific discovery. Self-proclaimed Christians would naturally be against scientific discovery, as it might entail the discovery that they are not Christians. It would seem that the standard for being Christian would be Christ. Self-proclaimed Christians, though, make themselves the standard for Christ and Christianity. If there is a God, God sure has not acknowledged self-proclaimed Christians to be Christians, at least not in a way that can be known by anyone. Self-proclaimed Christians have no basis on which to call themselves Christians. If there is a God, God does not have anything to do with the self-proclaimed Christians, just as the self-proclaimed Christians have nothing to do with God, which is a good case for there being no God, or a God that is intelligent enough not to have anything to do with self-proclaimed Christians.

Self-proclaimed Christians impede scientific discovery because they impede Christianity in themselves and as many others as possible. Self-proclaimed Christians that are too lazy to actually be Christians would also be too lazy to reason.

If there is a God that is the cause of all physical causes, I personally speculate that time will come to an end without our having been able to know all those physical causes, but if we posit God as a cause in science, scientific discovery comes to an end and that is why God is not an object of science. If there is a God, God does not seem to have impeded science.

Self-proclaimed Christians would have us think that God wants us to be stupid. If there is a God, either God is stupid, as the self-proclaimed Christians would have us think, or the self-proclaimed Christians are stupid. It should be noted that self-proclaimed Christians do not offer any arguments against science, so one cannot argue against those that offer no argument. One motivation for self-proclaimed Christians to attack scientists is envy. People too lazy to think for themselves will be envious of those that can think for themselves. Another motivation for self-proclaimed Christians to attack scientists is jealousy. Scientific discoveries take attention away from self-proclaimed Christians.

Whether or not there is a physical cause for inorganic matter becoming organic, the assumption is an incentive for the discovery of other physical causes that would not have been known otherwise.

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