Abiogenesis. Science and/or faith

Discussion about scientific issues as they relate to God and Christianity including archaeology, origins of life, the universe, intelligent design, evolution, etc.
User avatar
angel
Established Member
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:18 am
Christian: No
Location: EU
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Abiogenesis. Science and/or faith

#1

Post by angel » Fri Mar 23, 2007 1:55 am

This thread splits from
http://discussions.godandscience.org/vi ... 4269#44269

The aim is to collect and scrutinize different scenarios for abiogenesis in science and faith.
The original discussion was with Byblos while of course others are welcome to add comments.

I think we can start by listing facts that we know and on which we should agree and possible scenarios to be considered.

Then we can compare and discuss different scenarios, just to see if we could agree on something.
This should provide a representation of current knowledge from different point of views.

As I said in the past I personally think we know too few about abiogenesis yet to obtained a universal agreement but at least we should be able to cut down some common arguments which are sometime seen.

I hope we could also discuss what would be the benefits of a materialistic explanation with respect to a faith explanation (or viceversa of course...)
I am particularly interested in this because I think this discussion is part of a more general discussion about what is knowledge and science which is in my experience where discussions between theists and scientists usually get stuck (eg ID is science ID is not).


First of all I suppose we can agree that

1) abiogenesis actually happened

I mean at some point in the past life emerged from chemicals.
Of course this could have happened by chance, by some other materialistic explanation (including engineered by extra terrestrial civilization) or by divine action.

User avatar
angel
Established Member
Posts: 119
Joined: Thu Mar 23, 2006 5:18 am
Christian: No
Location: EU
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

#2

Post by angel » Fri Mar 23, 2007 2:18 am

Let me list some facts which are in my opinion quite well established.

2) The Earth formed about 4.5-4 BY ago. Life first evidences are about 3.5 BY ago.

This means that life emerged on Earth in less than 1BY.
This also provide a constrain to which materialistic explanations should be excluded. If fact if we prove that a particular materialistic scenario takes much more than 1BY to occur then it is not reasonable to hold that scenario.
I stress that we must PROVE that the probability of the scenario to occur in the given time frame is too low.
We cannot base the exclusion of a scenario on our incapacity to understand the mechanism... I hope we agree on this...

3) In the materialistic explanations we know that all life forms currently known comes from a very low (possible one) independent abiogenesis events.

There are at least two independent possibilities (left and right handed aminoacids) which can produce obviously independent lifeforms.
It would be unreasonable to assume 100 different abiogenesis events all of which chose randomly to use left handed chemicals.

So either there were very few abiogenesis events, or very few survided until today. On the other hand we know just a fraction of lifeforms currently living and very few lifeformed which lived in the past. Hence we cannot exclude completely that there are some organism living on the ocean ground which comes from an independent abiogenesis event.

4) All the organisms we know which are currently living appear to be from a single abiogenesis event (always in the naturalistic scenario, cos' God can do what it likes...).

Point 3 and 4 suggest that whatever mechanism brought to abiogenesis has became very unlikely after the first BY of existing Earth. Other wise we would have at least 3/4 abiogenesis events. And abiogenesis would be possible even today.


Byblos, can you list what we know from your point of view?
Can you say if you agree on these general facts?

User avatar
godslanguage
Senior Member
Posts: 558
Joined: Thu May 18, 2006 4:16 pm
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

#3

Post by godslanguage » Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:16 am

Would you care to include probabilities of abiogenesis in your argument as well which many have calculated to be in the range of impossibility.
"Is it possible that God is not just an Engineer, but also a divine Artist who creates at times solely for His enjoyment? Maybe the Creator really does like beetles." RTB

User avatar
Byblos
Old School
Posts: 5930
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:21 pm
Christian: Yes
Location: NY
Has liked: 92 times
Been liked: 139 times

Re: Abiogenesis. Science and/or faith

#4

Post by Byblos » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:07 pm

angel wrote:The aim is to collect and scrutinize different scenarios for abiogenesis in science and faith.
The original discussion was with Byblos while of course others are welcome to add comments.

I think we can start by listing facts that we know and on which we should agree and possible scenarios to be considered.

Then we can compare and discuss different scenarios, just to see if we could agree on something.
This should provide a representation of current knowledge from different point of views.

As I said in the past I personally think we know too few about abiogenesis yet to obtained a universal agreement but at least we should be able to cut down some common arguments which are sometime seen.

I hope we could also discuss what would be the benefits of a materialistic explanation with respect to a faith explanation (or viceversa of course...)
I am particularly interested in this because I think this discussion is part of a more general discussion about what is knowledge and science which is in my experience where discussions between theists and scientists usually get stuck (eg ID is science ID is not).
All of the above is fine with me. Just a small clarification on the last paragraph inasmuch as theists and scientists aren't mutually exclusive, as opposed to theists and atheists.

angel wrote:First of all I suppose we can agree that

1) abiogenesis actually happened
Yes.
angel wrote:I mean at some point in the past life emerged from chemicals.
It could be as in the theistic evolution model but not necessarily.
angel wrote:Of course this could have happened by chance, by some other materialistic explanation (including engineered by extra terrestrial civilization)
You have no proof whatsoever of this. It is mere speculation.
angel wrote: or by divine action.
That's what we're contending and our proof is in the Bible (as I explained in the thread linked above).
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

User avatar
Byblos
Old School
Posts: 5930
Joined: Mon Sep 12, 2005 12:21 pm
Christian: Yes
Location: NY
Has liked: 92 times
Been liked: 139 times

#5

Post by Byblos » Fri Mar 23, 2007 12:21 pm

angel wrote:Let me list some facts which are in my opinion quite well established.

2) The Earth formed about 4.5-4 BY ago. Life first evidences are about 3.5 BY ago.

This means that life emerged on Earth in less than 1BY.
This also provide a constrain to which materialistic explanations should be excluded. If fact if we prove that a particular materialistic scenario takes much more than 1BY to occur then it is not reasonable to hold that scenario.
I stress that we must PROVE that the probability of the scenario to occur in the given time frame is too low.
Now you're charting into the probability territory used by the fine tuning arguments. Are you sure you want to go there? Otherwise you'd be hard pressed to provide the mechanism against which you wish to measure your probability results.
angel wrote:We cannot base the exclusion of a scenario on our incapacity to understand the mechanism... I hope we agree on this...
We agree on it as long as you do not intend to use it as an axiom for your argument.
angel wrote:3) In the materialistic explanations we know that all life forms currently known comes from a very low (possible one) independent abiogenesis events.
Although I would tend to agree with the 'very low', how exactly do we know that so we can agree on it?
angel wrote:There are at least two independent possibilities (left and right handed aminoacids) which can produce obviously independent lifeforms.
It would be unreasonable to assume 100 different abiogenesis events all of which chose randomly to use left handed chemicals.
Unless of course they were all created independently. But if we were to take your assumption as valid, please define why it is a reasonable assumption (without using any probability models that do not have a comparative frame of reference).
angel wrote:So either there were very few abiogenesis events, or very few survided until today. On the other hand we know just a fraction of lifeforms currently living and very few lifeformed which lived in the past. Hence we cannot exclude completely that there are some organism living on the ocean ground which comes from an independent abiogenesis event.
I agree. I would even venture to say there are some above ground as well.
angel wrote:4) All the organisms we know which are currently living appear to be from a single abiogenesis event (always in the naturalistic scenario, cos' God can do what it likes...).
We've been over this already.
angel wrote:Point 3 and 4 suggest that whatever mechanism brought to abiogenesis has became very unlikely after the first BY of existing Earth. Other wise we would have at least 3/4 abiogenesis events. And abiogenesis would be possible even today.
So in the beginning there was abiogenesis and now it disappeared? Sounds like somebody's playing tricks on us. But then again, that would suggest intelligence (sorry, I couldn't resist :wink:).

angel wrote:Byblos, can you list what we know from your point of view? Can you say if you agree on these general facts?
I've already stated where I agree or disagree above. As for what we know wrt abiogenesis from my point of view is rather simple. God created it. The Bible tells me that and no one has been able to refute the Bible just yet (and I don't anticipate that happening any time soon).

Byblos.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

abiogenesis

#6

Post by zoegirl » Fri Mar 23, 2007 6:07 pm

Hi there,

YOu can find more of my bio from the introductions. Simply, I teach high school biology and AP bio and I deal with this every year in class. I have struggled through this and this is what I have come up with. I teach in a Christian school but received my master's in biology at a secular institution.


Angel wrote
(still learning how to quote people so sorry, haven't mastered this yet)

"This also provide a constrain to which materialistic explanations should be excluded. If fact if we prove that a particular materialistic scenario takes much more than 1BY to occur then it is not reasonable to hold that scenario.
I stress that we must PROVE that the probability of the scenario to occur in the given time frame is too low. "

Problem with this as I see it

We can "prove" that it may have taken under 1by and it still doens't exclude the possibilitity of a creator. Unfortunately, you demand that God be taken out of the equation in order to control the "experiment". Philosophically and scientifically, how in the world can that happen?! By the very rules of naturalism, supernatural events can't be studied. You can do all sorts of mathematical, statistical, and even chemical studies and yet you can't have a scientific study with a control group excluding God. As you already stated, God can do what he wants...if He wants to take 1by to make life, then so be it :D

To me ultimately it does come down to a philosphical decision...

I also have a huge problem with the experiments on abiogenesis simply because to me they don't prove a thing. To use an analogy...people are studying cars to exmine whether the parts could have assembled spontaneously. They examine the bolts and screws and parts and exclaim how this screw can spontaneously align with this bolt and tighten with enough time. They could even say that once some screws have tightened on a tire, this increases the affinity for more screws to tighten. IMagine somebody being surprised at this, exclaiming proudly that this proves that the car wasn't designed. Well, blinding flash of the obvious, if the screws are designed to tighten, then they should tighten.

Every biology textbook waxes poetic about the beautiful complementary nature of structure and function. Take, for example, the phospholipid membrane membrane. This membrane stays together because of its very chemical nature. Its properties allow the cell to keep boundaries, regulate entry of molecules, and transport bundles of moelcules. Because its very chemical nature means that the phospolipid molecules align appropriately.

The abiogenesis experiments show that if you place a bunch of phospholipid molecules in a beaker, they will self-assemble. Proponents of spontanous generation love to point this out as a step of making a cell. Yet this is exactly what they should do! How this excludes a creator is beyond me. For sake of argument, let;s assume a designer. This designer created a molecule that should stay together because of its very chemical nature. This designer created atoms and molecules with their molecular properties such that, with certain amounts of energy, they will combine.

To me, these experiments do nothing more than reveal the obvious.

IRQ Conflict
Senior Member
Posts: 540
Joined: Sat Nov 19, 2005 5:01 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Male
Creation Position: Young-Earth Creationist
Location: AB. Canada
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

#7

Post by IRQ Conflict » Fri Mar 23, 2007 7:35 pm

How much more sophisticated and complex is the simplest thing in nature compared to any nuts and bolts?

How long would it take for mother nature to change my flat so I can get to my next meeting? Would I lose my job? Hehe Sorry, I just had to throw that out there. :D

/not a teacher.

User avatar
BGoodForGoodSake
Ultimate Member
Posts: 2125
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 9:44 am
Christian: No
Location: Washington D.C.
Has liked: 28 times
Been liked: 12 times

#8

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Sat Mar 24, 2007 8:10 am

IRQ Conflict wrote:How long would it take for mother nature to change my flat so I can get to my next meeting? Would I lose my job? Hehe Sorry, I just had to throw that out there.
IRQ Conflict what zoegirl is saying is that when nature self assembles it is because the laws of nature lead it to do so. A tire flattens because that is the direction nature wants to go. Similarily the chemical reactions in a cell occur because of the same thing. Nature will flatten your tire not inflate it. Nature will cause your body to burn your calories not create them.
zoegirl wrote:I also have a huge problem with the experiments on abiogenesis simply because to me they don't prove a thing. To use an analogy...people are studying cars to exmine whether the parts could have assembled spontaneously. They examine the bolts and screws and parts and exclaim how this screw can spontaneously align with this bolt and tighten with enough time. They could even say that once some screws have tightened on a tire, this increases the affinity for more screws to tighten. IMagine somebody being surprised at this, exclaiming proudly that this proves that the car wasn't designed. Well, blinding flash of the obvious, if the screws are designed to tighten, then they should tighten.
Discovering how the properties of organic molecules lead to all the various forms is what organic chemistry is all about. These properties are a result of laws(design) of nature. The properties of molecules are due to the structure of the molecules themselves, which in turn is due to electromagnetic forces. Which in turn is due to the laws of thermodynamics. The study(organic chemistry) goes no further in describing why this occurs. That is up to physicists now, isn't it?

So you see it's not about discovering that the screws tighten and then proclaiming that it is amazing. It is about finding the different components and discovering what they do, and how interactions of the composite molecules creates this behaviour. Finding the structure behind the function, and then making predictions of other forms. In this way we are systematically discovering how the laws of nature translates structure into function. And basic laws into structure.
zoegirl wrote:The abiogenesis experiments show that if you place a bunch of phospholipid molecules in a beaker, they will self-assemble. Proponents of spontanous generation love to point this out as a step of making a cell. Yet this is exactly what they should do! How this excludes a creator is beyond me. For sake of argument, let;s assume a designer. This designer created a molecule that should stay together because of its very chemical nature. This designer created atoms and molecules with their molecular properties such that, with certain amounts of energy, they will combine.
The difference here is that this experiment is repeatable. Nature is dependable. There may certainly have been a designer who caused nature to work in this manor, but this is beyond the scope of organic chemistry.
zoegirl wrote:To me, these experiments do nothing more than reveal the obvious.
In science many things seem obvious once explained to us. Before an explanation was known it was not as obvious. For example polarity could not even be imagined with out a knowledge of atomic charges, nature of chemical bonds, knowledge of atomic structure, etc, etc.
It took someone with some insight and plenty of experiments to take all the information and realize that water is polar, and lipids are non-polar. And that polar molecules attract each other, while non-polar molecules do not. etc,etc.

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

clasrification

#9

Post by zoegirl » Sat Mar 24, 2007 11:30 am

Let me clarify what I mean...

To me these experiments do not allow anyone to exclude a designer. To say....well, these things happen spontaneously, well, wow, we have everything we need to show that God isn't involved. Well, to me, these experiments can't be use to eliminate the possible invovlement of a GOd.

you misunderstand my comment about proclaiming amazement. I know this isn't the motivation for scicentists. I know they do these experiments to understand nature. HOWEVER, I know for a fact, (believe me, having gone through multiple evolution classes, I know), that they love to use these experiments as if these experiments are able to crumble the foundations of all faiths. It's as if they say "Look! all these molecules join together and self-replicate....wow! know we know there wasn't a God" Even though they themselves love to point out the limitations of science in examining the supernatural! THey can't have it both ways... if materialistic examinations can in no way examine the supernatural, then they have absolutely no authority in using these same experiments to justify their statments concenring HOW abiogenesis occurred.

ABSOLUTELY, I love discovering about what mkes these things happen. I love it (my students sometimes look at me as if I have two heads when I proclaim how cool all this stuff is). I agree with you the necessity of examining all of nature. I agree with you that nature (I shall use different words) is repeatable, measurable, and controllable and that GOd isn't. (as C.S. Lewis said about Aslan...He isn't a tame lion) :wink:

I simply wish that these experiments were not used to proclaim that there is no God (not saying you did, I have heard this from multiple sources). When they discover that RNA nucleotides can self-assemble, they love to use this to reject God, whereas to me, this is simply a reflection of the nature of RNA.

Anyway (on a more prosaic note....can somebody direct me to someplace or show me how to quote people?!) :lol: :cry: very frustrated

Thanks for the comments BGood...I have appreciated reading your posts on other subjects.

Zoegirl

User avatar
BGoodForGoodSake
Ultimate Member
Posts: 2125
Joined: Mon Aug 29, 2005 9:44 am
Christian: No
Location: Washington D.C.
Has liked: 28 times
Been liked: 12 times

Re: clasrification

#10

Post by BGoodForGoodSake » Sat Mar 24, 2007 4:36 pm

zoegirl wrote:Let me clarify what I mean...

To me these experiments do not allow anyone to exclude a designer. To say....well, these things happen spontaneously, well, wow, we have everything we need to show that God isn't involved. Well, to me, these experiments can't be use to eliminate the possible invovlement of a GOd.
Absolutely! To use these facts to support athiesm is a severe misunderstanding of science and is very foolish.
zoegirl wrote:you misunderstand my comment about proclaiming amazement. I know this isn't the motivation for scicentists. I know they do these experiments to understand nature. HOWEVER, I know for a fact, (believe me, having gone through multiple evolution classes, I know), that they love to use these experiments as if these experiments are able to crumble the foundations of all faiths. It's as if they say "Look! all these molecules join together and self-replicate....wow! know we know there wasn't a God" Even though they themselves love to point out the limitations of science in examining the supernatural! THey can't have it both ways... if materialistic examinations can in no way examine the supernatural, then they have absolutely no authority in using these same experiments to justify their statments concenring HOW abiogenesis occurred.
Again I agree, perhaps I misunderstood you.
:)
zoegirl wrote:ABSOLUTELY, I love discovering about what mkes these things happen. I love it (my students sometimes look at me as if I have two heads when I proclaim how cool all this stuff is). I agree with you the necessity of examining all of nature. I agree with you that nature (I shall use different words) is repeatable, measurable, and controllable and that GOd isn't. (as C.S. Lewis said about Aslan...He isn't a tame lion) :wink:

I simply wish that these experiments were not used to proclaim that there is no God (not saying you did, I have heard this from multiple sources). When they discover that RNA nucleotides can self-assemble, they love to use this to reject God, whereas to me, this is simply a reflection of the nature of RNA.
Again I absolutely agree!
*blushes*
zoegirl wrote:Anyway (on a more prosaic note....can somebody direct me to someplace or show me how to quote people?!) :lol: :cry: very frustrated
Sure you type without the spaces [ quote="who you want to quote"] and then [/ quote] again without the spaces.
zoegirl wrote:Thanks for the comments BGood...I have appreciated reading your posts on other subjects.

Zoegirl
I feel very embarassed for misunderstanding you're comments so grossly!

Forgive me, and thanks!

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

quotes

#11

Post by zoegirl » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:20 pm

I is a college graduate :oops:

So very confused

Type without spaces?!

How do I select what I want to quote and then insert what I want to quote?
:shock: :oops: :lol: :!:

User avatar
Gman
Old School
Posts: 6081
Joined: Wed May 31, 2006 10:36 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Male
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: Northern California
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 1 time

Re: quotes

#12

Post by Gman » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:29 pm

zoegirl wrote:I is a college graduate :oops:

So very confused

Type without spaces?!

How do I select what I want to quote and then insert what I want to quote?
:shock: :oops: :lol: :!:
Hi Zoegirl... Just hit the quote button next to the post you want to reply to..

About Bgood, he is taking the naturalistic approach to abiogenesis. He does not believe that God had a hand in the creation of life...
Bgood wrote:Absolutely! To use these facts to support athiesm is a severe misunderstanding of science and is very foolish.
Nice try Bgood... Everyone knows thats Darwinian evolution is a naturalistic process to the meaning and creation of life.. A process that doesn't include the God of the Bible... :wink:
The heart cannot rejoice in what the mind rejects as false - Galileo

We learn from history that we do not learn from history - Georg Friedrich Wilhelm Hegel

Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praiseworthy, think about such things. -Philippians 4:8

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

sorry, still not getting it

#13

Post by zoegirl » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:47 pm

I understand the quote button aspect...

Not getting how to ONLY quote a selection ? Sorry, I may understand cells :) but still a babe in the words with the web...

Not understanding how to place these in my reply?!

Understand completely where bgood is coming from. Had no delusions whatsoever....

while abiogenesis may be used to support Darwinian E. (and in fact must rely on it) it has no basis in it and may in fact be used to support Design...after all, we may argue as to How God did it, but from a Christian point of view...He did create quarks, subatomic particles, atoms, forces, molecules....

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

Re: sorry, still not getting it

#14

Post by zoegirl » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:48 pm

zoegirl wrote:I understand the quote button aspect...

Not getting how to ONLY quote a selection ? Sorry, I may understand cells :) but still a babe in the words with the web...

Not understanding how to place these in my reply?!

Understand completely where bgood is coming from. Had no delusions whatsoever....

while abiogenesis may be used to support Darwinian E. (and in fact must rely on it) it has no basis in it and may in fact be used to support Design...after all, we may argue as to How God did it, but from a Christian point of view...He did create quarks, subatomic particles, atoms, forces, molecules....

testing???!!!

User avatar
zoegirl
Old School
Posts: 3927
Joined: Thu Mar 22, 2007 3:59 pm
Christian: Yes
Sex: Female
Creation Position: Day-Age
Location: east coast
Has liked: 0
Been liked: 0

#15

Post by zoegirl » Sat Mar 24, 2007 6:50 pm

YES!! Oh Happy Day

Figured it out....

:oops: :lol:

Takes me awhile sometimes.... :wink:

Post Reply