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beecee

Abiogenesis and Chemical Evolution.

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Hi: Nice to be back!

I'm going to state a few views I have based on what reputable articles I have read and logical common sense. 

[1] The process/theory/assumption of Abiogenesis [life from non life] via chemistry is the only scientific answer we have to explain the methodology of how life came to be.

[2] Any mythical "answer" relating to ID of any kind is unscientific at best.

[3] In saying that at [1] science has yet to learn the exact pathway or methodology as to how Abiogenesis took place.

Does [3] in anyway detract from the validity of Abiogenesis?                                                           How is Abiogenesis best described? A scientific theory? a scientific assumption? A scientific process? or are all three correct?

The theory of the evolution of life is now so well supported that it is indeed a fact, as well as a scientific theory. True or false? 

 

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48 minutes ago, beecee said:

The theory of the evolution of life is now so well supported that it is indeed a fact, as well as a scientific theory. True or false? 

I would say false. Evolution is a fact (we observe it and so can't deny it), and the Theory of Evolution describes the process. I don't think there's any need to elevate any theory to "fact" status. It implies that theory isn't strong enough when it certainly is, and we get to keep improving it if it stays a theory. I think it sends the wrong signal when we update "facts" based on new evidence. 

And welcome back!

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Posted (edited)
19 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

I would say false. Evolution is a fact (we observe it and so can't deny it), and the Theory of Evolution describes the process. I don't think there's any need to elevate any theory to "fact" status. It implies that theory isn't strong enough when it certainly is, and we get to keep improving it if it stays a theory. I think it sends the wrong signal when we update "facts" based on new evidence. 

And welcome back!

Hmmm Interesting! and good to be back!! I was always under the impression that a scientific theory is science's best explanation of a particular situation, and that as any scientific theory continues over time, to match new observations and make correct predictions, that it does gain in certainty over that time.eg: The discovery of gravitational radiation/waves, further enforced GR as being our best theory of gravity.

I can see the method in your madness though. 🙂

Edited by beecee

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20 minutes ago, beecee said:

I was always under the impression that a scientific theory is science's best explanation of a particular situation, and that as any scientific theory continues over time, to match new observations and make correct predictions, that it does gain in certainty over that time.

Exactly, but that doesn't make a theory fact. Theory needs to be open to new information. I think of facts as "answers", and we tend to stop looking if we think we've found an answer. 

Our best current explanations regarding the fact of evolution are organized as the theory. It's a technical distinction, but I think an important one. 

 

All that said, I have to agree that, whether or not Earth life forms started on Earth, a form of abiogenesis seems to be the only reasonable explanation for the step between inorganic and organic matter. Without a testable mechanism to repeat the process, I don't think we can think of abiogenesis as anything stronger than hypothesis.

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Posted (edited)
40 minutes ago, Phi for All said:

All that said, I have to agree that, whether or not Earth life forms started on Earth, a form of abiogenesis seems to be the only reasonable explanation for the step between inorganic and organic matter. Without a testable mechanism to repeat the process, I don't think we can think of abiogenesis as anything stronger than hypothesis.

I do see some distinction between Earth based Abiogenesis and Panspermia which would come under Universal Abiogenesis.

My only doubt on your reply is that if Abiogenesis/Universal Abiogenesis is the only scientific answer to how life arose anywhere, I would see it much more then just an hypothesis? That of course would rest on the premise of is there another scientific explanation? 

Perhaps another technical distinction?

Edited by beecee

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I think it is fair to say that so far there are not viable alternatives to abiogenesis. It is less of a theory but more of a theoretical framework that exist due to what we know about the chemical composition of organisms. I.e. we know that something simpler than cells must have existed at some point, we roughly have an idea what chemicals are more or less likely and so on. Moreover are hypotheses regarding the mechanisms of abiogenesis, how potential candidate molecule could have occurred and so on. It is really not my field so I am not sure of the current progress in that area.

 

With regard to evolution, as Phi pointed out, the term describes the observable process (i.e. fact) that gene pools change over time. The theory of evolution describes all the bits and pieces that explain and quantify those changes.

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What we have now is the knowledge that somehow organic matter started from inorganic matter in the absence of a biological process. That's equivalent to saying, "Your ancestors got to this continent by traveling". We know that's how it had to be, there's no other way we can imagine it happening, but we don't know exactly how it was done. 

10 minutes ago, CharonY said:

I think it is fair to say that so far there are not viable alternatives to abiogenesis.

And because of this I understand where beecee is coming from. Hard to imagine life always existing, so it had to come from non-life at some point. 

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1 hour ago, CharonY said:

I think it is fair to say that so far there are not viable alternatives to abiogenesis. It is less of a theory but more of a theoretical framework that exist due to what we know about the chemical composition of organisms.

 

1 hour ago, Phi for All said:

What we have now is the knowledge that somehow organic matter started from inorganic matter in the absence of a biological process. That's equivalent to saying, "Your ancestors got to this continent by traveling". We know that's how it had to be, there's no other way we can imagine it happening, but we don't know exactly how it was done. 

And because of this I understand where beecee is coming from. Hard to imagine life always existing, so it had to come from non-life at some point. 

OK thanks fellas....I like the above statements. 

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Posted (edited)

A question for science based enquiry rather than a demonstrated theory? A scientific work in progress? It stands out as the only credible option - any panspermia, intelligent creation just shifts the goalposts back to how life or Gods began - but it hasn't been demonstrated.

Abiogenesis is not the same as Evolution; we have good evidence of Evolution but none (excluding existing life as evidence) for Abiogenesis. Even demonstrating an example of it (say in a lab) doesn't demonstrate that was how life on Earth actually began, but would demonstrate that it is possible.

So much room to argue about it - lab conditions are not going to be precisely the conditions, just a best imitation, that includes some intelligent (human) interventions, if just to raise the odds. But I suspect it may be something that only gets resolved indirectly, using modeling to determine possible chemical pathways.

Certainly there is ongoing work on those possible chemical pathways. Most recently, from Scripps Research -

Quote

a simple compound called diamidophosphate (DAP), which was plausibly present on Earth before life arose, could have chemically knitted together tiny DNA building blocks called deoxynucleosides into strands of primordial DNA.

 

Edited by Ken Fabian

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, CharonY said:

I think it is fair to say that so far there are not viable alternatives to abiogenesis.

 

5 hours ago, Phi for All said:

Hard to imagine life always existing, so it had to come from non-life at some point. 

 Accepting the above, could it simply, scientifically  and logically, be seen that Abiogenesis is  an axiom and actually self evident? 

Edited by beecee

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2 hours ago, beecee said:

 

 Accepting the above, could it simply, scientifically  and logically, be seen that Abiogenesis is  an axiom and actually self evident? 

Just found this........................

https://jsystchem.springeropen.com/articles/10.1186/1759-2208-2-1

Abstract

Though Darwinian theory dramatically revolutionized biological understanding, its strictly biological focus has resulted in a widening conceptual gulf between the biological and physical sciences. In this paper we strive to extend and reformulate Darwinian theory in physicochemical terms so it can accommodate both animate and inanimate systems, thereby helping to bridge this scientific divide. The extended formulation is based on the recently proposed concept of dynamic kinetic stability and data from the newly emerging area of systems chemistry. The analysis leads us to conclude that abiogenesis and evolution, rather than manifesting two discrete stages in the emergence of complex life, actually constitute one single physicochemical process. Based on that proposed unification, the extended theory offers some additional insights into life's unique characteristics, as well as added means for addressing the three central questions of biology: what is life, how did it emerge, and how would one make it?

 Concluding remarks

Darwin's contribution to modern scientific thought is profound and irrevocable. It has forever changed man's view of himself and his place in the universe. By demonstrating the interconnectedness of all living things, Darwin brought a unity and coherence to biology that continues to impact on the subject to this day. But a paradoxical side product of that extraordinary contribution with its specific focus on living things, was that it resulted in a distancing between the biological and the physical sciences, one that continues to afflict the natural sciences. The disturbing result - despite the enormous contribution of the Darwinian theme, Darwinism remains unable to explain what life is, how it emerged, and how living things relate to non-living ones. The challenge therefore is clear. The scientific goal - the relentless striving toward the unification of science - requires that the chasm that divides and separates the biological from the physical sciences be bridged.

In this paper we have attempted to demonstrate that by reformulating and incorporating the Darwinian theme within a general physicochemical scheme, one that rests on the concept of dynamic kinetic stability, the animate-inanimate connection can be strengthened. What the general scheme suggests is that life is, first and foremost, a highly complex dynamic network of chemical reactions that rests on an autocatalytic foundation, is driven by the kinetic power of autocatalysis, and has expanded octopus-like from some primal replicative system from which the process of complexification toward more complex systems was initiated. Thus life as it is can never be readily classified and categorized because life is more a process than a thing. In that sense Whitehead's process philosophy [65] with its emphasis on process over substance seems to have been remarkably prescient. Even the identification and classification of separate individual life forms within that ever expanding network seems increasingly problematic. The revelation that the cellular mass that we characterize as an individual human being (you, me, or the girl next door) actually consists of significantly more bacterial cells than human cells (~1014 compared to ~1013) [66], all working together in a symbiotic relationship to establish a dynamic kinetically stable system, is just one striking example of the difficulty. As humans we naturally focus on what we identify as the human component of that elaborate biological network, but that of course is an anthropocentric view, one that has afflicted human thinking for millennia. A description closer the truth would seem to be that life is a sprawling interconnected dynamic network in which some connections are tighter, others looser, but a giant dynamic network nonetheless. And it is life's dynamic character that explains why identifiable individual life forms - small segments of that giant network - can be so fragile, so easy to undermine through network deconstruction, whereas the goal of creating life is such a formidable one.

A closing remark concerning life's complexity. Life is complex - that is undeniable. But that does not necessarily mean that the life principle is complex. In fact we would argue that the life principle is in some sense relatively simple! Indeed, simple rules can lead to complex patterns, as studies in complexity have amply demonstrated [67, 68]. So we would suggest that life, from its simple beginnings as some minimal replicating system, and following a simple rule - the drive toward greater dynamic kinetic stability within replicator space - is yet another example of that fundamental idea.

A final comment: this paper has discussed the concept of dynamic kinetic stability in some detail, and the question as to which stability kind - dynamic kinetic or thermodynamic - is inherently preferred in nature, could be asked. There is, of course, no formal answer to this question. In contrast to thermodynamic stability, dynamic kinetic stability is, as noted earlier, not readily quantifiable. Nevertheless an intriguing observation can be made. Since the emergence of life on earth from some initial replicating entity some 4 billion years ago, life has managed to dramatically diversify and multiply, having taken root in almost every conceivable ecological niche. Just the bacterial biomass on our planet alone has been estimated to be some 2.1014 tons, sufficient to cover the earth's land surface to a depth of 1.5 meters [69]. The conclusion seems inescapable - there is a continual transformation of 'regular' matter into replicative matter (permitted by the supply of an almost endless source of energy), suggesting that in some fundamental manner replicative matter is the more 'stable' form. What implications this continuing transformation might have on cosmology in general is beyond both our understanding and the scope of this paper.

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