Alan McDougall

What are the Odds of Life evolving by chance alone?

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And yet again we are faced with the logical fallacy of your assertion....

 

The important thing to remember is that evolutionary theory is a scientific theory about how life has developed, this means that it begins with the premise that life already exists. It makes no claims as to how that life got here. It could have developed naturally through abiogenesis. It could have been started by a divine power. It could have been started by aliens. Whatever the explanation, evolutionary explanations begin to apply once life appears and begins to reproduce.

 

 

 

 

 

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The important thing to remember is that evolutionary theory is a scientific theory about how life has developed, this means that it begins with the premise that life already exists. It makes no claims as to how that life got here. It could have developed naturally through abiogenesis. It could have been started by a divine power. It could have been started by aliens. Whatever the explanation, evolutionary explanations begin to apply once life appears and begins to reproduce.

 

 

Sure. But we have an idea of what kind of natural processes could have led to abiogenesis, and we know that each of those events is plausible naturally; we don't have that kind of judgment about divine intervention.

 

By okham razor alone, abiogenesis is natural.

 

~mooey

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Hubert Yockey? Really?

 

 

 

The odds of how a modern cell or parts of modern cell are meaningless, life started out much simpler and DNA probably didn't come about for quite some time.

 

http://www.livescien...reated-lab.html

 

 

 

http://www.scienceda...90109173205.htm

 

 

 

Currently there are many avenues of how and where life or the parts of it might have formed, personally I think it was a synergy of several different avenues that came together to produce the first life forms but these were much more simple than what we know as life.

 

http://en.wikipedia....iki/Abiogenesis

 

 

 

 

So you add one more strawman, you know that comparing a biological organism to a man made object is a strawman. Space shuttles can not reproduce or evolve... And so your point would be?

 

If life is anything that replicates, then by accurately performing a Briggs-Rauscher oscillating reaction, you have created life!!!

 

 

I believe your definition of life needs work, you should meditate and reflect deeply on what you believe life to be.

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If life is anything that replicates, then by accurately performing a Briggs-Rauscher oscillating reaction, you have created life!!!

 

 

I believe your definition of life needs work, you should meditate and reflect deeply on what you believe life to be.

 

 

Quite the contrary, life is that which replicates with variation...

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Immortal, this is simply not a known factor, there are several proposed pathways that life could have developed from non life in a natural way and the idea that life contains information that cannot have come about through natural selection is simply not true. And yes, all the letters of the English language could indeed result in real knowledge even if the process was completely random if the ones that worked were conserved and the ones that didn't discarded...

 

A good hypothesis...

 

 

 

Life by chance?

 

 

Great first video, I am a monotheist but also a scientist (Materials Scientist to be specific) and I am willing to accept the hypothesis presented as soon as you show me how RIBOSE CAME TO BE. Do not post an argument with a hole the size of a million galaxies and expect no one to catch it!! However, if they do show me how RIBOSE came to be I will accept the hypothesis...

 

 

 

Quite the contrary, life is that which replicates with variation...

 

Replicates with variation?? That does not even make sense... look up the definition of "replicates" and the definition of "variation"... Two completely contradictory concepts...

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Quite the contrary, life is that which replicates with variation...

Yeah I agree that this definition doesn't make sense. Even the basic definitions of "life" include some sort of extra property, like response to the environment and/or having a metabolism.

 

For that matter, computer viruses replicate and can have variations in the replication. Cancer is the replication with (anomalous) variation. Is cancer life?

 

I think the definition is lacking.

 

 

 

Great first video, I am a monotheist but also a scientist (Materials Scientist to be specific) and I am willing to accept the hypothesis presented as soon as you show me how RIBOSE CAME TO BE. Do not post an argument with a hole the size of a million galaxies and expect no one to catch it!! However, if they do show me how RIBOSE came to be I will accept the hypothesis...

That's a bit ironic, though. You're saying you believe in a much less plausible and less explainable explanation but demand that the explanation that actually has some merit in reality be explained fully?

 

I say it has merit in reality because we do know, and have witnessed, and can replicate, the *individual* steps that we suspect happened that led to the emergence of life (abiogenesis). That's more than what we can say about any kind of monotheistic belief.

 

You have a right to believe whatever you want, but if you say you hold your belief in one theory until there's proof, you should hold your belief in general until there's proof, and there's a whole lot more circumstantial evidence to abiogenesis than there is to any sort of magical creation story.

 

All hail consistency ;)

 

~mooey

 

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Atheistic Biologists ...

Stop with the stupid implied name calling and the explicit stupid arguments, please.

 

Biologists for the most part don't care how life arose. Other than professional curiosity, most biologists don't even care what happened hundreds of millions of years ago. Their profession is what's happening now, or what happened in the recent past. Most biologists aren't paleobiologists. Other than professional curiosity, even most paleobiologists don't worry about abiogenesis.

 

 

... would in my opinion state that the odds of life evolving by chance as 1 to 1 or 100% because we most definitely have life?

That of course is yet another fallacious argument. The correct answer is we don't know. There's nothing wrong with saying we don't know in the sciences.

 

There is a lot that is known. It is now known that simple life appeared rather shortly after the Earth had cooled enough to be hospitable to life. It appears to me that the origin of life as we know it is close to a certainty if the conditions are right. This raises the question, what are the odds that conditions will be right? The answer is we don't know.

 

 

Creationists or ID advocates would argue from an equally stubborn position that the odds are so huge that it was impossible for life to evolve by chance alone and at least needed some sort of a guiding hand to complete the process from non-life to living entities.

That's because they are so blinded by their beliefs that they can't see, and are so threatened by challenges to their beliefs that creating out-and-out lies is preferable to confronting those challenges. It wasn't impossible. The arguments saying it was are fallacious. One of the many impossibility arguments assume a DNA molecule assembled itself from scratch. It didn't. Others based on the second law of thermodynamics ignore that an influx of energy allows entropy to decrease. For example, my air conditioner is working today. This newer set of arguments based on information have exactly the same problem as those tired old second law of thermodynamics arguments. Energy is information. Those ID arguments against abiogenesis are fallacious, every single one of them.

 

 

Maybe the universe is a huge petre dish or lab primed for life by natural processes within itself. Maybe we are an experiment of some higher reality, like the famous Ant farm analogy?

Maybe it just happened. It's called emergent behavior.

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Atheistic Biologists would in my opinion state that the odds of life evolving by chance as 1 to 1 or 100% because we most definitely have life?

 

Creationists or ID advocates would argue from an equally stubborn position that the odds are so huge that it was impossible for life to evolve by chance alone and at least needed some sort of a guiding hand to complete the process from non-life to living entities.

(emphasis mine)

 

Really? You're still saying chance alone? Do you understand why that is a logical fallacy?

 

Maybe the universe is a huge petre dish or lab primed for life by natural processes within itself. Maybe we are an experiment of some higher reality, like the famous Ant farm analogy?

 

 

 

 

Maybe, but what evidence does that hypothesis have and what predictions does it make better than the model in place?

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!

Moderator Note

Congratulations! You SFN members are the proud recipients of a BRAND NEW thread! Please try to keep this one on topic.



http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/67884-what-are-the-odds-of-life-evolving-by-chance-alone/page__st__80

edit: congrants to D H for not being fooled by recursion. The actual new link is here: http://www.scienceforums.net/topic/68088-intelligent-design-the-odds-of-life/

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Stop with the stupid implied name calling and the explicit stupid arguments, please.

 

Biologists for the most part don't care how life arose. Other than professional curiosity, most biologists don't even care what happened hundreds of millions of years ago. Their profession is what's happening now, or what happened in the recent past. Most biologists aren't paleobiologists. Other than professional curiosity, even most paleobiologists don't worry about abiogenesis.

 

 

 

That of course is yet another fallacious argument. The correct answer is we don't know. There's nothing wrong with saying we don't know in the sciences.

 

There is a lot that is known. It is now known that simple life appeared rather shortly after the Earth had cooled enough to be hospitable to life. It appears to me that the origin of life as we know it is close to a certainty if the conditions are right. This raises the question, what are the odds that conditions will be right? The answer is we don't know.

 

 

 

That's because they are so blinded by their beliefs that they can't see, and are so threatened by challenges to their beliefs that creating out-and-out lies is preferable to confronting those challenges. It wasn't impossible. The arguments saying it was are fallacious. One of the many impossibility arguments assume a DNA molecule assembled itself from scratch. It didn't. Others based on the second law of thermodynamics ignore that an influx of energy allows entropy to decrease. For example, my air conditioner is working today. This newer set of arguments based on information have exactly the same problem as those tired old second law of thermodynamics arguments. Energy is information. Those ID arguments against abiogenesis are fallacious, every single one of them.

 

 

 

Maybe it just happened. It's called emergent behavior.

 

 

I am the possibly the least arrogant person on the forum , take a careful look at yourself and your hurtful comments, before pointing fingers!

 

Stupid am I stupid prove it ???

 

 

I made no assumption that "all biologist are atheitistic", I said "Atheist Biologists" this means there are biologists that are not Atheists, that should be obvious to anyone with even the smallest tiny mind and you stop being so aggressive to me!

 

By the ant farm analogy I did not mean that the universe was designed specifically for humans, but that it might be an experimental lab of a much higher intelligence than ours. Some ant farmers experiment with their ants, depriving them of food and warmth etc, so observe how they adapt to unusual circumstances

 

If you dislike me so much ask the moderator to remove me from the forum, no skin off my nose at that?

Edited by Alan McDougall

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I am the possibly the least arrogant person on the forum , take a careful look at yourself and your hurtful comments, before pointing fingers!

 

Stupid am I stupid prove it ???

I didn't call you stupid. Even the smartest people around can say some pretty stupid things. I called your use of name calling and fallacious arguments stupid.

 

 

I said "Atheist Biologists" this means there are biologists that are not Atheists, that should be obvious to anyone with even the smallest tiny mind and you stop being so aggressive to me!

Stop using name calling, stop with the fallacious arguments, stop with the use of the silly term "Atheist Biologists" as if only biologists who happen to be atheistic worry about abiogenesis. Aside: what's with the capital A, capital B?

 

 

By the ant farm analogy I did not mean that the universe was designed specifically for humans, but that it might be an experimental lab of a much higher intelligence than ours.

Even if that is the case, it's a far stretch from "god".

 

What you are doing here is creating yet another god of the gaps style argument. Is the universe finely tuned for life? Perhaps. There is some dispute, but a good number of cosmologists and physicists do think this is the case. Why? We don't know. The sciences attempt to be honest. Answering "we don't know (yet)" is far preferable to some just-so story that fills the gap. Those god of the gaps arguments are highly problematic because the sciences have this uncanny knack for filling in those gaps.

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:angry:

I didn't call you stupid. Even the smartest people around can say some pretty stupid things. I called your use of name calling and fallacious arguments stupid.

 

 

 

Stop using name calling, stop with the fallacious arguments, stop with the use of the silly term "Atheist Biologists" as if only biologists who happen to be atheistic worry about abiogenesis. Aside: what's with the capital A, capital B?

 

 

 

Even if that is the case, it's a far stretch from "god".

 

What you are doing here is creating yet another god of the gaps style argument. Is the universe finely tuned for life? Perhaps. There is some dispute, but a good number of cosmologists and physicists do think this is the case. Why? We don't know. The sciences attempt to be honest. Answering "we don't know (yet)" is far preferable to some just-so story that fills the gap. Those god of the gaps arguments are highly problematic because the sciences have this uncanny knack for filling in those gaps.

 

Stop looking through your own microscope to extract meaning from statementsthat are simply not there. Why for instance can't I use capitals for Atheist Biologists, I would have used the same for Evolutionary Biologist; it is justmy method of writing, no hidden meaning as your suspicious mind supposes.

 

You tell others to lighten up, take your own advice, and stop telling people how to debate avoid insults so we can return to the topic at hand.

 

 

As for Abiogenesis,it happened but we don't know how it happened although I admit there are good scientific theories for how it happened. My problem is really how it happened so quickly after the formation of the earth some three billion years ago?

 

Edited by Alan McDougall

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You're generalizing and assuming, and you're doing both wrong. People pointed it out to you, so instead of arguing about whether or not you should do it, how about you try posting an actual valid claim that supports the original discussion? So far, I haven't seen anything actually relevant outside the somewhat annoying generalizations.

 

Did you look at "project steve" that was linked earlier? You're misrepresenting a theory to support your assertions; people pointed out how and why before, and you seem to skip those explanations or ignore them just to be able to post how "Atheist scientists" say X, as if it has anything to do with religion.

 

I'm sorry, but science doesn't care about belief - anyone's belief for that matter. Science operates with rigorous methodology of substantiation, repeatability and evidence. The universe doesn't care what we believe in, it just is.

 

Do you have any actual evidence for your claims, McDougall, or are you just claiming only Atheist Biologists believe in abiogenesis?

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You tell others to lighten up, take your own advice, and stop telling people how to debate avoid insults so we can return to the topic at hand.

Here at SFN, we recognize that if you call someone stupid, it's a personal attack, and is against the rules. Calling someone's idea or claim stupid is perfectly OK as long as you can show why you think so. Please don't take attacks against your ideas personally, they aren't meant that way and they aren't insults.

 

I guess the best advice is lighten up AND toughen up.

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As for Abiogenesis,it happened but we don't know how it happened although I admit there are good scientific theories for how it happened. My problem is really how it happened so quickly after the formation of the earth some three billion years ago?

 

 

 

It didn't happen so fast; the Earth is 4.59 billion years old, not three, and biological activity is suspected to have risen 3.8 billion years ago. From the emergence of biological structures, it started speeding up -- as is logical because of chemical reactions.

 

We're talking about billions of years, not hundreds or thousands. It's not a short time, and it's far from quick. Also, the theories that suggest how abiogenesis happened support the timeline and the state of the Earth during the formation of the biological molecules.

 

There's not much of a problem in this aspect of the theory.

 

~mooey

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It didn't happen so fast; the Earth is 4.59 billion years old, not three, and biological activity is suspected to have risen 3.8 billion years ago. From the emergence of biological structures, it started speeding up -- as is logical because of chemical reactions.

 

We're talking about billions of years, not hundreds or thousands. It's not a short time, and it's far from quick. Also, the theories that suggest how abiogenesis happened support the timeline and the state of the Earth during the formation of the biological molecules.

I disagree. That 4.59 billion years figure is a bit of a red herring (and also a bit off; 4.54 is the currently accepted number). The very early Earth was a molten blog of magma, completely inhospitable to life. The hypothesized collision with Theia added to the Earth's heat. The late heavy bombardment regularly pummeled the young Earth with impacts that made the Chicxulub impact look like child's play. The time span between the end of the late heavy bombardment and the origin of life was quite short in geological and biological terms.

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I disagree. That 4.59 billion years figure is a bit of a red herring (and also a bit off; 4.54 is the currently accepted number). The very early Earth was a molten blog of magma, completely inhospitable to life. The hypothesized collision with Theia added to the Earth's heat. The late heavy bombardment regularly pummeled the young Earth with impacts that made the Chicxulub impact look like child's play. The time span between the end of the late heavy bombardment and the origin of life was quite short in geological and biological terms.

 

Yes, I know, I gave the 4.59 (which I found on several places) as a sort of "measure" to see that the emergence of life at about 3.5 billion years ago wasn't "quick" -- it took about a billion years or so between the formation of the earth to the emergence of some sort of life.

 

What you explained in terms of WHAT had happened to the earth all the way from "formation" to that time is exactly what I meant when I made the remark about "the state of the Earth during the formation of the biological molecules" -- whether the timespan is short or fast is irrelevant if we can explain it, and we can. *BUT* the timespan is also not as short as McDougall pointed out from the formation of the earth.

 

I do see what you're saying, but I was trying to make a point and I think I wasn't clear enough..

 

~mooey

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Yes, I know, I gave the 4.59 (which I found on several places) as a sort of "measure" to see that the emergence of life at about 3.5 billion years ago wasn't "quick" -- it took about a billion years or so between the formation of the earth to the emergence of some sort of life.

 

What you explained in terms of WHAT had happened to the earth all the way from "formation" to that time is exactly what I meant when I made the remark about "the state of the Earth during the formation of the biological molecules" -- whether the timespan is short or fast is irrelevant if we can explain it, and we can. *BUT* the timespan is also not as short as McDougall pointed out from the formation of the earth.

 

I do see what you're saying, but I was trying to make a point and I think I wasn't clear enough..

 

~mooey

 

What makes ambiogeneses and the DNA genetic code a riddle to me, is that DNA is without biological function unless translated, that is unless it leads to synthesis of proteins, whose structure had to be created, somehow from within its own DNA code. How then was the original DNA translated, except by using certain products of its own translation?

 

This is a baffling puzzle to me , a circle a puzzing engima for any attempt to form a scientific theory that give a real answer to the geneses of DNA coding?

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What makes ambiogeneses and the DNA genetic code a riddle to me, is that DNA is without biological function unless translated, that is unless it leads to synthesis of proteins, whose structure had to be created, somehow from within its own DNA code. How then was the original DNA translated, except by using certain products of its own translation?

 

This is a baffling puzzle to me , a circle a puzzing engima for any attempt to form a scientific theory that give a real answer to the geneses of DNA coding?

 

Abiogenesis*

 

I think you're falling into the trap of thinking that if you don't understand it, it is not possible. I am not saying this to offend you, I'm just recognizing a couple of what I see as misconceptions in what we know about DNA. Others have supplied some very useful links and I suggest you get into how DNA works and what abiogenesis actually means a little further before arguing these fine points that are not quite as problematic as you seem to think.

 

Second, what baffles me is that you seem to come from the initial conclusion that something MUST have intentionally created DNA, and most of your claims come from this premise. A lot of things have "no purpose until they're used". Why is this a surprise, or why does this mean someone created them? On top of that, there are a lot of things with seemingly no purpose at all -- why would anyone create these to begin with? Vestigial organs are only one small example, we can see quite a lot more, like Black Holes or supernovae on the far reaches of the universe. What's their "purpose"? Why would anyone create vestigial organs without purpose?

 

 

You seem to be looking for a purpose here, but ignoring the things that seemingly have no purpose.

 

I don't quite see how this thinking is consistent.

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On top of that, there are a lot of things with seemingly no purpose at all -- why would anyone create these to begin with?

My personal favorite is the path of the laryngeal nerve. Goes from the brain to the larynx in the throat (which is a pretty straight shot and a short distance in most vertebrates), and while it serves a purpose, the nerve's path goes way down into the chest and loops under the aorta, then back up again to the throat. In giraffes, it's like 15 feet long! The single best example of why ID is wrong, imo. It just happened to get caught that way when we evolved from a small fish when the heart got rearranged by selective pressures and a gill function got taken over by a need to make sounds.

 

Not chance, natural selection.

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What makes ambiogeneses and the DNA genetic code a riddle to me, is that DNA is without biological function unless translated, that is unless it leads to synthesis of proteins, whose structure had to be created, somehow from within its own DNA code. How then was the original DNA translated, except by using certain products of its own translation?

 

This is a baffling puzzle to me , a circle a puzzing engima for any attempt to form a scientific theory that give a real answer to the geneses of DNA coding?

 

 

There is something called the RNA first model(or RNA world model). That RNA was the genetic material before DNA. Although RNA is less stable in the open environment, it has some very interesting properties. 1) It is obvious, it contains genetic information. 2) and more importantly to your question, is that RNA has been demonstrated to auto-catalyze. It can catalyze its own existance, in addition to many other reactions. Johnston WK, Unrau PJ, Lawrence MS, Glasner ME, Bartel DP (May 2001). "RNA-catalyzed RNA polymerization: accurate and general RNA-templated primer extension". Science 292 (5520): 1319–1325. doi:10.1126/science.1060786. PMID 11358999. Not to mention that nucleic acids have been found in carbonaceous chondrites.

 

So you have something that can carry code (genetic information) and self replicate. You don't need any complicated biological machinery.

 

If you want to go further, there have been experiments using fairly simplistic molecules that have been shown to auto-catalyze; it doesn't even need to be as complicated as RNA. (sorry don't have reference right now).

 

Abiogenisis often results in questions of complexity which often bring one to a chicken and the egg scenario. But looking more closely, you will see that this really isn't as much of an issue as one might think. I did a research paper a few years back for an Astrobiology course that looked into chirality and the origin of life. Chirality is another area at which abiogenesis is attacked, as it as seen as an impossible level of organization. Why the exclusive existence of D-sugars and L-amino acids? Why the homochirality? I had over 70 references for the paper. The theories ranged widely from selective destruction of chiral molecules by circularly polarized UV light during star formation, which later seeded the planet, to simple micelle formation that naturally favored one enantiomer over the other. The micelle formation studies utilized the amino acid serine. This is important, because serine has been shown to exist in meteorites. Serine can bond with hydrocarbon tails to form sphingolipids and glycolipids. Sphingolipids and glycolipids can form bilayers, which is a simple cell wall. So you get any enormous amount of complexity and organization of a major biological component that does not have a biological origin.

 

There are many other examples of how structure and organization can occur naturally.

 

At the end of my studies, I was drawn to to conclusion that life in many ways can be viewed a force of nature. Given the right conditions, it is inevitable.

Edited by akh

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There is something called the RNA first model(or RNA world model). That RNA was the genetic material before DNA. Although RNA is less stable in the open environment, it has some very interesting properties. 1) It is obvious, it contains genetic information. 2) and more importantly to your question, is that RNA has been demonstrated to auto-catalyze. It can catalyze its own existance, in addition to many other reactions. Johnston WK, Unrau PJ, Lawrence MS, Glasner ME, Bartel DP (May 2001). "RNA-catalyzed RNA polymerization: accurate and general RNA-templated primer extension". Science 292 (5520): 1319–1325. doi:10.1126/science.1060786. PMID 11358999.

 

So you have something that can carry code (genetic information) and self replicate. You don't need any complicated biological machinery.

 

If you want to go further, there have been experiments using fairly simplistic molecules that have been shown to auto-catalyze; it doesn't even need to be as complicated as RNA. (sorry don't have reference right now).

 

Abiogenisis often results in questions of complexity which often bring one to a chicken and the egg scenario. But looking more closely, you will see that this really isn't as much of an issue as one might think. I did a research paper a few years back for an Astrobiology course that looked into chirality and the origin of life. Chirality is another area at which abiogenesis is attacked, as it as seen as an impossible level of organization. Why the exclusive existence of D-sugars and L-amino acids? Why the homochirality? I had over 70 references for the paper. The theories ranged widely from selective destruction of chiral molecules by circularly polarized UV light during star formation, which later seeded the planet, to simple micelle formation that naturally favored one enantiomer over the other. The micelle formation studies utilized the amino acid serine. This is important, because serine has been shown to exist in meteorites and can be formed in space. Serine can bond with hydrocarbon tails to form sphingolipids and glycolipids. Sphingolipids and glycolipids can form bilayers, which is a simple cell wall. So you get any enormous amount of complexity and organization of a major biological component that does not have a biological origin.

 

There are many other examples of how structure and organization can occur naturally.

 

At the end of my studies, I was drawn to to conclusion that life in many ways can be viewed a force of nature. Given the right conditions, it is inevitable.

 

 

Thank you so much! for a concise and fairly easy explanation of my problem, with DNA and protein synthesis, instead of putting me down you have helped me to better understand the processes of ambiogneses theory .I did not consider RNA as a precurser to DNA in the ultimate evolution of life on earth :)

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There are also variations of the RNA world, including early role of peptides (some also propose a kind of parallel RNA-peptide world). It is then assumed that the RNA got reduced relevance in terms of enzmatic functions (which was taken over by more efficient peptides and ultimately proteins) whereas RNA became more of an information storage system (whose role was then taken up by DNA). Certainly there is no firm consensus yet, but with increasing knowledge of (novel) molecular functions (including in the area of synthetic biology) certain assumption become more (or less) likely (note that I only have a passing knowledge on this specific area).

Edited by CharonY

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Thank you so much! for a concise and fairly easy explanation of my problem, with DNA and protein synthesis, instead of putting me down you have helped me to better understand the processes of ambiogneses theory .I did not consider RNA as a precurser to DNA in the ultimate evolution of life on earth :)

 

The first page of this thread contained a link that, had you read it, would have made you aware of the RNA first and many other hypotheses.

In short, life does not evolve by chance alone, nor does the theory of evolution have anything to do with how life began. That's a completely different theory.

Then please tell me exactly how life came to be?

DH already answered this, but I figured I would weigh in to, since it was ultimately addressed to me. The short answer is, we're not entirely sure (at least based on my readings on the subject) but there are a couple of good theories. The Abiogenesis article at Wikipedia covers most of the history and general information on the topic.

 

Perhaps you should go back and review read the article as suggested so that you can have some foundation on which to further discuss?

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I am still curious, do you understand why we have been saying your arguments are fallacious? If not we would be more than happy to clarify.

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