Subject: origin of life

To: Marty Leipzig

From: Michael Hardy

Date: 6/10/96

-=> Quoting Marty Leipzig to Michael Hardy <=-

RB> The earliest forms of life are believed to have emerged over 3.5 billion years ago. Much earlier than previously thought. <<<<

MH> Yep. Far too soon for there to be any plausible natural explanation for it. <<<<

ML> Odd. I thought that preevolutionary biopoesis explained that. Oh, yes; that's right. It does. You just refuse to accept the fact.<<<<

It does? Then please explain this little essay by John Horgan, senior writer at Scientific American, NOT a theist of any sort, from his new book "The End of Science," c. 1996, Helix Books.

"If I were a creationist, I would cease attacking the theory of evolution and focus instead on the origin of life. This is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology. The origin of life is a science writer's dream. It abounds with exotic scientists and exotic theories, which are never entirely abandoned or accepted, but merely go in and out of fashion. ... (He discusses several theories and then concludes) ... Perhaps Stanley Miller's hope will be fulfilled and scientists will find some clever chemical or combination of chemicals that can reproduce, mutate and evolve under plausible prebiotic conditions. The discovery would be sure to lauch a new era of applied chemistry. ... But given our lack of knowledge about the conditions under which life began, any theory of life's origin based on such a finding would always be subject to doubts. Miller has faith that biologists will know the answer to the riddle of life's origin when they see it. But his belief rests on the premise that the answer will be plausible, if only retrospectively. Who said the origin of life on earth was plausible? Life might have emerged from a freakish convergence of improbable and even unimaginable events."

(pp. 138-141 of the aforementioned book.)

(Miller is one of the scientists Horgan interviewed. He's a professor at the University of California, San Diego.)

Despite what seems to be a little bit of hyperbole toward the end, it seems that Horgan has debunked your calm self-assurance.

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