Re: [asa] Origins of Life

From: Randy Isaac <>
Date: Sat Jun 06 2009 - 07:48:34 EDT

Many thanks for the link, Mike. That's a good article. Note also these comments in that article:

Is there a God who hears the prayers of human beings? "Science cannot say yea or nay to that," he says. "Science can't answer questions about faith and the nature of God."

But can religious people accept the scientific take on the cosmos?

"If you wanted to know if the universe has meaning and purpose, wouldn't you be better off studying the universe?"

I can't say too much since I haven't yet read or listened enough to Hazen to get a full picture but I'm already impressed with his careful and detailed understanding and respect for scientific methodology and its limitations as well as its pitfalls and strengths.


  ----- Original Message -----
  From: Nucacids
  Sent: Friday, June 05, 2009 10:04 PM
  Subject: Re: [asa] Origins of Life

  More good stuff from Hazen found here:


  "What Hazen will tell you is that science is actually a very human enterprise. It's full of unknowns and uncertainties, of raging controversies, of passions and prejudices. Of all the great unknowns, the origin of life is particularly daunting. Direct evidence of the origin is essentially nonexistent: It happened too long ago, in too subtle a way. There's no fossil of the First Microbe. If there were, some skeptical scientist would surely raise a ruckus, saying: That's just a blob of mud.

  The field has attracted people with strong personalities. They argue. They grumble. They snipe. Their debates are much more intense, and more grounded in the rules of science, than the much-hyped debate about evolution and intelligent design.

  They are wrestling with basic questions: What is life, exactly? Does it always require liquid water and those long Tinkertoy carbon molecules? Does life require a cell? Did life begin with a hereditary molecule or with some kind of metabolic chemical reaction? Where did life begin on Earth? Was there a single moment that could be described as the "origin of life," or did life sort of creep into existence gradually?

  All that is very much in play. In the words of George Cody, an origin-of-life researcher, "No one knows anything about the origin of life.""



  "Hazen writes that the origin-of-life field is "at times tarnished by questionable data, contentious debates, or even outright quackery."

  Now you can see how all this might get a bit delicate given the current debate about intelligent design. Hazen knows that by exposing the backstage bickering on the origin of life, he may give ammunition to the critics of the scientific community: "Anything I say that shows any uncertainty or doubt, they will use as evidence that scientists are baffled.""


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Received on Sat Jun 6 07:49:02 2009

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