Re: The young age of Earth

David J. Tyler (
Mon, 22 Mar 1999 09:56:43 GMT

David Tyler responding to Kevin O'Brien's post of Thu, 18 Mar 1999

> David J. Tyler wrote: "I will predict that in 10 years from now,
> origin-of-life researchers will still be seeking the elusive secret of the
> chemical origin of life. If I am right, I will ask Kevin to review his
> 'Actually' statement and ask himself what factors led him to make such a
> bold, confident and erroneous pronouncement. In the meantime, I will record
> his words in my 'quotebook' - I'm sure I'll find suitable occasions to make
> use of them."
Kevin wrote:
> I am flattered, but if you do not include the following exposition you will
> be guilty of quoting out of context (not that I expect you to be bothered by
> that).

For the record, I am bothered by those who quote out of context.

> You obviously define abiogenesis as "the origin of life", but you do not
> define life. I suspect that if you did it would involve some kind of
> vitalistic nonsense about how "life" is some mystical quality that sets a
> living cell apart from a test tube containing chemicals, or some such
> schlock. In any event, that's why you have such a serious misconception
> about this topic.

For the record, I am not a vitalist. I am a physicalist regarding
all life except mankind.

> [....]
> As such, the Miller-Urey experiment, Fox's proteinoids and the formation of
> RNA and other replicating molecules, to name a few, are all examples of
> abiogenesis. And since these have all been laboratory experiments,
> abiogenesis is a fact that can be replicated in any modern laboratory.
> And David's prediction has already been proven false.

If these are examples of abiogenesis, we are totally failing to have
any meaningful communication. Rather than pursue this thread, to try
and work through these specific cases (to show why there is a great
unbridged gulf between them and abiogenesis), I will stick by my
prediction above. In 10 years time, it will be clear that
abiogenesis research in 1999 revealed a situation where the origin of
life was even more enigmatic than thought earlier.

On a more pragmatic front, I am mostly out of the office for the
next two weeks and I am not expecting to find time for debate until
after Easter.

Best wishes,
David J. Tyler.