RE: The young age of Earth

Pim van Meurs (
Thu, 1 Apr 1999 08:54:32 -0800

David: The major difference relates to information - the stone has specified
order whereas the cell has specified complexity. More on this below.
BTW, this is not vitalism.

Not more of this nonsense. "Specified complexity" is invented to reach a predetermined conclusion namely that it has to be specified. Until you can define complexity and information and how they interact, your "science" is meaningless.
CumminsL Back in 1954, George Wald estimated, in a "Scientific American"
article, that about 2 billion years was abailable for abiogenesis,
and that this was sufficient for the extremely improbable formation
of a self-replicating structure to take place. He said that "time
itself performs the miracles". This is perhaps a good starting point
for this debate. Since Wald wrote, the time available for
abiogenesis has shrunk to perhaps 550 million years, during much of
which time, the earth's surface is thought to have been bombarded
with bolides. My original contribution was to say that advocates of
abiogenesis have a tighter time constraint within which they can

So what ? It's less than an order of magnitude difference.

David: It is fair to say that Wald's perspective is not strongly held by
contemporary researchers. Instead of chemical evolution being a
"chance" phenomenon, a route to achieve it by the operation of
natural laws is sought.

So the answer is obvious. Wald's perspective might have been too simple ?

David: The inference is made that if conditions are
"right", the emergence of the first living structures would be
inevitable. In such a scenario, time is not perceived as a problem:
the real challenge is to identify the "right" environment and the
"right" chemicals that will allow the emergence of life. It is my
view that research in this direction has not resulted in anything
that can be called a solution.

Let's call it a better understanding and look at the RNA world, Sydney Fox's protocells, Urey Miller etc.

David: Furthermore, this approach invites the debate as to whether the
"law" responsible for bringing about life is equivalent to "chemical
and physical law". This debate is about information and the genetic

And why should there be different laws ?

David" Can information be a product of "natural law"? The problem here is
that law brings order and repetition.

Not at all, laws can bring chaos as well. I am sure that you are familiar with this.

David: Law produces snowflakes and crystals, not biological information. Law produces specified order, whereas what we observe in living things is specified complexity.

Again you are limiting yourself to "equilibrium" laws not far equilibrium laws. Your tunnel vision limits yourself to only see the data you want and ignore the data that show so clearly that you are wrong.

David: Until a viable mechanism to produce information is found, the "law"
route to abiogenesis will not deliver anything substantial in a
billion years, or two billion years, or three billion years.

Eureka, which is why science is moving so much closer to possible mechanisms.

David: I seem to have been reading books that say this for quite a long
time. It is not new - and the problems do not go away.

Of course not, but you should also have found that our understanding of abiogenesis has increased over that time.

David: Davies has correctly identified the problems, but is not yet able to
offer anything outside Law and Chance to address them. Consequently,
Davies' book will neither please the naturalistic scientists nor
most theistic scientists - though he, himself, has a foot in both

Of course it is also possible that Davies is simply wrong.

David: The quotations above serve the purpose of expressing my own
convictions regarding the status of abiogenesis research.

While ignoring the work that has been done.

David: People look in vain for answers.

Do they ? That is a presumption that has lead you to blind yourself.

David: The claims of success are, in my opinion, a triumph of naturalistic dogma over science.

Again take of your blinders.

David: From the vantage point of today, it is sometimes difficult for some to assess the validity
of these optimistic claims.

Which does not make them wrong, just harder for you to accept, or should I see, easier for you to dismiss?

David: Hence my prediction: time will show that the answers are not coming. Books like Davies' "Fith miracle" will continue to be written.

And research will close in more and more on what you consider the "anwer" that isn't.

David: The review is written by Steven A. Benner: Science, 283(26 March),
1999, p 2026. It has this conclusion:
"The Molecular Origins of Life may find its greatest value by
highlighting the inadequacies of the field. Opposing sides
frequently argue past each other, failing to engage because
they use different logic and different language. Efforts to
reconstruct ancient metabolisms by picking and choosing features
of modern metabolism are often undermined by the lack of a
coherent underlying strategy, and the book contains informative
examples of this shortcoming. Those who wish to have the latest
word on the "classical" approaches to the origins of life,
which have characterized the second half of the 20th century,
will find this volume worth purchasing. But let us hope that
the next overview of the subject goes farther."

David: I understand this to mean that "classical" abiogenesis research has
failed to deliver - but there are a number of exciting ideas around
now which we really are very hopeful about.

Your interpretation of the statement appears to be colored by your fears.

David: The "bottom line" message is that at this point in time we have not
even one coherent and convincing scenario of abiogensis.

Ah, but that is just a strawman for you to cling onto.