Re: Probing the Chemistry of Creation
Sun, 8 Aug 1999 22:41:10 EDT

In a message dated 8/8/99 4:42:41 PM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

> Kevin's argument is unconvincing. If Fox's proteinoid model was half as
> good as Kevin says it is, then *all* scientific materialists would embrace
> it with open arms.

Unable to directly refute my argument, Steve resorts to a strawman: unless
every scientist excepts it, the model cannot be any good. By that logic then
no scientific model or theory is any good, because there are always a few
scientists (if not more) who can be found that oppose any model or theory.

Once again Steve is showing his contempt for science. The validity of a
model is not based on how many people accept it, but on the quality of its
research. With a few exceptions, the people who oppose the proteinoid model
all agree that the research is valid. Their rejection of it is instead based
on misconceptions of how life originated, or on adherence to a rival model,
or on a reliance of modern systems as guides to what prebiotic systems had to
be like. Steve himself has been unable to provide any evidence that
invalidates any of the research or which supports his claim that the research
is irrelevant. All he has been able to offer are personal opinion that is
based on personal bias, misconceptions or speculation.

> Kevin's `explanation' that the "gene-first" theorist, two of whom are
> laureates, are too interested in "shamelessly promoting" their own theory
> admit that Fox's proteinoid model is "more successful", is simply absurd
> and demeaning to the scientists concerned.

Other abiogenecists have voiced this criticism as well, so I am not alone in
this opinion. Even Orgel has complained that many of his colleagues seem
more interested in promotion than actual research.

> The fact is that some of the scientists against Fox's proteinoids are
> *protein-first* advocates, like Shapiro and Orgel.

I don't know where Steve gets his information, but Orgel is genes-first, not
protein-first. Orgel has admitted that there must have been a pre-RNA world
that was able to produce catalytically active RNA molecules, but he prefers
mineral templates to proteins. As for Shapiro, I have already shown that he
has some serious misconceptions about thermal protein research, and I suspect
his major reason for rejecting thermal protocells as a viable model is
because he rejects the idea that they are alive. He would rather claim they
are insignificant than admit they may be alive. Despite this, Shapiro is
still convinced that Fox's basic concept, if not his specific model, are

> Even Dose, another
> protein-first advocate, who has collaborated with Fox, cannot accept Fox's
> proteinoid theory.

This is incorrect. I last spoke to Dose only a month ago. We argued over
whether thermal protocells constitute a viable living system, but he
reiterated his belief that proteinoid microspheres are still the best
available explanation for the origin of life. He simply believes that
someday someone will come up with a better explanation.

> Fox's proteinoid model is ignored these days in origin of life discussions
> because it is *irrelevant*.

Like his claim that TE/CE's are marginalized in science and theology, Steve's
claim that Fox's model is ignored in origin of life discussions is wrong.
People promoting their particular models in the popular press may not mention
it, but it gets discussed a great deal at scientific conferences and in
scientific journals. Whether they support it or oppose it, these scientists
do not think it is irrelevant. All Steve has to do is subscribe to CAS and
he can search their databases for abstracts discussing proteinoids,
microspheres and thermal proteins. Steve can pick up just about any origin
of life conference proceedings from the last twenty-five years and he should
find at least one article that discusses proteinoids and microspheres, if not
more. High school and college students are making their own thermal
protocells. It is even being discussed in textbooks: Lehninger was the
first back in 1970 and again in 1975; the most recent has been _Principles of
Cell and Molecular Biology_, Second Edition (1995) by Lewis J. Kleinsmith and
Valerie M. Kish.

The conclusion is obvious: thermal protocell research is not irrelevant to
those who know and understand it, whether they support or oppose it; it is
only irrelevant to those who don't know it or don't understand it, or don't
want to.

Kevin L. O'Brien