Sunday, December 10, 2006

`it is difficult to see how a system satisfying the minimum criteria for a living thing can arise [with] a mechanism ... for its own replication...'

Here is today's Quote(s) of the Day (the words "Quote of the Day" take up too much space on the subject line so I have omitted them and will omit them in future).

[Graphic: Minimal Cell Project, Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel]

They are on the origin of life by a John Keosian, Professor of Biology, Rutgers University, Newark. The first two are from the First Edition of Prof. Keosian's book, "The Origin of Life" (1964) in which he admitted that, "Even conceptually it is difficult to see how a system satisfying the minimum criteria for a living thing can arise by chance and, simultaneously, include a mechanism containing the suitable information for its own replication" (my emphasis):

"The demonstration of the transition of discrete systems into living things has to include the answers to some very intricate problems. Coacervates and microspheres, in spite of various refinements which have already been introduced in each case, are still a long way from the living state. They are both static structures. Left alone, such systems come to an equilibrium in which the status quo is maintained with no exchange of energy or materials with the environment. Neither Oparin for his coacervates nor Fox for his microspheres maintains that the simulated cell structures represent the living state. Both look to further refinements toward the eventual attainment of living things by experimental techniques. The hurdles in this transition are formidable. Blum has stressed this point in his writings. [Blum, H.F., "On the origin and evolution of living machines," American Scientist, Vol. 49, 1961, pp.474-501; Blum, H.F., "Time's Arrow and Evolution," Harper & Row: New York, Second Edition, 1962] Even conceptually it is difficult to see how a system satisfying the minimum criteria for a living thing can arise by chance and, simultaneously, include a mechanism containing the suitable information for its own replication." (Keosian, J., "The Origin of Life," [1964], Reinhold: New York NY, Second Printing, 1965, pp.69-70. Emphasis original)

and that "While replication proceeds, some other mechanism, coordinated in time and space with it, is needed to make available the requisite energy. ... we must imagine that a DNA structure was built up by chance, containing a specific sequence of nucleotides and possessing ... the machinery for self-replication" but "This amounts to postulating the `all at once' origin of a cell with `cytoplasm' and `nucleus'" (my emphasis):

"Replication and mutation present even greater difficulties. The over-all process of replication is endergonic. [Blum, H.F., `On the origin and evolution of living machines,' American Scientist_, Vol. 49, 1961, pp.474-501] While replication proceeds, some other mechanism, coordinated in time and space with it, is needed to make available the requisite energy. If all these conditions are to be met at the time of the first origin of life, we must imagine that a DNA structure was built up by chance, containing a specific sequence of nucleotides and possessing a capacity to determine the composition of a supporting environment and the machinery for self-replication. This amounts to postulating the `all at once' origin of a cell with `cytoplasm' and `nucleus.'" (Keosian, Ibid., pp.69-70. Emphasis original).

But interestingly in the second edition only ~4 years later, Keosian just dropped all reference to this, including no reference to Blum at all! Yet if origin of life research had solved this problem in the intervening ~4 years, it would surely be in his second edition.

However, Keosian did write something new that "the claim that out of a structureless `soup' there arose as the first living thing a `primitive anaerobic microorganism.' ... is inconceivable since the simplest anaerobe has at least dozens of catalyzed reactions harmoniously correlated to each other, and ... the chance assembly of all of them into a functioning unit is inconceivable" (my emphasis):

"The assumption most difficult to accept, however, is the claim that out of a structureless `soup' there arose as the first living thing a `primitive anaerobic microorganism.' This is inconceivable since the simplest anaerobe has at least dozens of catalyzed reactions harmoniously correlated to each other, and the whole is controlled by a fine coordination. Even if we were to accept the assumption that each of these reactions preexisted in the `soup,' the chance assembly of all of them into a functioning unit is inconceivable." (Keosian, J., "The Origin of Life," Reinhold: New York NY, Second Edition, 1968, p.78. Emphasis original).

Finally, ~10 years later in 1978, Keosian wrote a paper for the Second Conference of the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) in which he frankly stated that, "The claims of chemical evolution are unreal. We are asked to believe that biochemical compounds, biochemical reactions and mechanisms, energy metabolism and storage, specific polymerizations, codes, transcription and translation apparatus, and more, appeared in prebiotic waters" (my emphasis):

"The claims of chemical evolution are unreal. We are asked to believe that biochemical compounds, biochemical reactions and mechanisms, energy metabolism and storage, specific polymerizations, codes, transcription and translation apparatus, and more, appeared in prebiotic waters with the functions they would have in a living thing before there were living things. Chemical evolution has become an end in itself. In many cases it represents contrived or ingenious laboratory syntheses which have no counterpart in abiotic organic chemical synthesis in an acceptable range of probiotic [sic] conditions....There has been a good deal of uncritical acceptance of experiments, results, and conclusions which we are all too ready to acknowledge because they support preconceived convictions...All present approaches to a solution of the problem of the origin of life are either irrelevant or lead into a blind alley. Therein lies the crisis....The various approaches to a solution of the origin of life are examined and found wanting." [Keosian, J., "Origin of Life," in Noda, H., ed., "Origin of Life: Proceedings of the Second ISSOL Meeting, the Fifth ICOL Meeting," Center for Academic Publications: Japan, 1978, pp.569-574]" (Gish, D.T., "Creation Scientists Answer Their Critics," Institute for Creation Research: El Cajon CA, 1993, p.262).

Note: Although this quote is from a YEC secondary source (and poorly referenced in it as just, "John Keosian, Origin of Life, 1978, pp. 569-574"), I have finally worked out from other Internet references that Keosian's paper is in the book by Noda and have today ordered what appears to be the only copy of it for sale.

Stephen E. Jones, BSc (Biol).


Genesis 25:13-17. 13These are the names of the sons of Ishmael, listed in the order of their birth: Nebaioth the firstborn of Ishmael, Kedar, Adbeel, Mibsam, 14Mishma, Dumah, Massa, 15Hadad, Tema, Jetur, Naphish and Kedemah. 16These were the sons of Ishmael, and these are the names of the twelve tribal rulers according to their settlements and camps. 17Altogether, Ishmael lived a hundred and thirty-seven years. He breathed his last and died, and he was gathered to his people.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

If evolution turns out to be true, then I think it fits into the creation account as what happened when God wasn't explicitly working. That is, during the period between the creative Days, and also on "Day 7". During the "Day", God interacted with the creation, setting His design and will into play. If true, I think this could explain both the scriptures and the science. This would also relegate the gaps in our knowledge to simply mind candy and spirited discussions, a mutual quest for the truth, rather than disputes and divisive conflicts. Well, it's my hope anyway.

As for the quote at hand, I agree that self-replication is difficult to conceive as a natural offspring of the soup. However, that could simply be one place where God acted. God could have easily seen to it that the systems He created were indeed able to both replicate and adapt. In fact, I think so, but that's not my point. My point is that the gaps one uses to disprove evolution may simply be the be the gaps that Jesus filled in Himself during the Creation week.

Stephen E. Jones said...

geocreationist

>If evolution turns out to be true, then I think it fits into the creation account as what happened when God wasn't explicitly working.

It depends on what you mean by "evolution." The "standard scientific theory" of "evolution" is that "God had *no* part in this process":

"Facing such a reality, perhaps we should not be surprised at the results of a 2001 Gallup poll confirming that 45 percent of Americans believe `God created human beings pretty much in their present form at one time within the last 10,000 years or so'; 37 percent prefer a blended belief that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God guided this process'; and a paltry 12 percent accept the standard scientific theory that `human beings have developed over millions of years from less advanced forms of life, but God had *no* part in this process.'" (Shermer, M.B., "The Gradual Illumination of the Mind," _Scientific American_, February 2002. My emphasis. http://tinyurl.com/y2rdxd)

>That is, during the period between the creative Days, and also on "Day 7". During the "Day", God interacted with the creation, setting His design and will into play. If true, I think this could explain both the scriptures and the science. This would also relegate the gaps in our knowledge to simply mind candy and spirited discussions, a mutual quest for the truth, rather than disputes and divisive conflicts. Well, it's my hope anyway.

There is no Biblical evidence in Genesis 1 that there were "period[s] between the creative Days." They are depicted as continuous with the "evening" of one day being the "morning" of the next.

Also, I don't prejudge the major "gaps" in life's history (including its prehistory) as just being "gaps in our knowledge."

Where there is: 1) scientfic evidence for "gaps" in natural causation; and 2) "good theological ... reasons ...[which] would cause us to expect a discontinuity in nature where God acted via primary causation (e.g., the origin of the universe, first life, basic `kinds' of life)":

"Second, the [theistic science] model does not appeal to or attempt to explain in light of God and his activities to cover our ignorance, but only when good theological or philosophical reasons are present, such as when certain theological or philosophical reasons would cause us to expect a discontinuity in nature where God acted via primary causation (e.g., the origin of the universe, first life, basic `kinds' of life)." (Moreland, J.P., "Theistic Science & Methodological Naturalism," in Moreland, J.P., ed., "The Creation Hypothesis: Scientific Evidence for an Intelligent Designer," InterVarsity Press: Downers Grove IL., 1994, p.59)

then I assume (until proved otherwise) that the gaps are *real* and not just "in our knowledge."

>As for the quote at hand, I agree that self-replication is difficult to conceive as a natural offspring of the soup. However, that could simply be one place where God acted. God could have easily seen to it that the systems He created were indeed able to both replicate and adapt. In fact, I think so, but that's not my point.

Agreed. But if "God acted" by intervening supernaturally at the origin of life, then it is likely that He also intervened supernaturally at other strategic point in life's history, where there are apparent "gaps" in natural process.

>My point is that the gaps one uses to disprove evolution may simply be the be the gaps that Jesus filled in Himself during the Creation week.

I assume that it was God the Holy Spirit (Gn 1:2) who was the Triune God's effective agent in Creation.

However, since the "standard scientific theory" of "evolution" is that "God had *no* part in this process" (see above), then *any* "gaps" in natural process resulting from God's supernatural intervention (e.g. the gap between non-living chemicals and the first living organism), *would* "disprove evolution"!

In fact, just the mere *existence* of a God who *could* intervene supernaturally in natural process, although it would not *disprove* "evolution" (as defined above), because it is *possible* that God worked only through natural processes; neverthless it would make "evolution" (as defined above) *unlikely*.

Which is why Darwin's _Origin of Species_ and most biology textbooks start their argument for "evolution" with a debunking of the Christian doctrine of creation.

Stephen E. Jones

geocreationist said...

>> It depends on what you mean by "evolution." >>
Well then, can I refrain from giving it a word if it will make discussion easier?

>>There is no Biblical evidence in Genesis 1 that there were "period[s] between the creative Days." >>
My evidence from Genesis 1 is that the sequence of events for Days 1 to 4 are surprisingly close to the scientific evidence up to about 2.4 billion years ago. Days 5 and 6 are surprising close to the scientific evidence from 65 million years ago. That leaves a period of over billion years between days 4 and 5.

I realize the very wording of the scripture alone doesn't demand such an interpretation, but its surprising alignment with the science suggests it.

>>They are depicted as continuous with the "evening" of one day being the "morning" of the next.>>
And a YEC would say they are depicted as two sequential events separated by time. In this case, I agree with the YEC... even while I align more with you on the time scale of the overall creation.

>>then I assume (until proved otherwise) that the gaps are *real* and not just "in our knowledge." >>
If a gap is real, then fine; but if the science explains what merely appears to be a gap, then embrace it. The scripture is surely the complete record of God's Word, but God's Word is not the complete history of the earth, though it's accurate to the extent that it goes.

>>But if "God acted" by intervening supernaturally at the origin of life, then it is likely that He also intervened supernaturally at other strategic point in life's history, where there are apparent "gaps" in natural process.>>
I will only assert that the incomplete record in scripture and the incomplete record of science are completely compatible. Whether the development of life forms was divinely guided (during night 4) or divinely triggered (before night 4), I believe the development happened during the night of Day 4, according to God's will, and in a manner consistent with the fossil record.

>>I assume that it was God the Holy Spirit (Gn 1:2) who was the Triune God's effective agent in Creation.>>
According to Proverbs 8, it was Jesus. However, the Holy Spirit shows up with Jesus a lot in scripture (at Moses' tent and at the transfiguration for example). I believe Jesus was physically caught up in the Holy Spirit, as He hovered over the waters. I explain in more detail on my blog.

>>In fact, just the mere *existence* of a God who *could* intervene supernaturally in natural process, although it would not *disprove* "evolution" (as defined above), because it is *possible* that God worked only through natural processes; neverthless it would make "evolution" (as defined above) *unlikely*.>>
I disagree. The same argument would make the Trinity unlikely, the crucifixion unlikely, and the resurrection unlikely. God seems pretty fond of doing the unlikely. In fact, I often think that's His point! I also find it "unlikely" for so many faithful Christians to disagree about so much if God exists... yet here we are! ;)

>>Which is why Darwin's _Origin of Species_ and most biology textbooks start their argument for "evolution" with a debunking of the Christian doctrine of creation.>>
Another reason could be that Satan knows its the best way to keep the capital 'C' Church divided!