Job 27: Until I Die I Will Not Renounce My Integrity
Job 19 — The Redeemer

Cool Hand Luke: ‘He Beat You with Nothin!’ Atheist search for the Origin of Life. Part 7

For best results, see Part 1:

To the great atheist rank and file, Charles Darwin is science—far more so than Anthony Fauci said he was when he wanted to win over the general rank and file and silence detractors. You can even purchase ‘Stand Up for Science’ merchandise in his honor. I see a coffee mug advertised on Facebook all the time. It is emblazoned with six statements, each supposedly settled once and for all, each uttered with equal authority: “The earth is not flat, vaccines work, we’ve been to the moon, chemtrails are not a thing, climate change is real, and evolution is a fact.” You can get a tee shirt with the exact same artwork. Modeling that tee-shirt is a fellow with a great long Darwinian beard. Yes, you can drink your coffee in your Stand up for Science mug while wearing your Stand up for Science tee-shirt and look just like Charles Darwin, your hero!

Imagine: Darwin is the face of science! Not Mendel, who discovered the mechanism for how Darwin's ideas worked but who believed in a higher power, nor Einstein, nor Newton, nor Galileo, nor Copernicus—all of whom believed in a higher power, but Darwin, who also nominally did (in his younger days, he trained to be a clergyman) but who smoothed the way for those who would not. Frankly, Jehovah’s Witnesses will have little issue with Darwin, insofar as the specific findings he points to. Finch modifications to meet changing conditions are no surprise at all to anyone familiar with animal husbandry. Witnesses only get squeamish from correctly anticipating the truckloads of dogma that atheists will drive through the door he cracks open.

Darwin certainly has not lost his place in the subset of science that is origin-of-life, but every subset needs its own tee shirt and coffee mug star. That honor falls to Stanley Miller, who in 1952 created a few amino acids in the lab among contrived conditions and thereafter held firm that such conditions must have prevailed in primordial earth—otherwise his findings could not have happened. If that seems like somewhat circular reasoning, consider that Dr. Hazen says as much: “Most previous origin researchers have fallen into a kind of trial and error approach to devising hypotheses; they would cook up some likely geochemical recipe and run an experiment. If the experiment did something interesting, they patched together a theory around those observations.”

Well--surely the field’s own ‘Darwin’ didn’t do this. Yes, even he: “Stanley Miller's experiment is a case in point. the Miller-Urey experiment produced amino acids, so his followers became convinced that that's how it happened long ago in nature.” In fact, what he did was not even new. The Great Courses professor tells of another scientist who did exactly the same thing 50 years earlier, Walter Loeb, a German chemist. But Loeb didn’t frame it as searching for life’s origin; he just said he was mixing chemicals. Nor was he a self-promoter. Moreover, he was German, and in the years just following the World Wars, nobody wanted to hear anything from Germany.

So they just find something that works and say, ‘Ha! Early earth must have been that way! Otherwise, my experiment would have flopped!” It is not exactly rigorous science, most neutral parties would conclude. So typical is this slipshot guesswork passing for science that when someone comes along who actually details his work, it’s a big deal! “You don't mind if I brag a little” Gunter Wachtershauser says many years later, “but something like this has never been done in the entire field.” It hasn’t?! All he did was provide “more than 100 pages of specific chemical reactions. each of these reactions is a testable step.” Aren’t they all supposed to do that? Instead, they just spin guesses and gullible atheists lap it all up as ‘science!’

“We're going to take a much closer look at Gunter Wachtershauser’s theory in lecture 20,” Dr. Hazen says, and when he does, he finds other things not to like, but at least Wachtershauser did what you would think all scientists would do.

So, Stanley Miller is top dog, the Darwin in his field. He does not want to lose his place. Of a competing hypothesis, he mutters: “the vent hypothesis is a real loser I don't understand why we even have to discuss it.” The reason ‘we’ do is that, for all the euphoria, his hypothesis has some gaping holes that sink it. The early ‘primoridal soup’ is far too dilute, by all accounts, to host steps necessary for abiogenesis. Not to mention that water, the ‘liquid of life,’ and carbon, the ‘framework for all biomolecules,’ don’t mix. Not to mention that certain steps essential to life never work in water at room pressure.

So, maybe some areas of high pressure are where life originated, Hazen lectures, and he considers oceanic vents where weird life has been discovered since Miller’s time. Maybe life originated there! and there are a host of researchers going under in that direction. Presently, however, Hazen uncovers just as many difficulties there as with Miller’s soup. The non-scientist can get a rough idea of the troubles crushing pressure might pose to newly developing delicate life by smashing his thumb with a hammer. [my proposed experiment, not Dr. Hazen’s]

Since both scenarios post intractable problems, many others emerge. Maybe the earliest cells formed, not in the high pressure ocean depths nor the low pressure primordial soup, but on some material that served as a ‘scaffold’ to pin the early molecule to, and after so serving, disappeared. There is a hypothesis that maybe life emerged, not as carbon-based, but as something-else based—clay, says one, minerals, says another—and only later transitioned to carbon-based. Maybe it started silicon-based, the outer shell of silicon offering the same connections as carbon, there being only an extra shell within. Like those Star Trek aliens who bored through solid rock—not a problem if you are rock-based yourself—to attack humans who had mistaken their eggs for bowling balls or some such thing.

Look, they’re all great guys and all. I wish them well—well, I guess I don’t—but it doesn’t matter if I do or don’t. They are impossible to discourage. Every match that doesn’t burn their fingers is the one they are convinced will light the next rocket ship to Mars. (and yes, there is also an hypothesis that life originated on Mars and came here via asteroid.) Well into the course, after he has discussed hypothesis after hypothesis and found them all wanting, he doesn’t conclude what anyone of common sense would conclude, that they’re all wrong. Bizarrely, he concludes that they are probably all right and all that is needed is further experimentation to corroborate them!

Tell me this fellow hasn’t drunk too much of his own Kool Aid:

“Look, I understand it may seem a little frustrating to have so many scientific cliffhangers but by the time you're through with this lecture series you'll be poised to share in all the incredible discoveries that are about to come, and I absolutely guarantee there will be exciting discoveries in the quest for life's origins!” Tell me a guy like this can be discouraged.

Still, greatly thrilled at all the “incredible discoveries that are about to come,” I checked out from the library the most recent origin-of-life book I could find, a top choice of the list of life-emergence works: The Vital Question: Energy, Evolution, and the Origins of Complex Life, by Nick Lane, published in 2015, ten years more recent than Hazen’s lecture series. Had any of the “incredible discoveries that are about to come” come? Not as far as I could see.


*Urey was the overseeing professor to Stanley Miller, then a graduate student. Bucking conventional practice, he graciously withdrew his name from the paper because he, a former Nobel Prize winner, knew if his name was mentioned, people would forget all about Miller, who had come up with the idea and done the work, to heap all honors on him. You can almost picture the My Fair Lady song sung by atheists, praising scientists “who, when you win, will always give your back a pat. Well, why can’t a deist be like that?”


******  The bookstore

Defending Jehovah’s Witnesses with style from attacks... in Russia, with the book ‘I Don’t Know Why We Persecute Jehovah’s Witnesses—Searching for the Why’ (free).... and in the West, with the book, 'In the Last of the Last Days: Faith in the Age of Dysfunction'


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