Saturday, September 13, 2008

AiG Idiocy on Protocells

Here is what Answers in Genesis has to say about the new protocell research:

"For now, however, the cells are unable to do much of anything: '[t]he replication isn't wholly autonomous,' according to the article, and the team must use pre-existing fatty molecules and borrow from existing life to get the nucleic acids."

And yet we know that lipid membranes can and do form under prebiotic conditions. More importantly, the article states right afterward that scientists have come up with plausible ways for RNA to form under prebiotic conditions. It even gives a link to the peer reviewed paper.

AiG sums up with this (Their comments are in italics):
So, our conclusion on this research: evolutionary scientists are trying to intelligently design

Creationists always trot out this line as if it were something clever. Yes, intelligent scientists are involved, but they are working with materials that were on the early earth. They are simply trying to find out what conditions it takes to create the first cell. Nevertheless, whatever scientists come up with has to be something that could plausibly happen on the early earth.

(but as of yet haven’t succeeded) a self-replicating organism nowhere near as complex as actual (extant) life via chemicals and mechanisms that are not agreed upon

They already have created a self replicating organism, it simply does not satisfy a strict definition of life. (See this video). I found this comment from Jeffrey Bada to be rather odd, he said: "His hope is that he'll have a complete self-replicating system in his lab in the near future."

My impression, from reading the peer reviewed article, was that these protocells were able to self replicate. I think the issue is that the strands of nucleic acids used in the experiment were not made totally from scratch (One news report says, "Despite the success of his model protocell in synthesizing a genetic polymer, Szostak says more work is needed. For one thing, he says, he hasn't yet been able to create the original strand of genetic material-only copy it"). As for the chemicals and mechanisms, the article simply shows scientists saying that these experiments only show one way in which life could originate. Who knows? Perhaps it could originate in many ways. This is a very reasonable stance to take, and it does not mean that scientists have fundamental disagreements about the conditions of the early earth- only about the conditions which brought about life. the hopes that it will somehow prove their by-faith hypotheses about how a less-complex-than-real-life organism could have, maybe, given rise to life as we know it (or not) through millions of years of accidental mutation. And—even though we will never know how it “really happened,” we should take this as proof that such origin of life stories are superior to the Bible’s clear account in Genesis?

Yes, we should take these experiments more seriously than the bronze age myths of the bible that were borrowed from other cultures. And what the hell is it that AiG expects from these experiments anyway? They want these scientists to just throw a bunch of chemicals together and make a kitten. Well, sorry, but scientists have made it clear from early on that whatever the first self replicating system was, it was much simpler than even the simplest life is today (See Dawkins, 1976). Even Charles Darwin understood that when he speculated that life began "in some warm little pond, with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat, electricity, etc. present, . . . a protein compound was chemically formed, ready to undergo still more complex changes."

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