Wednesday, April 2, 2008

Origin of Life Prize is B.S.

I recently emailed a website offering a million dollar prize for a plausible hypothesis about the origin of life. Of course, I didn't expect to really get the money, I just wanted a look into what the problems were nowadays with the origin of life. A guy named Dave Abel responded to my message, and, I think I know why no one has claimed the prize yet. This prize is akin to Kent Hovind's $250,000 prize for proving evolution. Here are some quotes from his email:

"The problem for me comes in when we start trying to explain formal linear digital prescription, representational symbol systems, Hamming "block-coding" (many to one redundancy coding to reduce noise pollution in the Shannon channel), cellular computation, and formal organization with nothing but a purely materialistic belief system. We can't even practice the scientific method or mathematics with a consistently held materialistic worldview."

"I don't think our overall evolutionary model is scientifically plausible, particularly at the prebiotic molecular level."

In a paper he published, he cited Creationist William Dembski. Of course, so what if he is a creationist? That doesn't make him automatically deluded, does it? Well, in his email he used a lot of technical language that was almost dizzying, if not unnecessary, and in it he voiced his objections to the origin of life. I checked up on his claims, and they are not valid. For one thing, he questions how left handed amino acids and right handed sugars could come about. Did a google search and found a highly plausible, evidence backed explanation like *that*. He questioned how the triplet codon system evolved. Did a google search, found a peer reviewed hypothesis like *that*. So if he's been wrong twice, I am not going to bother getting into any of his other technical problems.

Most likely they've already been solved.


Aaron said...

Creationists LOVE to harp on the Chirality (handedness) issue because they think it's some kind of secret that scientists are keeping from the public.

Chirality is a concept that even BIO or CHEM majors struggle with (my Chem prof had to bring in mirrors and make stick-ball models to demonstrate enatiomers to our class) -- so it's not that it's intentionally kept a secret any more than, say, the Krebs or Calvin cycles are kept secret. Take a class, and you'll learn it!

Aaron said...

Incidentally, there was some discussion regarding the contest:

After reading his website, I agree with you -- it reeks of Hovind Prize.

I somewhat doubt that he has 50k to back it up either. I think it would be dynamite if someone did one, but given all the review committees, all he needs is for one of them to say "no -- an elephant because a vest has no sleeves in ecuador" and the prize is stopped.

I seriously doubt any actual scientist (armchair scientists aside) would submit to this contest.

Unknown said...

It's too bad those seeking truth do not commit themselves to research for the truth. The prize for the origin of life is not a Kent Hovind invention, or at all related to creationists. Rather it is a contest by naturalists to spur more research for overcoming the myriad of problems required for goo to you chemcial evolution. Read the details here: Looks like AIGBusted is busted

AIGBusted said...

No Arlan, these guys are not naturalists. It should be obvious that they aren't from the creationist canards they used when I chatted with them.

Doppelganger said...

Classic stuff. I've been a 'fan' of that site and Abel for manyh years - fan in the sense that I enjoy pointing out the silliness of it all to YEC/IDs whenever they bring it up.

Pépé said...

Scientist-Politician-Atheist Offers Own Money For Origin of Life Prize

AIGBusted said...

Thank you Pepe.

To be clear: I don't think that this website is from the same group that offered the prize I was writing about.