Discovery by UW Scientists Shows There Is Nothing Special About Life and Its Origins

Comments

1

"This is why scientists should never say God exists or not. God is not testable." And that is why Lawrence Krauss and Richard Dawkins both irritate me. They don't offend my religious sensibility -- I don't have one. They disserve science; two men of science harping eternally and illiberally on their atheism creates the false impression that the existence/nonexistence of God is a subject with which science concerns itself. It does not.

3

I am pretty darn sure none of the scientists involved in this study would agree that it shows "there is nothing special about life and its origins."

The big question of how "special" life is is how wide a range of conditions it can occur in. We are only aware of it having happened in one particular set of conditions, those of the early Earth. That some of the processes can be reproduced under lab conditions simulating the early Earth is super-cool, but it doesn't really speak to the question of if abiogenesis can happen in any conditions other than the exact ones that occurred on Earth circa 4 Ga. I guess if you believed there was some sort of spark required, divine or otherwise, this would come as a surprise but the evidence that no such single event was necessary has been piling up for decades now.

4

Good thing God invented miRNA, mRNA, siRNA, and circRNA to use all the noisy bits you think don't do anything to bootstrap the code.

Now, let's get real and move any farmed fish or relocated animals and vegetation to zones where they will have to be living in around 2040, because right now all that Climate Change is baked in, and everything's going to change.

Yes, that means salmon from Washington in Alaska and salmon from California in Washington.

5

@1:

OTOH, what IS testable, and what the subject of this post clearly points to, is that life - and therefore consciousness - does not require the imposition of a god in order to be manifest. If life can be shown to generate spontaneously through relatively simple and easily reproducible physical processes, then god becomes essentially redundant and unnecessary, which of course leads to the inevitable question: If God is immaterial to the process of creating life, then of what actual use is He? The short answer is: none.

To paraphrase Carlyle: "A god without purpose is like a ship without a rudder - a waif, a nothing, a no-god."

6

I’m going to start planting redwoods up here.

7

I mean, they’re already planted, and my Christmas trees and moringa oleifera have sprouted. Just waiting on the redwoods.

Have to move them out of the city though, they’ll destroy everything.

8

Charles, your definition of “extraordinary,” to judge from this post, is catastrophically limited.

9

Let me know when you get a self-replicating molecule.
Until then it might as well be pixie dust and hand-waving.

10

@5: How did the universe begin? A theory, and not testable. Just like God.

11

Jiggy with Addy until that last phrase, at which point we parted ways . . me with vomit in my throat.

12

@5 I think even atheists like us can recognize the value of a system of morals, and admit that science will never provide us with one. Given that, we should probably also recognize value in narratives and metaphors which express or encapsulate such systems.

It's one thing to say the gods aren't real; it's quite another to claim mythology is useless.

13

@12: Even Einstein admitted that "something else" could be going on.

14

@10:

Actually, models for creation of the universe are quite testable; that is literally the textbook definition for a "scientific theory": a proposed explanation for a set of observations. And while it is true that a theory can never be proven with 100% assurance of its validity, it nevertheless must be "testable" through repeated observation or experimentation. The Big Bang Theory in its current iteration may have problems, but despite these it has remained largely consistent with the observations and is widely accepted through the cosmological community. If you choose you can attempt to dispute those observations and the conclusions drawn from them - although I seriously doubt you have the qualifications for doing so - but that would also require your own set of countervailing observations and explanations, and in this instance "well, it COULD be God" isn't going to come anywhere close to meeting that rigorous standard.

@12:

The scientific method isn't designed for nor intended to be a moral or philosophical pursuit. OTOH, organized religion has a pretty piss-poor record when it comes to moral consistency or philosophical rigor. And yes, if they would just admit that what they peddle is mythology and not fact, they'd probably have a much better foundation for articulating and defending their moral precepts.

15

@13 That's pretty desperate, even for you.

Only those of weak faith seek support for their belief from indifferent science (or worse, from pop culture snippets about celebrity scientists).

16

@14 "moral consistency" is arguably an oxymoron, and some mythologies have much better records than others. True, there have been murderous Buddhists, even, but there have been plenty of murderous atheists, too.

17

@16:

"there have been plenty of murderous atheists, too". Granted, but this simply points to the general human propensity for violence, regardless of one's moral outlook. However, the usual atheist suspects (e.g Stalin, Mao, Pol Pot, et al) seldom, if ever, cited their disbelief as the primary rationalization for their mass-killing sprees, whereas pretty much every organized religion has justified their mass-killing sprees as being sanctioned by and committed in the name of their preferred deity. "_ is on our side" has been, and continues to be, one of the most common rallying cries for motivating religiously incited violence since the beginning of recorded history - and probably beyond.

18

@17 And yet Stalin, Mao, and Pol Pot did rationalize their brutality, and did so with systematic moral arguments.

It's almost as if belief in a deity or two isn't a particularly important aspect of a system of morals, at least when it comes to the question of how much murder you can do in its service.

19

@18:

But their "arguments" weren't predicated on a belief - or rather disbelief - in a supreme deity; they were almost exclusively political and economic in nature; which, when you look below the surface, isn't really any different than what religious believers actually sought to impose in their own bloody crusades against infidels, heathens, what-have-you. They may have claimed they did it "for the glory of God", but in reality it was all about terrestrial wealth, power, and dominion.

20

It's perfectly possible to commit atrocity not "in the name of God" but as Science has become more introspective we have seen a curtailment of evil done in the name of Science. Furthermore, Science makes predictions that can be used to model the likely outcomes of choices and so ABSOLUTELY has the makings of a superior moral framework if used actually correctly and not just as an end for which any means are appropriate.

Religion simply doesn't have this feature. The amount of self reflection available to religion is limited and the circumstances leading to its misuse form a consistently low bar. In the case of Christianity, for instance, the New Testiment says some variation of "don't make a public display of prayer" in four seperate accounts. I think the amount this is taken to heart by The Church is telling of the level of introspection in this much too powerful religion.

Meanwhile evidence based medicine has more than doubled the number of years adults spent healthy and alive, stopped the rampant deaths of infants and children and made disease "preventable".

If religion is the superior moral philosophy, why does it kill so many babies? And why did God just stop killing babies after science became fairly widespread?

As for Mudede, dude, pull the stick out of your rectum. Out of our sample of almost a dozen planitary bodies in a star system where life could survive, only one produced life observable at orbital distance. Out of the millions to billions of planets we have found/can extrapolate exist where we might find them, only a few even hold most of the conditions needed for life - not modern life even but ancient archea that then were the only thing on this, as far as we know, perfectly balanced little (in the cosmic scale) rock. There isn't a single part of what science shows evidence for that isn't special.