- List All

  • Web   The Point


+ Theology/Religion + Culture + Marriage & Family + Politics + Academia + Human Rights
Christianity Blogs - BlogCatalog Blog Directory
Religion Blogs - Blog Top Sites
Link With Us - Web Directory

« The Point Radio: Escape Routes | Main | Helping Prisoners’ Kids: I’m Supplying the Suffering; Can You Supply the Funds? »

May 15, 2009

’Scientists May Have Found How Life Began’

British scientists are saying that they figured out how life began? What did they do, open the Bible and read Genesis Chapter 1?

AddThis Social Bookmark Button


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference ’Scientists May Have Found How Life Began’:



Interesting how many links on this blog all go back to Faux News.

Gina Dalfonzo

Interesting how many people still think the name "Faux News" is funny. ;-)


Dennis, if they'd read Genesis 1 they wouldn't have said **may** have found...

Dennis Babish

Oh yeah they would still say may have found.

Steve (SBK)

The nytimes had a long and interesting piece on this: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/05/14/science/14rna.html
(I don't know if that requires registration)

Some may also be interested to follow the discussion on Uncommondescent: http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/stirring-the-soup/

Steve (SBK)

"The nytimes had a long" -->
"The nytimes had a longer"


At long last - the recipe for primordial soup!! I think instead of buying a new banjo, I'll just buy a small ukelele and wait for it to evolve!


Also interesting to note that, other than the link in this story, only one other link on the Point's front page shoots back to Fox. I smell a trend.


Dennis wrote: "Oh yeah they would still say may have found."

At the risk of attracting a raftload of Internet trolls, I'll clarify by saying that Genesis 1 leaves no doubt about origins, while scientists can merely speculate about what *may* have happened. And as usual, it's one thing for scientists to demonstrate a biochemical pathway (hang in there, Gina, almost done) and another for them to show that this pathway could actually be followed under primordial conditions. Oh, and a third for them to show that the products of the pathway could defy entropy and actually go on to produce DNA.

So my point, Dennis, expressed a little too concisely I admit, was that (as Mark Twain said) science provides such an excellent return of speculation for such a trifling investment of fact. The Bible, in contrast, deals in truth and not speculation.

Jason Taylor

I'm not sure speculation about whether RNA or DNA came first is a challenge to Genesis. Just as the statement "Muhammad Ali knocked Sonny Liston out in the first round", is not incompatable with speculation about whether Ali was just lucky or Liston was unlucky, or Ali saw an opening no one else could have seen or Liston took a dive.*

*As it happens, I am not up on that fight and only know what was in the wiki from which I only remember the later possibility. "Took a dive" seems unconvincing, simply because if he was to do that he should have lasted long enough not to call attention.

Ben W

"Oh, and a third for them to show that the products of the pathway could defy entropy and actually go on to produce DNA."

Gah!.. *twitch twitch*. Everytime you say this, somewhere a thermodynamicist falls down dead.


Ben W. sneered: "falls down dead."

Which, I believe, is the natural course of closed universes - a tendency to disorder and death (and thereby lower complexity and lower information content). If our universe is closed - i.e., if there is no supernatural entity adding information and order and energy and life and all that, as per Genesis 1 and several Psalms - then entropy would rule. If our universe is closed as Darwinists claim, and if only natural processes are at work, then RNA would tend to decompose into its components - not find a way to form into a double helix.

And yes, I know about local maximums. I know about crystal formation. And I know about the influx of solar energy, and how it keeps all the other planets - except this one - quite forbiddingly sterile.

So if you're going to patronize someone, Ben my friend, do so when they haven't thought these things through.

Besides, how many thermodynamicists do we really need anyway?

jason taylor

Ben would that be the Theory of Thermodynamcicistric Entropy?

Ben W

Nah, no sneers, just a literary reference to make my wife laugh. My apologies if I offended.

If you've thought it through (and I believe you have), then why do you make such obviously incorrect things, such as claiming our RNA would decompose? You even explained the reasons why this wouldn't have to be the case as you contradicted yourself.

And I feel that you have a double standard when it comes to "truth" - you demand ungodly amounts of evidence from scientists, and still call their work "speculation", but you're willing to accept what others have told you simply because it agrees with your experiences and worldview. I accept Christianity, but I'm also willing to acknowledge my beliefs are based on faith. Would you also call historians and detectives "speculators", just because they draw inferences to the past from what they find?

Ben W

Err, that's "make such obviously incorrect statements", or "say.. things", but I couldn't make up my mind.

jason taylor

Not at all Ben. I accept that I acknowledge my beliefs based on faith. I only demand such evidence when it is claimed that I am offending reason in doing so. When people make talk of unicorns and flying spaghetti monsters I have a right to demand that the proof be as rigorous as it is claimed to be.


Ben, I claim RNA would decompose after spontaneous generation because I've actually taken organic chemistry in college. I know firsthand the intelligence and skill required to create organic substances. If you don't get it exactly right, you end up with a very *in*organic mess, usually resembling tar. And if you sit an organic substance on the shelf, it decomposes - you have to work hard to avoid that.

Furthermore, that's assuming you're in a laboratory with glassware, thermometers, range hoods, controllable temperatures, and so on. To claim that you can make RNA in the lab is one thing; to claim it happened under prebiotic Earth conditions is quite another. (The Miller-Urey experiment required a p-trap. Explanations for how this p-trap could have existed on Earth include a bowl-like area where a fortuitous ocean wave washed the early organics, isolating them from that excellent solvent, water. Talk about miracles...)

With respect to truth, if you accept Christianity then you know that truth is not a series of facts that agrees with my worldview, or yours, or anyone else's except the worldview of Jesus. And you also know that faith is accepting what you can't prove on the basis of what you can. We accept on faith that the scientists aren't lying to us, because statistically speaking only about 10% to 25% of scientific articles are fabricated. (Or to be more accurate, that's the data from *medical* journals, where they're simply trying to find the cures for deadly diseases. When I discovered that, as a lab assistant in a medical research facility many years ago, I changed the way I would read scientific publications and began to be a bit more skeptical.) So you're not going to run out and replicate all those expensive experiments at CERN; you're going to accept on faith that other physicists have checked them out. And if some new experiment contradicts the worldview you've created on the basis of past acceptances of faith, you'll certainly require ungodly (excellent word choice) amounts of evidence as proof.

So yes, I do call historians and detectives "speculators" since none of us can travel back in time and directly observe. (But God can.) Even at that, our inferences have repeatedly proven to be faulty; Linus Pauling got the structure of DNA wrong, paving the way for Watson and Crick. Almost everything we "know" is speculation, subject to revision; the only things that are really certain are tied to the one who said he was the Way, the **Truth** and the Life.

Rolley Haggard

Ben W, if we liken the search for truth to a fork in the road, you seem more willing to take the path that says “science is right and the bible wrong” than the other way around.

Others of us take the opposite fork. Do you know why? I obviously cannot speak for every other Christian, but for myself there are two basic reasons why I take the view that “the bible is right, and certain popular understandings of science (on this and many other specific issues) are wrong”.

First, it is eminently probable on the issues we debate for the biblical explanation to be correct. Science has not disproven ANYTHING that the bible says. And there is empirical evidence to support the biblical view.

Second, internal and external evidence for the bible’s veracity on the resurrection of Christ is overwhelming. For example, it is virtually inconceivable that the disciples, who, shortly after Christ’s crucifixion were utterly despondent, should for no reason (other than that Christ really did rise from the dead and appear to them AFTER His death) would suddenly be willing to lay down their lives proclaiming something they KNEW was not true. The reason they preached a resurrected Christ was not because they wanted it to be true, but because it WAS true. No other explanation makes any sense at all.

Similarly, the bible accurately describes the human condition (fallen and sinful) and lays out a clear, rational account of how God and man may be justly reconciled to one another. No other document in the world gives satisfactory answers to these fundamental questions of humanity’s deepest philosophical questions.

Very concisely stated, then, it is upon this rational basis, where the bible proves so stunningly reliable on such important issues, and where it testifies of itself that it is the word of “God, who cannot lie”, and that “every jot and tittle” is true, that I am constrained to put the burden of proof on any postulation that contradicts what the bible clearly states or implies.

In short, it seems to me a consistent Christian ought to err on the side of biblical integrity until there is no possible room for honesty to differ with the seemingly contrary conclusions of science. Conversely, it seems an imprudent practice capable of undermining one’s faith to prematurely conclude that where they seemingly differ, science trumps the bible.

By all means let the debate rage on and the predominance of verifiable evidence speak. But in the meantime it seems wise for the Christian to stand by that which has proven to be just what it claims – the very word of our heavenly Father. To do otherwise is to hazard losing the war in order to convince oneself we’ve won the battle.

If I sound preachy or condescending, please excuse. I’m just trying to speak straight up on something that from the beginning has been regularly used to try to subvert faith – namely, the question, “did God indeed say…?” (Genesis 3:1)


Oh, and Ben, with respect to "contradicting" myself, I was saying that I know that thermodynamics and chemistry and astrophysics have all these unusual cases that are exceptions to their general rules. I know that if you combine all those exceptions, abiogenesis might be theoretically possible.

It might, that is, if you have enough faith in scientists. But I would claim that such faith is misplaced.

The bulk of scientific discoveries from the time of Christ onward were made by Christians, up until Darwin came along. Christianity offered the only worldview that didn't allow the observable world to be irrational, up until Darwinism. (Miracles, in the Christian view, are clear-and-obvious exceptions to the way the rational world works, and are intended to remind us that our worldviews are necessarily unreliable.) But scientific naturalism can only speculate about our origins (versus actually being there as a witness, as Jesus was); punts on the question of our destiny by saying we can know nothing about what happens after death; fails to provide a better framework for morality other than hedonism; and says that the only meaning of life is the transmission of the genes of humans - who, per PETA and others, are actually destructive genes that should return control of the planet to animals, so the survival of our species is seen by some members of that species as actually a bad thing. Scientific naturalism offers a very stunted and only partial worldview.

I respect the work of scientists who fit their work into a worldview permitting the resurrection of Jesus. That's one event I've personally investigated thoroughly, and know to be factual. My worldview is predicated on that fact - unlike some I've met who call themselves Christians but who really mean that they accept only the social aspects of Christianity and not its theology. (Dunno where you're at, Ben; this is just a statement of my experience in and around churches.) Jesus rose from the dead, which validated the rest of his message. That message included his claim to be a part of the Godhead, being present at creation, and that the Scriptures are correct. Jesus quoted from Genesis several times, with no qualification that he was referring to a parable or an allegory. So I have not only a right but a duty to regard any contradiction of Jesus - including abiogenesis - as ludicrous speculation.

That is, unless someone can prove conclusively that Jesus never rose from the dead.

(My deep and heartfelt apologies for the length, Gina, but this is an issue that goes to the very core of my being.)

jason taylor

Ben if all you mean by "double-standard concerning truth" is that scientists should have as least as much right to believe in their inferences as Sherpas have to believe in Yeti, well yes that is true.

But no Sherpa has ever implied I was bereft of my senses because I do not believe in Yeti.

That is the difference Ben.

jason taylor

Furthermore Ben, historians accept that their work is necessarily ambiguous and must for instance rely on sources that are legend, or worse political propaganda(it is not true that history is written by the winners; it is true that history is written by those who write who are of course often the winners).

Now insofar as scientists accept the same necessary limitations of humanity for their discipline(and those who don't are going against their own code)their right to speculate is reasonable. If they take themselves, or are taken by others, more seriously then that, then it is a different story.

Michael Snow

When these links take one away from The Point, its a real pain...

Ben W

LQ, I likewise took organic chem in college, and it's probably accurate to say that neither of us have the background to give an informed opinion on abiogenesis, at least without a good bit of study into the appropriate kinetics and thermodynamics. The environment would have been much different in an early earth, causing things to decompose differently. And anyways blanket statements like "organic substances decompose" aren't really accurate - my chem prof had a bottle of clove oil that he'd been collecting for years, and many compounds will keep quite well in the absence of light, heat, and oxygen. So just having a reducing environment would be enough to change if/how your chemicals degrade. But I'm an agnostic on abiogenesis, and I think you're right about "speculation" here, since biochemical pathways don't leave any evidence behind that we've ever found. Still, a probable pathway would be incredibly valuable to us.

I know that we are a long way from explaining the origins of life, if ever. And yes, scientists get things wrong, but they tend to quickly correct them. Wasn't it only 2 years until Pauling's DNA structure was overturned? (which wasn't accepted as canon anyways). But you say things like this like all of science is on shaky ground, as if Newton and Einstein and Maxwell (and Darwin) etc. are all in danger of being overturned any day now. I understand that you feel a duty to regard any scientific contradictions to the Bible as ludicrous speculation, but doesn't that preclude the possibility of you ever being wrong?

How can you "know [the resurrection] to be factual"? I *believe* in it, but I can't prove it. And I, like you, would reject evidence that contradicted the resurrection.. but extending that to rejecting all evidence that contradicts my interpretation of Scripture just goes too far.

Rolley, I believe that science and the Bible can agree. Regarding Genesis, I think there's quite sound exegetical grounds to read the Creation story as a poetic device explaining Who created us and why, and not so much "how" and "when".

You say "Science has not disproven ANYTHING that the bible says", which is only true if I take it literally (as "proofs" belong in math and logic, and validated theories in science). It also depends on your interpretation of the Bible - I don't see Genesis 1 and evolutionary theory as contradictory. Regardless, as interpretations are fluid and memories are short, you couldn't prove the Bible wrong even if it *was* wrong. Any scripture that was "disproven" would be re-interpreted.

Or do rabbits really chew the cud? (Lev 11:6) Is the Earth really fixed and immovable? (1 Chron 16:30). Etc.

For me, there is no possible room for me to honestly pick a traditional creationist interpretation over science.. the evidence is just too massively overwhelming. I've taken classes, read the arguments on both sides from books and websites, and come to the conclusion that either (a) God is trying to trick us, or (b) He took a really long time to do His work in creating us and this planet.

Gina, my apologies for the length - as Rolley said, this goes to a core issue for any thoughtful Christian.

Jason Taylor

Rabbits do indeed chew the cud, by the way.


Ben W

They chew cecal pellets (their droppings), but this is not the cud, which is regurgitated from the stomach. It's two different ways of redigesting food.



Ben W. wrote: "The environment would have been much different in an early earth"

Ahem; "*could* have been". Any talk of the "early earth" is necessarily speculative.

"Still, a probable pathway would be incredibly valuable to us."

Sure; it could have practical applications irrespective of its relation to our origins.

"But you say things like this like all of science is on shaky ground"

As one of my chem profs reminded me, "Atomic theory is *just a theory* - albeit one with a lot of evidence to support it." Our models of reality are not reality, no matter how closely they seem to correspond. And the whole point of scientific discovery is tossing out old models to replace them with new ones.

"doesn't that preclude the possibility of you ever being wrong?"

Me? Heavens, no! But could God ever be wrong? Absolutely not! The critical distinction is between what I have theorized about what I didn't previously know, and what God came right out and told me. I've been informed by an absolutely reliable source.

"How can you "know [the resurrection] to be factual"? I *believe* in it, but I can't prove it."

Apply the same methods that you would apply to determining whether or not creationism is correct, Ben: Build a hypothesis that Jesus didn't rise from the dead, and try to create a theory of how Christianity flourished. Toss it when you find a contradiction, and create a new theory. Continue until it's clear that the original hypothesis was wrong. This same approach has been repeated many times by many people, and all have come to the same conclusion, so it's as replicable a scientific result as anyone could ask for.

"And I, like you, would reject evidence that contradicted the resurrection.."

Given that, then you accept that a completely miraculous event occurred, and was correctly documented in Scripture. The resurrection isn't a poetical device for you, but a fact - no matter how contradictory to science it may be. Why is your attitude toward Genesis so completely opposite?

And if you follow Jesus, and Jesus believed in a literal Genesis, would you feel obligated to believe in a literal Genesis?

Jason Taylor

"And if you follow Jesus, and Jesus believed in a literal Genesis, would you feel obligated to believe in a literal Genesis?"

As that would get into whether Jesus as a man was capable of ignorance which would get into another of the paradoxes of Incarnation which the Fathers hassled over for hundreds of years. On the other hand Jesus never sinned, there is no reason why He should be erroneous.

And "Literal" does not mean "Precise".
The words "Cold", "Hot", "High" and "Low" are literal: they have a specific meaning which conveys information to the hearer, even if it does not convey the information that precise measurement does.

Ben W

LeeQuod says, "Any talk of the "early earth" is necessarily speculative."
When we look at the deepest and oldest rocks, they show some evidence of a reducing atmosphere (or significantly less oxidizing). The jury may still be out, but there's enough evidence that it's well past speculation (Note: if you look this up on ICR or AiG, they conspicuously only deal with older research and ignore the findings in the last 20-30 years..)

Your chemistry professor was misinformed - scientific theories are not "just theories", since "theory" means different things for laypeople and scientists. Quoting the NAS, "Some scientific explanations are so well established that no new evidence is likely to alter them. The explanation becomes a scientific theory. In everyday language a theory means a hunch or speculation. Not so in science. In science, the word theory refers to a comprehensive explanation of an important feature of nature supported by facts gathered over time."
When was the last time a scientific theory was thrown out? Has it even ever happened?

"Me? Heavens, no! But could God ever be wrong? Absolutely not!"
So how do you know that you're hearing/understanding God correctly? Wherever humans are involved, we can be wrong.

"This same approach has been repeated many times by many people, and all have come to the same conclusion, so it's as replicable a scientific result as anyone could ask for."
Meh. Ask some atheists or non-Christian historians - I think you'll get different answers. I don't think deductive logic applied to history provides "proof", particularly if you ignore the opinions of all those who disagree.
Now, the atheists are wrong, but that doesn't mean that their argument is total nonsense.. it just means they're ultimately wrong.

"And if you follow Jesus, and Jesus believed in a literal Genesis, would you feel obligated to believe in a literal Genesis?"
We don't know how fully God revealed knowledge to Jesus about science and the world. Jesus was fully man, of course, so if the Holy Spirit didn't reveal the details of creation to Him while he was in human form, that's okay with me. But Jason answered this better than me.. frankly, I really don't know but wouldn't feel obliged.

Jason, if you were to claim that the Holocaust or the Civil War never happened, historians would claim you had lost your senses. It's the same for quantum mechanics and evolution - although here it gets more complicated due to the background needed to understand these fields and how evolution can mess with favored beliefs. The confusion is helped along by institutions which promote misinformation and by our human tendencies towards groupthink and bias.

I could be totally wrong on this, so I'll keep reading and researching.. but for now I find the arguments from the evolution side much more grounded in reality, in actual *data* rather than just speculation. On the creationist side there's plenty of "God could have done ____", but no actual experiments, so you get into some pretty kooky stuff like God changing the speed of light and making radioactive atoms decay faster without even looking to see if there's evidence that He *did* do it that way. Don't you just get tired of the mental gymnastics at some point?

Jason Taylor

Ben don't you get tired of the mental gymnastics in claiming that you do not see Science as a religion? Claiming that scientific claims supercedes religious claims is of necessity simply claiming the perogatives of a religion for science.

In any case there are more then enough "mental gymnastics" to go around. And the regretable fact that scientists would claim others have lost their senses because they disaggree, is of no more importance then the equally regretable fact that the Athenian Assembly thought Socrates had lost HIS senses.

Jason Taylor

Furthermore, Ben, those "mental gymnastics" as you refer to them are not designed to refute evolution, an exercise in which I am uninterested in. They are designed to remind you that there is no reason to dogmatically insult the human race simply because the majority do not wish to be dear little Igors.

It is not illogical to accept unproven theories when there is no cost and much benefit to accepting them, while rejecting other theories when they come at cost.

As a reply to you, would you kill your daughter simply because a scientist said you had to to be scientific? If not you can see that the accepting of science which is simply the accepting of someone elses authority, has limits.


Ben W. wrote: "When we look at the deepest and oldest rocks, they show some evidence of a reducing atmosphere"

What they show is evidence that *might* be consistent with a reducing atmosphere. Or might be consistent with something else. Besides, who says deepest = oldest? Just as you say about the Bible, it's all a matter of how you interpret the data of science, too.

"When was the last time a scientific theory was thrown out?"

I was going to start with Copernicus and work both backwards and forwards in time. However, I realize that you'll simply respond that the theories, including geocentrism, were not thrown out - merely modified. It seems as if your faith in science is unshakable - in spite of phlogiston, the ether, atoms that are atomic (i.e., indivisible), and on and on. Golly, just the list of medical theories of various diseases in the last century...

"So how do you know that you're hearing/understanding God correctly?"

By consulting others who've heard Him, by reading His published work, and by asking Him directly.

"Ask some atheists or non-Christian historians"

I have. Those who honestly investigate - even those who are rabidly anti-Christian - uniformly convert, or furiously evade the question.

"I don't think deductive logic applied to history provides "proof","

I thought you said it *did*, when it was applied to the history of life on Earth.

"Jesus was fully man, of course,"

Oh - sorry, I didn't realize you're Unitarian. Now it's all clear. Those of us who actually believe what Jesus said about himself are obliged to believe that he was there with Abraham, and was even there in the beginning, as the Word, with God, and as God. So when Jesus says "And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began", I'm convinced Jesus was there, and didn't need to be briefed by the Father or the Holy Spirit.

I do hope you keep reading and researching, Ben. It took me many years of the same activities to come to the conclusions I have, so I have no desire to try to rush you. But don't be suckered into thinking that evolution is grounded in data. Both evolutionists and creationists (and all the varieties of belief between those poles) rely on data. We could rehash the "Expelled" movie, fruitlessly I would suspect.

Ben W

Jason, how does it even make sense to call science a religion just because science can rule on scientific statements, no matter the source? If the Bible said something about who won the Superbowl last year, it wouldn't make football into a religion. And if the Bible says something about history, that doesn't make history a religion.

By definition, a religion makes statements about who God is, why humans were created and what our purpose is. Science can't do any of these things, nor does it pretend to (as LQ said earlier, science can't answer any of these questions).

Do you give historians this much trouble, or do you accept the Holocaust (even though you can't prove it)?

"As a reply to you, would you kill your daughter simply because a scientist said you had to to be scientific?" Non sequitur - I never claimed scientific authority was without limits.

LeeQuod says "I was going to start with Copernicus and work both backwards and forwards in time..." Fair enough. Some of these are just modified (Newton's physics is still good enough for most engineers), others, not as much. Some, like geocentrism, were formed without any actual evidence and so don't really meet the definition of theory. I guess aether theory comes the closest, as although it had problems it was still widely accepted. But seriously, I'd love to hear about the medical theories overturned in this century (theories of course, not models/hypotheses).
At some point, I fully expect quantum mechanics to be superseded by a unified theory, since QM can't describe everything. I don't think this means that QM is wrong, only incomplete or fuzzy around the edges. And it's incredibly accurate for what it does describe.

"I have. Those who honestly investigate - even those who are rabidly anti-Christian - uniformly convert, or furiously evade the question."
Hmm. That's not been my experience. Eh, I can't give you their reasoning, so it's moot.

"I thought you said it *did*, when it was applied to the history of life on Earth."
Not really - the history of evolution on Earth also has incredible amounts of evidence to back it up, but I'd say abiogenesis was a stretch of a similar magnitude as your 'proof'.

"Oh - sorry, I didn't realize you're Unitarian. "
Jesus was fully man and fully God. Standard theology, I think. But we don't know anything about the level of knowledge and revelation He had as a man.

"Both evolutionists and creationists (and all the varieties of belief between those poles) rely on data. "
It would be a lot easier for me to swallow creationist theory if it actually made some sense. The goalposts have continually moved since I was in high school (when I was a creationist), and there's no coherent creationist theory. Of course science is imperfect, but it remains the best available method of learning about the natural world. Looking at the experiments that started this conversation, they'll be checked and double-checked before the month is out, and if they're not correct you'll hear about it.
You might say that it's all a matter of how you interpret the data.. but if your interpretations ignore 90% of the data and contradict themselves, I don't think you're getting anywhere. The misuse of the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics is one common problem, the "no transition fossils" is another. Until creationism separates itself from the strawmen, it can't make any real progress.
Or are you saying that all of science is so flawed that we'd never be able to cross-check our facts?

Out of curiosity, have you heard and read about the Dover trial?

The comments to this entry are closed.