Home » Intelligent Design » Primordial soup is “well past its sell-by date”

Primordial soup is “well past its sell-by date”

It is well known that Darwin speculated on what might happen in “some warm little pond”. But it was not until 1929 that J.B.S. Haldane developed a testable hypothesis involving a “prebiotic broth, or primordial soup”. He proposed that organic compounds were made when methane, ammonia and water reacted as a result of energy supplied by ultraviolet radiation. The reaction products were suggested to have accumulated in a “hot dilute soup” in the primeval earth. In this scenario, further reactions led to macromolecules, protocells and then life.

“Backed up by Stanley Miller’s (1953) inorganic synthesis of organic molecules in the laboratory, it seemed to generations of scientists that Haldane’s narrative was basically right, and all that was left was to sort out the details.”

Miller’s experiments became an icon of naturalistic evolution and entered the textbooks with very little critical analysis of the findings. Even recently, Miller’s work was acclaimed in the journal Science. Happily, there are opportunities to get beyond the hype but, as Jonathan Wells showed in his Icons of Evolution, these contributions rarely get beyond the technical literature. William Martin and colleagues have presented a strong case for retiring the primordial soup concept from active service. It has reached the grand old age of 81 and, as a hypothesis, it has not been confirmed. Normally, when hypotheses are tested and found wanting, they are discarded – but we are now overdue for this to happen with the primordial soup. It is “well past its sell-by date”. More here.

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20 Responses to Primordial soup is “well past its sell-by date”

  1. Off topic I know, but when do we get to see a thread that reports the latest findings of ID ?

    All I see here is thread after thread after thread that complains about Evolution. Is this what the ‘ID community’ gets up to ? Endless moaning about Evolution ?

    If ID is an active area of reasearch, as I am frequently reminded, then how about some progress reports ?

    You may not like Pharyngula, but at least he has the occasional report of some latest research that is of interest. You know, actual research.

  2. William Martin and colleagues have presented a strong case for retiring the primordial soup concept from active service. It has reached the grand old age of 81 and, as a hypothesis, it has not been confirmed. Normally, when hypotheses are tested and found wanting, they are discarded – but we are now overdue for this to happen with the primordial soup. It is “well past its sell-by date”.

    Perhaps, but the hypothesis of the primordial potager has been around far longer yet there are no signs of it being pensioned off.

  3. Seversky: “Perhaps, but the hypothesis of the primordial potager has been around far longer yet there are no signs of it being pensioned off.”

    :D Now THAT is molitov cocktail of sacasmic spite right there!

    I wonder if there is a connection between the failure of materialistic approaches to the ‘tree of life’ as it were, and the concept (expressed as a matter of fact not hypothesis) that we were banned from eating from it when evicted from the garden?

    “22 And the LORD God said, “The man has now become like one of us, knowing good and evil. He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever.” 23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken. 24 After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

    It appears we were banished from ever having the power that such knowledge brings.

    It goes back very nicely to that question of power and good design Seversky.

    Just imagine for yourself an Adolf Hitler who knew the deep secrets of ‘how’ to manipulate inorganic matter (or perhaps energy on a quantum level) as a means of perpetuating his organic biological function. A Hitler who could preserve his life indefinitely.

    And do you thnk any group of men who atteined such power would share it with you or me?

    How much more so, would a good God protect such knowledge from all but Himself; The only one who can weild such a sword justly?

    Just how pouting and childish can an adult who is not allowed to play with certain toys be? Excuse me for a moment… I must go look in the mirror to remind myself! ;)

    In the mean time, am I the only one optimistic that Seversky might be making progress?

  4. The only failings of Adam and Eve were curiosity and disobedience, the only offense they committed was to seek knowledge of good and evil. They were the very first scientific investigators if you like.

    Why shouldn’t they have had knowledge of good and evil?

    Why shouldn’t the have joined the cast of Fame and lived forever?

    And who was this “us” they couldn’t join? God does not usually use the “royal ‘we’”. Was it the Trinity? Was there more than one God?

    And not once does this God of Love and reason explain why they were denied these fruits. Why not? Was God like Colonel Jessep: “You can’t handle the truth!” But they were designed by that same God. How come curiosity was one of the features included in the package if they were not meant to use it?

    Instead, according to the Book of Genesis, all they were got was the threat of personal annihilation:

    2:17 But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

    Except that they didn’t. Instead, they got evicted by the landlord and lived to be around 900 years old.

    Which brings us smack up against the problem, either of a perfect being who changes His mind, except perfect beings, by definition, do not change, or of an alleged lover of all things, especially truth, who lies.

    Or maybe He was just like a lot of other chefs and didn’t want anyone to know His special secret recipe for Primordial Soup.

    Personally, I prefer the cocktail analogy. I can imagine God going to His favorite bar after a hard day’s creating and, in his Sean Connery voice, asking for: ‘Three measures of water, one of methane, one of ammonia and half a measure of hydrogen. Then add a large bolt of lightning. Shaken not stirred. Got it?’ Then, a little later: ‘Waiter, what on Earth is this green goo in the bottom of my glass?’

  5. I love theology Seversky, but why don’t you actually ask the questions? That means dropping the rhetorical taunts.

    I have struggled with this same issue, but never saw it as anything more than an unresolved theological puzzle. To me, much of it still is. If facts cannot prove a negative, then certainly puzzles have even less power toward such an endeavor.

    In as much as I do not understand, what interests me more are the glimpses that allow to partially understand.

    Seversky: “The only failings of Adam and Eve were curiosity and disobedience, the only offense they committed was to seek knowledge of good and evil. They were the very first scientific investigators if you like.

    Why shouldn’t they have had knowledge of good and evil?

    Why shouldn’t they have joined the cast of Fame and lived forever?”

    It is strange isn’t it? I mean we have ‘Christians’ wanting to grow spiritually as it were, and be more ‘like Christ’ (who we insist is God incarnate) and God Himself (in the Fatherly sense) demanding we be perfect(Godly) in order to inherit eternal life, all the while we maintain that humanity was kicked out of the garden for wanting to be like God, knowing good and evil.

    I had not even noticed this irony until recently, and only because I heard a pastor on the radio bring it up. I was unable to listen to his entire message so I cannot give his answer. Nor have I worked out the matter myself. This is my first mentionn of it.

    I have had debates on this issue before and I now realize I was then arguing from the wrong position.

    The issue correctly positioned through a bilical perspective was never whether man should be like God. God clearly created us in His image.

    The facts according to God’s Word, are that we had already been given all of that and strived for something else.

    What was it?

    I think it was the very thing that Jesus layed down on the cross.

    Pride, and all that it entails.

    From that generality I can only mutter and attempt to elucidate. We are dealing with selflessness and love juxtaposed against pride and the rights of self over and above the reality of true and full community.

    But this much I know…. The loss of innocence and trust without fear of mistreatment (which I do not have). The ability to fully give of oneself intimately and totally sincerely with no fig leaves or hiding of any kind (which I do not have). The freedom of being totally secure and not defensive(which I do not have) is life.

    And in as much as we lost that on the day we ate of it, we most certainly did die.

    There are other theological complications that immediately come to mind after saying all this. And already my mind is considering answers to obvious objections. but we cannot discuss it all here…

    You raised some theological issues relating to free will.

    Seversky: “But they were designed by that same God. How come curiosity was one of the features included in the package if they were not meant to use it?”

    Certianly by this point you understnad the difference between an automaton and a living being. To not allow for thinking would be the same as creating robots. I cannot believe you truely even struggle with it.

    Also, I have said it before and will say it again… God ultimately took repsonsibility for the way He made us. He does not ultimately condemn us for failing by our own power, but we condemn oursleves if after all of this history, we do not truely seek out His help (let Him be God) and accept His salvation.

    Why you think God threatened us with annihilation for disobeying is beyond me… is telling someone the rules a threat? Is telling my child not to touch the stove threatening them with burns? If so, then creating any orederly universe is a threat because with order comes fences.

    In as much as I do not have all the answers and long for them myself, I will never understand the negative spin you put on your approach to questioning God and critiquing His Word.

    Perhaps something in you is dead even if you live to 80 or 90 years? Perhaps living in anger and disgust with our present situation is easier than entering into the pain and being broken by it all.

    And as much as we are prideful beings and do not want to be vulnerable and broken of heart, that is the way Jesus modelled and the real life we are dead to. And it is another reason I do not believe the story to be an anthropomorphic projection. Superman yes, Jesus, no.

    A real human in all of His glory looks very little like what we imagine with our minds operating on our own ignorant knowledge base.

    Perhaps I just hinted at a resolution with that last sentence.

    So, if knowledge is what we want, and knowledge is good, why not just ask and trust the one who has it, and patiently wait for Him to give it when He knows the time is right?

    Is that what we lost? Trust? The Intimate relationship with God?

    It would have been relatively easy to take it for granted in the garden. Not so in heaven after this history.

    And in that sense, I think this stage of creation was necessary to fully create man ultimately and sustainably while balancing so many other factors necessary for real sentient beings.

    I hope my musings were not totally sophomoric. I do not have all the answers, but since you know better than God Seversky, tell me the way to create a universe properly.

  6. Lock @5,

    I think just as the ID side can question naturalistic origins, it is good to question religious ones.

    Those questions that would never form inside one person, can be asked by others.

    Seversky has a good point in that once we are supplied with curiosity, why would we be stopped from using it?

    Were Adam and Eve front-loaded to fail?

    If that is the case, then we were not fairly tested.

    The other side of the coin, and the one I prefer, is that we didn’t fail at all, we passed.

    It would make more sense that way, in that God did not get it wrong at all if he actually designed us.

    While I am an atheist, any God with the power to create this massive universe of ours, would have gotten the relatively insignificant us right.

  7. To Lock: Us heathens are constantly being chided by the ID crowd for assuming naturalism. Over and over and over they accuse us of making this broad assumption before the problem. Perhaps you could heed the lesson and question your own assumptions re the existence of the supernatural. Is this asking too much ? You may then find all these deep theological ‘problems’ (the problem of evil etc etc etc) tend to disappear.

  8. Off topic I know, but when do we get to see a thread that reports the latest findings of ID ?

    The findings are published almost daily. You must learn to see them for what they truly are.

  9. The findings are published daily ? Could you give an example ?

  10. Dr Tyler,

    Thank you, your post (and Dr Hunter’s on the same news report at the beginning of the month) clearly puts paid to the notion that biology worships Darwin like a tin god. Keep up the good work dispelling vapid culture warrior blustering, and keep bringing to our attention articles that show science advancing by various theories collecting evidence to support themselves.

  11. Graham 1 writes:

    “You may not like Pharyngula…”

    Graham, why do you think that some people over here might not like Pharyngula?

  12. I’ll go ahead and answer the question for you, Graham. I would never make an attempt to have a rational discussion with a group of skinheads on race, or any like-minded group, for obvious reasons. For one, I wouldn’t expect them to be civilized, and secondly, our ideas of how to conduct ourselves would be so opposite that we simply couldn’t find any common ground. Likewise, anyone who I knew who defended them, or kept their company, would probably have a lot in common with them. So, my guess about you is that if you don’t honestly see what’s wrong with Phyrangula, then you are arguably like the trash that hangs out over there. How close would that be to the truth?

  13. I like your approach, don’t be shy! So your adversaries are trash, eh? A word about not seeing the beam in one’s own eye, or about not judging others because you will yourself be judged by the same standard comes to mind.

    I wouldn’t even be surprised getting banned just for saying something like this here. Try that at Pharyngula!

  14. I wouldn’t even be surprised getting banned just for saying something like this here. Try that at Pharyngula!

    It’s like the old Cold War joke:

    The American says to the Russian: “In our country we can call our president a buffoon without the slightest fear.”

    The Russian says: “So? In our country, too, we can call your president a buffoon without the slightest fear.”

  15. Tribune7,

    It’s like the old Cold War joke:

    You mean there is no difference wrt banning between UcD and Pharyngula?

  16. I didnt intend to foster any discussion about the relative merits of the blog sites, just the paucity of ID ‘results’.

  17. 17

    Cabal: I think he means that UcD is Cold War era Russia. :)

    Seriously, I think Graham has a good point, which is not being addressed by the likes of Mung’s dissatisfying evasion. ID shouldn’t be a treasure hunt, unless you’re trying to tell us that the theory is buried under a giant W somewhere.

    I’ve been away from here for a year or so, so how about filling me in on the latest progress in ID theory (or at least, pointing me to it)? That way, all the evolution supporters who have been snarking about there being no ID theory will be filled in, and you won’t have to repeat yourself.

  18. Cabal –It’s like the old Cold War joke: You mean there is no difference wrt banning between UcD and Pharyngula?

    You can criticize ID on UD just as you can on Pharynugla :-)

  19. Caveat — Unlike Pharyngual, you can’t use four-letter words when doing so here.

  20. 20

    Nakashima @ 10
    “Keep up the good work dispelling vapid culture warrior blustering, and keep bringing to our attention articles that show science advancing …”
    Thanks for this feedback. The blogs I write are intended to be pro-science, to show that ID has an important role to play within science, and to point out the philosophical presuppositions that are impeding science – particularly in the historical sciences.

    Mung @ 8
    “The findings are published almost daily. You must learn to see them for what they truly are.”
    Well said. My list of potential blogs far exceeds the number I actually write. Most biological research presupposes design – but the scientists involved are so used to explaining the systems and the functionality before their eyes in terms of Darwinian mechanisms that they fail to see their methodology is orientated to design.

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