The Latest in Origin of Life Research

December 3, 2021
“Origin of Life” Source: Wellcome Collection

In recent weeks there has been a surprising number of origin of life articles pasted to social media of all types. I tend to notice such things because I am interested in how we got here. One of these articles is seen every month or two and then, BOOM, a bunch of articles can hit at the same time. Some of these articles are written as if our modern scientists are close to figuring it all out.


One of the many articles that popped up lately is entitled, “Redo of a Famous Experiment on the Origins of Life Reveals Critical Detail Missed for Decades.” This article explains nothing new about the origin of life theory. It states:

The prevailing theory now is that on a highly volatile early earth lightning struck mineral rich waters. And that the energy from lighting strikes turned those minerals into the building blocks of life: organic compounds like amino acids. Something we often refer to as the “primordial soup.”

It is the same thing I heard years ago when I was in college. The article describes the famous Miller-Urey experiment of 1952 and suggests “the experiment’s container played an underappreciated role. That perhaps it was also critical to the creation of organic building blocks inside their laboratory life soup.” The “perhaps” isn’t a surprise after reading article after article that doesn’t really seem to get us any closer to knowing the origin of life.

The article, published in the Scientific American a few days ago, is typical of these types of articles. A new and exciting discovery has been made that may perhaps change the course of science as we know it. The reality, however, is that we aren’t any closer to understanding how the primordial soup could have possibly produced a living cell.

In the past several years a scientist who knows a lot about the cell and its makeup has been attempting to educate the public about the problems associated with a simple cell originating in a primordial soup. In the following video, he makes the case that we are no closer to understanding the origin of life than we were in the 1952 experiment. Dr. Tour has made the statement that we may actually be further away from understanding the scientific origins of life because of new knowledge of the cell’s complexity among other things. This is a video that anyone interested in the subject should watch.

If anyone is interested in Dr. James Tour’s credentials, you can find them here.

Today, this was the top item on my Google phone app. It is similar to many of the articles that have been seen on major social media platforms lately.

It begins with “So here is the creation story as told by Science.” It continues with “In the beginning there was an ocean of energy.” At the end we find out that “Nearly 13.8 billion years after it all began we emerged blinking into the light.”
The video is visually striking and very creative. In the 3-minute piece there is no mention of God’s involvement in creation.

Contrast this effort with the first few verses in the Gospel of John:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being. In Him was life, and the life was the Light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.”

These brief explanations are surely something to chew on.

Both descriptions bring up many questions. Where did the ocean of energy come from in the beginning? If such long ages were involved, how can we narrow the time frame to our emergence after 13.8 billion years?
Many Christian theologians identify “the Word” in the Gospel verses as Jesus Christ. Was Jesus there at the beginning with God and was He involved in creation? If the “Word was with God and the Word was God” are there two Gods?

I am no scientist and I would be considered an average theologian at best. At the same time, I enjoy both science and theology. I am always glad to see someone like Dr. Tour come along and question the status quo. Not only does he appear to know what he is talking about, he is likeable. It is unfortunate that only two scientists who disagree with Dr. Tour have been willing to have a public discussion with him even though he has offered to discuss origins with anyone at his own expense.

While I’ve been typing, I see that another interesting science article has popped up. It brings up part of the problem in many of today’s articles dealing with science and theology.

This article is titled:

World’s first living robots can now reproduce, scientists say

Anyone reading the title and neglecting to read the article might get the wrong idea. The same thing happens all of the time with articles about the study of the nature of God and religious belief (theology).

So, how do people figure out what they think about the origin of life?

I suppose it comes down to what one believes is most authoritative. In my case, I believe the Bible to be the greatest authority. I think that the Bible is “living and active, and sharper than any two-edged sword, even penetrating as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” Because of this belief, certainty comes from verses like this:

“And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.” 1 John 5:20

I would hope and expect scientific articles to continue to be published just like I hope theological articles will never cease. Topics related to these two areas of study are important in so many ways. I am interested enough in the claims of some of these articles to read them and consider them. There are many claims made by one Man and his followers that are 2,000 years old. They are unique claims. They are claims that every human being should assess. If God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life, it should get the appropriate attention.

Here is another such article/video on the subject that popped up on my phone just hours ago. It popped up because I am subscribed to a certain YouTube channel. The introductory screen tells us that “This video was produced in collaboration with a team of 5 PhD scientists.” It has that and the comments about the video are mostly supportive. Even though this video is much more detailed than the “Redo” article, I am not knowledgeable enough of the subject to know how accurate it is. So, I do the same with it as I do with the “Redo of a Famous experiment on the origin of life…” article mentioned earlier in this post. It does not immediately become factual in my mind although I am curious enough to want to know what is being stated so that I can digest it along with other things I read and watch over time.

If you have any comments about the accuracy of this video, please share them with me. Also feel free to express your views on anything else I have written in this post.

God’s blessings…

Chris Reimers




A Course on Abiogenesis by Dr. James Tour

March 10, 2021

 

Primordial Soup by
Christian Irmer

Abiogenesis definition – the origin of life from nonliving matter; specifically : a theory in the evolution of early life on earth: organic molecules and subsequent simple life forms first originated from inorganic substances. – Merriam-Webster

For anyone who is not familiar with the term abiogenesis, the definition above should help.  Abiogenesis is the theory that life came from things that weren’t alive.

This morning, near the top of the stories featured on Google was one from COSMOS entitled:

Looking for origins of life in hot springs…Scientists put a hypothesis to the test.

The article is almost a year old but it is very similar to many articles written by those studying how life could have possibly come from non-living things.  It is written for people like me who have no authority to speak on such an issue but who think, like one of the young scientists featured in the article, that:

“The origin of life is part of humanity’s narrative.”

“Learning more about it isn’t only beneficial for science, it’s helping us develop our understanding of who we are and our place in the universe.”

After reading the article, two things are clear:

1)  These scientists aren’t kidding around.  They are serious about their work and seem to be trying to find answers.

and

2)  It certainly seems possible that they are looking in the right places and that they may be getting close to discovering how life came form non-living things.

Thankfully, the recent series by Dr. James Tour has been a help to me in this area of understanding.  The series covers many items including topics that the layman (like me) would not understand.  Dr. Tour discusses “the building blocks for life, including amino acids, nucleobases and lipids,” the exact same things mentioned in the Cosmos article.

The main difference between the COSMOS article (which is a pretty good representation of many scientific articles presented for layman) and the series by Dr. Tour is the explanation of how difficult it would have been for life to have appeared “spontaneously.”  (It seems that the world spontaneously is a word frequently used to describe how non-living things became living things;  the problem is that no one has ever explained how this happened.)

Dr. Tour’s credentials speak for themselves.  You can read about them HERE.  Not only is he one of the best synthetic chemists in the world, he is a Christian.  In his series about Abiogenesis, he only speaks about the science of the subject according to his understanding.  He does not mention the Bible.  He is well versed in the scriptures but his career has been in the field of synthetic chemistry where: “Based on the impact of his published work, in 2019 Tour was ranked in the top 0.004% of the 7 million scientists who have published at least 5 papers in their careers. He was inducted into the National Academy of Inventors in 2015.” (Click HERE for more information about Dr. Tour.)

I have been following Dr. Tour’s work for years now.  I know “appeals to authority” are often looked upon with disdain but let’s face it, everyone does it.  Personally, I don’t see any problem with it whatsoever.  The question in every area of life becomes: “Who do I trust to tell me the truth about this subject? ”

I am thankful that someone of Dr. Tour’s stature is speaking out on this subject.  He is being ignored by many scientists in the origin of life field.  He is also being treated as someone who doesn’t know what he is talking about, which is only one of the reasons he has made this presentation.  Much of the course is Dr. Tour’s comments on a video that was made criticizing his own past comments.   Dr. Tour handles the criticism well but is clearly frustrated by the lack of clarity that he feels is presented not only by the video discussed but by many articles in the scientific literature.  One of his stated goals in this course is to provide clarity to those seeking answers about the possible origin of life.

The episodes are anywhere from twenty-five minutes to 1 hour and twenty-five minutes.  You may want to pick out one of the sessions which looks interesting or you may want to start at the beginning and go from there.

Chris Reimers

A Course on Abiogenesis by Dr. James Tour

0 – Reasons for this Series

1 – Introduction to Abiogenesis

2 – Primordial Soup

3 – Hype

4 – Homochirality

5 – Carbohydrates

6 – Building Blocks of Building Blocks

7 – Peptides

8 – Nucleotides

9 – Intermediate Summary & a Call to Colleagues

10 – Lipids

11 – Chiral-induced Spin Selectivity

12.1 – Cell Construction & The Assembly Problem, Part 1

12.2 – Cell Construction & The Assembly Problem, Part 2

13 – Summary & Projections

 


Dr. James Tour and Dr. Stephen Meyer: Origins

August 18, 2020


My favorite contemporary scientist for years has been Dr. Robert Gentry. He went into the presence of the Lord in January. I respect him greatly because of the personal sacrifices he made to follow where the scientific evidence led him.
Now, among living scientists, I would have to put Dr. James Tour as my favorite. His resume far exceeds that of Dr. Gentry which in no way lessens the greatness of Mr. Gentry in my mind.
This is a very interesting discussion between two Scientists who happen to be Christians. (Or should I say “Christians who happen to be scientists?”)

Enjoy.

Chris Reimers


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