This from Nature Reviews Chemistry caught our eye – an unexpectedly candid admission of how far origin-of-life research is from shedding real light on its subject. From “Studies on the origin of life — the end of the beginning,” by John D. Sutherland of the MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology in Cambridge, England:
Understanding how life on Earth might have originated is the major goal of origins of life chemistry. To proceed from simple feedstock molecules and energy sources to a living system requires extensive synthesis and coordinated assembly to occur over numerous steps, which are governed only by environmental factors and inherent chemical reactivity. Demonstrating such a process in the laboratory would show how life can start from the inanimate. If the starting materials were irrefutably primordial and the end result happened to bear an uncanny resemblance to extant biology — for what turned out to be purely chemical reasons, albeit elegantly subtle ones — then it could be a recapitulation of the way that natural life originated. We are not yet close to achieving this end, but recent results suggest that we may have nearly finished the first phase: the beginning. [Emphasis added.]
In other words, they’re nowhere near a solution, if purely materialistic processes are taken for granted as the only possible means toward life’s beginning.
And no wonder. As Center for Science & Culture research director Brian Miller explains in a new ID the Future episode with Sarah Chaffee, all the available solutions depend on expectations of a “free lunch.” As we know, there’s no such thing as a free lunch.
It sounds like that is why, 65 years after the Miller–Urey experiment (see Zombie Science, pp. 50-56), the search for answers is not even past the “beginning” stage. It remains the case that the only known source of the information needed for abiogenesis is intelligence.
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