With New Theory of the Cambrian Explosion, Scientists Reach (Literally) for the Stars
This one is not to be missed. It’s a new scientific paper, “Cause of Cambrian Explosion —Terrestrial or Cosmic?”, that argues for panspermia. In other words, the seeding of life on Earth from outer space. Published in the journal Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology, it comes bearing an impressive array of over thirty authors from credible institutions around the world. The journal’s editors are themselves highly credible, including Denis Noble of Oxford University.
Darwinists will respond with the usual mirthless hyena laughter. But this is no joke.
Proponents of intelligent design will be talking about the paper for a long time because it addresses the same problems that theorists like Discovery Institute’s Stephen Meyer seek to solve — the origin of biological information, the origin of life, the origin of new genes, the Cambrian explosion, the abrupt appearance of other complex life on Earth, and even human origins.
We have discussed other proposed materialist explanations of the Cambrian enigma — the oxygen theory, the slime theory, the tipping-point theory, the cancer theory, most recently the popcorn theory. This one, the outer space theory, at least has the virtue of taking the problem of biological information to heart. The others are ludicrous. The appeal to panspermia is extremely far-fetched, but interesting.
Yes, they are trying to replace terrestrial origins theories with something out of a sci-fi movie. (Actually a very entertaining one, Ridley Scott’s Prometheus.) From the Abstract:
[L]ife may have been seeded here on Earth by life-bearing comets as soon as conditions on Earth allowed it to flourish (about or just before 4.1 Billion years ago); and living organisms such as space-resistant and space-hardy bacteria, viruses, more complex eukaryotic cells, fertilised ova and seeds have been continuously delivered ever since to Earth so being one important driver of further terrestrial evolution which has resulted in considerable genetic diversity and which has led to the emergence of mankind.
Regarding the abrupt appearance of animals, the paper proposes that “cryopreserved Squid and/or Octopus eggs, arrived in icy bolides several hundred million years ago” and that this helps explain “the Octopus’ sudden emergence on Earth ca. 270 million years ago.” That’s right: they argue, among other remarkable proposals, for alien octopi and squid from the stars.
Regarding the origin of life, they say a “miracle” would be needed for it to have occurred on Earth:
The transformation of an ensemble of appropriately chosen biological monomers (e.g. amino acids, nucleotides) into a primitive living cell capable of further evolution appears to require overcoming an information hurdle of superastronomical proportions (Appendix A), an event that could not have happened within the time frame of the Earth except, we believe, as a miracle (Hoyle and Wickramasinghe, 1981, 1982, 2000). All laboratory experiments attempting to simulate such an event have so far led to dismal failure (Deamer, 2011; Walker and Wickramasinghe, 2015). It would thus seem reasonable to go to the biggest available “venue” in relation to space and time.
Their solution? “A cosmological origin of life thus appears plausible and overwhelmingly likely to us.”
And the origin of new genetic information? It comes from viruses, which they call “among the most information-rich natural systems in the known Universe,” having, again, been transported to Earth from space:
We should then plausibly view viruses as among the most information-rich natural systems in the known Universe (Fig. 4). Their size dictates they are very small targets minimizing the probability of destruction by flash heating or ionizing radiation, Hoyle and Wickramasinghe (1979) e.g. Chapter 1. Their nanometer dimensions plausibly allow easy transport and dispersal by micrometer sized dust grains and other protective physical matrices of similar size. They are then nanoparticle-sized genetic vectors which contain all the essential information to take over and drive the physiology of any given target cell within which they mesh. Their replicative growth means they are produced, and exist, in huge numbers on cosmic scales; so that they (and to a lesser quantitative extent their cellular reservoirs) can suffer huge losses by inactivation while still leaving a residue of millions of surviving particles potentially still infective. A virus then is a type of compressed module in touch with the whole of the cell’s very ability to grow and divide to produce progeny cells and thus to evolve.
So they argue that the information needed to build complex life arrived on Earth before complex life arose:
In other words, we can now make the plausible scientific argument that a key feature of information-dense genetic systems to make more complex organisms was already here on Earth before the actual emergence of subsequent greater terrestrial complexity.
Like intelligent design, it’s an information-first argument. And they apply this same form of explanation to the origin of humans, plants, and animals, which they say were infected by “information-rich virions” that caused them to evolve:
The most crucial genes relevant to evolution of hominids, as indeed all species of plants and animals, seems likely in many instances to be of external origin, being transferred across the galaxy largely as information rich virions.
What about the most crucial question of all — Where did the information in those space-faring viruses come from originally?
They don’t even touch that one. And who can blame them? So while they give the pretense of explaining the origin of biological complexity, they are really just pushing the question backward. That is what panspermia usually does.
Well, in a way, their approach makes perfect sense if you’re a materialist and, as they put it, you see “no serious alternative scientific theory to the Hoyle-Wickramasinghe model of Cosmic (Cometary) Panspermia as the major driver of life on Earth.” The paper is an admission that past Cambrian and other origins theories have failed. While outlandish, literally, the outer space solution suggests that materialism may be on the way to giving its last gasps.
Photo credit: “Jets of organic molecules, and molecular oxygen were found emerging from comet 67P/C-G,” by European Space Agency via Progress in Biophysics and Molecular Biology.