On today’s ID the Future, Stairway to Life co-author Rob Stadler and host Eric Anderson delve deeper into Challenge to Origin of Life: Energy Harnessing, the latest video in the Long Story Short intelligent design video series. Could the first cell have been much simpler than any current cell, making it easier for it to emerge through blind natural forces on the early Earth? Stadler and Anderson surface one big problem with that idea: in experiments to make relatively simple cells even simpler, the cells inevitably become less robust and adaptable. These simpler cells must be coddled to survive. But the first cell on earth would have been anything but coddled. It would have had no source of glucose and been battered by all and sundry. (Plus, even these artificially simple cells are still extraordinarily sophisticated compared to human technology.) What about reports of a fungus near the Chernobyl nuclear accident that can feed off radiation? As Stadler notes, while this is an intriguing discovery, funguses are much more complex than anything being proposed as the first living cell, and the fungus undoubtedly possesses sophisticated energy-harnessing and processing machinery. The bottom line: any viable, self-reproducing cell, including the first one in the history of life, must have an energy-harnessing system already in place to survive, and such systems are necessarily enormously sophisticated. Stadler argues that we know enough about what natural forces can and cannot do to know that natural causes alone could not make this leap from non-life to first life. Another kind of cause was required. Tune in to learn more.
Origin-of-life specialist Rob Stadler joins today’s ID the Future to discuss a new Long Story Short science video short. The video investigates a special problem that faces all naturalistic origin-of-life scenarios: To be viable, a cell must have sophisticated machinery, including ATP synthase, to turn raw energy into constructive energy. But how could prebiotic chemicals harness raw energy on the way to evolving into a viable self-reproducing cell without first having the sophisticated machinery to harness raw energy and convert it to useful work? Are the energy sources that have been proposed for chemical evolution realistic? In his conversation with host Eric Anderson, Stadler argues that, no, they aren’t. This isn’t the sort of thing that mindless natural processes can overcome, but is precisely the sort of problem that a designing mind could solve. Check out the new video here.
In today’s ID the Future physicist Brian Miller discusses fellow physicist Jeremy England’s book Every Life Is on Fire: How Thermodynamics Explains the Origin of Living Things. Has England made a significant step toward solving the mystery of how life first began? In Miller’s conversation with host Eric Anderson, he argues that while England’s laboratory work is fascinating and innovative, what’s happening in his experiments differs dramatically from what is required of even the simplest life, so much so that the experiments do not shed the kind of light on the mystery of life’s origin that some may hope they do. Moreover, life does certain crucial things with energy that are unknown outside of the biological realm, Miller says, and without those processes available to prebiotic chemicals, it is far from clear how they could ever assemble into the molecular biological machinery essential for the first self-reproducing biological entity.
On this ID the Future, biochemist Michael Denton delves further into his revelatory new book The Miracle of the Cell. Here he discusses finely tuned chemical bonds. Cellular life would be impossible if strong bonds weren’t just so for some cellular functions, and if weak bonds weren’t just so for others. Each type of bond exists in a Goldilocks zone, neither too strong nor too weak for its purposes. They’re tailored to fit. Denton also explores the miracle enzyme known as ATP synthase and some of the fine-tuning particulars of this life-essential molecular complex.