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, biophysicist Cornelius Hunter and host Eric Anderson discuss the RNA World hypothesis, an explanation for how the first self-reproducing organism might have arisen via mindless chemical processes. Hunter and Anderson have each written on the topic, and together they unpack some of the many and growing problems with this RNA-first explanation for the origin of life. They also spotlight some recent admissions in mainstream scientific publications that it’s time to move on from the cherished but embattled RNA World. The conversation pivots off of a recent essay by Hunter at Evolution News, “RNA World: Repeated Downfalls, Repeated Resurrections.” For more on the challenges of creating the first self-reproducing biological entity, see Eric Anderson’s Chapter 3 of Evolution and Intelligent Design in a Nutshell.