On this ID the Future, Brian Miller, research coordinator for the Center for Science & Culture, reports on laboratory research recently presented in Nature Communications and in a University of Tokyo press release— research that supposedly provides dramatic “new insights into the possible origin of life,” and specifically “the molecular evolution of RNA.” The popular press picked up on these claims and ran with them, including in this May 5 Quanta article that breathlessly reported, “When researchers gave a genetic molecule the ability to replicate, it evolved over time into a complex network of ‘hosts’ and ‘parasites’ that both competed and cooperated to survive.” Miller says nothing remotely this dramatic occurred in the experiment. He insists there were no great revelations from this laboratory work, aside perhaps from it further corroborating the view that precisely orchestrated interventions of an intelligent designer (in this case, that of the lab researchers) are required in order to make any headway on the road from non-life to life. But as Miller’s conversation with host Eric Anderson suggests, even that might be to exaggerate what the University of Tokyo experimenters accomplished, since the RNA “evolution” they achieved was actually devolution. Tune in as Miller and Anderson break it down. And for more, check out Miller’s Evolution News article on the subject.
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.
Today’s ID the Future features audio of the first in a series of YouTube videos by Dr. James Tour on the origin-of-life problem. Here Tour, a renowned synthetic organic chemist and professor at Rice University, explains why he is addressing the origin-of-life issue, also known as abiogenesis, and touches on some common misconceptions about the field. He says the organizing impetus for the series is a YouTube video by Dave Farina, “Elucidating the Agenda of James Tour: A Defense of Abiogenesis.” As Farina’s title suggests, he begins his video with an ad hominem attack, seeking to discredit Tour by showing that Tour is a Christian. Tour briefly responds to this line of attack and then moves into matters scientific. There he touches on, among other issues, thermodynamics and the origin-of-life puzzle of low entropy and high energy.
On this episode of ID the Future, Robert Marks interviews Roger Olsen, co-author of the groundbreaking 1984 book The Mystery of Life’s Origin. In the book’s epilogue they suggested that a designing intelligence stands as the best explanation for the origin of life. And with a revised and greatly expanded new edition of the book now available, he says that 36 years of additional research from the origin-of-life community has left their conclusions stronger than ever. Now an environmental scientist, Olsen has spent his career since then helping homes and families abroad protect children from the ravages of environmental pollution.
On this episode of ID the Future, Brian Miller, who holds a Ph.D. in physics from Duke University, examines Dr. Jeremy England’s physics-based theory of the origin of life. England’s theory, based on his studies of “non-equilibrium systems,” suggests that a system driven strongly enough could create order and therefore be a potential explanation for the origin of life. Miller summarizes the theory and discusses what he sees as its fatal weaknesses.
On this episode of ID the Future, Brian Miller discusses the thermodynamics of the origin of life. Listen in to learn more about equilibrium, self-organization, and how the cell defies natural tendencies towards high entropy and low energy. Materialistic explanations seem to hit a wall when examining the physics of abiogenesis.
On this episode of ID the Future, hear part 3 of a lecture given by David Snoke at a conference sponsored by the Christian Scientific Society. In this segment, Dr. Snoke, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Pittsburg, discusses the “Maxwell’s demon” thought experiment and evaluations the odds of an information processing system occurring spontaneously.