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Aug 03 2011

How we know all life shares a common origin

According to Anthony McCarthy over at Greg’s blog, extrapolating from this information to determine something about how life began on this planet is purely ideological mythmaking. Never mind that every species on the planet shares the same metabolism, by the same enzymes, which must be coded for by the same combinations of chemicals, and these chemicals must come into being by the same chemical processes. Or that as you work your way backward you can determine the lipids and amino acids that must have been how this particular origin of life happened, and that you can replicate in a laboratory the spontaneous generation of these lipids and amino acids from the pure chemicals in varying environments that are similar to, if not identical to, the best models we have of the composition of the early Earth. Meaning we have pretty much every step in the chain replicated plausibly, so even if we don’t know the exact events, we can with a fairly high degree of confidence claim that we actually know a good deal about how life probably emerged here.

Oh, he also doesn’t believe in emergence, meaning he’s never seen a fractal or snowflake under a microscope. And loves to scoff at the idea that we’re skeptics, just because we’re convinced by the evidence presented. I’ve given up on him, now that he’s decided to “copy [my words] as the most irrational series of assertions by the self-identified champions of science and reason [he's] had the dubious privilege of reading.”

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