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Monday, August 24, 2009

Uncommon Descent Contest Question 9: Is accidental origin of life a doctrine that holds back science?

For a free copy of Stephen Meyer's Signature in the Cell (Harper One, 2009), help me understand the following:

Accidental origin of life is the basic thesis of origin of life researchers. Life all just somehow sort of happened one day, billions of years ago, under the right conditions - which we may be able to recreate. But there is a constant, ongoing dispute about just what those conditions were.

Here is the problem I have always had with accidental origin of life: It amounts to spontaneous generation. However, banishing the doctrine of spontaneous generation played a key role in modern medicine's success. If we assume that life forms (for medical purposes, we focus on pathogens) cannot start spontaneously, then they must have been introduced. Hence, we can develop procedures for a sterile operating room or lab.

If life can be spontaneously generated, why isn't it happening now? Conditions for life today are probably as good as they have ever been, and maybe better. For over 500 million years they have obviously been good for complex life forms, and for billions of years they have been good for simple ones.

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Find out why there is an intelligent design controversy:


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