Origins of Life Initiative

Jack Szostak from Harvard Medical School is “trying to build a synthetic cellular system that undergoes Darwinian evolution” to silence once and for all the creationists and Intelligent Design proponents out there. Well, Good Luck with that!

Szostak [content edited] at least he got his Nobel Prize before beginning to chase ghosts. It’s also telling that he feels Darwinian evolution is not “settled science” and in fact needs the experimental proof he seeks.

Success in this initiative will of course not put an end to creationism and ID (after all Szostak himself is a pretty intelligent designer), not that linking to the failed 1952 Miller-Urey experiment among others augurs any imminent breakthrough.


Thanks for the link! I haven’t listened yet but will soon. It’s pretty old (>5 years) and a lot has happened since then, but I love Szostak’s work.


And so you come back…and immediately mock a scientist for attempting a most ambitious project.

Is there anything Productive you would like to discuss? You are off to a pretty bad start…


That would indeed be interesting had he actually said anything like that.


In other news, the recent eclipse afforded us with the chance to test Einstein’s theory, because General Relativity is not “settled science” and in fact needs the experimental proof we seek.

For reference, here is a complete list of settled sciences:
… <<crickets>> …


Where did Szostak say that Darwinian evolution is not settled science, and where does he say that his experiment is a test of Darwinian evolution?

From my reading of the article, he is trying to figure out how you transition from chemicals to something that starts evolving. The experiment is focused on abiogenesis, not evolution.


Exactly. And that’s very much not settled science.

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I absolutely agree. The analogy I often use is Germ Theory. Most creationists I speak to seem to accept the Germ Theory of Disease without requiring the theory to also include abiogenesis as the origin of germs. The same applies to evolution and abiogenesis.


If you were to poll YECs, how many would we expect to choose the first of 3 possible options?

Choice #1 [ x ] God did not create disease, Adam & Eve did: When Adam & Eve fell, thousands of living germs (pathogens from bacteria to fungus to viruses) instantly appeared outside of Eden, part of a Fallen Universe without any effort by God.

Choice #2 […] God created disease as soon as Adam & Eve sinned: When Adam & Eve fell, thousands of living germs (pathogens from bacteria to fungus to viruses) instantly appeared outside of Eden, part of a fallen universe, all created by God.

Choice #3 […] Like all other living things, God had created diseases … as part of his divine plan long before he created humanity through evolutionary processes.

How many would be have a consistent position between the Germ Theory of Disease and the Theory of Evolution?

If you have to accept a natural origin for life in order to accept a natural process for how life changes, why wouldn’t you also have to accept a natural origin of germs in order to accept a natural process for how germs change their host?

What creationists are trying to do is pretty obvious. They try to tie something that science knows very little about (abiogenesis) to something that science knows a lot about (evolution). They hope to make the evidence for one theory go away by pointing to the doubt that exists for another theory.

At the end of the day, if God planted a simple prokaryote on the Earth 4 billion years ago, and all life evolved from that first species, then the theory of evolution would be completely unchanged. ID/creationists just can’t seem to wrap their heads around this simple fact.


I am in the process of readying Finding Darwin’s God by Kenneth Miller (thanks to a recommendation by someone here) and he has some very good comments on why the creationists do what they do. It is a great book so far and the only problem is it is a little dated, copyright 1999.

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Actually, it’s settled, meaning there is no strong current of thought against it. This doesn’t mean it can never change. Newtonian mechanics is also settled despite being wrong near some border conditions.

I hope you know not everything is always spelled out. It’s implied - listen to Szostak - he wants some results to demonstrate Darwinism to creationists. It is the loud and clear sound of inadequacy.

Humor me and let’s just say this may be bad science. If so, what about the young, and no doubt intelligent, members of Szostak’s team? Is he leading them to the Promised Land or to a dead end in the scientific desert? And what about the numerous other groups out there wasting their intelligence on chasing the same ghost? Of course, a few alchemists also stumbled upon important discoveries, but a lot more useful science would have resulted had these alchemists focused instead on solving real problems.

The other thing you might want to consider is: when you start some research to demonstrate something to someone it means you already have a prejudice which is much different than a hypothesis. It is bad science.

Not true. In fact it is known to be utterly unsettled, because it does not incorporate quantum mechanics.

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Hey, it’s you who keeps insisting that you know what he really means, between the lines… and so just because he doesn’t say it … doesn’t mean that’s not what he meant.


Scientists are always looking for new and better modeling techniques. His interest in the project almost certainly has nothing to do with his personal opinion about evolution.

If you don’t get that, you aren’t going to get anything.

Because “getting that” about the way scientists think does not require you to accept evolution.

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I will affirm what my fellow physicist says. General Relativity, despite its smashing successes, fairly early on predicted its own demise- in the sense that it cannot be the ultimate theory breaking down on the smallest of scales and awkwardly predicting various singularities inside black holes and in the beginning of our universe- I.e. It utterly fails on the scale quantum mechanics describes.

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So no, he didn’t say what you said after all.

No, I see no reason to humor you. You misrepresented what he said, and your hypothetical suggestion here is pointless.

Might I ask how much science you’ve done?


No, you INFERRED it. And then you put it between quotation marks. Was that ethical?


In my experience, few people understand the difference between “imply” and “infer.” Just sayin …

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So are you implying that someone misused some vocabulary earlier? I’ll infer that such is the case.


Is this scenario your belief? That would be a huge discontinuity (inconsistency) screaming for an explanation.

Anyway here’s Googe: abiogenesis [is] “the original evolution of life or living organisms from inorganic or inanimate substances.” Apparently you cannot separate the two. Here I agree with Google and Szostak.

The question is: what kind of science is this where there’s only one hypothesis and it is declared true before any proof? Actually, there are alternative hypotheses that the scientific establishment reject out of hand. This is not science, but the dark ages.

On another note, it’s sad that the replies so far show only angry group think (if “think” is even the right word).

“Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” -Colossians 4:6

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