Scientists develop first examples of RNA that replicates itself indefinitely

Jan 09, 2009

Now, a pair of Scripps Research Institute scientists has taken a significant step toward answering that question. The scientists have synthesized for the first time RNA enzymes that can replicate themselves without the help of any proteins or other cellular components, and the process proceeds indefinitely.

The work was published on Thursday, January 8, 2008, in Science Express, the advanced, online edition of the journal Science.

In the modern world, DNA carries the genetic sequence for advanced organisms, while RNA is dependent on DNA for performing its roles such as building proteins. But one prominent theory about the origins of life, called the RNA World model, postulates that because RNA can function as both a gene and an enzyme, RNA might have come before DNA and protein and acted as the ancestral molecule of life. However, the process of copying a genetic molecule, which is considered a basic qualification for life, appears to be exceedingly complex, involving many proteins and other cellular components.

For years, researchers have wondered whether there might be some simpler way to copy RNA, brought about by the RNA itself. Some tentative steps along this road had previously been taken by the Joyce lab and others, but no one could demonstrate that RNA replication could be self-propagating, that is, result in new copies of RNA that also could copy themselves.

In Vitro Evolution

A few years after Tracey Lincoln arrived at Scripps Research from Jamaica to pursue her Ph.D., she began exploring the RNA-only replication concept along with her advisor, Professor Gerald Joyce, M.D., Ph.D., who is also Dean of the Faculty at Scripps Research. Their work began with a method of forced adaptation known as in vitro evolution. The goal was to take one of the RNA enzymes already developed in the lab that could perform the basic chemistry of replication, and improve it to the point that it could drive efficient, perpetual self-replication.

Lincoln synthesized in the laboratory a large population of variants of the RNA enzyme that would be challenged to do the job, and carried out a test-tube evolution procedure to obtain those variants that were most adept at joining together pieces of RNA.

Ultimately, this process enabled the team to isolate an evolved version of the original enzyme that is a very efficient replicator, something that many research groups, including Joyce's, had struggled for years to obtain. The improved enzyme fulfilled the primary goal of being able to undergo perpetual replication. "It kind of blew me away," says Lincoln.

Immortalizing Molecular Information

The replicating system actually involves two enzymes, each composed of two subunits and each functioning as a catalyst that assembles the other. The replication process is cyclic, in that the first enzyme binds the two subunits that comprise the second enzyme and joins them to make a new copy of the second enzyme; while the second enzyme similarly binds and joins the two subunits that comprise the first enzyme. In this way the two enzymes assemble each other — what is termed cross-replication. To make the process proceed indefinitely requires only a small starting amount of the two enzymes and a steady supply of the subunits.

"This is the only case outside biology where molecular information has been immortalized," says Joyce.

Not content to stop there, the researchers generated a variety of enzyme pairs with similar capabilities. They mixed 12 different cross-replicating pairs, together with all of their constituent subunits, and allowed them to compete in a molecular test of survival of the fittest. Most of the time the replicating enzymes would breed true, but on occasion an enzyme would make a mistake by binding one of the subunits from one of the other replicating enzymes. When such "mutations" occurred, the resulting recombinant enzymes also were capable of sustained replication, with the most fit replicators growing in number to dominate the mixture. "To me that's actually the biggest result," says Joyce.

The research shows that the system can sustain molecular information, a form of heritability, and give rise to variations of itself in a way akin to Darwinian evolution. So, says Lincoln, "What we have is non-living, but we've been able to show that it has some life-like properties, and that was extremely interesting."

Knocking on the Door of Life

The group is pursuing potential applications of their discovery in the field of molecular diagnostics, but that work is tied to a research paper currently in review, so the researchers can't yet discuss it.

But the main value of the work, according to Joyce, is at the basic research level. "What we've found could be relevant to how life begins, at that key moment when Darwinian evolution starts." He is quick to point out that, while the self-replicating RNA enzyme systems share certain characteristics of life, they are not themselves a form of life.

The historical origin of life can never be recreated precisely, so without a reliable time machine, one must instead address the related question of whether life could ever be created in a laboratory. This could, of course, shed light on what the beginning of life might have looked like, at least in outline. "We're not trying to play back the tape," says Lincoln of their work, "but it might tell us how you go about starting the process of understanding the emergence of life in the lab."

Joyce says that only when a system is developed in the lab that has the capability of evolving novel functions on its own can it be properly called life. "We're knocking on that door," he says, "But of course we haven't achieved that."

The subunits in the enzymes the team constructed each contain many nucleotides, so they are relatively complex and not something that would have been found floating in the primordial ooze. But, while the building blocks likely would have been simpler, the work does finally show that a simpler form of RNA-based life is at least possible, which should drive further research to explore the RNA World theory of life's origins.

The paper is titled "Self-sustained Replication of an RNA Enzyme," and the work was supported by NASA and the National Institutes of Health, and the Skaggs Institute for Chemical Biology.

Source: Scripps Research Institute

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Modernmystic
1.3 / 5 (14) Jan 09, 2009
Cool, good evidence for intelligent design.
thales
3.9 / 5 (7) Jan 09, 2009
Most of the time the replicating enzymes would breed true, but on occasion an enzyme would make a mistake by binding one of the subunits from one of the other replicating enzymes. When such "mutations" occurred, the resulting recombinant enzymes also were capable of sustained replication, with the most fit replicators growing in number to dominate the mixture.

@ Modernmystic

By your definition of intelligent design, your comment was a mistake. Not to worry, the least fit comments disappear ;)
Valentiinro
not rated yet Jan 10, 2009
"Now, a pair of Scripps Research Institute scientists has taken a significant step toward answering that question."

That makes sense, if the headline were a question. The headline is not a question .'. What are they talking about?

Did they change the headline and leave the opening bit the same?
LuckyBrandon
3 / 5 (2) Jan 10, 2009
How in the world could htis ever be seen as ANY evidence of intelligent design. If anything, it proves that NO intelligence was necessary, only nature.
You're hanging out in the wrong web area if you even think intelligent design could be real. People need to get out of the "oh look, a fireball in the sky, its must be Thor's chariot" (aka, I can't explain it, so god did it) state of mind if mankind is to ever move on.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2009
Only a bunch of simple minded morons would suggest that this is proof of a NATURAL process...one created in a lab with specifically tailored conditions to produce a certian result.

It's like saying a factory designed to build cars could just as easilly produced eggs...

Oh and to LuckyBrandn, YOU might be haning out on the wrong website if you think that YOUR ideas are absolute and there is no room for debate in science...you might feel more comfortable on a young Earth creatinist site...they tend to fee the same way about science.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
Most of the time the replicating enzymes would breed true, but on occasion an enzyme would make a mistake by binding one of the subunits from one of the other replicating enzymes. When such "mutations" occurred, the resulting recombinant enzymes also were capable of sustained replication, with the most fit replicators growing in number to dominate the mixture.


Pray tell Thales under WHAT condtions were these enzymes "bread" and selected? Would that have been in a controled and DESIGNED envoronment? If not what's the point of calling it an experiment? I mean to say if you don't have a controled environment you can't say you can replicate your results in any meaninful way, and hence it isn't science you're doing...

Go fish.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2009
FTA:
Lincoln synthesized in the laboratory a large population of variants of the RNA enzyme that would be challenged to do the job, and carried out a test-tube evolution procedure to obtain those variants that were most adept at joining together pieces of RNA.


Hmmm they SYNTHESIZED the RNA for their experiment...synthesized...huh. Any of you know what that word means? Any idea if it might imply a design imposed on the experiment from the get go? In fact the entire thing wouldn't have been possible if not for these DESIGNED enzymes.

ptttf...idiots...

NeilFarbstein
not rated yet Jan 11, 2009
Vulvox had a project utilizing self splicing ribosomes to treat tumors. Jack szostak the Principal investigator didn't want to go back to the research he had been doing before.
OBSL33t
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
Cool, good evidence for intelligent design.

No, actually this has been the one nagging holes in abiogenisis, and is actually evidence that a natural RNA evolution to DNA was possible.
Hmmm they SYNTHESIZED the RNA for their experiment...synthesized...huh.

The experiment SYNTHETICALY combined NATURAL cells and duplicated the right conditions for replication. Otherwise the research would have taken four billion years.
It's like saying a factory designed to build cars could just as easily produced eggs...

The difference being that there is evidence for car factories, not for a designer of life.
Only a bunch of simple minded morons would suggest that this is proof of a NATURAL process...

well, then I guess the Scripps Research Institute is a bunch of morons because that is exactly what they are trying to explain with this experiment.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 11, 2009
No, actually this has been the one nagging holes in abiogenisis, and is actually evidence that a natural RNA evolution to DNA was possible.


Using pre-extant RNA...this is proof of nothing at all, other than something already possibly designed can function in X manner in a controlled designed environment.

The experiment SYNTHETICALY combined NATURAL cells and duplicated the right conditions for replication. Otherwise the research would have taken four billion years.


First of all if you knew a f*#^ing thing about bio-genesis you'd know it did NOT take four billion years for life to appear on Earth. It happened VERY quickly after the conditions were just right. It took about four billion years to get where we are NOW...mmmkay.

Secondly THANK YOU for just reiterating and reinforcing my original point. All they did was take an existing complex structure and proved it will behave in a certain manner given certain conditions. Doesn't say a damn thing about how the complex structure itself came to be, much less how we get from RNA to a fully functional cell which are about as far apart as a bicycle and the space shuttle...

The difference being that there is evidence for car factories, not for a designer of life.


Well since they can't even get a structure as simple (relatively speaking) as RNA to spontaneously self assemble and instead are pretending to make points using already extant structures it's a pretty damn weak case for anything else.

Besides that wasn't even my point. My point was that since they designed the "factory" in question to "build cars" they shouldn't be breaking their arms patting themselves on the back for GETTING cars. Especially when they didn't even design it themselves but stole the design from...errrm somewhere else.

well, then I guess the Scripps Research Institute is a bunch of morons because that is exactly what they are trying to explain with this experiment.


LMFAO, that's EXACTLY what I'm saying and what I was trying to say in my original post. It's quite ironic that someone uses something (ie RNA) already designed to generate other things it (ie this "brilliant experiment") was designed to make to prove that this is somehow a NATURAL process....f#*&ing hysterical is what it is.

OBSL33t
3 / 5 (2) Jan 11, 2009
Modernmystic,
you're assuming quite a lot by saying that RNA was "already designed".
Even if it took 1000 years for life to appear on earth(when it did actually take 3.8 billion for complex cells such as RNA to form), it would be impractical to do such an experiment. . .mmmkay.
Instead, what they have done is used previously established research to predict what the conditions must have been, and emulated them.
It isn't as though they flipped a coin and said,"Heads, let's use these enzymes!"
The point of this experiment was not to determine the origin of RNA, but if it could bond and replicate.
Yes their experiment was a success, I'm sure when the first automotive factory churned out their first batch of cars there was a lot of back patting(except this analogy is a flawed one).
There has been lots of other published research on the origin of RNA, and none of it suggests design.
Your biased towards design(you have faith in it) so you're ignoring the vast amounts of research supporting natural evolution.
The fact is, this IS a pretty provocative study.
It means a lot that such experiments are succeeding.
Who are you to call the researchers of this study morons?
Especially posting on a science site with a name that has the word Mystic in it?
Modernmystic
1.7 / 5 (3) Jan 11, 2009
you're assuming quite a lot by saying that RNA was "already designed".


You're assuming a lot when you say it wasn't either. Since you don't know how it happened its more than just a little intellectually dishonest to say you know how it DIDN'T happen...

Even if it took 1000 years for life to appear on earth(when it did actually take 3.8 billion for complex cells such as RNA to form)


Uhhh...you know RNA isn't a cell right? A cell is VASTLY more complex than RNA. Life, single celled life has been around for 3.8 billion years and formed very quickly. Complex life (depending on how you define complex...since a single cell is way beyond our ability to create at present) took several billion years.

it would be impractical to do such an experiment. . .mmmkay.


I don't give a crap. If you're trying to prove a NATURAL process was responsible for the genesis of life THAT'S the experiment you need to do...not futz around with extant life/components that may have or have not been designed. Otherwise all you're doing is pissing in the wind, both philosophically AND scientifically.

There has been lots of other published research on the origin of RNA, and none of it suggests design.


Should be easy to show this experimentally then...wonder why they haven't...oh yeah that's because it's BULLCRAP. They can't even show RNA can be self assembling...much less getting from there to something vastly more complex, oh like say a SINGLE CELL.

Your biased towards design(you have faith in it) so you're ignoring the vast amounts of research supporting natural evolution.


Pot...kettle...black...really get over yourself.

Moreover I'm not disputing "natural" evolution as even you would probably describe it. See over here we have a shiny red thing called an apple, over there we have an orange thing with texture called an orange...you can't really compare the two. Bio-genesis and natural evolution are two totally different concepts. One describes how a process got started and the other describes a process of modification of said process.

The fact is, this IS a pretty provocative study.
It means a lot that such experiments are succeeding.
Who are you to call the researchers of this study morons?


Oh just one of the ignorant unwashed masses incapable of understanding the mysterious ways of the modern priesthood. Christ even the Catholics in the middle ages weren't as self important, condescending, and arrogant as modern atheist scientists...despite the fact that most of their theories that they consider gospel are overturned about every few decades.

Especially posting on a science site with a name that has the word Mystic in it?


Irony/humor meet OBSL33t...OBSL33t meet Irony/humor...
denijane
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2009
If we have a natural mutation that chooses the 2 fittest enzymes then if you ask me, this is a very good evidence of evolution. But I don't want to spoil your fun.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2009
If we have a natural mutation that chooses the 2 fittest enzymes then if you ask me, this is a very good evidence of evolution. But I don't want to spoil your fun.


Why would it spoil my fun? I happen to agree with the idea of natural selection.

I hate to make a fool of you, but that's not what we've been talking about. You might want to beef up your reading comprehension...
denijane
not rated yet Jan 12, 2009
Modernmystic, not your fun, but the fun of the people who see in this some artificial design evidences. They just enjoy the fight, so I don't want to spoil it with logic. :)
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jan 12, 2009
This is terrible. I have to support the oxymoron Modernmystic. OBSL33t would you mind thinking and proofreading before you post so it doesn't happen again?

o, actually this has been the one nagging holes in abiogenisis, and is actually evidence that a natural RNA evolution to DNA was possible.


No it's not. Its evidence that RNA can reproduce itself without the use of protein enzymes. It says nothing about DNA.

The experiment SYNTHETICALY combined NATURAL cells and duplicated the right conditions for replication.


Where are cells mentioned in the article? Nowhere. It does say in vitro. That means in glass as opposed to in vivo.

ASPCA code of approval goes here.

No cells were harmed in this experiment.

"Only a bunch of simple minded morons would suggest that this is proof of a NATURAL process..."

well, then I guess the Scripps Research Institute is a bunch of morons because that is exactly what they are trying to explain with this experiment.


No they weren't. They were trying to prove that RNA could replicate itself without the use of protein enzymes. They proved that such a rybozyme exists (actually they showed a pair of rybozymes could relplicate each other). They did not, however, prove that the specific rybozymes they evolved could have reproduced themselves in nature as it existed 3.8 billion years ago. Its an important step but not the be all and end all of abiogenisis research.

Next post. The one that really bugged me.

Modernmystic,
you're assuming quite a lot by saying that RNA was "already designed".


No. That's what it says in the article. They started with RNA used in a previous experiment that was unable to self-replicate without supporting protein enzymes. They evolved a self-replicating version. Clever, I want to see the original article.

Even if it took 1000 years for life to appear on earth(when it did actually take 3.8 billion for complex cells such as RNA to form), it would be impractical to do such an experiment. . .mmmkay.


No. It's not OK to make such a mess. RNA isn't a cell. Its a molecule. Usually a very large compound molecule made up of many subunits. It is quite possible that RNA was reproducing itself prior to the existence of cells. That is part of the background for this line of research. The earliest signs occured 3.8 billion years ago. Don't confuse that with 3.8 billions of evolution to develop RNA because that is nonsense.

The point of this experiment was not to determine the origin of RNA, but if it could bond and replicate.


Almost right. Nothing about bonding though. Just replication. How did you get this sorta right and mess up the rest so badly?

There has been lots of other published research on the origin of RNA, and none of it suggests design.


Nor does any show the lack of it since it all has to occur in a lab. No way around that. Unless of course you have a time machine available or the patience and technology to find a planet in a pre-stage in then watch carefully for a long time.

Well there is an extremely tiny possiblity of a Burgess Shale equivalent from over 3.8 billion years ago. Even that probably wouldn't do the job as its unlikely that the ancient chemicals would be even remotely intact.

Please do not screw up so badly again. I hate backing the oxymoron. I only marked two of his posts on this thread a one. The rest made at least some sense, I even marked at least one a 3.

Ethelred
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2009
Cool, good evidence for intelligent design.


Nonsense.

Its evidence that RNA can self-replicate without any protein enzymes. Sure it was done in a lab. Creationists love to demand reproducible evidence and then, when confronted with what they demanded, decry it as evidence of design since it was done in a lab.

Modernmystic if you don't want to look like a Creationist don't act like one.

Ethelred
Ethelred
3 / 5 (2) Jan 12, 2009
Modernmystic said
I don't give a crap. If you're trying to prove a NATURAL process was responsible for the genesis of life THAT'S the experiment you need to do...not futz around with extant life/components that may have or have not been designed. Otherwise all you're doing is pissing in the wind, both philosophically AND scientifically.


The first steps in proving natural processes were responsible is proving that ANY processes can do the job. You can't show that RNA can reproduce itself untill you find one form that can do so at all. That is what was done in this experiment. Its not in any way pissing in the wind.

Unfortunatly it is highly unlikely that it will ever be possible to prove that biogenisis was a natural occurance. It was very long ago and the chemicals involved likely constituted food for what came later.

In other words our ancestors ate the evidence.

Ethelred
LuckyBrandon
2.5 / 5 (2) Jan 24, 2009
ModernMystic-
You mustve misunderstood what I was meaning by saying it shows that nature itself is capable. we reproduce these types of things using compounds that exist in nature. that means it is quite feasible for hte compounds to potentially mix in nature and cause the exact same effect. obviously we can never go back and reproduce the rela RNA strands that started wiggling (until we get a time machine going anyways).

healthy debate is always a good thing. but IMO, debating on a science site about a higher power of any type is just plain dumb. creationism is simply an ancient belief to explain things we simply had no capability to explain thousands upon thousands years ago(in fact, probably 100s of thousands originally).

also on your otehr note about it taking much less than 4 biollion years....very accurate, life began nearly instantly in geological terms....under a billion years or so I'd bet (albeit it was only basically fungal life corprising of any complexity)


what will be nice, is WHEN they discover either living, or dead, microbial, bacterial, or other forms of life on mars (live or dead doesn't matter to answer the question), the jebus freaks (or any regligion for that matter) out there will have to take a good long hard look at just how special we really aren't, and how special our planet really isn't (in the grand scheme of things, of course its A-OK to us). kind of takes the whole god making all this stuff out the equation at that point in my mind.


even better yet, when we're extinct, and the next intelligent species evolves and they are in their hay shack phase of civilization, aka, before the birth of their science, imagine what they will think if they run across an airplane 90% buried in a freakin mountainside. Or, is a satellite still existed, which it wont, but if it did, and fell to earth, and the "tribal" leader sees this...what is he/she/it going to say. they wont be able to explain it, and if their minds work anything like ours (which some similarities have to be expected with being from the same gene pool of the earth all in all), then they are most likely going to say some sort of god caused it (or spirit, divinity, however you want to refer to it). whats that going to lead to...another 100k years of arguing the fact it doesnt exist.
ive said it before and ill say it again, the probability of an all powerful god (or gods) existing is so virtually non-existent, it would be comparable to winning the freakin lottery 5000 times IN A ROW in 10 different states in the same 5000 weeks.
Modernmystic
1 / 5 (1) Jan 24, 2009
ModernMystic-
You mustve misunderstood what I was meaning by saying it shows that nature itself is capable. we reproduce these types of things using compounds that exist in nature. that means it is quite feasible for hte compounds to potentially mix in nature and cause the exact same effect. obviously we can never go back and reproduce the rela RNA strands that started wiggling (until we get a time machine going anyways).


And yet in spite of this admitted ignorance of the truth some of "you" still insist that while you don't know how it DID happen you most certialy know how it DIDN'T...and then have the nerve to condesend to creationists. Give me a $(^^(ing break....

healthy debate is always a good thing. but IMO, debating on a science site about a higher power of any type is just plain dumb.


Of course because we're not intrested in truth on a "science site", but our own version of faith...

creationism is simply an ancient belief to explain things we simply had no capability to explain thousands upon thousands years ago(in fact, probably 100s of thousands originally).


Yes creationism is irrational and doesn't hold well with the evidence. They're almost as intellectually dishonest with themselves as atheists are...

what will be nice, is WHEN they discover either living, or dead, microbial, bacterial, or other forms of life on mars (live or dead doesn't matter to answer the question), the jebus freaks (or any regligion for that matter) out there will have to take a good long hard look at just how special we really aren't, and how special our planet really isn't


Oh really? I think such a discovery might speak to how special LIFE isn't, but will say next to nothing about how special complex intelligent life capable of science, spirituality, art, philosopy is....

In fact the Fermi paradox and new ideas like those expressed in the book "Rare Earth" (a very good read btw) might put you in the exact same position you'd relish the other camp to be in.

kind of takes the whole god making all this stuff out the equation at that point in my mind.


When someone can explain to me how the universe violated it's (well not it's laws I guess because it didn't even have the benefit of existing at that point) own laws and matter and energy came from nothing (as in nothing, a la Aristotle "what rocks dream about") might take the whole "god thing" out of the equation for me. Until then something other than or outside this universe (supernatural if I ever heard the definition) is absolutely REQUIRED in the equation...not implied...not merely possible...but REQUIRED.


even better yet, when we're extinct, and the next intelligent species evolves


First of all it's highly unlikely we'll ever go extinct, secondly it's also unlikely another species will have time to evolve intelligence should we...the sun will render the planet uninhabitable long before it enters it's red giant phase.

...god caused it (or spirit, divinity, however you want to refer to it). whats that going to lead to...another 100k years of arguing the fact it doesnt exist.


Doesn't lend any credence to your argument, merely puts the question back one step and still begs a question.

ive said it before and ill say it again, the probability of an all powerful god (or gods) existing is so virtually non-existent, it would be comparable to winning the freakin lottery 5000 times IN A ROW in 10 different states in the same 5000 weeks.


Ineresting that's better odds than all 200 some odd chemical processes a single cell depends upon to exist to all come together in the right order from the simple brownian motion of a molecular soup....
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jan 27, 2009
ModernMystic-
And yet in spite of this admitted ignorance of the truth some of "you" still insist that while you don't know how it DID happen you most certialy know how it DIDN'T


How it didn't covers a lot of ground. I know lots of ways the Universe didn't start. It's certain that the universe didn't start in either of the ways that Genesis has it. So its O.K. to say that Young Earth Creationists have it wrong. Something you clearly agree with, by the way.

Of course because we're not intrested in truth on a "science site", but our own version of faith...


Nonsense. His statement was valid. Saying god did it isn't science its the abnegation of science. As in 'God did it so don't bother looking for any other answer'. Whether or not a god started up the Universe or meddled with life, its not science to claim one did. Its religion.

Yes creationism is irrational and doesn't hold well with the evidence. They're almost as intellectually dishonest with themselves as atheists are...


Atheists only have one non-rational belief. That there is no god. I think they go that way because they are reasonably certain that the Christian god doesn't exist. A false dichotomy as there could be other gods. However there is no claimed god that I am aware of with evidence to support its existence.

I have convinced several self-described atheists that they are agnostics. Of course that's a narrow definition of atheist and most believers call me one despite my protestions of being agnostic.

When someone can explain to me how the universe violated it's (well not it's laws I guess because it didn't even have the benefit of existing at that point) own laws and matter and energy came from nothing (as in nothing, a la Aristotle "what rocks dream about") might take the whole "god thing" out of the equation for me. Until then something other than or outside this universe (supernatural if I ever heard the definition) is absolutely REQUIRED in the equation...not implied...not merely possible...but REQUIRED.


Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There is no requirement for a god simply because we don't know everything. That is a god of the gaps argument.

So far as I can see the Universe follows laws including laws we are not aware of. However if you demand something that is not inherently a part of the Universe I would like to point out Mathematics. 1 1=2 is almost certainly independent of the universe we live in. My thinking at present is that the Universe exists because it can. Whereas most people's idea of a god is something that is independent of even mathematics. Of course the nuns always told us that Jehovah could do anything except contradict Jehova. They should have read Genesis 1 AND 2 to the Bible contradict itself.

First of all it's highly unlikely we'll ever go extinct, secondly it's also unlikely another species will have time to evolve intelligence should we...the sun will render the planet uninhabitable long before it enters it's red giant phase.


I think its likely we will go extinct. At least in the same sense that Homo Erectus has gone extinct. We may even go extinct in the sense that Tyrannosaurus Rex did. After all we have the Bomb as well as chemical and biological weapons. Plus nanotech coming up.

I also think that there is enough time for another sentient species to evolve, assuming we don't take all the higher mammals with us. Heck, we evolved from small pro-simians in less than 65 million years. I think there is that much time before the sun gets too hot for life on Earth. The only figure I have seen for that is 100 million years and then only once. You do have a bit of a point there though as most people think life on Earth has billions of years of future left since they aren't aware that the sun increases its output over time.

Ineresting that's better odds than all 200 some odd chemical processes a single cell depends upon to exist to all come together in the right order from the simple brownian motion of a molecular soup....


Actually that's part of the point of the research we are sorta discussing. There is no reason besides religion to claim there are that many processes that are needed. What they showed was that its possible that only RNA and the right source molecules are needed. There is no reason to claim a cell is required. Though cell like membranes have been made with simple lipid molecules and a bit of agitation such as can occur in the intertidal zone so even if a cell is needed the chemistry could have occurred in pre-existing lipid envelopes.

You gotta quit depending on Dr. Behe for your bio-chemistry. He doesn't want to know about any answer that doesn't require a god.

Ethelred
Modernmystic
4 / 5 (1) Jan 28, 2009
How it didn't covers a lot of ground. I know lots of ways the Universe didn't start. It's certain that the universe didn't start in either of the ways that Genesis has it. So its O.K. to say that Young Earth Creationists have it wrong. Something you clearly agree with, by the way.

Wow you can compare apples and oranges bravo.

Nonsense. His statement was valid. Saying god did it isn't science its the abnegation of science.

That's what we call a personal opinion. Glad you have those too. Most of the greatest scientists of the Enlightenment and the Renaissance would disagree with you and they did great science. Try again.
As in 'God did it so don't bother looking for any other answer'. Whether or not a god started up the Universe or meddled with life, its not science to claim one did. Its religion.

This is a patently false dilemma created my modern atheists who want the two ideas divorced. Sorry we%u2019re going to have to agree to disagree and let our OPINONS on the matter stand. Personally I think the two compliment each other, that you don%u2019t is of absolutely ZERO interest to me.
However when it gets "cool" to believe that religion and science are both searches for the truth and not mutually exclusive be sure to let me know so I can not care about it as much then as I don't now.

Atheists only have one non-rational belief. That there is no god. I think they go that way because they are reasonably certain that the Christian god doesn't exist. A false dichotomy as there could be other gods. However there is no claimed god that I am aware of with evidence to support its existence.

The difference between them and young Earth creationists, you, and me is that they are too stupid to realize it and pretend this somehow this irrationality gives them the right to assail irrationality by virtue of their own.
Hey I know all my beliefs are not entirely rational, I%u2019m fine with it. Just don't try to tell me your irrational beliefs are better than mine...or worse yet TRUE because (to paraphrase a verse from a Christian children's song) "the scientist's tell me so...."

I have convinced several self-described atheists that they are agnostics. Of course that's a narrow definition of atheist and most believers call me one despite my protestions of being agnostic.


Keep protesting. you're right and they're wrong. You have the only totally self consistent and logical position on the subject.

Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. There is no requirement for a god simply because we don't know everything. That is a god of the gaps argument.

The universe is the evidence. Believe me there is no lack of it. It came from somewhere...


I'd believe in the tooth fairy too if I put my tooth under a pillow and there was money underneath that I know no one else could have put there.

So far as I can see the Universe follows laws including laws we are not aware of.

As soon as you become aware of one that can explain away the origin problem let me know, because short of that there is simply no argument you can offer that would convince me. You're not saying anything I haven't heard a thousand times before.
My thinking at present is that the Universe exists because it can.

Very much on par with "Let there be light!", but not as poetical...
Of course the nuns always told us that Jehovah could do anything except contradict Jehova. They should have read Genesis 1 AND 2 to the Bible contradict itself.

You should quit relying on Hitchen's preferred debate style of empty rhetoric. Pointing out how "eeeeevvvvviviiilll" the Old Testament God and Dark Age Catholics were is not a valid argument against the existence of God.
Even if God WERE "evil" it's still not an argument against his existence. I've no doubt you're intelligent enough to understand the difference between logic and meaningless non-sequitir babble. As such I'm surprised you'd even bring it up.
I think its likely we will go extinct. At least in the same sense that Homo Erectus has gone extinct.

Well if you mean extinction in this sense I'd not only have to agree, but admit it's a virtual certainty. This is not what I was talking about however.
We may even go extinct in the sense that Tyrannosaurus Rex did. After all we have the Bomb as well as chemical and biological weapons. Plus nanotech coming up.


We'll have to agree to disagree on this one. Nanotech is about the only thing that could really do the job and I've read enough Drexler to know how unlikely our demise would be even at it's hands.

I also think that there is enough time for another sentient species to evolve, assuming we don't take all the higher mammals with us. Heck, we evolved from small pro-simians in less than 65 million years. I think there is that much time before the sun gets too hot for life on Earth. The only figure I have seen for that is 100 million years and then only once.

The book "Rare Earth" has a very good argument on this one, and rather than go into significant detail I'd simply recommend reading the book. Suffice to say intelligence is not necessarily a given in an evolutionary framework, and may actually be a rather large fluke.

You gotta quit depending on Dr. Behe for your bio-chemistry. He doesn't want to know about any answer that doesn't require a god.


As opposed to one who doesn't want to know about any answer that includes one?? What would be the great difference between the two? Besides that I've never even heard of Behe.
Ethelred
5 / 5 (1) Jan 29, 2009
Wow you can compare apples and oranges bravo.


I can also compare silly responses and intelligent ones. That one is silly. At best.

That's what we call a personal opinion. Glad you have those too. Most of the greatest scientists of the Enlightenment and the Renaissance would disagree with you and they did great science. Try again.


And that too is a personal opinion. That is what debate largely consists of.

The greatest scientists of the Enlightenment died long before Darwin. The Renaissance had few people that would qualify as scientists at all and they died even before the founding the Royal Society.

Science is figuring out how things work. Saying don't bother to look because a god did it is in no way science. Nor is appealing to men that knew nothing about evolution. Especially since you didn't actually do that but merely pretended to make a profound statement that actually said nothing.

At least you could have quoted one the alleged sources. Of course that would be making a statement that could dealt with. After all vague claims can't be questioned if they are so vague as to be totally meaningless.

This is a patently false dilemma created my modern atheists who want the two ideas divorced. Sorry we%u2019re going to have to agree to disagree and let our OPINONS on the matter stand.


I am in no way going to agree with that. Its not false. Its true. Saying god did it and don't look further isn't science. Its religion.

ersonally I think the two compliment each other, that you don%u2019t is of absolutely ZERO interest to me.


Now that is an opinion. If you aren't interested why did you respond?

Please show how its scientific to tell people not to bother looking because you think a god did it.

However when it gets "cool" to believe that religion and science are both searches for the truth and not mutually exclusive be sure to let me know so I can not care about it as much then as I don't now.


I am too old to bother with what is cool and what isn't. I gave that up over 30 years ago sometime in Junior High(horrors that's forty years ago). I do care about what makes sense and what doesn't. Religion may be a search for the truth in those instances when isn't a denial of truth. However that doesn't mean that religion will ever find truth. Searching in the wrong places is a waste of time. Now if you can figure out how to measure the ineffable and the indefinable than you will have something to test. If you can't test it its pretty darn hard to claim its true. Not that stops people from doing so.

Just don't try to tell me your irrational beliefs are better than mine...or worse yet TRUE


I try to avoid irrational beliefs. That's the main reason I am agnostic and neither religious nor atheist. All that I know or think I know is subject to change given new data.

All right, that is the ideal and sometimes it takes a long time for me to change my mind when the evidence isn't real clear. It took me over a decade at least to come to the conclusion that electrons really don't orbit the nucleus for instance. Wasn't till I ran across the synchrotron radiation problem that I got the idea straight.

(to paraphrase a verse from a Christian children's song) "the scientist's tell me so...."


That songs makes me shiver from the ignorance it espouses. "Because the Bible tells me so" a book written long ago by men that knew so little about how things work. Talk about irrational.


The universe is the evidence. Believe me there is no lack of it. It came from somewhere...


The same thinking applies to a god. Except there is no evidence for one. Just a desire. I find the universe is evidence for the universe. I don't feel that a lack of full understanding necessitates a belief in a god to create the universe since that fails to explain the existence of a god. Its just an unneeded complication to an already difficult subject.

I'd believe in the tooth fairy too if I put my tooth under a pillow and there was money underneath that I know no one else could have put there.


I studied magic as a kid. There is bound to be a way. In my case I pretended to sleep. Yes, I caught my mother switching the tooth for a coin.

Very much on par with "Let there be light!", but not as poetical...


If I thought there was going to be a test I would have tried harder to wax lyrical. Then again I have never thought that Bible was that well written. Tastes change over the millennia and things get lost in translation. Now the Elder Edda seems to actually be poetical and not prose but then I can't read Old Norse either.

You should quit relying on Hitchen's preferred debate style of empty rhetoric.


Never heard of him. Must be why my rhetoric isn't empty.

Pointing out how "eeeeevvvvviviiilll" the Old Testament God and Dark Age Catholics were is not a valid argument against the existence of God.


I agree. That's why I didn't make that claim. You made it for me. Thanks but no thanks.

In fact that is why I point out that the allegedly former Atheist C. S. Lewis wasn't an Atheist. He denied the existence of his god because he was angry. You can't be angry at something you don't believe exists. Well I can't anyway.

As such I'm surprised you'd even bring it up.


Than you should have notice that I didn't say what you claim I said. There was not one mention of evil so why did you bring that into it?

Now if you accused me of being a smart ass I would have to agree. After all the nuns were Catholic of course and married to Jesus rather than the Old Testament. I suspect that at least some of them didn't believe that the Old Testament is literally true.

Nanotech is about the only thing that could really do the job and I've read enough Drexler to know how unlikely our demise would be even at it's hands.


I think the Bomb is more likely to wipe us out than nanotech. Still nanotech will likely be much cheaper to produce even if Drexler is full of it when it comes to self replicating nanotech. Its not only a bad idea its a limiting idea. Nanotech that has to include the ability to self replicate would make it a less flexible tool.

Suffice to say intelligence is not necessarily a given in an evolutionary framework, and may actually be a rather large fluke.


Hard to tell but I tend to agree that its evolution was not a high probability event. Even when it developed it still wasn't enough to put early man much ahead of a bare subsistence until something extra developed to kick off real creativity.

Some things just seem low probability and a lot of time is needed for the right things to get together. Multicellular life took a long to show up and longer yet for cell specialization to occur

As opposed to one who doesn't want to know about any answer that includes one?? What would be the great difference between the two? Besides that I've never even heard of Behe.


I don't think that claiming god did it is a valid answer so far. As Behe found out at the Dover trial. Claiming that god did it and not bothering to look farther is where he failed. Others looked farther and found what he claimed couldn't exist. Which was rather awkward for him on the stand.

Dr. Behe is the main proponent, with any actual scientific education, for Inteligent Design. I admit I didn't finish "Darwin's Black Box" and I don't feel like reading his newer books. I got tired of his dubious reasoning after four or five chapters. He is a real scientist and works in bio-chemistry but he hasn't done a single experiment to support his claims. Its not his area of study. I didn't catch what he actually does or did study. I don't think it was an accident that he didn't go into that since it apparently doesn't relate to evolution at all.

He was the star witness for the defense in the Dover trial. He failed to convince the judge that Intelligent Design was an actual science. Not surprising since he really hadn't done the work needed to support his ideas. Just claimed that certain features of complex cells couldn't have evolved since they need all their parts to function. He coined the term Irreducibly Complex. He also failed to make any effort to see if all of the features he claimed were required were actually required.

For instance he claimed that the double ring structure of flagella couldn't have evolved since both rings have to be in place for a flagella to function. Only that isn't true as there is at least one bacteria with a single ring and it has a functioning flagella. I don't know if that one came up in the trial. I am not about to read the transcript of the whole bloody thing.

Again what I was saying that claiming 'god did it so stop looking' is a roadblock to science and not science.

Thank you for a fairly well thought out reply. They are hard to find from the opposition in this area.

Ethelred
LuckyBrandon
not rated yet Jan 29, 2009
modermystic-
athiesm has no point either. the word athiesm, and its comparison to other RELIGIONS, in and of itself is yet another oxymoron. athiesm is not a religion, its the fact there is no correct religion.

if you actually think we'll never go extinct, your nuts...because the fact is, if wwe dont, we'll evolve to another species altogether eventually..we are not going to stay the same forever. this is clearly shown in many many countless experiments viewing mutations of cells, DNA, etc. Take cancer for instance, this is a natural thing, mutation of our cells, whether good or bad, to weed out the weak in nature. And DONT DARE say anything about cancerous things, as my 3 yr old son has cancer, and unfortunately for him (and myself, his siblings, and my wife), he caught the short end of the stick for the mutations that all in all will evolve us into a better species more capable of survival.
Your arguments are predominantly bogus (although there are some decent valid points in what you say).
get in a lab, prove your bs god concepts, then present us with the evidence. its the only way youre going to be heard, or even listened to and not shot down.