This article is a copy of my post in the “Richard Dawkins Forum, see:
In the board “Evolution and Natural Selection”
Eversbane wrote: “The universe does not need explaining. The scientists you see around you are here only to describe it. No need to explain anything. Thanks anyway.”
My answer: “ Huh? The Blind Sciencemaker ?!… Ok, it is not me that want change your mind, since that I know I am not the owner of the thru, and so, I am a blind seeker. I am very grateful to scientists that are experimentalist because I need the data they collects and distributes, my investigation in the jungle is supported over their shoulders. But… are you really right?! Let’s see an example about an interview with Stanley Miller, at http://www.accessexcellence.org/WN/NM/miller.php .
Question: Who came up with the idea of the reducing atmosphere?
Miller: “Oparin, a Russian scientist, began the modern idea of the origin of life when he published a pamphlet in 1924. His idea was called the heterotrophic hypothesis: that the first organisms were heterotrophic, meaning they got their organic material from the environment, rather than having to make it, like blue-green algae. This was an important idea. Oparin also suggested that the less biosynthesis there is, the easier it is to form a living organism. Then he proposed the idea of the reducing atmosphere where you might make organic compounds.
He also proposed that the first organisms were coacervates, a special type of colloid. Nobody takes that last part very seriously anymore, but in 1936, this was reasonable since DNA was not known to be the genetic material..
In 1951, unaware of Oparin’s work, Harold Urey came to the same conclusion about the reducing atmosphere. He knew enough chemistry and biology to figure that you might get the building blocks of life under these conditions.
Question: Tell us about the famous electrical discharge experiment.
Miller: The experiments were done in Urey’s lab when I was a graduate student. Urey gave a lecture in October of 1951 when I first arrived at Chicago and suggested that someone do these experiments. So I went to him and said, “I’d like to do those experiments”. The first thing he tried to do was talk me out of it. Then he realized I was determined. He said the problem was that it was really a very risky experiment and probably wouldn’t work, and he was responsible that I get a degree in three years or so. So we agreed to give it six months or a year. If it worked out fine, if not, on to something else. As it turned out I got some results in a matter of weeks.”
So, dear EVERSBANE, either Oparin and Urey’s contributions were ideas emerged when seeking explanations for ultimate causes, which results in hypothesis and theories. Miller did not worked as a blind sciencemaker but he was guided by those ideas. See the words from Stanley Miller, below:
“In the 1820′s a German chemist named Woeller announced the synthesis of urea from ammonium cyanate, creating a compound that occurs in biology. That experiment is so famous because it is considered the first example where inorganic compounds reacted to make a biological compound. They used to make a distinction between organic, meaning of biological origin, and inorganic- CO2, CO and graphite. We now know that there is no such distinction…. However, it remained a mystery how you could make organic compounds under geological conditions and have them organized into a living organism. A number of people tried prebiotic experiments. But they used CO2F, nitrogen and water. When you use those chemicals, nothing happens. It’s only when you use a reducing atmosphere that things start to happen.”
So, I think it is clear that the method of unification of theories and experimentation was the guide for the brilliant Miller’s results and not the method of “blind experimentations”.
But, since the Miller-Urey’s experiments we never got the next step, making the aminoacids working alone for producing proteins or RNA. The Miller-Urey experiments remain a dead end, as said somebody here in the “abiogenesis forum”. I think that, again, Miller has the right explanation for “why?” we did not get it. See his words below:
“ The more important research are the experiments these days, rather than the trading of ideas. Good ideas are those that when reduced to an experiment end up working. Our approach is to do experiments and demonstrate things, not just talk about possibilities.”
If someone that make the job of naturalist philosopher and, in preference, in stranger lands, like the salvage Amazon jungle, does not try to organize the immense collection of data we have today, plus the inspiration get from the observation of crude nature, and try to organize it in models of a theory, we will not get the next step, I think.
By the way, the jungle is telling me that without the photons from sunlight and/or the materials from Earth nucleus, the amino acids of miller will not work alone. My models are suggesting some kind of laboratory experiments, I can’t do it from here.
There are something else I need suggest here: “ never think about, or never tell the words “origins” , “life” , “creation”, “spontaneous emergence”. There is no origin; there are no origins of life. The word “origins” means a broken event of natural flow of forces, means that cause-effect was broken by something non-natural, and we, here, in the jungle, never saw it happens. Instead using the word “ life” I use the word ‘biological systems’, facing ‘electro-magnetic systems’, ‘atomic systems”, ‘Newtonian mechanic system”, etc. The opposite of life is death and not non-living, there is no such distinction, I think. The word “origins” has been the cause of a lot of human mind deviation from the real nature, it is a cause for creating religions and erroneous ideas of “spontaneous generations”. The currently models in Astronomy are based upon the idea of “spontaneous generation of bodies in the sky”, and since I never have seen spontaneous generations here in the jungle, I don’t believe in it. Cheers…