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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design

This is my personal virtual library, where i collect information, which leads in my view to the Christian faith, creationism, and Intelligent Design as the best explanation of the origin of the physical Universe, life, and biodiversity


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Defending the Christian Worldview, Creationism, and Intelligent Design » Origin of life » There was no prebiotic selection to get life originating

There was no prebiotic selection to get life originating

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Otangelo


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There was no prebiotic selection to get life originating

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t3121-there-was-no-prebiotic-selection-to-get-life-originating

Synonym for selecting is: choosing, picking, handpicking, sorting out, discriminating, choosing something from among others, and giving preference to something over another.

We know that we, as intelligent beings, do make choices to get the desired outcome all the time - and there is no alternative to conscious intelligent action. Therefore, it is logical and plausible, and probable, that an intelligent creator was in action, choosing the parameters of the laws of physics, the right equations, the right adjustments in the universe, the right building blocks of life, the right machinery to have given life a first go.  And he was remarkably good at that.


1. Life requires the use of a limited set of complex biomolecules, a universal convention, and unity which is composed of the four basic building blocks of life ( RNA and DNA's, amino acids, phospholipids, and carbohydrates). They are of a very specific complex functional composition and made by cells in extremely sophisticated orchestrated metabolic pathways, which were not extant on the early earth. If abiogenesis were true, these biomolecules had to be prebiotically available and naturally occurring ( in non-enzyme-catalyzed ways by natural means ) and then somehow join in an organized way and form the first living cells. They had to be available in big quantities and concentrated at one specific building site. 
2. Making things for a specific purpose, for a distant goal, requires goal-directedness. And that's a big problem for naturalistic explanations of the origin of life. There was a potentially unlimited variety of molecules on the prebiotic earth. Competition and selection among them would never have occurred at all, to promote a separation of those molecules that are used in life, from those that are useless. Selection is a scope and powerless mechanism to explain all of the living order, and even the ability to maintain order in the short term and to explain the emergence, overall organization, and long-term persistence of life from non-living precursors. It is an error of false conceptual reduction to suppose that competition and selection will thereby be the source of explanation for all relevant forms of the living order.
3. We know that a) unguided random purposeless events are unlikely to the extreme to make specific purposeful elementary components to build large integrated macromolecular systems, and b) intelligence has goal-directedness. Bricks do not form from clay by themselves, and then line up to make walls. Someone made them. Phospholipids do not form from glycerol, a phosphate group, and two fatty acid chains by themselves, and line up to make cell membranes. Someone made them. That is God.


If a machine has to be made out of certain components, then the components have to be made first.'

Molecules have nothing to gain by becoming the building blocks of life. They are "happy" to lay on the ground or float in the prebiotic ocean and that's it. Being incredulous that they would concentrate at one building site in the right mixture, and in the right complex form, that would permit them to complexify in an orderly manner and assembly into complex highly efficient molecular machines and self-replicating cell factories, is not only justified but warranted and sound reasoning. That fact alone destroys materialism & naturalism. Being credulous towards such a scenario means to stick to blind belief. And claiming that "we don't know (yet), but science is working on it, but the expectation is that the explanation will be a naturalistic one ( No God required) is a materialism of the gaps argument.

A Few Experimental Suggestions Using Minerals to Obtain Peptides with a High Concentration of L-Amino Acids and Protein Amino Acids 10 December 2020
The prebiotic seas contained L- and D-amino acids, and non-Polar AAs and Polar AAs, and minerals could adsorb all these molecules. Besides amino acids, other molecules could be found in the primitive seas that competed for mineral adsorption sites. Here, we have a huge problem that could be a double-edged sword for prebiotic chemistry. On the one hand, this may lead to more complex prebiotic chemistry, due to the large variety of species, which could mean more possibilities for the formation of different and more complex molecules. On the other hand, this complex mixture of molecules may not lead to the formation of any important molecule or biopolymer in high concentration to be used for molecular evolution. Schwartz, in his article “Intractable mixtures and the origin of life”, has already addressed this problem, denominating this mixture the “gunk”. 5

Intractable Mixtures and the Origin of Life 2007
A problem which is familiar to organic chemists is the production of unwanted byproducts in synthetic reactions. For prebiotic chemistry, where the goal is often the simulation of conditions on the prebiotic Earth and the modeling of a spontaneous reaction, it is not surprising – but nevertheless frustrating – that the unwanted products may consume most of the starting material and lead to nothing more than an intractable mixture, or -gunk.. The most well-known examples of the phenomenon can be summarized quickly: Although the Miller –Urey reaction produces an impressive set of amino acids and other biologically significant compounds, a large fraction of the starting material goes into a brown, tar-like residue that remains uncharacterized; i.e., gunk. While 15% of the carbon can be traced to specific organic molecules, the rest seems to be largely intractable 

Even if we focus only on the soluble products, we still have to deal with an extremely complex mixture of compounds. The carbonaceous chondrites, which represent an alternative source of starting material for prebiotic chemistry on Earth, and must have added enormous quantities of organic material to the Earth at the end of the Late Heavy Bombardment (LHB), do not offer a solution to the problem just referred to. The organic material present in carbonaceous meteorites is a mixture of such complexity that much ingenuity has gone into the design of suitable extraction methods, to isolate the most important classes of soluble (or solubilized) components for analysis.

Whatever the exact nature of an RNA precursor which may have become the first selfreplicating molecule, how could the chemical homogeneity which seems necessary to permit this kind of mechanism to even come into existence have been achieved? What mechanism would have selected for the incorporation of only threose, or ribose, or any particular building block, into short oligomers which might later have undergone chemically selective oligomerization? Virtually all model prebiotic syntheses produce mixtures. 6

Life: What A Concept! https://jsomers.net/life.pdf
Craig Venter: To me the key thing about Darwinian evolution is selection. Biology is a hundred percent dependent on selection. No matter what we do in synthetic biology, synthetic genomes, we're doing selection. It's just not
natural selection anymore. It's an intelligently designed selection, so it's a unique subset. But selection is always part of it.
My comment: 
What natural mechanisms lack, is goal-directedness. And that's a big problem for naturalistic explanations of the origin of life. There was a potentially unlimited variety of molecules on the prebiotic earth. Why should competition and selection among them have occurred at all, to promote a separation of those molecules that are used in life, from those that are useless? Selection is a scope and powerless mechanism  to explain all of the living order, and even the ability to maintain order in the short term, and to explain the emergence, overall organization, and long-term persistence of life from non-living precursors. It is an error of false conceptual reduction to suppose that competition and selection will thereby be the source of explanation for all relevant forms of order.

The problem of lack of a selection mechanism extends to the homochirality problem. 
A. G. CAIRNS-SMITH Seven clues to the origin of life, page 40:
It is one of the most singular features of the unity of biochemistry that this mere convention is universal. Where did such agreement come from? You see non-biological processes do not as a rule show any bias one way or the other, and it has proved particularly difficult to see any realistic way in which any of the constituents of a 'prebiotic soup' would have had predominantly 'left-handed' or right-handed' molecules. It is thus particularly difficult to see this feature as having been imposed by initial conditions.

In regards to the prebiotic synthesis of the basic building blocks of life, I list 23 problems directly related to the lack of a selection mechanism on the prebiotic earth. This is one of the unsolvable problems of abiogenesis. 
Selecting the right materials is absolutely essential. But a prebiotic soup of mixtures of impure chemicals would never purify and select those that are required for life. Chemicals and physical reactions have no "urge" to join, group, and start interacting in a purpose and goal-oriented way to produce molecules, that later on would perform specific functions, and generate self-replicating factories, full of machines, directed by specified, complex assembly information. This is not an argument from ignorance, incredulity, or gaps of knowledge.

William Dembski: The problem is that nature has too many options and without design couldn’t sort through all those options. The problem is that natural mechanisms are too unspecific to determine any particular outcome. Natural processes could theoretically form a protein, but also compatible with the formation of a plethora of other molecular assemblages, most of which have no biological significance. Nature allows them full freedom of arrangement. Yet it’s precisely that freedom that makes nature unable to account for specified outcomes of small probability. Nature, in this case, rather than being intent on doing only one thing, is open to doing any number of things. Yet when one of those things is a highly improbable specified event, design becomes the more compelling, better inference. Occam's razor also boils down to an argument from ignorance: in the absence of better information, you use a heuristic to accept one hypothesis over the other.
http://www.discovery.org/a/1256

Out of the 27 listed problems of prebiotic RNA synthesis, 8 are directly related to the lack of a mechanism to select the right ingredients.
1.How would prebiotic processes have purified the starting molecules to make RNA and DNA which were grossly impure? They would have been present in complex mixtures that contained a great variety of reactive molecules.
2.How did fortuitous accidents select the five just-right nucleobases to make DNA and RNA, Two purines, and three pyrimidines?
3.How did unguided random events select purines with two rings, with nine atoms, forming the two rings: 5 carbon atoms and 4 nitrogen atoms, amongst almost unlimited possible configurations?
4.How did stochastic coincidence select pyrimidines with one ring, with six atoms, forming its ring: 4 carbon atoms and 2 nitrogen atoms, amongst an unfathomable number of possible configurations?
5.How would these functional bases have been separated from the confusing jumble of similar molecules that would also have been made?
6.How could the ribose 5 carbon sugar rings which form the RNA and DNA backbone have been selected, if 6 or 4 carbon rings, or even more or less, are equally possible but non-functional?
7.How were the correct nitrogen atom of the base and the correct carbon atom of the sugar selected to be joined together?
8.How could right-handed configurations of RNA and DNA have been selected in a racemic pool of right and left-handed molecules? Ribose must have been in its D form to adopt functional structures ( The homochirality problem )

Out of the 27 listed problems of prebiotic amino acid synthesis, 13 are directly related to the lack of a mechanism to select the right ingredients.
1. How did unguided stochastic coincidence select the right amongst over 500 that occur naturally on earth?
2. How were bifunctional monomers, that is, molecules with two functional groups, so they combine with two others selected, and unifunctional monomers (with only one functional group) sorted out?
3. How could achiral precursors of amino acids have produced/selected and concentrated only left-handed amino acids? ( The homochirality problem )
4. How did the transition from prebiotic enantiomer selection to the enzymatic reaction of transamination occur that had to be extant when cellular self-replication and life began?
5. How would natural causes have selected twenty, and not more or less amino acids to make proteins?
6. How did natural events have foreknowledge that the selected amino acids are best suited to enable the formation of soluble structures with close-packed cores, allowing the presence of ordered binding pockets inside proteins?
7. How were bifunctional monomers, that is, molecules with two functional groups so they combine with two others selected, and unifunctional monomers (with only one functional group) sorted out?
8. How could achiral precursors of amino acids have produced and concentrated/selected only left-handed amino acids? (The homochirality problem)
9. How did the transition from prebiotic enantiomer selection to the enzymatic reaction of transamination occur that had to be extant when cellular self-replication and life began?
10. How would natural causes have selected twenty, and not more or less amino acids to make proteins?
11. How did natural events have foreknowledge that the selected amino acids are best suited to enable the formation of soluble structures with close-packed cores, allowing the presence of ordered binding pockets inside proteins?
12. How did nature "know" that the set of amino acids selected appears to be near ideal and optimal?

Out of the 12 listed problems of prebiotic cell membrane synthesis, 2 are directly related to the lack of a mechanism to select the right ingredients.
1. How did prebiotic processes select hydrocarbon chains which must be in the range of 14 to 18 carbons in length?  There was no physical necessity to form carbon chains of the right length nor hindrance to join chains of varying lengths. So they could have been existing of any size on the early earth.
2. How would random events start to produce biological membranes which are not composed of pure phospholipids, but instead are mixtures of several phospholipid species, often with a sterol admixture such as cholesterol? There is no feasible prebiotic mechanism to select/join the right mixtures.

Claim: Even if we take your unknowns as true unknowns or even unknowable, the answer is always going to be “We don’t know yet.”
Reply: Science HATES saying confessing "we don't know". Science is about knowing and getting knowledge and understanding. The scientists mind is all about getting knowledge and diminishing ignorance. Confessing of not knowing, when there is good reason for it, is ok. But claiming of not knowing, despite the evident facts easy at hand and having the ability to come to informed well-founded conclusions based on sound reasoning, and through known facts and evidence, is not only willful ignorance but plain foolishness. In special, when the issues in the discussion are related to origins and worldviews, and eternal destiny is at stake.  If there were hundreds of possible statements, then claiming of not knowing which makes most sense could be justified.  In the quest of origins and God, there are just two possible explanations. Either there is a God, or there is not a God. That's it. There is however a wealth of evidence in the natural world, which can lead us to informed, well-justified conclusions. We know for example that nature has no "urge" to select things and to complexify, but its natural course is to act upon the laws of thermodynamics, and molecules disintegrate. That is their normal course of action. To become less complex. Systems, given energy and left to themselves, DEVOLVE to give uselessly complex mixtures, “asphalts”.  The literature reports (to our knowledge) exactly  ZERO CONFIRMED OBSERVATIONS where evolution emerged spontaneously from a devolving chemical system. it is IMPOSSIBLE for any non-living chemical system to escape devolution to enter into the Darwinian world of the “living”. Such statements of impossibility apply even to macromolecules. Both monomers and polymers can undergo a variety of decomposition reactions that must be taken into account because biologically relevant molecules would undergo similar decomposition processes in the prebiotic environment.

CAIRNS-SMITH genetic takeover, page 70
Suppose that by chance some particular coacervate droplet in a primordial ocean happened to have a set of catalysts, etc. that could convert carbon dioxide into D-glucose. Would this have been a major step forward
towards life? Probably not. Sooner or later the droplet would have sunk to the bottom of the ocean and never have been heard of again. It would not have mattered how ingenious or life-like some early system was; if it
lacked the ability to pass on to offspring the secret of its success then it might as well never have existed. So I do not see life as emerging as a matter of course from the general evolution of the cosmos, via chemical evolution, in one grand gradual process of complexification. Instead, following Muller (1929) and others, I would take a genetic View and see the origin of life as hinging on a rather precise technical puzzle. What would have been the easiest way that hereditary machinery could have formed on the primitive Earth?

Claim: That’s called the Sherlock fallacy. It's a false dichotomy
Reply: No. Life is either due to chance, or design. There are no other options.

One of the few biologists, Eugene Koonin, Senior Investigator at the National Center for Biotechnology Information, a recognized expert in the field of evolutionary and computational biology, is honest enough to recognize that abiogenesis research has failed. He wrote in his book: The Logic of Chance page 351:
" Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure—we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation; through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle.

Eliminative inductions argue for the truth of a proposition by demonstrating that competitors to that proposition are false. Either the origin of the basic building blocks of life and self-replicating cells are the result of the creative act by an intelligent designer, or the result of unguided random chemical reactions on the early earth. Science, rather than coming closer to demonstrate how life could have started, has not advanced and is further away to generating living cells starting with small molecules.  Therefore, most likely, cells were created by an intelligent designer.

I have listed  27 open questions in regard to the origin of RNA and DNA on the early earth, 27 unsolved problems in regard to the origin of amino acids on the early earth, 12 in regard to phospholipid synthesis, and also unsolved problems in regard to carbohydrate production. The open problems are in reality far greater. This is just a small list. It is not just an issue of things that have not yet been figured out by abiogenesis research, but deep conceptual problems, like the fact that there were no natural selection mechanisms in place on the early earth.   


https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1279p75-abiogenesis-is-mathematically-impossible#7759
1. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1002/cbdv.200790167
2. https://sci-hub.ren/10.1007/978-1-4939-1468-5_27
3. https://arxiv.org/ftp/arxiv/papers/1511/1511.00698.pdf
4. https://link.springer.com/book/10.1007%2Fb136268
5. https://www.mdpi.com/2073-8994/12/12/2046



Last edited by Otangelo on Mon May 23, 2022 2:00 pm; edited 3 times in total

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Otangelo


Admin

The BIG WHITE ELEPHANT in the room of naturalism ( that nobody is talking about):

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t3121-there-was-no-prebiotic-selection-to-get-life-originating#9062

A selection process is needed to select

1. The right expansion rate of the Big bang,
2. The fundamental forces of the universe and the right coupling constants,
3. The right-sized quarks and composition to have the right protons, neutrons, and electrons, to have stable atoms,
4. The right fine-tune parameters that go into the hundreds to have a life-permitting universe, in special the earth, the electromagnetic spectrum, water,
5. The right nucleobase isometries to have Watson-Crick base-pairing, and stable DNA
6. All the functional parts for the first living cell, the right genome, proteome, metabolome, and interactome, before you get to the first free-living, self-replicating cell, where SUPPOSEDLY evolution and natural selection could theoretically kick in, and start doing its business.

The problem is: Mindless nature has no goals, no purpose, no will, no foresight, no intention to bring forward life. The lack of an alternative viable possible plausible, probable alternative selection mechanism to an intelligent mind with intentions and will mean checkmate for naturalism.

Objection: Thats an argument from ignorance.
Reply:  Eliminative inductions argue for the truth of a proposition by arguing that competitors to that proposition are false. Provided the proposition, together with its competitors, form a mutually exclusive and exhaustive class, eliminating all the competitors entails that the proposition is true. Since either there is a God, or not, either one or the other is true. As Sherlock Holmes's famous dictum says: when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however not fully comprehensible, but logically possible, must be the truth. Eliminative inductions, in fact, become deductions.

Objection: Intelligent design or chance is a false dichotomy.
Reply: Right. The correct dichotomy would be Intelligent design or not intelligent design. We cannot invoke a third alternative, physical necessity. There was no need for nothing to become something, nor for the variegated physical finely adjusted parameters to be what they are. in fact:

Paul Davies said in God and Design: The Teleological Argument and Modern Science page 148–49, 2003
“There is not a shred of evidence that the Universe is logically necessary. Indeed, as a theoretical physicist I find it rather easy to imagine alternative universes that are logically consistent, and therefore equal contenders of reality” 
https://3lib.net/book/733035/b853a0

Chance, on the other hand, is not an alternative causal agent to intelligent design, but a measure of indeterminism, for a casual and unpredictable movement. The alternative factor responsible for all physical to God is NOTHING. In short, it's either God or no God. How can nothing cause something into being? Of course, it can't. Atheists, by experience, will attempt to dispute this, but a philosophical nothingness is the absence of anything, and can't, therefore, do something.

Strong atheists are left with a BIG WHITE ELEPHANT in the room. What I have outlined above, is obvious, and everyone knows. Nothing has no causal power and does not select things for a purposeful outcome. This is an uncomfortable, embarrassing truth, that lets every holder of a naturalistic worldview, without an answer. As a dictum says: " The emperor has no clothes".

There was no prebiotic selection to get life originating Argume10

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Otangelo


Admin

Does cosmological natural selection explain the fine-tuning of the universe ? 


https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t3121-there-was-no-prebiotic-selection-to-get-life-originating#9215

Bigthink: Cosmological Natural Selection and the Principle of Precedence MAY 1, 2013
https://bigthink.com/articles/cosmological-natural-selection/

Lee Smolin: Cosmological Natural Selection (YouTube Geek Week!) | Big Think
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mbYLTqvo774

Physics is about discovering what the laws of nature are. And we've gone some distance towards that. We're not done but we've gone some good distance towards that at the present time. But once you know what the laws of nature are, another kind of question unfolds itself which is why are those the laws and not other laws. For example, the laws that we understand -- the standard model of particle physics describes all the fundamental particles and their interactions -- has about 30 numbers which you just have to put in as the result of measuring them by experiment. The masses of the different particles, the quarks, the electrons, the neutrinos, the strengths of the fundamental force -- various numbers like that. And the model works dramatically well as the recent experiments the Large Hadron Collider show. Why are those numbers what they are in our universe? Why is the mass of the electron what it is and not 12 times larger or half the size? There are dozens of questions like this. So I developed cosmological natural selection to try to give an evolutionary account of this so that there would be a history back before the Big Bang in which these numbers could change and evolve through a series of events like the Big Bang. 

My comment: This looks like a desperate attempt of a naturalist to find an alternative explanation to God, an intelligent powerful creator with intent and foresight, willing to create a life-permitting universe for his own purposes. So Smolin comes up with an entirely unsupported hypothesis, with a complete lack of evidence, and invented an alternative, that explains God away. Basically borrowing the mechanism in biology, that supposedly explains the origin of species and applying the same principle to cosmology. In biology, the why the question is answered with: survival of the fittest. But the same answer cannot be given when it comes to the Cosmos.  Without selecting the right parameters, constants, expansion rate, and forces, there would be no universe at all. Without existing yet, the universe could not select anything to continue to exist.

And there could be an explanation akin to natural selection. Just like you want to know why do people have two legs and not three legs or five legs or four legs or six legs. There's an evolutionary reason for that. A certain kind of fitness has been improved over many, many generations and similarly, there could be a notion of fitness of the laws of nature through approval of many generations.

My comment: Approval ? Only agencies with goals approve the certain states of affairs or things to be. Smolin tries to anthropomorphize the initial state of affairs beyond the universe, intending to generate a specific result, when there could be no intent to approve anything.


And cosmological natural selection was an example of the theory of that kind. I realized that the only methodology we had in science, or the best methodology we had in science for explaining how choices have been made in the system to all lead to a lot of structure because one of the mysteries is why our universe is so structured as it is on so many scales from organic molecules and biomolecules up to vast arrays of clusters of galaxies. There's enormous structure on such a wide range of scales. And that turns out to be tied to the values of these constants of the standard model of particle physics. And so why is that? And I realized that the only methodology that was really successful for explaining how choices were made in nature such as to lead to an improbable amount of structure is natural selection. So for natural selection we need reproduction. And there was a hypothesis lying around that universes reproduce through Black Holes, that inside Black Holes rather than there being singularities where time ends, there were basically the births of new regions of space and time which could become new universes. 

My comment: Maybe Smolin would be so kind and address where the energy came from to perform all this work.....

Lawrence Rifkin The Logic and Beauty of Cosmological Natural Selection  June 10, 2014

Here is the mind-blowing hypothesis that he first outlined in 1992 in his book The Life of the Cosmos. Throughout the universe, stars that collapse into black holes squeeze down to an unimaginably extreme density. Under those extreme conditions, as a result of quantum phenomenon, the black hole explodes in a big bang and expands into its own new baby universe, separate from the original. The point where time ends inside a black hole is where time begins in the big bang of a new universe. Smolin proposes that the extreme conditions inside a collapsed black hole result in small random variations of the fundamental physical forces and parameters in the baby universe.
https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/the-logic-and-beauty-of-cosmological-natural-selection/

My comment: Smolin refutes himself, when he writes:

Lee Smolin, The life of the Cosmos, page 53:
Perhaps before going further we should ask just how probable is it that a universe created by randomly choosing the parameters will contain stars. Given what we have already said, it is simple to estimate this probability. For those readers who are interested, the arithmetic is in the notes. The answer, in round numbers, comes to about one chance in 10^229. To illustrate how truly ridiculous this number is, we might note that the part of the universe we can see from earth contains about 10^22 stars which together contain about 10^80 protons and neutrons. These numbers are gigantic, but they are infinitesimal compared to 10^229. In my opinion, a probability this tiny is not something we can let go unexplained. Luck will certainly not do here; we need some rational explanation of how something this unlikely turned out to be the case.

So in order to have black holes as the result of collapsing stars, first one needs finetuning in order to have stars that can collapse. And so collapses as well Smolin's ideas based on a fertile imagination. 

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4There was no prebiotic selection to get life originating Empty The emergence of natural selection Fri Apr 29, 2022 7:30 am

Otangelo


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Andrew H. Knoll FUNDAMENTALS OF GEOBIOLOGY 2012
https://3lib.net/book/2152382/92ff94

The emergence of natural selection
Molecular selection, the process by which a few key molecules earned key roles in life’s origins, proceeded on many fronts. Some molecules were inherently unstable or highly reactive and so they quickly disappeared from the scene. Other molecules easily dissolved in the oceans and so were effectively removed from contention. Still, other molecular species may have sequestered themselves by bonding strongly to surfaces of chemically unhelpful minerals or clumped together into tarry masses of little use to emerging biology. In every geochemical environment, each kind of organic molecule had its dependable sources and its inevitable sinks. For a time, perhaps for hundreds of millions of years, a kind of molecular equilibrium was maintained as the new supply of each species was balanced by its loss. Such equilibrium features nonstop competition among molecules, to be sure, but the system does not evolve.

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