Astrobiologists Have Yet To Discover Life’s Definition

Alien life is out there, some claim but how?  Astrobiologists are in the process of  trying to figure out what life is in the first place. What a major dilemma this is which has nothing to fall back on because it has no observable current examples of life emerging from nature, nor any life emerging in a lab but yet we find these scientists trying to find supposed alien life forms where some have declared we are not alone, however they really blowing smoke because they have no clue on what to look for.

In a current edition of  Astrobiology which is free for viewing, it focuses on this very problem. David Deamer from UC Santa Cruz, raises a question if it’s even possible to come up with a definition of life. Tirard, Morange and Lazcano put it this way…

“The many attempts made to reduce the nature of living systems to a single living compound imply that life can be so well defined that the exact point at which it started can be established with the sudden appearance of the first replicating molecule,” they said; “On the other hand, if the emergence of life is seen as the stepwise (but not necessarily slow) evolutionary transition between the non-living and the living, then it may be meaningless to draw a strict line between them…“We remain lamentably ignorant about major portions of the processes that preceded life.”

After more than 150 years of research, they are in the dark, but of course keep the faith, someday it will be revealed to them. It’s very evident from their writings, “In this view life would be the “evolutionary outcome of a process and not of a single, fortuitous event.” This contradicts what was said in a previous paragraph where they state, “there is a major distinction between purely physical-chemical evolution and natural selection, which is one of the hallmarks of biology.” The implication here is suggesting a system could reach a certain point where it able to replicate its information thus natural selection wouldn’t be required. Let’s start with some real science that actually makes sense, shall we? David Anderson writes

“The physical world that we live in – is actually mathematical. That is, it can, at many fundamental levels, be described by mathematics. At school most of us probably learnt Newton’s equations. Surely everyone has heard of the most famous and elegant statement of all, about the interchangeability of matter and energy, Einstein’s E = mc². In fact, the whole subject of physics can be thought of in this way: attempting to describe the physical world as a mathematical equation. Physicists all over the world are looking for the “holy grail” of physics: a single equation to describe reality.”

“Hence, whilst mathematics is an abstract pursuit, it is absolutely not an irrelevant abstract pursuit. Mathematics is the “language of physics” – the language of the world we live and move in. This is very interesting, because maths is something that depends on our minds. In the physical world, we can throw a ball into the air. Newton’s motion equations are entirely abstract; you can’t go anywhere in the world and find an his second law, locked up in a cage somewhere: they exist only in the mind of an intelligent being. Nevertheless, those equations elegantly describe what the ball does in the real world.”

For “the atheist mathematician, [he] has to go about his work doing who-knows-what, for reasons who-knows-why” which is a great analogy that sums up exactly whats going on in the world of trying to research evolution, in this case looking for a definition on the origin of life on earth in order to use it for trying to find other life forms on various planets which are extremely limited in observing.

Exploration of space is amazing, more should be done in this area! The Cassini mission is a prime example of collecting a host of great discoveries that have verified biblical creationism but guessing on whether or not there is life on other planets may be interesting for a science fiction movie but falls way short on relevance, the grant money could be used elsewhere.

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8 thoughts on “Astrobiologists Have Yet To Discover Life’s Definition

  1. Eh Michael, how does one ‘discover a definition’ ?

    That’s not how a definition comes about …

  2. “‘We remain lamentably ignorant about major portions of the processes that preceded life.’

    After more than 150 years of research, they are in the dark, but of course keep the faith, someday it will be revealed to them. “

    Michael’s statement points up one of the major mental lacunae of creationists. They are incapable of science itself—that is, of approaching the world as something to be understood by forming and testing hypotheses. They cling to the religious view, that understanding comes only by revelation of divine truths.

    .

    Although Michael’s digression into the nature of mathematics is irrelevant to the subject of this post, it does point up this creationist fallacy. David Anderson, in the monograph that Michael quotes, sees mathematics through the wrong end of the telescope.. Anderson argues for a designed universe, based upon his assumption that the world “is” mathematical.[1] But mathematics is a creation of the human mind. There is nothing absolute or necessary about it. For example, Euclid’s parallel axiom was taken as not only obvious but mathematically necessary for two thousand years. Then a few brave souls decided to investigate what would happen if they negated this axiom—took it as false rather than true. So now we have an entire branch of geometry—called “non-Euclidean”–that is just as consistent as if the axiom is taken as true.

    And guess what? We find many phenomena in the universe that can be described by Euclidean geometry, and other phenomena that can be described by its opposite, non-Euclidean geometry.

    If Michael knew anything at all about science, he would not persist in such risible assertions. For example, mathematics is the language of both relativity and quantum mechanics—yet we know that these two mathematical “laws” are inconsistent with each other at a fundamental level. How can this be, if the language of mathematics “is” the world?[2]

    Michael, being isolated from real science, probably has not noticed that more and more modern science is moving away from mathematical language for scientific laws,[3] because of the static nature of equations. More and more, we see “processes” as the primary scientific description of phenomena. If one looks at a weather forecast, does he see a bunch of mathematical equations? No. He sees a computer model constructed to describe current weather patterns; the forecast is not a solution to a mathematical equation, but rather the execution of a model into the future. Whereas we used to try to find mathematical language that represented what we wish to study, now we try to find an algorithmic process—a model—and test it against what we wish to understand.

    I don’t think anyone, even David Anderson, would claim that the universe “is” a computer model, or that C++ is the language of the created world. Mathematics, like computer modeling, is a human-invented tool, not a divine revelation..

    ==========

    [1] This echoes Plato’s ancient view that physical objects are “shadows” of a reality of idealized forms.

    [2[ The basic law of quantum mechanics is described in two entirely different mathematical “laws”—the wave formulation and the matrix formulation.

    [3] Stephen Wolfram thinks we should abandon mathematical laws for the physical universe altogether, in favor of cellular automata. See “A New Kind of Science,” Wolfram 2003.

  3. Michael,

    I have a question for you: Why do you have a problem with life being else where in the universe?

  4. @Kris: “Why do you have a problem with life being else where in the universe?”

    That ought to be obvious. Intelligent life on other planets would not have descended from Adam and Eve, thus making the creationist position even less tenable than it is now.

    For implications of an intelligent lifer form that did not Fall—and thus required no Savior—re-read C.S. Lewis’ novel “Out of the Silent Planet.” Michael would consider it a horror story.

  5. @Michael: “The Cassini mission is a prime example of collecting a host of great discoveries that have verified biblical creationism….”

    Name one. Name just one. Name any one.

    I thought not..

  6. Olorin,

    You say, “That ought to be obvious. Intelligent life on other planets would not have descended from Adam and Eve, thus making the creationist position even less tenable than it is now.”

    Thing is, back when I was a creationist, even I never had a problem with life in other parts of the universe… My perception was “If God can create life here, then why not elsewhere?” –And frankly, who are we to say God didn’t create life elsewhere? And to my knowledge, I know of no verse in the Bible that would imply that life cannot exist anywhere else.

    Oh, I guess it has to do with their preconception that this whole universe was created just for this little insignificant spec on the outskirts of the milky way galaxy… Well, even back in my Creationist days, even I thought that claim was pretty arrogant…The argument that the universe is finely tuned for human life in particular was one I never bought into…even then.

    You then say, “For implications of an intelligent lifer form that did not Fall—and thus required no Savior—re-read C.S. Lewis’ novel “Out of the Silent Planet.” Michael would consider it a horror story.”

    I like CS Lewis…And ironically, so do many Creationists, considering the fact that he didn’t really reject evolutionary theory, and even had certain views that many fundamentalist Christians would consider heretical. — Some creationists try to claim he really was a Creationist and an anti-evolutionist [1]. If this were true, it begs the question why some fundies list evolution as one of their disagreements with him.

    YECs are so quick to quote him without telling the whole story [2]. The most he ever did was “straddle the fence” between Creationism and Evolution, but to the best knowledge, he never really rejected evolution.

    —-
    [1] Berman, Jerry.
    C.S. Lewis: creationist and anti-evolutionist
    . (2009) Journal of Creation 23 (3) http://creation.com/images/pdfs/tj/j23_3/j23_3_110-115.pdf

    [2] Neyman, Greg. C. S. Lewis and Creation Science.. http://www.answersincreation.org/lewis.htm

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