# Life arising by chance from non-living chemicals

This topic is locked from further discussion.

#1 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

What are the chances (probability) of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules coalesce by chance not just to form a random structure, but rather a machinery structure having decision making capacity with determination to replicate itself?

Also, if the probability is too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance (i.e. the way famous evolutionists like Richard Dawkins would have you believe)?

#2 Posted by Master_Live (18815 posts) -

The probability is small which is why it took millions of years to happen.

#3 Edited by br0kenrabbit (15046 posts) -

Chemicals self-arrange all the time. Look at lipids. In fact, your cells still have a lipid bi-layer.

#4 Posted by hydralisk86 (8798 posts) -

@Master_Live said:

The probability is small which is why it took millions of years to happen.

I don't know if that's true or not, but has anyone actually see that process happen? If not, why believe it?

#5 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@Master_Live said:

The probability is small which is why it took millions of years to happen.

I just googled age of planet Earth, and got 4.54 billion years.

Then I googled the oldest life form, and got 3.6. So it seems it took ~ 1b years for this chance to happen.

So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?

And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?

#6 Edited by lamprey263 (34380 posts) -

And why are we asking of chances and probability? What kind of answer would suffice? One in a billion billion million? I mean, here we are. What other answer makes better sense TC? Are you alluding to God? Intelligent design? Alien intervention? We're living in a giant computer simulation?

#7 Posted by Master_Live (18815 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

@Master_Live said:

The probability is small which is why it took millions of years to happen.

Just googled age of planet Earth and google returned 4.54 billion years.

Then I googled the oldest life form, and google returned 3.6. So it seems it took ~ 1B years for this chance to happen.

So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?

And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?

I don't have a number. The probability is small. No, it isn't irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance. What is you point?

#8 Edited by Brain_Duster (473 posts) -

#9 Posted by Master_Live (18815 posts) -

@Brain_Duster said:

Why?

#10 Posted by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@Master_Live said:

@Mystery_Writer said:

Just googled age of planet Earth and google returned 4.54 billion years.

Then I googled the oldest life form, and google returned 3.6. So it seems it took ~ 1B years for this chance to happen.

So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?

And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?

I don't have a number. The probability is small. No, it isn't irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance. What is you point?

The point is to see if the majority of intellects here finds it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for life to happen by chance.

#11 Edited by thegerg (18266 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer: "What are the chances (probability) of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules coalesce by chance not just to form a random structure, but rather a machinery structure having decision making capacity with determination to replicate itself?"

I don't know, but very small.

"if the probability is too small"

What qualifies as "too small"?

"is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?"

yes

#12 Posted by Master_Live (18815 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

@Master_Live said:

@Mystery_Writer said:

Just googled age of planet Earth and google returned 4.54 billion years.

Then I googled the oldest life form, and google returned 3.6. So it seems it took ~ 1B years for this chance to happen.

So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?

And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?

I don't have a number. The probability is small. No, it isn't irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance. What is you point?

The point is to see if the majority of intellects here finds it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for life to happen by chance.

• So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?
• And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?
#13 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@Master_Live said:

@Mystery_Writer said:

The point is to see if the majority of intellects here finds it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for life to happen by chance.

• So the question is what's the probability of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules to coalesce by chance and form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate in a billion years?
• And if it's still too small, is it rational / irrational to think it's highly unlikely for this to happen by chance?

Sure, my answer to those two questions is like yours.

I was watching this new SciShow video that's just been posted few hours ago regarding How To Predict The Odds of Anything

Which lead me to thinking of the odds of life forming by chance, which lead me to this video

#14 Posted by Horgen (116190 posts) -

@br0kenrabbit: Nice video. The laws of physics has a great thing to say in this.

#15 Posted by WittleWittleton (48 posts) -

Those are the some of the most abundant elements on Earth and in the solar system/galaxy/universe.

Also, what is the term "Evolutionist"? I've never heard that in a scientific context. To me, it sounds like someone who believes in evolution. That doesn't make sense because evolution is a real phenomena. You can observe it everyday in labs and outside in nature. Evolution is continually studied to understand the mechanisms that are involved and how these mechanisms can model observations of the past and predict future outcomes (naturally or with intent). However, evolution and the abiogenesis are not the same thing, but they are related. Evolution theorizes the diversity and the processes of change in living organisms, while abiogenesis attempts to theorize how life initially formed. Evolution cannot, nor will ever, explain how life began for the same reasons that Maxwell's equations in the theory of electromagnetism is ill equipped to explain mate selection in elephants. There are numerous theories as to how life began. Biologists, paleontologists, microbiologists, astrobiologists, biochemists, planetary scientists, geologist, and physicists (to name a few) constantly experiment to answer that very problem.

Life is very complex and intricate. It is also flawed and horribly limited. But the important thing to keep in mind, which geologists and paleontologists will tell you, is to appreciate time. A lot can happen in 2 years. A lot more happens in 3.6 billion years. As for probability, I cannot crunch the numbers because I don't study that particular area and do not have concrete data. From what I understand though it is small. Of course, it gets more complicated because we know that climates, chemical compositions, etc changed relative quickly (again, appreciate time) on Earth, if we assume life did begin on this planet, to which all these things act as variables in determining that probability.

I too find this topic interesting TC, but I don't have too much more to say since this isn't my area. Thank you for the thread!

#16 Edited by jimkabrhel (15625 posts) -

This is an interesting way to have a discussion about intelligent design and creation without stating it outright.

#17 Posted by Horgen (116190 posts) -

Come to think of it. I believe there has been done short time experiments (as in running for a few years) to see if it is possible. Simply a box filled with what they believed existed at that time(some 3.6-4 billion years ago) and something to simulate the possible weather. After running it they found that amino acids and other small building blocks had been created. Of course there is a long way from building blocks to a complete build, but it is a start. Miller-Urey experiments or something... Also if my memory is correct, that experiment has been proved to be worthless some 10-20 years after it was done.

#18 Posted by byof_america (1852 posts) -

I think they've recreated the conditions of what is theorized to be the composition of the earth a few billion years ago. IIRC the Miller Urey experiment was able to produce something like what you're talking about, or at least the beginnings of it.

#19 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@lamprey263 said:

And why are we asking of chances and probability? What kind of answer would suffice? One in a billion billion million? I mean, here we are. What other answer makes better sense TC? Are you alluding to God? Intelligent design? Alien intervention? We're living in a giant computer simulation?

I'm just alluding to rational thinking of what is not possible. As here we are in 2014 with a theory that many would ridicule you for merely questioning it, yet when you honestly examine it (without being influenced by religion, spirituality, etc..) it seems highly unlikely.

And to be honest, I was afraid to be ridiculed for asking the question, but I'm really glad I'm receiving a lot of positive intellectual responses regarding this topic.

#20 Edited by playmynutz (7864 posts) -

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

#21 Posted by deeliman (3728 posts) -

Evolution has nothing to do with the beginning of life. Nobody knows for sure how that happened, for now we can only speculate.

#22 Posted by Master_Live (18815 posts) -

@playmynutz said:

And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul.

Amen.

#23 Posted by comp_atkins (34248 posts) -

human beings = hydrogen + time

#24 Edited by jimkabrhel (15625 posts) -

Over time, scientists will be able to more accurately represent and replicate the matter and conditions over various times of Earth's development. The experiments already mentioned show that amino acids and other simple biomolecules can be created using conditions similar to those billions of years ago.

It's far more likely that evidence of natural development of life will be found than evidence of some kind of spiritual intervention in the timeline of man.

#25 Edited by 4myAmuzumament (1791 posts) -

the chances were 100% since it ended up happening. no other sequence of events was ever possible. case closed.

#26 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@WittleWittleton:

Thanks, really glad you also find the topic interesting.

I was watching a new video from SciShow (link to it in few posts above) titled How To Predict The Odds Of Anything

Which lead me to thinking the odds of those abundant elements in the universe coalescing to form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate. (which lead me to the second video I linked a few posts above).

The laws of physics don't account for say a Hydrogen atom to decide by itself (i.e. without an external force / influence) to do something by itself just because it feels like it.

But somehow, at some point within a period of 500 mil years (estimate time from Earth becoming habitable to first life form), a group of those elements coalesced and managed to gain the urge to intelligently replicate.

#27 Posted by dicpunch (5205 posts) -

It would probably be better to start with why is there anything rather than nothing.

#28 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@4myAmuzumament said:

the chances were 100% since it ended up happening. no other sequence of events was ever possible. case closed.

We're not talking about the chances of us existing. We're talking about the chances of us existing by chance.

#29 Posted by HoolaHoopMan (9336 posts) -

Lipid hydration shells form on their own, amino acids form on their own, and nucleotides have been shown to form on their own. This old creationist argument has been put to rest already.

As to the question, it is an inevitability given that life has already been shown to arise in our universe.

#30 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@HoolaHoopMan said:

Lipid hydration shells form on their own, amino acids form on their own, and nucleotides have been shown to form on their own. This old creationist argument has been put to rest already.

As to the question, it is an inevitability given that life has already been shown to arise in our universe.

We're not talking about the chances of having the building blocks of life existing. We're talking about the chances of those building blocks coalescing into a self replicating protein by chance. (watch the 2 short videos I posted for better understanding)

Also, yes, it's inevitably given that life has already been shown to arise in our universe. The question isn't "has life risen in the universe?". The question we're trying to intellectually and rationally discuss here is "has life, by chance, risen in the universe?".

#31 Posted by Sword-Demon (7007 posts) -

calculating the chances of past events doesn't work.

#32 Posted by HoolaHoopMan (9336 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

We're not talking about the chances of having the building blocks of life existing. We're talking about the chances of those building blocks coalescing into a self replicating protein by chance. (watch the 2 short videos I posted for better understanding)

I understand what you're saying, however I don't think you even have a tenuous grasp of biochemistry, organic chemistry, or even physics.

The red flag being that you keep saying 'by chance'. It isn't a chance that biochemicals form when subjected to certain conditions. They arise because the laws of our universe allow them to. For a more simplistic approach I'd suggest doing a quick search of Conway's Game of Life. The initial conditions of our universe are critical to understanding the eventual evolution of EVERYTHING. Complex patterns emerge requiring nothing more than the initial input. Like I said before its an inevitability.

Your second video is from Stephen C Meyer, a known creationist who can't get any peer reviewed literature published while crying foul that the scientific community is rejecting his work due to prejudice. Try watching less YouTube videos and actually open a college level textbook instead.

#33 Posted by comp_atkins (34248 posts) -

@Sword-Demon said:

calculating the chances of past events doesn't work.

in these kind of discussions, the TC usually wants people to come to the conclusion that the odds of self-replicating molecules coming into existence is unfathomably small that there must have been outside help ( creator )

#34 Posted by WittleWittleton (48 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer: I think I know what you're saying. Hopefully I'm on the right track.

From a chemistry point of view, there's certain thermodynamic properties that guide whether reactions will occur, which are ultimately derived from the "really, really good theories" of physics (I hate using the word "Law" in laws of physics). For example, say you place an ice cube on a brick road during a hot day in the summer. The ice cube will melt. The ice cube did not choose to melt, it simply obeyed the rules and spontaneously did so. On that same day given the same conditions, you will not see that ice cube spontaneously be reformed. Similarly, this is extended to more complicated assemblages of atoms, such as cells, plants, and even ourselves. We are simply walking containers of millions upon millions of chemical reactions. The astounding part is how we perceive all those reactions, which is another reaction! It certainly doesn't feel like i'm just a more complicated version of an ordinary reaction like salt dissolving in water. What you feel like doing is no more than what the hydrogen atom feels like doing, which is guided by thermodynamics.

So, regarding the hydrogen atom, there will be certain environments in which it will spontaneously react. With the other elements being abundant, and energy being much less spread out back then, you can bet that they will react, or "coalesce", as you put it. These reactions are thermodynamically favourable. Of course, it's much more complicated than that. But the point is that things don't "just happen". The earliest building blocks would have bound, or reacted together, based on those rules. From there, it took off. And these reactions kept occurring, and keep occurring, as the environment changes.

As for "the chance of us existing by chance", I wouldn't know where to start. In my reality, there is no chance. Einstein, and myself, hold a very deterministic view of nature. Some one can crunch all the numbers and reveal that there is a 6.78 x 10^-13 percent chance that life could have formed. However, nature does what nature does. There is only one path it will take at all times. It is hard for us to predict, no doubt. But it is there. Of course, we only assume that nature in past worked the same way as it does now using induction, the glory of science and the scandal of philosophy! But that's another thread for another day!

#35 Edited by the_bi99man (11242 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

What are the chances (probability) of Hydrogen, Nitrogen, Carbon, and Oxygen molecules coalesce by chance not just to form a random structure, but rather a machinery structure having decision making capacity with determination to replicate itself?

@Mystery_Writer said:

I just googled age of planet Earth, and got 4.54 billion years.

Then I googled the oldest life form, and google returned 3.6. So it seems it took ~ 1b years for this chance to happen.

Considering what you believe to be the alleged "facts", it's no surprise that you're skeptical of them. And it's because you clearly don't understand what the theory of evolution claims. No one has ever claimed that "the oldest life forms" were smart enough to have "decision making capacity". That would be ridiculous, to suggest that. Which is precisely why no one believes that, or wants you to believe that. There are billions of years of evolution between "the oldest life forms" and life forms with "decision making capacity". So no, it does not "seem it took ~1b years for this chance to happen". First off, it took more like 4 billion years, and it was just some singular "chance" happening. It was a process. A process which took all 4 billion or so of those years.

#36 Posted by lostrib (49999 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

@lamprey263 said:

And why are we asking of chances and probability? What kind of answer would suffice? One in a billion billion million? I mean, here we are. What other answer makes better sense TC? Are you alluding to God? Intelligent design? Alien intervention? We're living in a giant computer simulation?

I'm just alluding to rational thinking of what is not possible. As here we are in 2014 with a theory that many would ridicule you for merely questioning it, yet when you honestly examine it (without being influenced by religion, spirituality, etc..) it seems highly unlikely.

And to be honest, I was afraid to be ridiculed for asking the question, but I'm really glad I'm receiving a lot of positive intellectual responses regarding this topic.

What theory are you referring to?

#37 Posted by lostrib (49999 posts) -

@Mystery_Writer said:

@WittleWittleton:

Thanks, really glad you also find the topic interesting.

I was watching a new video from SciShow (link to it in few posts above) titled How To Predict The Odds Of Anything

Which lead me to thinking the odds of those abundant elements in the universe coalescing to form a programmable decision making mechanism determined to self replicate. (which lead me to the second video I linked a few posts above).

The laws of physics don't account for say a Hydrogen atom to decide by itself (i.e. without an external force / influence) to do something by itself just because it feels like it.

But somehow, at some point within a period of 500 mil years (estimate time from Earth becoming habitable to first life form), a group of those elements coalesced and managed to gain the urge to intelligently replicate.

Most simple life forms don't really "make decisions" or "intelligently replicate."

#38 Edited by deactivated-58061ea11c905 (999 posts) -

While biological science has progressed a great deal in the past decades, still open questions remain:

1. How do you explain reincarnation (or life after death) using science?

2. How do you explain qualia or subjective experience using scientific methods? If the brain is really the cause of consciousness, does this mean that consciousness cannot arise from physical processes taken place outside the brain?

http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

#39 Edited by comp_atkins (34248 posts) -
@pariah3 said:

While biological science has progressed a great deal in the past decades, still open questions remain:

1. How do you explain reincarnation (or life after death) using science?

2. How do you explain qualia or subjective experience using scientific methods? If the brain is really the cause of consciousness, does this mean that consciousness cannot arise from physical processes taken place outside the brain?

http://consc.net/papers/facing.html

the first question assumes reincarnation exists in the first place, until that is confirmed scientifically, how would you expect it to be explained scientifically?

#40 Edited by Mystery_Writer (8274 posts) -

@WittleWittleton:

interesting thoughts.

I'm really glad I found few neutral individual on the subject like you and few others with elegant way of thinking. Which makes it all worthwhile to post this topic in the first place.

The majority of time it's discouraging to post topics like this as they're susceptible to derailment due to pre-conditioning to a general mainstream beliefs.

This topic in particular is susceptible to people approaching it with preconceived notion that this is religion vs. evolution.

Some often get lost in that mix-up and end up contributing random irrelevant responses like "creationist use this debate", or '[insert insult]' etc..

Others end up having cognitive dissonance and resist the discomfort the new thought introduce against their pre-conditioning by fighting it with;

a) Circular logic reasoning: "We're here because life happened by chance, and the proof it happened by chance because we're here".

b) Leap of faith: "Life building blocks could happen by chance, hence [leap of faith] life could happen by chance".

c) Pettifogging: "Let's discuss the topic of Cell Intelligence instead or [insert side topic]"

#41 Posted by redstorm72 (4646 posts) -

What the **** do you think I am, a molecular biologist? Go ask your professor.

#43 Edited by General_X (9137 posts) -

It is a rediculously small chance, but if it hadn't happened we wouldn't be here to ponder it, and the planets/solar system could have happily continued existing on without it for billions of years more.

#44 Posted by foxhound_fox (96562 posts) -