Artificial life: can it be created?

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Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #1

Post by Diagoras »

Here's the link to an article which inspired my creation of this debate topic:

https://newatlas.com/science/artificial ... nteresting

"Artificial cells created that imitate basic functions of living cells"

There are disagreements within the scientific community on precisely what constitutes a 'living' thing, and clearly these artificial cells are not alive. However, the experiment shows success in replicating some important attributes of life.

A general theistic position might declare "All life comes from God", but if some 'cellular gene engineer' of the future succeeded in creating a basic cell that ate, grew, replicated and all the other generally agreed things that life does - could it be recognised as life? And wouldn't that falsify that bolded theistic claim?

The Affirmative:

The creation of life is possible by means other than a god.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #2

Post by EarthScienceguy »

What part of this article make you believe that life, as we know it, can be artificially created?

From the article
Recreating something resembling even the simplest of cells in a lab is still very much a pipe dream
In the new study, researchers sought to mimic the active transport function without trying to reproduce the complex mechanisms that cells use. Living cells have intricate membranes, with protein channels and pumping mechanisms powered by mitochondria and Adenosine triphosphate (ATP) that allow cells to pump selected molecules in and out across the membrane, even when it means working against osmotic pressures due to differences in ion concentrations.
In this experiment, they did the following:
That's a bit too ambitious, so the team opted for creating bubbles the size of a red blood cell out of polymers and piercing them to let particles pass through, mimicking a cell's protein channel. Instead of mitochondria, the cell mimic had a tiny bit of light-activated catalyst inside the channel. Shining light on the catalyst starts a chemical reaction that acts like a pump to pull material through the channel, while switching off the light traps the material inside and reverses the reaction, expelling the material on demand.
So
1. the team created the polymer bubbles.
2. the team pierced the bubbles to let the particles pass-through
3. the team put a light-activated catalyst inside the channel
4. the team shined light on the catalyst to start the reaction
5. the team turned the light off to stop the reaction

All you have shown is that it takes intelligence to create something that even remotely resembles the function of the cell.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #3

Post by Diagoras »

EarthScienceguy wrote:All you have shown is that it takes intelligence to create something that even remotely resembles the function of the cell.
Human intelligence, in this case. That's kind of the point, really.

I acknowledged in the opening post that this experiment is only one small step on the journey. It wasn't my claim that life had been created. Rather, the question of whether some technology of the future might achieve it, and what that would mean for a theistic view of life creation.

Another article for consideration:

https://3dprinting.com/news/ai-driven-m ... n-the-way/

I don't in principle see any barriers (apart from perhaps decades of hard work) getting in the way of one day setting up an AI-controlled 3D printer using CRISPR techniques that could produce a strand of DNA as part of a truly artificial cell. We have sufficient understanding of chemistry, genetics and related fields to do this in theory - it's only the practical 'mechanics' that needs to catch up. And I contend that they will.

If your position is "it will never happen", then you'll need to set out some good reasons why not.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #4

Post by benchwarmer »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #1]

I'm quite sure if it happens, the apologetic will be "God created man and any intelligence he may have. So even if a man creates life, he is only using the existing things God has already made possible."

In other words, the usual goal post shifting that happens when another gap is filled by the continual increase in our collective knowledge.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #5

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #1]
The creation of life is possible by means other than a god.
I'd say this has to be on the table by default, siimply because no gods have ever been demonstrated to exist to create life (or anything else). Since we have no certainty that gods of any kind exist now, or ever have existed, this leaves the door open for another mechanism for how life materialized. But as long as a correct answer for the mechanism of origin of life remains open, speculation will continue.
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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #6

Post by Diagoras »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #5]

While I agree with your position, it's made me realise that I could perhaps have worded the affirmative slightly differently to stress 'future creation possibilities'. I'm happy to leave it as is for the moment though.

After all, the debate over past creation of life has been a regular feature on this forum - I was hoping to set that aside and instead speculate on whether manmade artificial life was possible or not sometime in the future. If it were (I support the affirmative), it doesn't tell us anything new about the past, but it might change the debate around the alleged differences between gods and men.

Job 38 wrote:18Hast thou perceived the breadth of the earth? declare if thou knowest it all.
<..>
35 Canst thou send lightnings, that they may go and say unto thee, Here we are?
Yes, mankind has indeed measured the earth, and created electricity - to say 'Here we are - on an Internet forum'. If we ever create life out of non-living materials, then that's one more thing that's not 'exclusive' to a god.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #7

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #0]
I'd say this has to be on the table by default, simply because no gods have ever been demonstrated to exist to create life (or anything else). Since we have no certainty that gods of any kind exist now, or ever have existed, this leaves the door open for another mechanism for how life materialized. But as long as a correct answer for the mechanism of origin of life remains open, speculation will continue.
Other dimensions have not been shown to exist and yet you have to believe in other dimensions to make your beliefs even remotely logical.
There is not evidence that something in nature has existed eternally but something has had to have crossed eternity past.
There is not any evidence of something in nature that has infinite power which it would have to have to overcome entropy.
There is not any evidence of a universe out there with different laws than this universe.

Open questions in science does not mean that we do not know the parameters that the solution of that problem must-have.

Your naturalistic belief system which has to mimic God is much less plausible than belief in a Creator God.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #8

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #3]
I don't in principle see any barriers (apart from perhaps decades of hard work) getting in the way of one day setting up an AI-controlled 3D printer using CRISPR techniques that could produce a strand of DNA as part of a truly artificial cell. We have sufficient understanding of chemistry, genetics and related fields to do this in theory - it's only the practical 'mechanics' that needs to catch up. And I contend that they will.

If your position is "it will never happen", then you'll need to set out some good reasons why not.
Why would I need to give some reason why not? There is not any evidence that life is possible without intelligence. "AI-controlled 3D printer using CRISPR techniques" are all devices that were made an intelligent beings.
The sequence that DNA needs to have to create life was a discovery it was not created by man it was created by an intelligent God. Man may change some of the sequences in DNA but changing some of the parameters within the DNA sequence is not creating anything it is simply manipulating what was already created by God. Change the DNA sequence too much and it all falls apart in nature this is called error catastrophe.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #9

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #3]

But let's be real here. If you are really suggesting that life could occur without intelligence then you really do believe in miracles.

1. There are thousands of kinds of amino acids and only 20 are proteinous amino acids and many of the proteinous amino acids have never been detected in prebiotic experiments. The chance of one 100 unit protein being formed from a primordial soup in which 1/10th is proteinous amino acids is 1 to 10E100. If this was the only hurdle then maybe the universe was just really lucky but it is not the only hurdle.

2. Amino acid molecules occur in right-handed and left-handed forms. Proteins of life are only left-handed so that means that all the amino acids that made up the first protein had to all be left-handed. That would give a 1 in 2e100 or 10E30 for that one protein.

3. Amino acids bond together in prebiotic experiments they do so in several 4 different ways. Alpha links the kind that all life are largely outnumbered by other types. The probability that a 100 unit polypeptide will contain only alpha links one chance in 10E30.

These probabilities are just for one 100 unit protein.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #10

Post by Diagoras »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #8]

You're answering a very different question to the one I asked when you say:
There is not any evidence that life is possible without intelligence.

It should be self-evident to the general reader that any artificial life created by mankind in the future will have been created 'using intelligence'. That's a given. Your subsequent point that gene editing is 'manipulation' and not 'creation' is simply a straw man - I have never claimed otherwise.

Feeding some basic chemicals into a printer and having it produce a strand of DNA (rather than starting with DNA extracted from an already living cell) is - in principle - possible. That's the essence of my claim here. Nothing to do with conditions on a prehistoric earth.

From post #9, you said:

EarthScienceguy wrote:If you are really suggesting that life could occur without intelligence then you really do believe in miracles.

1. There are thousands of kinds of amino acids and only 20 are proteinous amino acids and many of the proteinous amino acids have never been detected in prebiotic experiments. The chance of one 100 unit protein being formed from a primordial soup <..>
Again, you're simply answering a very different question to the one I asked. I thought I made it very clear in my response to DrNoGods that "the debate over past creation of life" was something I wished to set aside. I'm not wanting to debate that here.
Christianity has not changed its belief system to accommodate scientific thought.

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