Artificial life: can it be created?

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Diagoras
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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 #11

Post by DrNoGods »

EarthScienceguy wrote: Wed Sep 15, 2021 3:58 pm [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.
An old Talkorigins article sums up how totally wrong this kind of probability calculation is for the real world:

http://www.talkorigins.org/faqs/abioprob/abioprob.html

The kind of analysis you laid out is as ridiculous as the tornado through the junkyard making a 747, or a monkey randomly stumbling upon Hamlet by banging on a typewriter. Chemsitry is anything but random atoms happening to bump into each other and form random molecules. There are strong preferences for certain atoms to combine with certain others in specific combinations to form stable molecules (you do understand the periodic table and why it is arranged the way it is don't you?). Why do you see lots of H2O naturally in nature, but no ponds of OH-? What in the old Talkorigins article above do you have quibbles about?

As for future humans creating a simple "life" form that is also not as improbable as you imply. The advances in gene manipulation (CRSPR and things like it) and understanding have increased exponentially in the last 20 years, and we can assume that progress will continue. In a few centuries from now there's no telling what humans may be capable of in this area.
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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #12

Post by nobspeople »

Diagoras wrote: Mon Sep 13, 2021 5:28 pm 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.
If someone can create something that seeks out energy, consumes energy, and replicates itself to a sense of being able to provide ongoing life (using it's own makeup as a clone or using makeup from something else, combining make ups) seems to me that's life in the strictest sense of the word.
Saying 'only god can create life' seems to be a way to glorify god as something 'greater' than humanity.
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #13

Post by Diagoras »

[Replying to nobspeople in post #12]

Your "god as something 'greater' than humanity" statement does rather encapsulate the idea I was going for here. There's a poem by Joyce Kilmer which contains the famous line, "Only God can make a tree" - and it's that claim of superiority that I speculate would end up being severely challenged, should artificial life eventuate.

Would you then say 'god is no greater than man' if man could create (according to your definition) life?

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #14

Post by nobspeople »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #13]
Would you then say 'god is no greater than man' if man could create (according to your definition) life?
I think that depends on how one defines 'god'.
At the very least, if man can create life, even if it's not as complex and the life that's attributed to god, it would mean humanity is closing the gap between god and man. :confused2:
Have a great, potentially godless, day!

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #15

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to Diagoras in post #0]
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.
If you wanted to debate something different why did you say:
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?
in your introduction?

I was simply answering your question.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #16

Post by Diagoras »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #15]

To spell it out more clearly, none of your contributions at posts 2, 7, 8 and 9 address the main point concerning the future. Note that when I mentioned a theistic position, I was careful to say 'might' and "All life comes from God", rather than came, which would then certainly invite debate on biogenesis.

If you want a debate on biogenesis, start a thread on it. This thread is concerned with the implications for Christians of artificial life being created in the future.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #17

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #0]

The prospect of man duplicating what has already been created does not change the creation argument in the least. Manipulating what has already been created has nothing to do with actually creating life which is beyond all probability. What abiogenesis has failed to show is a chemical driving force towards life.

As you will see below.

From Dr. No God's article.

Items 1 - 5 are from your article.
1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
This is his explanation
he first "living things" could have been a single self replicating molecule, similar to the "self-replicating" peptide from the Ghadiri group [7, 17], or the self replicating hexanucleotide [10], or possibly an RNA polymerase that acts on itself [12].

Another view is the first self-replicators were groups of catalysts, either protein enzymes or RNA ribozymes, that regenerated themselves as a catalytic cycle [3, 5, 15, 26, 28]. An example is the SunY three subunit self-replicator [24]. These catalytic cycles could be limited in a small pond or lagoon, or be a catalytic complex adsorbed to either clay or lipid material on clay. Given that there are many catalytic sequences in a group of random peptides or polynucleotides (see below) it's not unlikely that a small catalytic complex could be formed.
A self-replicating peptide? Where did peptides come from? Where did the amino acids come from that make up the polypeptide?

Ian does a common trick that they like to do on talk Origins misrepresent the creationist position and evolutionist theory?

The creationist description of abiogenesis:
Simple chemicals --> amino acids --> polymers --> enzyme --> replicating polymers --> hypercycle --> protobiont --> bacteria

Evolutionist theory as proposed by Ian
Simple chemicals --> polymers --> replicating polymers --> hypercycle --> protobiont --> bacteria

So notice that the evolutionist theory conveniently forgets to add amino acids and enzymes both of which are needed to make replicating polymers.

I will skip over the problems there are with making amino acids in nature, like having a reducing environment. But let's look at his probabilities calculations.
I will use as an example the "self-replicating" peptide from the Ghadiri group mentioned above [7]. I could use other examples, such as the hexanucleotide self-replicator [10], the SunY self-replicator [24] or the RNA polymerase described by the Eckland group [12], but for historical continuity with creationist claims a small peptide is ideal. This peptide is 32 amino acids long with a sequence of RMKQLEEKVYELLSKVACLEYEVARLKKVGE and is an enzyme, a peptide ligase that makes a copy of itself from two 16 amino acid long subunits. It is also of a size and composition that is ideally suited to be formed by abiotic peptide synthesis. The fact that it is a self replicator is an added irony.

The probability of generating this in successive random trials is (1/20)32 or 1 chance in 4.29 x 1040. This is much, much more probable than the 1 in 2.04 x 10390 of the standard creationist "generating carboxypeptidase by chance" scenario, but still seems absurdly low.
Where does Ian's (1/20)32 come from? The 20 comes from the number of different amino acids there are 20 that are found in living organisms and the 32 comes from the number of amino acids in the chain. There is a problem with an assumption Ian is making in his calculation. Ian is making the assumption that in his prebiotic soup that there are only the 20 amino acids that are found in life are in his soup. But how is that possible? There are over 500 different amino acids so why would just these 20 amino acids be found in his prebiotic soup. Ian does not explain what the driving force would be towards these 20 amino acids so it must be assumed that all 500 amino acids would be created in Ian's prebiotic soup. We will forget the fact that

So the probability of creating a Ian’s very small peptide of 32 amino acids would actually be (1/500)32 which is 1 in 2.3E86. So his calculation is only off by about 46 orders of magnitude for a very short polypeptide. But that is not Ian's only problem. Ian said that he wanted the peptide to be self-replicating. To be self-replicating you need enzymes. The smallest enzyme is a chain of 62 amino acids. SOOO! the probability of this enzyme being made would be (1/500)62 or 1 in 1E167.

For now, we will forget the fact that seawater is an oxidizing environment and causes organic matter to break down. Ian's said that the early ocean had a volume of 1E24 and Ian said that the amino acids in this ocean had a molarity of 1E-6 M. So in Ian's early ocean had 1E18 mols of amino acids which translates into 6.02E41 amino acid molecules in the Early ocean. Ian said that he wanted to create a polypeptide made of 32 amino acids. So if all of these amino acid molecules made polypeptides 32 amino acids long then there would be 1.88E40 polypeptides Now if 1.88E40 new polypeptides were made every second there would be 6.02E47 different polypeptides made every year. So how long would it take to sort through all of the possible combinations? 2.3E86/6.02E47 = 3.8E38 years

But Ian said that he wanted a self-replicating molecule. 1E167/6.02E47 = 1E119 years.

The standard answer is that there is always a chance and we were just lucky. But there is an assertion that is being made in that statement. The assertion is that probability does not mean anything. And in science especially chemistry which is based on probability calculations. So when people make the assertion that "there is always a chance". They are saying that they do not believe in modern science.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #18

Post by Diagoras »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #17]
The prospect of man duplicating what has already been created does not change the creation argument in the least.
Please provide some justification for this assertion, which is essentially the rebuttal of the opening post's Affirmative.

A self-replicating peptide? Where did peptides come from?
This and the following part of the post is not germane, as it (again) attempts to divert this debate into past creation.

Please start a new thread if you wish to debate anything to do with how life started in the past.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #19

Post by brunumb »

EarthScienceguy wrote: Tue Sep 21, 2021 1:12 pm A self-replicating peptide? Where did peptides come from? Where did the amino acids come from that make up the polypeptide?
50 years ago, scientists caught their first glimpse of amino acids from outer space

"Scientists confirmed in 1971 that the Murchison meteorite contained amino acids, primarily glycine, and that those organic compounds likely came from outer space (SN: 3/20/71, p. 195). In the decades since, amino acids and other chemical precursors to life have been uncovered in other fallen space rocks. Recent discoveries include compounds called nucleobases and sugars that are key components of DNA and RNA. The amino acid glycine even has been spotted in outer space in the atmosphere of comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko."
https://www.sciencenews.org/article/50- ... uter-space

All the amino acids in human protein are α-amino acids, simple molecules that are made of a central C-atom that is bound to a primary amine group NH2, a carboxylic acid group COOH and a hydrogen atom H. In the simplest, glycine, the other substituent on the central carbon atom is another hydrogen H. Replacing that hydrogen with other substituents gives us the other α-amino acids. It's easy to make it all sound a lot more complex than it is in reality, particularly by throwing in a heap of distracting and irrelevant statistics.
Christianty: 2000 years of making it up as you go along.

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Re: Artificial life: can it be created?

Post #20

Post by Diagoras »

Here's a somewhat related article: documenting evidence for the transition from unicellular to multicellular life in a surprisingly simple way:

https://www.quantamagazine.org/single-c ... nteresting

While its subject is a natural, rather than an artificial organism, the article is relevant because the transition itself was artificially induced.

...primitive forms of multicellular complexity often look like typical unicellular behavior
There are many intermediate stages between unicellular and multicellular life, offering science plenty of scope to one day designing and creating an artificial lifeform.

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