Abiogenesis and Probabilities

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Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #1

Post by DrNoGods »

I'm creating a new thread here to continue debate on a post made by EarthScience guy on another thread (Science and Religion > Artificial life: can it be created?, post 17). This post challenged probability calculations in an old Talkorigins article that I had linked in that thread:

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

Are the arguments (on creationist views) and probabilities presented reasonable in the Talkorigins article? If not, why not?
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #2

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #1]
A self-replicating peptide? Where did peptides come from? Where did the amino acids come from that make up the polypeptide?
Amino acids are relatively easy to make, as demonstrated in the old Miller-Urey experiment in 1952. That used what we know now was an incorrect (but reducing, which was correct) test atmosphere (H2O, CH4, NH3 and H2), but later measurements of sealed vials from that experiment showed far more amino acids (more than 20) than originally reported by Miller (5) using paper chromotography. These 4 simple gases, along with some heat and electricity (eg. lightning) produced amino acids in a 500 ml flask in just a week. This Wikipedia article (and references at the bottom for the original papers) summarize what has been done since then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2 ... experiment

On a planet like Earth with volcanoes, lightning, oceans, etc. amino acids would have been plentiful, as well as smaller peptides, in no time at all.
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
I didn’t know there was a “creationist desciption of abiogenesis”. The creationist view, as far as I am aware, is that abiogenesis is impossible and therefore could not have happened by any mechanism, which is one of their arguments for a creator. And there have been creationists on this forum who think abiogenesis suggests that sofas can start talking!
So notice that the evolutionist theory conveniently forgets to add amino acids and enzymes both of which are needed to make replicating polymers.
See above … peptides and larger amino acids would have been available in large quantities so it is right to assume they were present.
I will skip over the problems there are with making amino acids in nature, like having a reducing environment.
See above … nature can make amino acids with its hands tied behind its back.
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.
What? He is not assuming that only 20 amino acids exist in the “soup.” It doesn’t matter how many are in the soup … only that the 20 needed are in it. The whole point is to calculate the probability of these 20 amino acids randomly forming a 32 amino acid long peptide. You can’t just postulate 500 amino acids and put that in the demominator to lower the probability (good try, but fail). If there were 20 or 500 in the “soup” is irrelevent … only the 20 must be present. Then you do the same trick with the enzyme.
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


You’ve used your bogus 2.3e86 number here. If you put the correct number of 20 in the demoninator you get (1/20)^32 (ie. Ian’s value) = 2.33e-42, or about 1 in 4.3e41. Throw that into your last ratio and you get 4.3e41 / 6.02e47 = 7.13e-7 years or 22.5 seconds.
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.
No … the point was that for any probability calculation the event could, in principle, happen on the first try (or the last), or anything in between. People win lotteries with chances of only 1 in 2e8, without buying 200 million tickets. Chemistry isn’t based purely on probability calculations. Atoms bond to form simple molecules based primarily on the configuration of their outer electron shells (ionic and covalent bonds). This is why Na+ and Cl- like to form NaCl, and you don’t see NaCa for example. Larger molecules like peptides and amino acids also bond in ways that are not purely probabilistic (far from it). For many proteins it is their 3D structure that is responsible for their functions and how they bond together and to other structures in the body. This isn’t purely probabilistic either. Belief in modern science does not imply that probability does not mean anything, it means that probabilities have to be used correctly.
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #3

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #0]


[
Amino acids are relatively easy to make, as demonstrated in the old Miller-Urey experiment in 1952. That used what we know now was an incorrect (but reducing, which was correct) test atmosphere (H2O, CH4, NH3 and H2), but later measurements of sealed vials from that experiment showed far more amino acids (more than 20) than originally reported by Miller (5) using paper chromotography. These 4 simple gases, along with some heat and electricity (eg. lightning) produced amino acids in a 500 ml flask in just a week. This Wikipedia article (and references at the bottom for the original papers) summarize what has been done since then.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miller%E2 ... experiment

On a planet like Earth with volcanoes, lightning, oceans, etc. amino acids would have been plentiful, as well as smaller peptides, in no time at all.
Ok, we will start with the experiment:

1. The energy source that you are describing such as an electric spark, heat, acoustic shock or ultraviolet light also destroys organic material. That is why these experiments have a cold trap to collect the compounds to keep them away from the energy source.
2. Without oxygen in the environment there would be no ozone to stop the ultraviolet light which destroys organic material. Ultraviolet light also breaks apart water into H2 and O2, therefore, creating an oxidized environment.
3. There is ample evidence that suggests that atmosphere of the early earth was not a reducing environment.
The scientists show that the atmosphere of Earth just 500 million years after its creation was not a methane-filled wasteland as previously proposed, but instead was much closer to the conditions of our current atmosphere. The findings, in a paper titled “The oxidation state of Hadean magmas and implications for early Earth’s atmosphere,” have implications for our understanding of how and when life began on this planet and could begin elsewhere in the universe. https://astrobiology.nasa.gov/news/eart ... an-update/
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
I didn’t know there was a “creationist description of abiogenesis”. The creationist view, as far as I am aware, is that abiogenesis is impossible and therefore could not have happened by any mechanism, which is one of their arguments for a creator. And there have been creationists on this forum who think abiogenesis suggests that sofas can start talking!
Maybe there are some weird people out there that think sofas can start talking.

Some sort of process has to be described to calculate the probability of an event happening. In this case, simply getting to a replicating polypeptide, I could see having an E390 probability.

What? He is not assuming that only 20 amino acids exist in the “soup.” It doesn’t matter how many are in the soup … only that the 20 needed are in it. The whole point is to calculate the probability of these 20 amino acids randomly forming a 32 amino acid long peptide. You can’t just postulate 500 amino acids and put that in the denominator to lower the probability (good try, but fail). If there were 20 or 500 in the “soup” is irrelevant … only the 20 must be present. Then you do the same trick with the enzyme.
Are you saying that these 20 amino acids have a higher natural driving force to combine than they have to combine with the other 480 amino acids that exist? If not I do not see how you can say that the other 480 amino acids do not matter. Simply getting those 20 amino acids together so that they can combine is a probability problem by itself, 20! to 500!.

You’ve used your bogus 2.3e86 number here. If you put the correct number of 20 in the denominator you get (1/20)^32 (ie. Ian’s value) = 2.33e-42, or about 1 in 4.3e41. Throw that into your last ratio and you get 4.3e41 / 6.02e47 = 7.13e-7 years or 22.5 seconds.
Again how are these 20 amino acids coming together when 500 amino acids have 499! possible arrangements. That is 1.22E1135 possible arrangements.
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.
No … the point was that for any probability calculation the event could, in principle, happen on the first try (or the last), or anything in between. People win lotteries with chances of only 1 in 2e8, without buying 200 million tickets. Chemistry isn’t based purely on probability calculations. Atoms bond to form simple molecules based primarily on the configuration of their outer electron shells (ionic and covalent bonds). This is why Na+ and Cl- like to form NaCl, and you don’t see NaCa for example. Larger molecules like peptides and amino acids also bond in ways that are not purely probabilistic (far from it). For many proteins it is their 3D structure that is responsible for their functions and how they bond together and to other structures in the body. This isn’t purely probabilistic either. Belief in modern science does not imply that probability does not mean anything, it means that probabilities have to be used correctly.

Quantum mechanics describes the bonding atom as being the event that has the highest probability of happening. There are some theories out there that say that all possible events happen but I am not one that agrees with that interpretation. Probabilities do have to be used correctly And that is exactly why abiogenesis and evolution are impossible. Because they break the laws of probability and describe events that are not probable at all as happening.

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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #4

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #3]
1. The energy source that you are describing such as an electric spark, heat, acoustic shock or ultraviolet light also destroys organic material. That is why these experiments have a cold trap to collect the compounds to keep them away from the energy source.
2. Without oxygen in the environment there would be no ozone to stop the ultraviolet light which destroys organic material. Ultraviolet light also breaks apart water into H2 and O2, therefore, creating an oxidized environment.
3. There is ample evidence that suggests that atmosphere of the early earth was not a reducing environment.
Heat and electricity also can promote chemical reactions as we see everyday. The Earth's early atmosphere was weakly reducing with CH4, NH3, H2O, CO, neon and lots of CO2 and other volcanic eruption compounds. But the formation of amino acids would most likely have been in oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. (ie. in water). UV light from the Sun does not dissociate H2O sufficiently to destroy the vast liquid water sources once they formed, or destroy organic molecules sufficiently far under the surface. So there is no reason organic compounds, peptides, amino acids could not form and be stable in these liquid H2O sources. What "ample" evidence do you have to suggest that the early atmosphere on Earth was not weakly reducing?
Some sort of process has to be described to calculate the probability of an event happening. In this case, simply getting to a replicating polypeptide, I could see having an E390 probability.
That sounds like it was pulled squarely from the hind end.
Are you saying that these 20 amino acids have a higher natural driving force to combine than they have to combine with the other 480 amino acids that exist? If not I do not see how you can say that the other 480 amino acids do not matter. Simply getting those 20 amino acids together so that they can combine is a probability problem by itself, 20! to 500!.
No, I'm saying that the proposed environment was mainly liquid H2O, with only very small molar concentrations for the amino acids or peptides (eg. 1e-6 M). So most of the interactions (the huge majority) would be with water and not other molecules. If there were 500 amino acids in the mix, or just the 20 needed, the probability of building polypeptide chains of a given length would hardly change in a random scenario as by far the dominant encounters of amino acid molecules would be with water molecules. The assumed rate of formation may change slightly, but 20 and 500 are both small compared to a million or more.
Again how are these 20 amino acids coming together when 500 amino acids have 499! possible arrangements. That is 1.22E1135 possible arrangements.
Because in an aqueous solution where the concentration of the amino acids are small compared to the host liquid (H2O), collisions and opportunities for bonding are dominated by the far larger number of H2O molecules compared to amino acids. The other 480 amino acids outside of the 20 needed can do all the bonding and building of chains that they like, and may use up some of the 20 that would be available to build chains with each other. But if you assume random encounters and equal molar concentrations of each of 500 amino acids, all small compared to the number of H2O molecules, the probability calculation isn't changed much by swapping some relatively small number of H2O molecules with amino acids.
Quantum mechanics describes the bonding atom as being the event that has the highest probability of happening. There are some theories out there that say that all possible events happen but I am not one that agrees with that interpretation. Probabilities do have to be used correctly And that is exactly why abiogenesis and evolution are impossible. Because they break the laws of probability and describe events that are not probable at all as happening.
Quantum computers rely on simultaneity to work, and people have built them. Evolution is not impossible as we see it all around us. Abiogenesis is still a hypothesis and has yet to be falsified, but evolution is not in that category. Its probability is 1.
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #5

Post by EarthScienceguy »

[Replying to DrNoGods in post #4]
Heat and electricity also can promote chemical reactions as we see everyday. The Earth's early atmosphere was weakly reducing with CH4, NH3, H2O, CO, neon and lots of CO2 and other volcanic eruption compounds. But the formation of amino acids would most likely have been in oceans, lakes, rivers, etc. (ie. in water). UV light from the Sun does not dissociate H2O sufficiently to destroy the vast liquid water sources once they formed, or destroy organic molecules sufficiently far under the surface. So there is no reason organic compounds, peptides, amino acids could not form and be stable in these liquid H2O sources. What "ample" evidence do you have to suggest that the early atmosphere on Earth was not weakly reducing?
I cited the paper from NASA above. The rocks (or in this case zircon) tells the story of the early atmosphere.

No, I'm saying that the proposed environment was mainly liquid H2O, with only very small molar concentrations for the amino acids or peptides (eg. 1e-6 M). So most of the interactions (the huge majority) would be with water and not other molecules. If there were 500 amino acids in the mix, or just the 20 needed, the probability of building polypeptide chains of a given length would hardly change in a random scenario as by far the dominant encounters of amino acid molecules would be with water molecules. The assumed rate of the formation may change slightly, but 20 and 500 are both small compared to a million or more.

Because in an aqueous solution where the concentration of the amino acids are small compared to the host liquid (H2O), collisions and opportunities for bonding are dominated by the far larger number of H2O molecules compared to amino acids. The other 480 amino acids outside of the 20 needed can do all the bonding and building of chains that they like, and may use up some of the 20 that would be available to build chains with each other. But if you assume random encounters and equal molar concentrations of each of 500 amino acids, all small compared to the number of H2O molecules, the probability calculation isn't changed much by swapping some relatively small number of H2O molecules with amino acids.
Ok, that just totally weakens your argument. Try reacting 1 M HCl with Aluminum and 15 M concentrated HCl with Al. (make sure you do that under a fume hood concentrated HCl is nasty in the open air) The reaction of the 1 M is very slow because most of the collisions are with the water molecules and the Al, because the probability of an H+ or Cl- ion hitting the Aluminum is low. The concentration of the 20 amino acids in Ian's ocean would be around 4E-9 M. While the concentration of the 480 amino acids would remain around 1E-6 M that is a difference in concentration of 3 orders of magnitude. So the probability of a collision occurring with the 480 amino acids is much higher and therefore most of the reactions would occur with 480 amino acids and very few with the 20 amino acids. In fact, the concentration of the 20 amino acids is so small that it is doubtful whether they would react with each other at all because the probability of a collision between the two of the 20 amino acids is very small they are far more likely to react with the 480 amino acids.
Quantum computers rely on simultaneity to work, and people have built them. Evolution is not impossible as we see it all around us. Abiogenesis is still a hypothesis and has yet to be falsified, but evolution is not in that category. Its probability is 1.
This would begin a whole new discussion, but in my next post I will describe to you why evolution IS impossible.

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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #6

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #5]
Ok, that just totally weakens your argument. Try reacting 1 M HCl with Aluminum and 15 M concentrated HCl with Al. (make sure you do that under a fume hood concentrated HCl is nasty in the open air) The reaction of the 1 M is very slow because most of the collisions are with the water molecules and the Al, because the probability of an H+ or Cl- ion hitting the Aluminum is low. The concentration of the 20 amino acids in Ian's ocean would be around 4E-9 M. While the concentration of the 480 amino acids would remain around 1E-6 M that is a difference in concentration of 3 orders of magnitude. So the probability of a collision occurring with the 480 amino acids is much higher and therefore most of the reactions would occur with 480 amino acids and very few with the 20 amino acids. In fact, the concentration of the 20 amino acids is so small that it is doubtful whether they would react with each other at all because the probability of a collision between the two of the 20 amino acids is very small they are far more likely to react with the 480 amino acids.
You're missing the point. The Talkorigins paper was about probabilities, not reaction rates. The probability calculation does not consider what the composition of the background is. It simply uses the probability of 20 things assembling into 32-segment long other things as if the process were entirely random. If the medium is liquid water and the concentrations of the varoius amino acids is small in comparison (whether 20 or 500 amino acids among a much larger sea of H2O molecules), the probability of a collision between any of the 20 amino acids would be the same if all of the molecules were treated as billiard balls for a probability calculation as they were in the article. Remember, the Talkorigins paper was refuting the creationist statistical argument that is based purely on probabilities and ignoring things like reaction rates, chemical preferences, etc. ... they try to paint the picture that everything is completely random and can be represented purely by statistical probabilities in order to arrive at their unrealistic numbers.
This would begin a whole new discussion, but in my next post I will describe to you why evolution IS impossible.
Well this should be interesting, given that evolution has been observed in the real world. Or are you going to try the "micro" vs. "macro" argument, or just deny the last 150 years of observations and 40-50 years of genetics work?
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #7

Post by JoeyKnothead »

EarthScienceguy wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 3:53 pm ...
...
This would begin a whole new discussion, but in my next post I will describe to you why evolution IS impossible.
I knew I shoulda bought them popcorn futures when I had the chance.
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #8

Post by brunumb »

EarthScienceguy wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 12:13 pm Are you saying that these 20 amino acids have a higher natural driving force to combine than they have to combine with the other 480 amino acids that exist? If not I do not see how you can say that the other 480 amino acids do not matter. Simply getting those 20 amino acids together so that they can combine is a probability problem by itself, 20! to 500!.
Could you please enlighten us on the relative abundances of these 500 amino acids in the primitive earth. Glycine is the simplest and would surely have been the most abundant. Chemical reactions over time would probably have led to a gradual accumulation of the others. Probability calculations from apologists invariably disregard the numerous pathways, the step-wise conversions and the scale of the time involved. Too often it is just presented as a wam-bam here is the start and here is the finish one step process that bears no relation to reality. But the bogus statistics are always impressive to the ignorant or uninformed.
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #9

Post by JoeyKnothead »

brunumb wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 7:38 pm
EarthScienceguy wrote: Wed Sep 22, 2021 12:13 pm Are you saying that these 20 amino acids have a higher natural driving force to combine than they have to combine with the other 480 amino acids that exist? If not I do not see how you can say that the other 480 amino acids do not matter. Simply getting those 20 amino acids together so that they can combine is a probability problem by itself, 20! to 500!.
Could you please enlighten us on the relative abundances of these 500 amino acids in the primitive earth. Glycine is the simplest and would surely have been the most abundant. Chemical reactions over time would probably have led to a gradual accumulation of the others. Probability calculations from apologists invariably disregard the numerous pathways, the step-wise conversions and the scale of the time involved. Too often it is just presented as a wam-bam here is the start and here is the finish one step process that bears no relation to reality. But the bogus statistics are always impressive to the ignorant or uninformed.
What of probability on the 0 or 1 scale, where if it doesn't happen, probability is 0? Then if it does, probability is 1? What say y'all wheelbarrow having to tote em in brains?

If only to me, regardless of how likely it was for chemicals to chemical, we observe they do / did.

I'm not for the "it's improbable, so God" argument, because who can put a number on the probability of God.
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Re: Abiogenesis and Probabilities

Post #10

Post by DrNoGods »

[Replying to EarthScienceguy in post #5]
So the probability of a collision occurring with the 480 amino acids is much higher and therefore most of the reactions would occur with 480 amino acids and very few with the 20 amino acids. In fact, the concentration of the 20 amino acids is so small that it is doubtful whether they would react with each other at all because the probability of a collision between the two of the 20 amino acids is very small they are far more likely to react with the 480 amino acids.
As far as reaction rates and collision frequencies, take 1 liter of water. This is 1000 ml = 1000 g = 55.6 moles of H2O = 55.6 x 6.02e23 = 3.35e25 molecules of H2O in 1L of water (H2O MW is 18 g/mole). Now dump in enough amino acids to make a 1e-6 molar solution. This is 6.02e17 amino acid molecules (however many different types there are). So there are 56 million molecules of H2O for each amino acid molecule in this solution. The probability of a collision between one amino acid and another is far less (many orders of magniture) than the probability of a collision between an amino acid molecule and a water molecule.

But the original bone of contention is your replacement of 20 by 500 in the number of ways 20 things can combine to make a certain 32-sequence other thing (ie. (1/20)^32). That has nothing to do with molar concentrations or reaction rates, etc. It is simply the probability of landing on a specific 32 long sequence using 20 components by successive random tries (amino acids, or anything else). If there were 480 other amino acids in the solution it would not change the probability for the 20 under consideration to make a specific 32 segment long chain by random, successive tries. These other amino acids, like the far more numerous water molecules, are just spectators.
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