The Instigator
SuburbiaSurvivor
Pro (for)
Winning
28 Points
The Contender
Rational_Thinker9119
Con (against)
Losing
8 Points

Abiogenesis Is Impossible

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 9 votes the winner is...
SuburbiaSurvivor
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/1/2012 Category: Science
Updated: 2 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 2,835 times Debate No: 20155
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (5)
Votes (9)

 

SuburbiaSurvivor

Pro

This round is for acceptance, definitions, and rules only.

Abiogenesis:
"The supposed *spontaneous* development of living organisms from nonliving matter. Also called autogenesis, spontaneous generation."-The American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

(Emphasis on spontaneous added so as to avoid a debate on semantics. This keeps in line with the original definition since "abiogenesis" can also be called "spontaneous generation" as given by the dictionary)

Rules: This debate will be about what science has already discovered. Neither side can appeal to a negative. For example:

Pro can not use the argument "Science does not know how X could exist, therefore X did not exist"

Likewise, Con can not use the argument "Science has discovered many things. Therefore, in the future scientists will discover how X could exist, therefore X existed"

The resolution will be whether or not abiogenesis is possible based on current discoveries and scientific knowledge.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

I accept, present your case.
Debate Round No. 1
SuburbiaSurvivor

Pro

As Pro, my position will be to prove that all (presented) findings regarding abiogenesis either rely on irrelevant scenarios (such as scenarios where certain chemicals that have been proven to have existed billions of years ago are ignored), or produce findings that actually support my resolution that abiogenesis is impossible.

Since the rules are to avoid appealing to a negative, this debate will officially begin once Con has made his opening arguments. However, I would like to get one thing out of the way first:


I. Problems with the Miller-Urey Experiment.


Of all the evidence for abiogenesis, the Miller-Urey experiment is the weakest. However, I have seen it cited as evidence for abiogenesis on DDO, so I'd like to show why it is unreliable so we can move on to more less-looked at evidence for and against abiogenesis.

1. Ignored the presence of oxygen.

The Miller-Urey experiment utilized the gases methane, ammonia, and hydrogen. However, it ignores the presence of oxygen, which has been proven to exist for 4.3 billion years. [1] When it comes to biosynthesis, "laboratory experiments show that chemical evolution, as accounted for by present models, would be largely inhibited by oxygen". [2] That is to say, oxygen would have destroyed many of the organic molecules created in any sort reducing atmosphere.

2. Produced only small amounts of amino acids.

The Miller-Urey experiment, while producing more then the 20 amino acids required for life, only produced small yields of these amino acids. The most common amino acids formed were glycine and alanine. Yet glycine made up only 1.05% of the total yield, and alanine only 0.75%. [3]

3. Non-existent methane-ammonia atmosphere.

"...
the accepted picture of the earth’s early atmosphere has changed: It was probably O2-rich with some nitrogen, a less reactive mixture than Miller’s, or it might have been composed largely of carbon dioxide, which would greatly deter the development of organic compounds."-[4]

Since volcanoes only release carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor, it is now believed by scientists that methane, ammonia, and hydrogen did not make up the majority of early earth's atmosphere [5]. This is also why scientists do not believe that an early atmosphere played a huge part in chemical evolution. [6]

4. Amino acids were produced in racemic mix. [7]

Amino acids synthesize in both right-handed and left-handed versions. The amino acids required for life are all left-handed (with only rare exceptions), and the sugars required for life are all (with only rare exceptions) right-handed. Any protein that utilizes a right-handed amino acid is rendered useless for life. All experiments to remedy this problem have failed. [8]

RNA World Hypothesis.


There are various problems with this hypothesis. My favorites being problems with cytosine and ribose, and in addition, a lack of a process to polymerize RNA strands. However, rather then list them all (there are quite a few), I'm going to allow my opponent to make his case and then list any problems relevant to his case.

[1] Bortman, H. 2001. Life Under Bombardment (http://nai.nasa.gov...) from the NASA Astrobiology Institute. - Alternating layers of oxidized iron in the so-called banded iron formation from Akilia Island in West Greenland demonstrates that free oxygen has been present on earth longer than 3.85 billion years.

Carver, J. H. 1981. Prebiotic atmospheric oxygen levels. Nature 292: 136-138 (http://www.nature.com...).

Ohmoto H., Y. Watanabe, H. Ikemi, S.R. Poulson, B.E. Taylor. 2006. Sulphur isotope evidence for an oxic Achaean atmosphere. Nature 442:873-874. (http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov...)

Dustin Trail, D., E. B. Watson and N. D. Tailby. 2011. The oxidation state of Hadean magmas and implications for early Earth’s atmosphere. Nature doi:10.1038/nature10655. (http://www.nature.com...)

[2] Flowers, C., A Science Odyssey: 100 Years of Discovery, William Morrow and Company, New York, p. 173, 1998.

[3] Shapiro, R., Origins; A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on earth, Summit Books, New York, p. 99, 1986.

http://www.chem.duke.edu... (third paragraph, fourth sentence)

[4] Flowers, C., A Science Odyssey: 100 Years of Discovery, William Morrow and Company, New York, p. 173, 1998.

[5]
http://en.wikipedia.org...

[6]
Shapiro, R., Origins; A Skeptics Guide to the Creation of Life on earth, Summit Books, New York, p. 99, 1986.

[7] http://en.wikipedia.org...

[8]Sarfati, J., Origin of life and the homochirality problem: is magnetochiral dichroism the solution? TJ14(3)9–12, 2000.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Before I defend Abiogenesis, I am going to give a brief rundown regarding how life formed on the early earth.

What is Abiogenesis?
__________________

The early pre-biotic earth was filled with organic molecules (which are quite common in space), the building blocks of life. The pre-biotic environment contained many simple fatty acids, under a range of PH they spontaneously form stable vesicles. With naturally occurring simple fatty acids, we can have a vesicle that can spontaneously grow from consumption and divide. The pre-biotic environment contained hundreds of different types of nucleotides, all it took was one to polymerize, they can replicate themselves.

So far we have lipid vesicles that can grow and divide, and nucleotide polymers that can self-replicate all on their own, but how does it become life? Well fatty acid vesicles are permeable to nucleotide monomers, but not polymers. Once polymerization occurs within the vesicle, the polymer gets trapped! In the ocean they will encounter convection currents. A vesicle with more polymer, through simple thermodynamics will steal lipids from a vesicle with less polymer, this is the origin of competition. A Vesicle that contains polymer can replicate, grow and divide faster therefore dominating the population. Self-polymerizing molecules will kick off evolution, and we see things like complex sexual reproduction arise, basically where the fun begins ;)

What about intelligence?
_____________________

First we have to define intelligence, I mean is intelligence the ability to learn and make choices? Well it may shock you than even bacteria can do both of those things. A species of bacteria rapidly evolved, selecting for a single nucleotide insertion, forming a new gene which allowed it to digest nilon, this is just one example of how evolution can increase information stored in DNA. The bacteria learn how to digest the nilon. Of course a bacteria's intelligence pales in comparison to our own, so how did something as complex as the brain arise? Well our brains have 100 billon neurons and 1 quintillion synapses. A neuron is simply a cell which transfers electrical impulses form one location to another. Now DNA sequences reveal that ion channels used in the neurons in animals had their origin in bacteria. The first neurons were simply coopted, bacterial ion channels, put to the new task of transferring information. As multi celled organisms form they need a way to rapidly transmit information and form brains because they can produce the ability to transfer information faster and over longer distances than simple passive waves which are not up for the task.

Refuting my opponent's criticisms on the Miller-Urey experiment
_____________________________________________________

Lets say I granted him the notion that the Miller-Urey experiment was not valid, this still wouldn't even put a dent in the fact that Abiogenesis is at least possible simply based off one experiment being invalid. Since I am not granting him that notion, here is my response to some (I don't have enough room to refute all) of his objections to the experiment.

" …it ignores the presence of oxygen, which has been proven to exist for 4.3 billion years"

This is absolutely off (by 2 billion years)

Oxygen did not exist in the early atmosphere. Early life took in carbon dioxide and sunlight, exhaling oxygen as a waste gas. After a few million years, this waste gas became a significant part of the atmosphere, enough so that new opportunistic species could use it for respiration. The reason why my opponent is mistaken is because plants (life) are what produce oxygen in the air, therefore oxygen must not have been present when the earliest life formed.
Animals need oxygen. "You cannot evolve animals like us without having a significant amount of oxygen," says geochemist Dick Holland of Harvard University. "Without the Great Oxidation Event [a dramatic rise of oxygen in Earth's atmosphere some 2.3 billion years ago], we would not be here. No dinosaurs, no fish, no snakes - just a lot of microorganisms."

"The Miller-Urey experiment, while producing more than the 20 amino acids required for life, only produced small yields of these amino acids."

This point is moot. The very fact that these amino acids were produced speaks volumes on the success of the experiment and the possibility of Abiogenesis. Miller's experiment showed that organic compounds such as amino acids, which are essential to cellular life, could be made easily under the conditions that scientists believed to be present on the early earth.

"Since volcanoes only release carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen, and water vapor.."

Volcanic eruptions involve the release of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen gases as well as water vapor (http://ua-ib-bio.tumblr.com...).

My case in favor of Abiogenesis being possible
_______________________________________

Simple case:
___________

1) The very fact that all people who do not advocate Abiogenesis throw out how the probability of it is so low, proves that even they believe it is possible. If they didn't, they would say the chance of it happening is 0.

2) The fact we are here proves not only is it possible, but it most likely happened (unless you believe in the supernatural and magic)

Scientific case:
_____________

Primordial Soup—Miller-Urey use a mix of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen to form basic amino acids in the lab.

Deep Sea Vent Theory—Hydrogen saturated, heated, fluids from hydrothermal vents on the ocean floor mix with carbon dioxide laden water. Continued chemical energy from the interactions sustains processes that produce simple organic molecules.

Spontaneous Formation of Small Peptides from Amino Acids: Sidney Fox demonstrated that the conversions could occur on their own.

Eigen's hypothesis—Eigen and Schuster argue that some molecules, possibly RNA, can serve as an information storing system that brings about the formation of other information storing systems, or a kind of replication.

Radioactive beach hypothesis: radioactive elements such as uranium may have concentrated on beaches and become building blocks for life by energizing amino acids, sugars from acetronitrile in water.

Homochirality: The right or left handedness of organic molecules may be explained by the origin of compounds in space.
Self-organization and replication: Under the right circumstances, many non-organic molecules exhibit properties of self-organization and self-replication.

"Genes first" models: the RNA world It has been argued that short RNA molecules could have formed on their own. Cell membranes could have formed from protein-like molecules in heated water. Chemical reactions in clay or on pyrites could have initiated self-replication.

"Metabolism first" models: iron-sulfur world and others. Some theories argue that metabolic processes started first, then self-replication.

Bubbles collecting on the beach could have played a role in forming early, proto-cell membranes.

Autocatalysis Some substances catalyze the production of themselves such as amino adenosine, pentafluorophenyl ester, and amino adenosine triacid ester.

Clay theory Complex organic molecules could have arisen from non-organic replicators such as silicate crystals. It has even been reported that the crystals can transfer information from mother to daughter crystals.

Gold's "Deep-hot biosphere" model Gold argues that life originated miles below the surface of the earth. Microbial life has been found there, and it may be present in other plants.

"Primitive" extraterrestrial life Organic compounds are common in space, and early life may have been transferred here from other planets such as Mars.

Additional Sources:
________________

http://www.chem.duke.edu...

http://atheismblog.blogspot.com...
Debate Round No. 2
SuburbiaSurvivor

Pro

I thank my opponent for a speedy reply!

First off, I'd like to point out that while Con has skillfully outlined for us the hypothesis of abiogenesis, he has neither offered evidence to support the hypothesis nor cited sources that offer evidence to support it. The youtube video he offers, while having a wonderful classical instrumental played in the background, also fails to offer evidence to back up its claims or cite sources.

Not only that, but there are fundamental problems with Con's introduction of abiogenesis:

1. "The early pre-biotic earth was filled with organic molecules"

What proof does Con have that the pre-biotic earth was filled? Experiments to produce organic molecules often only given small yields of organic molecules. The Miller-Urey experiment only gave a yeild of 2%. That coupled with the destructive nature of oxygen [see sources in round 1], how could the pre-biotic earth have been filled with organic molecules? Also, what specific organic molecules? Amino acids are not the only building blocks for life. RNA and DNA strands alone require nucleotides, phospates, sugars. There are other problems, but I only have so much space.

2. "The pre-biotic environment contained hundreds of different types of nucleotides, all it took was one to polymerize, they can replicate themselves."

"Hundreds of different types of nucleotides". I find this strange, seeing as how there are only five (plus, two recently discovered cell-modified versions of cytosine) types of nucleotides known to exist: Cytosine, uracil, adenine, guanine, and thymine. What proof does Con have that these nucleotides even existed. Are there a few hundred other types of nucleotides that Con has discovered that we don't know about?

Also, the phrase "all it took was one to polymerize" is deceptive. First of all, a single nucleotide can not polymerize. Polymerization is the process in which one molecule bonds with another molecule. It would take multiple nucleotides for polymerization. Also, polymerization of nucleotides is tricky because a nucleotide base pair actually consists of not only two nucleotides but a phosphate and a sugar (in RNA, it's ribose. In DNA, it's deoxyribose), in addition, because molecules can bond with a plethora of different chemicals in a plethora of different ways, Con needs to show a way in which these chemicals could have bonded correctly, either without the use of ATP and the enzymes modern cells use to catalyze and control the polymerization process, or he must show that ATP and enzymes could have existed.

Note: Adenine and guanine have been produced in abiogenesis experiments (there are problems with these experiments, but I'm trying to only give relevant rebuttals) and have been discovered in meteorites. Uracil can be produced from pyrimidines, but cytosine has not been produced in spark experiments. There is an experiment that involves combining two cytosine derivates (created in small ammounts from spark experiments). However, I'll only give the problems to this experiment if Con cites it as evidence that cytosine could have existed.

3. "So far we have lipid vesicles that can grow and divide, and nucleotide polymers that can self-replicate all on their own"

Wait a second, we have nucleotide polymers? When did this happen? It seems that our opponent has sadly forgotten to cite evidence, once again.

Note: Even if nucleotide polymers were to have existed, when RNA self-replicates, it actually replicates onto itself, and becomes closed like a zipper. In modern day cells, the enzyme polymerase is produced to unzip this "zipper".

a) http://en.wikipedia.org...
b) http://en.wikipedia.org...

4. "The pre-biotic environment contained many simple fatty acids, under a range of PH they spontaneously form stable vesicles."

I'm actually not going to focus on the problems with this statement. However, this site gives a detailed list of issues with the genesis of a cell membrane, if the audience is interested in looking into it:

a) http://www.godandscience.org...

Refutations Of Con's Refutations

1. "This is absolutely off (by 2 billion years)"

Con assumes that oxygen can only be produced by organisms (this is false, oxygen can exist without organisms creating it. Not only that, but oxygen has been found in space, where there aren't any organisms [1]), and ignores the evidence in the oxidized iron from Akilia Island in West Greenland as well as the evidence from the other three sources I cited.

2. "Volcanic eruptions involve the release of methane, ammonia, and hydrogen gases as well as water vapor"

Con cited a tumblr post with an unknown author that itself does not cite any sources. I can find no other sources that back up his claim. Unless Con can find another source to back up his claim, please consider his point null and void.

3. "The very fact that all people who do not advocate Abiogenesis throw out how the probability of it is so low, proves that even they believe it is possible. If they didn't, they would say the chance of it happening is 0."

Obviously I consider the probability of abiogenesis taking place to be 0. Otherwise I wouldn't be debating you right now.

4. "The fact we are here proves not only is it possible, but it most likely happened (unless you believe in the supernatural and magic)"

Con refutes his own claim. There are many who believe in the supernatural. It has also not been proven that the supernatural doesn't exist.

5. Here Con gives a long list of hypotheses. The question is: Which of these does Con advocate? Where is the evidence to back up these hypotheses?

The existence of a hypothesis about how something could have happened does not prove that it did or can happen.

[1] http://www.huffingtonpost.com...
________________________________________

I'd like to make a note of the sources Con has used in his argument.

Source 1: A youtube video that "summarizes" a particular scientists work yet fails to cite any sources, and skips over the fundamental problems with abiogenesis as listed in above arguments.

Source 2: An alleged quote from a particular geochemist.

Source 3: A tumblr post with an unknown author and un-cited content.

Source 4: A faulty link to some unknown blogspot post.

Source 5: A website that describes the Miller-Urey experiment.

Can you spot the evidence for abiogenesis? Neither can I.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

"he has neither offered evidence to support the hypothesis nor cited sources that offer evidence to support it"

I will site more this round if I see fit but saying I never sited sources isn't really a factual statement.

My opponent is speaking about Abiogenesis in a tone that implies the debate is whether it happened or not, not whether or not it is possible. This is a point I really want to stress in this debate, because so far all Pro has done is try to discredit one experiment and has not made a single point indicating how Abiogenesis is impossible.

People who reject Abiogenesis will claim:

"The formation of any enzyme by chance is nearly impossible, therefore abiogenesis is impossible"

A calculation from the astrophysicist Fred Hoyle named "Borel's Law" was created with the intent to show that Abiogenesis is statistically impossible.

The problems with calculations like these?
__________________________________

1) They calculate the chance of a"modern" protein forming, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by strictly random events. This is not what Abiogenesis hypothesizes at all.

2) They make the assumption that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each and every protein that are required for life to form.

3) They only calculate the probability of sequential trials and not simultaneous trials.

4) They underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes existing in a group of random sequences.

The calculation states that the probability of forming a 300 amino acid long protein (an enzyme like carboxypeptidase) randomly is (1/20)300 or 1 chance in 2.04 x 10390. One of the flaws is that the formation of biological polymers from monomers is a function of the laws of chemistry and biochemistry, and these are not random by any stretch of the imagination, contrary to what the calculation assumes. Another major flaw is the fact that the entire premise is incorrect to start off with, because in modern abiogenesis theories the first "living things" would be much simpler, not even a protobacteria, or a preprotobacteria, rather one or more simple molecules probably not more than 30-40 subunits long.

How is Abiogenesis possible

The theory is that you go from simple chemicals, to polymers, to replicating polymers, to a hypercycle, to protobiont system, and finally to bacteria.

I am going to explain how this is in fact, possible:

A monomer (from Greek mono "one" and meros "part") is an atom or a small molecule that may bind chemically to other monomers to form a polymer. A polymer is a large molecule (macromolecule) composed of repeating structural units. These subunits are typically connected by covalent chemical bonds (http://en.wikipedia.org...). The repeating structural unit of most simple polymers not only reflects the monomer(s) from which the polymers are constructed, but also provides a concise means for drawing structures to represent these macromolecules. For polyethylene, arguably the simplest polymer, ethylene (ethene) is the monomer, and the corresponding linear polymer is called high-density polyethylene (HDPE). HDPE is composed of macromolecules in which n ranges from 10,000 to 100,000 (molecular weight 2*105 to 3 *106 ) (http://www.talkorigins.org...).

The subunits of polymers are held together by chemical compounds, therefore providing evidence that it is possible to go from chemicals to polymers.

An accurate mathematical model concerning the origin and the growth of self-replicating polymers has been developed. The polymers compete for activated monomers which can be carried into the system under constant or periodic fluxes. Changes in their concentrations are determined by spontaneous generation of the shortest polymers, ligation with free monomers at the end of their chains, template-instructed synthesis for polymers above a length threshold, and decomposition (http://www.sciencedirect.com...).

The competition between polymers for activated monomers can kick off the process of replication.

A Hypercycle is a new level of organization where self-replicative units are connected in a autocatalytic manner. The self-replicative units are themselves catalytic cycles (http://www.enotes.com...(chemistry)).

Since replicating polymers are self-replicating units, then it's possible for them to engage in this new level of organization.

Theoretical treatments of hypercycles show that, once evolved from RNA, DNA will take over as the master molecule by virtue of it's storage capacity. Once DNA merged as the master hereditary molecule, the length of it's nucleotide strands could be increased, spelling out the alphabet of base pairs containing the information required for the machinery of life. Protobionts form spontaneously in the laboratory under a variety of different hypothetical early Earth conditions.(http://books.google.ca...)

Treatments of hypercycles indicate that DNA will take over as the master molecule, and protobionts form spontaneously under a wide range of theorized early earth conditions.

The earliest mitochondria could be used as food by other protobionts, but some of them could not be processed as food, but survived living as symbionts into more complex protobionts. Progressively, the functional relationship would be more vital for both mitochondria and protobionts, until they could not omit one to another. This indicates the process of the origin of the first prokaryotic heterotrophic protists (e.g. Archaea and Bacteria) (http://www.biocab.org...).

So, I have shown that is it possible to gets from simple chemicals, to polymers, to replicating polymers, to a hypercycle, to protobionts, and to heterotrophic protists.

Abiogenesis is indeed possible.

Quick response to the errors in Pro's objections

Regarding when oxygen appeared on earth
___________________________________

Pro tried to combat my rebuttal about his error about how many years ago Oxygen appeared on earth, I will point out his huge error once again.

NASA-funded astrobiologist researchers report that traces of oxygen appeared in Earth's atmosphere from 50 to 100 million years before what is known as the Great Oxidation Event. This event happened between 2.3 and 2.4 billion years ago, when many scientists think atmospheric oxygen increased significantly from the existing very low levels 50 to 100 million years before that (http://www.nasa.gov...).

Regarding volcanoes
_________________

The Earth's surface was originally molten, as it cooled the volcanoes belched out massive amounts of carbon dioxide, steam, ammonia and methane (http://www.moorlandschool.co.uk...).

A cryovolcano is a volcano that erupts volatiles such as water, ammonia or methane. (http://en.wikipedia.org...). I am mentioning this type of volcano not seen on Earth, is because it's effects are somewhat similar to the volcanoes that erupted on the Earth's surface after it cooled.

Recap:

a) Pro has only attempted to poke holes in one experiment, and has not met his burden of proof in regards to Abiogenesis being impossible.

b) Abiogenesis is a process involving multiple steps, I have met my burden of proof in regards to proving these steps are at least possible.

c) Pro has made errors in regards to things like the ammonia and methane, and oxygen in the early Earth ect.

Conclusion:

. I have met my burden of proof regarding the possibility of Abiogenesis

. My opponent has not demonstrated how Abiogenesis is impossible.
Debate Round No. 3
SuburbiaSurvivor

Pro

I thank my opponent for a hearty debate!

"saying I never sited sources isn't really a factual statement."

Con is right, this is why I never claimed Con failed to cite sources. But that he failed to cite evidence, or sources that themselves cited sources with evidence for abiogenesis.

On Con's Video Source

While the video Con cited is a little closer to the sort of evidence Con needs to prove abiogenesis is possible, it fails to answer a few of my objections:

1) Where did we get all of the nucleotides? Con has yet to provide a reasonable mechanism to produce all the neccessary nucleotides.

2) How did the original polynucleotide polymerize? Even the scientist in Con's video admits at 3:50 that he (and, presumably, his crew) have no accurate models for how this would could take place, as well as how the entire self-replication process could take place.

3) Where did we get the ribose and phosphates necessary for nucleotide polymerization? Ribose is created in modern day cells by enzymes. But enzymes wouldn't have existed in a primordial earth, leaving us with a chicken-or-egg scenario. Con must show (and prove) how either (a) ribose can be made without enzymes (b) enzymes could have spontaneously came into existed without RNA or DNA or (c) RNA or DNA can be made without ribose.

On Probabilities

Con's argument is a good one, and probably could have helped him win this debate if it were relevant. Unfortunately for him, I am not arguing that abiogenesis is impossible because it has a low probability. I am arguing it is impossible becuse there are impenetrable barriers in the paths to chemical evolution. Thus his argument is irrelevant, and fails.

How Con Has Not Shown That Abiogenesis Is Possible

For one, everything Con posted is almost completely copied and pasted from the sources Con cited. Two, Con has oversimplified abiogenesis, probably hoping that the complex language he used would cover up for his lack of evidence, allow me to explain:

First Con describes how monomers polymerize into polymers. This is wonderful, were this debate about whether polymers could come about spontaneously or not. I am not arguing that spontaneous polymerization is impossible. I am arguing that spontaneous polymerization of amino acids and nucleotides is impossible. This is important to note. Con makes the mistake of assuming that because ethylene, which is not even an amino acid, can polymerize spontaneously, that all amino acids and nucleotides could have polymerized spontaneously. Since ethylene isn't even an amino acid, his evidence is irrelevant and thus, void.

This mistake alone would be enough to dismiss the rest of Con's argument, but since I have 5,379 characters left, I shall continue.

Secondly, this paragraph is also irrelevant, since we are discussing proteins and polynucleotides, not polymers in general. Also, what is this "accurate mathmatical model"? What does it look like? Who created it? How was it created? How has it been proven to be "accurate"? Is it accurate in theory, or accurate once applied to experiments. Surely if an accurate model existed about how self-replicating polymers actually existed, it would have blown up the headlines. In addition, this is from Con's source:

"In this first analysis of the model, we are supposing that primordial competition occurred among short self-replicating homopolymers. The dynamics of this population is investigated by computer simulations."-http://www.sciencedirect.com...

Here we see that (A) the scientists who have made this "accurate" model are making unproven assumptions. and (B) are using computer simulations to justify there experiments. I think it is self-evident that computer simulations (based on biased and unproven assumptions) can not be relied upon as "accurate" evidence, or even to give an "accurate" model.

In regards to hypercycles, Con's link didn't work, thus I honestly can't give a rebuttal. Con is a bit vague though. What is a hypercycle exactly? What "self-replicating" units is Con discussing, exactly?

"Theoretical treatments of hypercycles show that, once evolved from RNA, DNA will take over as the master molecule by virtue of it's storage capacity"

Theoretical treatments of anything do not constitute evidence. Theoretically, anything is possible, if you have a theory that allows it to be possible.

Thus follows the rest of Con's "proof" that abiogenesis is possible. All Con has proved is that abiogenesis is possible in theory. Con has not proved that abiogenesis is possible in reality.

Abiogenesis, is not possible. Because:

A) Neccessary ingrediants for abiogenesis would not have existed (cytosine, amino acids only made in methane-ammonia chemical reactions, ribose, etc.)

B) These ingrediants could not have spontaneously polymerized.

There are other reasons, but since this is the last round it doesn't make sense to address new problems.

Refutations

On Oxygen

Interestingly, this other article from NASA actually corrects Con's and Con's source's view. Showing that evidence in iron banding reveals that oxygen has been present for over 3.85 billion years:
http://nai.nasa.gov...

On Methane-Ammonia Atmosphere

Con cites a volcano that has never been found on earth, and gives no proof that this sort of volcano ever existed on earth. Thus his rebuttal should be considered null and void.

Recap

a) I have clearly shown that according to current scientific research, we can conclude that abiogenesis is impossible.

b) I have clearly met my burden of proof that many of the steps required for abiogenesis could not have taken place.

c) Con made errors in regards to assuming there was methane an ammonia on the earth based on a volcano that did not exist on earth, and gave no relevant rebuttal to the evidence I cited that oxygen has been present on the earth for over 3.8 billion years.

Conclusion:

I have demonstrated how abiogenesis is impossible, my opponent has neither cited evidence how it is, or given anything but an ambiguous explanation about how it is possible.

Vote Pro.
Rational_Thinker9119

Con

Problem with Pro's arguments

It seems that my opponent assumes that making the claim that I haven't shown how Abiogenesis is possible, is somehow also making a case for how Abiogenesis is impossible.

Attempting to poke holes in arguments is only one aspect of the debate, the most important part is making an argument of your own.

Regardless, I will defend aspects of the video (which wasn't even really a major part of my argument, just something that I felt wouldn't hurt to be included for people interested on the subject for the most part).

Answers to questions raised by Pro

"Where did we get all of the nucleotides?"

The first step of nucleotide synthesis is the formation of a nucleotide which is the nitrogenous base joined to a sugar. The sugar involved in the synthesis and structure of a nucleotide may be either ribose or deoxyribose; in the latter case, the prefix 'deoxy' may be added before the name of the nucleoside in all cases except Uracil.

A functional group of phosphate is then esterified to the sugar, creating a nucleotide. The phosphate group may consist of one, two, or three phosphates, forming monophosphates, diphosphates, or triphosphates, respectively.

This is where we get nucleotides from.

"How did the original polynucleotide polymerize?"

The first one simply chained to the next.

Nucleotides get chained together like other biological molecules, by a condensation reaction that releases a stable molecule. Unlike carbohydrates, proteins, and lipids, the molecule that get's released is pyrophosphate not water.

When pyrophosphate is cleaved after the watter is added a massive amount of free energy is released making sure that the reverse process most likely does not happen.

.http://www.chem.wisc.edu...

"enzymes wouldn't have existed in a primordial earth"

A study at the Georgia Tech School of Biology found that a group of ancient enzymes known as thioredoxin were chemically stable at temperatures up to 58 degrees Fahrenheit higher than their modern counterparts.
The enzymes, which were around four billion years old also showed increased activity at lower pH levels, which correspond to greater acidity.
.http://www.sciencedaily.com...

Refutation of Pro's baseless claim that Abiogenesis is impossible

"Abiogenesis, is not possible. Because:

A) Neccessary ingrediants for abiogenesis would not have existed (cytosine, amino acids only made in methane-ammonia chemical reactions, ribose, etc.)"

B) These ingrediants could not have spontaneously polymerized."

A) I already provided a source for the study which proves that enzymes existed over four billion years ago. Also, the early atmosphere was different. Volcanoes helped create the warm Earth with their eruptions which shot a mix of water vapor, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, hydrochloric acid, methane, ammonia, nitrogen, & sulfur gases into the atmosphere.

.http://www.environmentalgraffiti.com...

B) You have provided no evidence that these ingredients could not have spontaneously polymerized, this is just a baseless assertion on your behalf. I have provided arguments and sources regarding how the ingredients polymerized.

Conclusion

Abiogenesis is definitely possible, as a scientist you have to assume this is what happened. First of all, don't confuse abiogenesis with spontaneous generation, abiogenesis was a gradual process that took millions of years.

How exactly it happened we will never know, after all, no one was there to see it. What scientists can do is provide a possible explanation.

Basically say: "look, I can prove this way was physically possible, and since life had to come about at some point this is most likely how it happened".

Even if one way has criticisms of it that doesn't mean that all ways of Abiogenesis happening are impossible.

Why vote Con?

. My opponent has provided not evidence that the right combination of chemicals combining cannot produce the building blocks of life.

. Pro also has attempted to poke many holes in my arguments but did a very poor job of making a solid argument for himself in his favor.

. I have provided sufficient evidence that Abiogenesis is at least possible, while my opponent has not shown how it is absolutely impossible.
Debate Round No. 4
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by sivigamer 1 year ago
sivigamer
I'm confused by this debate. It seems by the title like in order to win Pro would have had to argue for proof that abiogenesis is impossible and Con would have had to counter those arguments. However it seems like the debate played out where Con had to demonstrably prove that it did happen and Pro simply criticized the current hypotheses for abiogenesis! "Abiogenesis may not have happened" and "abiogenesis is impossible" are two very different debates.

However, as virtually nothing that is logically possible is mathematically impossible, perhaps I should just take the title to be an obvious case of poor wording.
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 2 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
I'll post my argument in a bit. I'm not really sure what evidence my opponent is going to draw on, so I'm going to try and cover the basics. Also want to make sure I get plenty of sources in there.
Posted by cameronl35 2 years ago
cameronl35
I am considering accepting.
Posted by SuburbiaSurvivor 2 years ago
SuburbiaSurvivor
Yeah, lol. I figured out you can make a debate open to anyone.
Posted by vmpire321 2 years ago
vmpire321
wait...Do u have 2 challenges up?
9 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 9 records.
Vote Placed by kyro90 2 years ago
kyro90
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: This was actually a really good debate, and I think that both should win, although I think that Con deserves conduct and SG
Vote Placed by vmpire321 2 years ago
vmpire321
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:50 
Reasons for voting decision: Superior arguments and more qualified sources.
Vote Placed by baggins 2 years ago
baggins
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Total points awarded:31 
Reasons for voting decision: 3:1 to Pro as Rational Thinker's arguments were not well organized. Con merely made assertions without actually addressing the arguments raised.
Vote Placed by imabench 2 years ago
imabench
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: I thought both sides did very well with the pro showing the mechanics behind how abiogenesis is almost infinitely unlikely, but con's arguments were just enough to show that it is simple not impossible.... sources do go to pro though since i cannot decide who won the arguments... very nice debate
Vote Placed by Lordknukle 2 years ago
Lordknukle
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Pro successfully showed that biogenesis was impossible.
Vote Placed by Stephen_Hawkins 2 years ago
Stephen_Hawkins
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Debates like this aren't too productive on proving a case , they just ague a case. Still, suburbia won.
Vote Placed by KRFournier 2 years ago
KRFournier
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: The vote is for more CONVINCING argument, and Pro clearly had a greater handle on the science behind the issue.
Vote Placed by royalpaladin 2 years ago
royalpaladin
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: The resolution puts a higher burden of proof on the pro; he must prove that abiogenesis is absolutely impossible. Con's burden is to show that it is possible, which his arguments adequately do. He turns the Miller experiment by indicating that even if it had flaws, it proves that amino acids can spontaneously be formed. The oxygen argument was not significant because we do not have exact dates on the emergence of photosynthetic bacteria. Overall, the con arguments were stronger.
Vote Placed by shift4101 2 years ago
shift4101
SuburbiaSurvivorRational_Thinker9119Tied
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Reasons for voting decision: Although I believe there to be a variety of reasons, Con lost because his defense against the "How did the original polynucleotide polymerize?" argument was simply that Pro failed to show why they couldn't. That is not how science works. Pro also gets sources after showing how invalid most of Con's were.