The Instigator
Strikeeagle84015
Con (against)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
belle
Pro (for)
Winning
18 Points

It is probable Life arose from Naturalistic Processes

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 4 votes the winner is...
belle
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 6/24/2010 Category: Science
Updated: 7 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,443 times Debate No: 12399
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (6)
Votes (4)

 

Strikeeagle84015

Con

This subject came up on a forum and my opponent said she would be willing to debate this
I would just like to say that I am going to consider this as less of a debate to prove who is "right" and more of a discovery of truth
I just ask that my opponent avoid semantics
R1:Acceptance and opening arguments
R2:Question of opening arguments and answers
R3:QA
R4:Summary
belle

Pro

I would first like to thank Strikeeagle for challenging me to this debate- should be fun!

This round will be a brief overview of my position on the subject. Later rounds will be more in depth depending on the points my opponent finds to be weakest.

First, some definitions:

Abiogenesis- the origin of life from non-life

Methodological Naturalism- Commitment to a methodological principle within the context of scientific inquiry; namely, the principle that all hypotheses and events are to be explained and tested by reference to natural causes and events. To introduce a supernatural or transcendental cause within science is to depart from naturalistic explanations. [1]

Philosophical Naturalism- Commitment to the premise that nature is best accounted for by reference to material principles, i.e., by mass and energy and physical-chemical properties as encountered in diverse contexts of inquiry. [1]

My argument here will be mainly inductive.

In the past 200 years, our knowledge, along with our populations and our standard of living, have improved drastically. All of this can be chalked up to science, specifically to methodological naturalism combined with the scientific method. Science is now able to explain things in great detail that 100 years ago weren't even thought about. This is because science never accepts the conclusions "we can't know" or "god did it" as legitimate explanations. This means that, never content with our current level of knowledge, every new discovery raises new questions. When you combine this with the rigorous standards of the scientific method [2], over time a reliable body of knowledge is built up. I mention this because the numerous successes of the scientific method in the past suggest (though do not prove beyond a doubt) its further success in the future, in the same way the thousands of sunrises we've all observed over our lifetimes strongly suggest that the sun will indeed rise again tomorrow. This, of course, runs counter to the utter and complete lack of evidence for any external agency, supernatural or otherwise, acting in the world.

Through induction, then, we arrive at philosophical naturalism. Again, we cannot guarantee that material things are all there is; however, given the evidence we have, this seems most likely. Combining this with Occam's Razor (that the explanation employing the fewest unsupported and/or unncessary assumptions is most likely true)[3], we can build a reasonably strong case for philosophical naturalism. And of course, given philosophical naturalism, the resolution follows.

This sort of general support is not the only evidence out there however. I'm sure my opponent has heard of the Miller-Urey experiment, in which scientists attempted to mimic the conditions of early earth in an artificial lab set up, and found that amino acids formed spontaneously in the mixture [4] Its also been shown that complex organic molecules are fairly common in space [5], meaning that there would be plenty of opportunity on early earth for them to combine in various ways.

The current leading hypothesis for how life could have formed on earth is known as the RNA World Hypothesis. Because RNA can act both as a carrier of genetic information and as an enzyme that catalyzes reactions, in early cells it could have served the functions of both proteins and DNA, the two most crucial classes of biological molecules in modern cells. [6]

Once a self-contained, self-replicating object existed, it could be acted on by natural selection, and evolution could take place. The fact that we cannot detail exactly how it happened is not a weakness, as we have evidence both that it is possible and that life arose somehow (we're here). Given that, a naturalistic explanation for abiogensis best fits the available evidence with the fewest unnecessary assumptions. Therefore it is the most probably correct explanation.

1. http://www.infidels.org...
2. http://teacher.pas.rochester.edu...
3. http://www.skepdic.com...
4. http://www.chem.duke.edu...
5. http://www.space.com...
6. http://nobelprize.org...
Debate Round No. 1
Strikeeagle84015

Con

Strikeeagle84015 forfeited this round.
belle

Pro

I am hoping that strike eagle simply forgot about this and will return next round with his contentions. Until then extend my arguments...
Debate Round No. 2
Strikeeagle84015

Con

First off I would like to apologize for my forfeiture of the last round

However my opponents contention the entire first part seems to say that
Science has figured out a lot of things without using anything supernatural so they will probably figure out where life came from without using supernatural explanations

This doesn't seem to be especially persuasive or make very much sense it is saying that because different people have found out different things without using anything supernatural then these people will figure out this problem without supernaturalness that just doesn't seem to make sense to me although it could just be me.

The Second part belle seems to start explaining actually why it is probable that life arose from naturalistic process her 4th and 5th paragraphs seem to make some headway with the idea that life arose from naturalistic process. She references the Miller-Urey experiment where the (alleged) early earth's atmosphere was reproduced and there was found to be some of the same molecules that exist in living cells but this leads me to two very similar questions
1. Why did they stop just at the production of molecules similar to those found in living beings why did they not continue to wait for life to form why did they not let it turn into life
2. Why don't we create a cell now at this point we have the ability to move individual atoms and we know the complete molecular structure of a living cell so why doesn't someone go and recreate life what is preventing them

On the final paragraph how I am going to question how does an object become self replicating how does it suddenly decided to move in order to consume food to further it's existence when does will power occur.

Just one last question has anyone ever successfully recreated the Miller-Urey experiment since Miller and Urey
belle

Pro

"However my opponents contention the entire first part seems to say that
Science has figured out a lot of things without using anything supernatural so they will probably figure out where life came from without using supernatural explanations"

While this is a decent distillation of what I said, strikeeagle seems to have missed the significance of it. Certainly, I didn't mean to suggest that this is proof that a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life is correct. As a historical event, the explanation for how life arose can only be know indirectly and probabilistically. My argument suggests that the immense number of successes of the scientific method and naturalism in the past suggest that it is probable it will be successful in the future. This established the probability mentioned in the resolution. My further arguments were meant to show that life arising naturalistically is possible given current scientific understanding, which is a prerequisite to probability.

"1. Why did they stop just at the production of molecules similar to those found in living beings why did they not continue to wait for life to form why did they not let it turn into life"

Life arose someone on the surface of earth around 4 billion years ago, probably in the oceans. The volume of area available must have been staggering. The current ocean volume is 1.5 x10^9 (ie over a billion) cubic kilometers.[1] On the other hand, the Miller-Urey experiment took place in a piece of glassware with a volume much less than a single cubic kilometer. The earth formed out of the accretion disk of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. Thus molecules, especially of interest those containing carbon, had about half a billion years to interact and form over a humongous volume. The Miller-Urey experiment took place over the course of a single week, in a volume more than 10 orders of magnitude smaller. Its unreasonable to expect that life would arise in such a small experiment within any human being's lifetime.

"2. Why don't we create a cell now at this point we have the ability to move individual atoms and we know the complete molecular structure of a living cell so why doesn't someone go and recreate life what is preventing them"

Nothing is stopping us. In fact, Craig Venter has already done it![2]

"On the final paragraph how I am going to question how does an object become self replicating how does it suddenly decided to move in order to consume food to further it's existence when does will power occur."

Do you know how DNA replicates? It is formed of a strand of nucleotides (A, T, G, C) bonded together into a long chain. Each nucleotide has a complementary form with which it will form hydrogen bonds (ie A and T bond, and G and C)[3]. As RNA forms from DNA templates (at least in modern times- DNA is NOT NECESSARY for RNA to replicate) it is obviously capable of forming bonds between complimentary nucleotides as well. Now remember, you asked how an object COULD become self replicated, not what actually happened. What follows is speculation but it is based on solid scientific foundations. In other words, it is 100% possible for a molecule to become self replicating under current scientific understanding. Imagine 3 nucleotides happened to bond together in a short chain. Say... AAC. They are floating in this primordial sea, or perhaps stuck in the clay on shore (thats the latest theory)[3]. In any case, a T floating by at the right angle will be attracted to the As and a G floating by will be attracted to the C. If the hydrogen bonds were enough to keep the molecules in place a reaction could form whereby the two Ts and the G could become bound into their own chain. In fact, if you read my 3rd reference, it actually explains that the clay mentioned can catalyze such reactions. The clay also aids in the formation of fatty acid vesicles, which are spontaneously forming, primitive versions of cell membranes. Of course that is just one hypothetical explanation. There are many others. All of them possible, and in accordance with current knowledge.[4] If you want to know more I suggest you study the topic, as it really is quite fascinating.

As a side note, your question betrays a serious misunderstanding of biochemistry. A cell does not "want" food or decide to seek it. It is purely mechanistic in its reaction to outside stimuli. Some things it is able to extract energy from and does so. This is "food". In higher animals such as mammals such a thing as "will" or "agency" seemingly starts to emerge, but that is far outside the scope of this debate.

"Just one last question has anyone ever successfully recreated the Miller-Urey experiment since Miller and Urey"

Yes. One of the scientists (Miller) even suggested in an interview that it was simple enough to be replicated by a high school science class. [5][6][7]

1. http://hypertextbook.com...
2. http://www.guardian.co.uk...
3. http://www.web-books.com...
4. http://www.teach12.com...
5. http://www.juliantrubin.com...
6. http://www.accessexcellence.org...
7. http://www.astrobio.net...
Debate Round No. 3
Strikeeagle84015

Con

I would like to thank Belle for this very interesting and informative debate. and just have a few last questions.

Life arose someone on the surface of earth around 4 billion years ago, probably in the oceans. The volume of area available must have been staggering. The current ocean volume is 1.5 x10^9 (ie over a billion) cubic kilometers.[1] On the other hand, the Miller-Urey experiment took place in a piece of glassware with a volume much less than a single cubic kilometer. The earth formed out of the accretion disk of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago. Thus molecules, especially of interest those containing carbon, had about half a billion years to interact and form over a humongous volume. The Miller-Urey experiment took place over the course of a single week, in a volume more than 10 orders of magnitude smaller. Its unreasonable to expect that life would arise in such a small experiment within any human being's lifetime.

Once the matter is present to create life what more does it take in order to form life and why do you need such a great mass? What happens during that time that makes a cell alive?

Nothing is stopping us. In fact, Craig Venter has already done it![2]
Has anyone besides Craig done it yet?

As a side note, your question betrays a serious misunderstanding of biochemistry. A cell does not "want" food or decide to seek it. It is purely mechanistic in its reaction to outside stimuli. Some things it is able to extract energy from and does so. This is "food". In higher animals such as mammals such a thing as "will" or "agency" seemingly starts to emerge, but that is far outside the scope of this debate.

If a cell is nothing but a collection of particles that behave in a mechanistic process, and all particles behave in a certain way wouldn't this mean that free will is an illusion and imply that we don't have choice as we are the sum of our biological cells.

That is all thank you for this lovely debate
belle

Pro

"Once the matter is present to create life what more does it take in order to form life and why do you need such a great mass? What happens during that time that makes a cell alive?"

Life is a tricky thing to define, but in general it is encompassed by the following characteristics:

Living things are made of cells.
Living things obtain and use energy.
Living things grow and develop.
Living things reproduce.
Living things respond to their environment.
Living things adapt to their environment. [1]

It does not require a large area to develop; however, the larger the area in which it could potentially develop, the more likely it will emerge. There are simply more molecules, more chances for them to combine in ways that could eventually lead to living organisms.

"Has anyone besides Craig done it yet?"

Moving the goalposts much? :P

The fact that someone did it refutes your point and proves that its possible.

"If a cell is nothing but a collection of particles that behave in a mechanistic process, and all particles behave in a certain way wouldn't this mean that free will is an illusion and imply that we don't have choice as we are the sum of our biological cells."

Maybe. Then again, the whole is more than the sum of its parts (unless you also wish to argue that a hydrogen molecule is somehow "wet" even when not part of a molecule of water). In any case, as I said last round, this point is far outside the scope of the debate.

I have answered every question presented by my opponent, while he has managed to make no argument as to why divine intervention is more likely than naturalistic processes. The preponderance of the evidence is on my side. Vote Pro!

1. http://www.schools.utah.gov...
Debate Round No. 4
6 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 6 records.
Posted by Strikeeagle84015 7 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
I would like to point out that as I said in the debate I didn't take this to win the debate but rather to try and find truth. If you check the votes I actually voted for pro
Posted by Yvette 7 years ago
Yvette
Pro provided evidence and reasoning, Con's response was that he didn't understand it and to ask questions/raise the bar, none of which helped his case. Voting Pro.
Posted by Strikeeagle84015 7 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
I sincerely apologize for my forfeiture of Round 2 I was planning on posting my arguments but I had an engagement that lasted longer than anticipated and unfortunately ran out of time I deeply apologize for this
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Cancelled? Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?
Posted by belle 7 years ago
belle
change the resolution to "it is probable that life arose from naturalistic processes" and i'll accept. no one was there to see it happen so its kind of hard to prove something so explicit...
Posted by Puck 7 years ago
Puck
Evolution or Abiogenesis?
4 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 4 records.
Vote Placed by I-am-a-panda 7 years ago
I-am-a-panda
Strikeeagle84015belleTied
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Vote Placed by Yvette 7 years ago
Yvette
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Vote Placed by belle 7 years ago
belle
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Vote Placed by Strikeeagle84015 7 years ago
Strikeeagle84015
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