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Pro (for)
The Contender
Con (against)

Abiogenesis Is A Sound Explanation For The Origin Of Life On Earth

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 7/11/2018 Category: Science
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Debating Period
Viewed: 2,544 times Debate No: 115982
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Full Resolution
Abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on Earth.

Has the BoP and 4 sets of 10,000 characters, with 3 days to post per argument, to AFFIRM that abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on earth and refute Con.

Has also 4 sets of 10,000 characters, with 3 days to post per argument, to NEGATE that abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on earth and refute Pro.


abiogenesis - the concept that organic molecules and subsequent simple life forms, on earth, first originated from inorganic substances.

sound - based on reason, sense, or judgment.

explanation - a statement or account that makes something clear.

origin - the point or place where something begins, arises, or is derived.

life - the condition that distinguishes animals, plants, fungi, protista, archaea, and bacteria, from inorganic matter, including the capacity for metabolism, inheritance, maintaining homeostasis, and reproduction.

earth - the planet on which we live that is third in order from the sun.

the sun - the star around which the earth orbits.


I accept this debate.
Debate Round No. 1


Thanks for accepting Con.
Please finish the debate.
This subject is fascinating and explanatory.
It deserves a complete debate.


The resolution has Pro (me) affirming that abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on earth and I'm attempting to meet that burden by providing an outline, a summary, and an explanation.
The origins of earthly life are perfectly explained by natural causes.

*Outline of Abiogenesis*

1. With an atmosphere, water salinity, inorganic compounds, electricity, volcanic activity, and UV rays representative of a prebiotic (before life) earth, inorganic compounds can naturally become organic compounds in the form of amino acids.

2. Amino acids make up proteins, in chains called polypeptides, and the sequence of the amino acid chain causes the polypeptide to fold into a shape that is biologically active.

3. Biologically active amino acid sequences can in fact metabolize compounds.

4. Amino acids are catalysts, because they tend to increase the rate of chemical reactions, and in a prebotic network full of catalyzing amino acids, RNA can emerge due to its auto-catalytic property.

5. RNA is also self-replicating, and because of this was able to thrive in a prebiotic amino acid network by replicating in a template-directed manner.

6. Available phosphorous in this network can encapsulate and act as a barrier for the biologically active, metabolic amino acid chains and auto-catalytic, self-replicating RNA which all together makes a protocell.

7. These protocells can metabolize with amino acids and replicate with RNA, and this is the origin of genetic polymers.

8. A protocell with a phosphoric membrane and genetic polymers that can metabolize and self replicate is a full blown living cell, and these single cells are life; they're simple life, but they're life.

9. These simple life forms would need to eventually consume more, and the network of amino acids and other compounds in the region were in fact edible.

10. Given all of this evidence, abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on Earth.


Inorganic compounds of a prebiotic Earth become organic, metabolic, catalytic amino acid compounds, which themselves become biologically active and catalyze reactions that favor an emergence of auto-catalytic RNA, which can self-replicate and thus allow for a phosphoric, encapsulated cell with a membrane and genetic polymers that replicates, inherits genetic information, maintains homeostasis, and metabolizes available compounds in the prebiotic network.

*Explanation of Abiogenesis*

1. Inorganic Compounds-->Organic Amino Acids

Compounds covalently (sharing electrons) bonded to carbon are organic.
Compounds not covalently bonded to carbon are inorganic.

Inorganic = H N C O (cyanate)
Organic = C 2 H 5 N O 2 (glycine, an amino acid)

You can tell that the difference between inorganic and organic carbon compounds is rather insignificant.
One more carbon atom, four more hydrogen atoms, and one more oxygen atom...that's it.

The Miller-Urey experiment in the 50's demonstrated that with an atmosphere, water salinity, electricity, and inorganic compounds likely of an earlier earth, inorganic compounds will produce organic amino acid compounds.

The link above has a very informative video of how the experiment is done and how you could plausibly do it too.
That's what abiogenesis is...the idea that inorganic compounds become organic compounds which lead to subsequent life forms.

2. Replication of Inorganic-->Organic Amino Acids

Though people agreed that lightning occurs without life and in atmospheres on other planets, people still complained that the atmosphere of earlier earth had more oxygen than the Miller-Urey experiment accounted for.
The replicated experiments of the Miller-Urey took that into account, and used:

1. H2, CH4, NH3, H2O, H2S and electricity, and yielded the amino acids cysteine, cystine, and methionine.
2. CH4, C2H6, NH3, H2S and UV rays, and yielded alanine, glycine, serine, glutamic acid, aspartic acid, and cystine.
3. CH4, H2O, H2S, NH3, N2, and electricity, and yielded methionine.

"When reduced gases, including CH4, H2S and NH3, are emitted from a volcano into a lightning-rich atmosphere, hydrogen cyanide, ethylene, and acetylene can be generated."

So we know that amino acids, organic compounds, come from reactions of inorganic compounds.
But what about genetic replication?

3. Amino Acids-->Biologically Active Network

Amino acid chains (polypeptides) can fold onto themselves and become biologically active.
"The sequence of nucleotides in DNA has now been converted to the sequence of amino acids in a polypeptide chain."

Yes, amino acids fold onto themselves and naturally become biologically active and functional.

So we have biologically active amino do they replicate?
Well amino acids tend to speed up reactions; they're catalysts.
So before there was life, there were pre-biotic catalysts, amino acids.

"catalysis in a pre-biotic network initiated...the emergence of RNA as the dominant macromolecule due to its ability to both catalyze chemical reactions and to be copied in a template-directed manner."

So, from inorganic compounds of earlier earth, we got organic amino acids, which, when folded, become biologically active, and can catalyze reactions that lead to the emergence of RNA, which is necessary for genetic replication.

4. RNA network-->Cells

In this pre-biotic network, any available phosphorous encapsulates the amino acids and RNA acting as a membrane, thus sufficing as a protocell, but because this encapsulation concentrated replication, it allowed for genetic polymers, which makes it a full blown living cell.

"We have proposed that a simple primitive cell, or protocell, would consist of two key components: a protocell membrane that defines a spatially localized compartment, and an informational polymer that allows for the replication and inheritance of functional information...protocells could take up nutrients from their environment...[allowing for] chemical genome replication and compatibility with membrane encapsulation."

5. Primitive Cellular Life Must Consume

Any primitive organism would be replicating with RNA and metabolizing with amino acids, but what might they be consuming?

"Sixty years after the seminal Miller-Urey experiment that abiotically produced a mixture of racemized amino acids, we provide a definite proof that this primordial soup, when properly cooked, was edible for primitive organisms."


So, I affirm that abiogenesis is a sound explanation for the origin of life on Earth, because there's so much converging evidence that indicates such.
On to you Con...


Your argument is really detailed and I think I am going to need a week or two to fully research this topic. Can we continue then?
Debate Round No. 2


I've now waited until about 3 hours left for me to post, which should give Con a solid 3 more days from this post to research and put up a response.
Also, Con, please type forfeit for all rounds you cannot post to, because the debate should be finished in fairness to me.
I extend all arguments.
This round has not been posted yet.
Debate Round No. 3
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Debate Round No. 4
80 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago

Its kinda ironic because he also flaked on me TWICE in similar debates.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
If it's so hard to understand arguments in science debates, why did you take this debate?
It was on the open debates docket and the expectations were very clear.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I mean for real I am only 15 and you guys are way past college and are way smarter than me. It is so hard to understand your arguments in science debates because they are not on a reading level I can understand. Honestly, you could just make up a ton of words, make it sound sciency, and I wouldn't be able to tell a difference.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago

Probably, he did that to me in a similar debate.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I'd love for you to vote on this, but it's rather unlikely my opponent will finish the debate, he's already flaked on me twice on similar debates.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I'm looking forward to voting on this debate. Pro has laid out his case very well and I hope Con's response is going to be of similar quality.
Very well done so far @MagicAintReal and I will unfortunately have to deduct a conduct point from Con for skipping a round
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
I'll post "extend" next round at the last hour which should give you a solid 5 days to post from this date, 7/14/18, and plenty of time to research.
If you need more time after that, you should probably forfeit and allow the debate to complete.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
Nice articles, the ncbi one was great.
Posted by Anonymous 3 years ago
Anyway I got something for you that you may find interesting MagicAintReal.

A ribozyme was created that can replicate both folded and unfolded RNA as well as replicating itself, and it does this using a triple nucleotide system instead of just one at a time, which is ironic since modern protein synthesis uses a triplet code.
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