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Abiogenesis Is Possible

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 11/20/2013 Category: Science
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 7,060 times Debate No: 40435
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (55)
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You have aked to debate this, so here is the challenge.

Full Resolution

Abiogenesis is possible.

BoP is on pro.


Abiogenesis: "The supposed development of living organisms from nonliving matter."[1]

Possible: "Capable of happening, existing, or being true without contradicting proven facts, laws, or circumstances."[2]


1. The first round is for acceptance.
2. A forfeit or concession is not allowed.
3. No semantics, trolling, or lawyering.
4. All arguments and sources must be visible inside this debate.
5. Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed without asking in the comments before you post your round 1 argument.

Debate resolution, definitions, rules, and structure cannot be changed in the middle of the debate.Voters, in the case of the breaking of any of these rules by either debater, all seven points in voting should be given to the other person.

Debate Structure

Round 1: Acceptance
Round 2: Presenting all arguments (no rebuttals by con)
Round 3: Refutation of opponent's arguments (no new arguments)
Round 4: Defending your original arguments and conclusion (no new arguments)




I accept your terms and conditions.

However, I would like to say that I can never say Abiogenesis is impossible (100%). Everything has a chance of being. It's just a matter of how likely that thing is to occur. All I'm going to attempt here is reduce the possibility of Abiogenesis to a rediculously small amount that no serious scientist will consider it to be possible.
Debate Round No. 1


I would like to thank Moze for accepting this debate. My argument will be relatively short in this round, as my burden is only to prove the possibility of abiogenesis.

"It turns out that it’s pretty easy to form many kinds of organic molecules, in a wide range of environments... There is a long history of attempts to create various organic molecules – such as amino acids – from simple precursors such as carbon dioxide, ammonia, and water, in conditions which simulate those of the early Earth."[1]

Abiogenesis is not some fringe scientific concept; it should not be confused with the idea of spontaneous generation. The main hypothesis of abiogenesis is that organic materials on the Earth (coalescing from internal organic compounds and asteroid impacts) agglomerated into life forms. "Concentrated thus they react to form glyceraldehyde, amino acids, and the components of nucleosides." And so became the materials necessary for life.[2]

Now on to how abiogenesis can result from simple organic compounds.

"Essential to the spontaneous origin of life was the availability of organic molecules as building blocks. The famous prebiotic soup’ experiment by Stanley Miller had shown that amino acids, the building blocks of proteins, arose among other small organic molecules spontaneously by reacting a mixture of methane, hydrogen, ammonia and water in a spark discharge apparatus. These conditions were assumed to simulate those on the primitive Earth. Already in 1922 Oparin had proposed that the early Earth had such a reducing atmosphere... It was suggested that only in a reducing atmosphere like this, synthesis of organic molecules – also sugars and organic bases, building blocks of nucleotides – would have been possible in large amounts."(Note that when the author uses the term "spontaneously", he refers to the reaction of molecules into compouds; it's not like the compounds suddenly came into existence.)[3][4][5]

An illustration of the Miller-Urey experiment can be seen here:

One of the most important building blocks of life is nucleotides, as they make up both DNA and RNA, the genetic "code" the defines every individual's characteristics. These nucleotides could easily have formed from the "primordial soup" as well, due to their similar chemical structure, as illustrated here[7]:

These newly created organic compounds eventually coalesced into the first complex substance contained in life - RNA: "John Sutherland and his colleagues from the University of Manchester, UK, created a ribonucleotide, a building block of RNA, from simple chemicals under conditions that might have existed on the early Earth.""The study by the group of John Sutherland shows how nature could have spontaneously assembled pyrimidine ribonucleotide monomers from prebiotically plausible molecules through intermediates that contribute atoms to both the sugar and base portions of the ribonucleotides, thus avoiding a condensation step of sugar and base altogether"[3][6]

This chart shows how this process is possible:

Caption: "Pyrimidine ribonucleotide assembly options. Previously assumed synthesis of b-ribocytidine-2’,3’-cyclic phosphate 1 (blue; note the failure of the step in which cytosine 3 and ribose 4 are proposed to condense together) and the successful new synthesis described here (green). p, pyranose; f, furanose. (5 = Cyanoacetaldehyde, 6 = urea 6, cyanoacetylene 7, 8= cyanamide, 9 = glyceraldehyde, 10 = glycolaldehyde, 11 = 2-amino-oxazole, 12= pentose amino-oxazoline, arabinose derivative, 13 = anhydroarabinonucleoside)."[3]

So essentially, this is the process of abiogenesis in a nutshell[7]:

The next process would be to start to coalesce these life materials into a living organism. "The group of Jack Szostak has performed extensive and plausible studies that these fatty acid vesicles as containers for RNA would have allowed growth and replication merely by physico-chemical mechanisms, until a more sophisticated membrane machinery, steered by the cell itself and more resembling what is found in current organisms, would have taken their place... The group of Szostak also has demonstrated that nucleotides can pass through prebiotically plausible fatty-acid based vesicles and that non-enzymatic template copying of a model oligo dC DNA template can take place within them, which, in connection with the studies of vesicle growth and division, reveals in principle how a heterotrophic protocell may have functioned."[3][8]

Further, "Extrapolating from all the above data, inside fatty-acid vesicles the first self-replicating RNA molecule could have started copying itself. During copying, various things would have been possible. High-fidelity copies would have yielded the same self-replicating molecule. Copies with errors would mostly have resulted in RNA that was non-functional, but in a minority of cases, they could have yielded RNA that copied itself faster. It has been shown that RNA/vesicle systems that contain more genetic material (which would have resulted from faster RNA replication) develop more internal tension than neighboring vesicles that do not contain as much RNA, and draw membrane material from them. Importantly, this would have allowed for natural selection of vesicles by competition even in the absence of the ability to synthesize their own membrane components and therefore to directly control their own growth. Thus, for the first time, a system would have had the ability to undergo Darwinian evolution by natural selection acting on variation. This would have been a new and crucial emergent property arising at the transition from non-life to life.."[3][9]

This process can be illustrated here:

Caption: "Conceptual model of a heterotrophic protocell. Growth of the protocell membrane results from the incorporation of environmentally supplied amphiphiles, whereas division may be driven by intrinsic or extrinsic physical forces. Externally supplied activated nucleotides permeate across the protocell membrane and act as substrates for the copying of internal templates. Complete template replication followed by random segregation of the replicated genetic material leads to the formation of daughter protocells."

I am going to end my argument here with this quote: "This is among the simplest semblance of “life” that we have described, as biotic things commonly serve to create order from chaos (organize materials) in an effort to enhance their own survival. It wouldn’t take much to imagine that this could initiate a snowball effect, resulting in the hoarding of mass amounts of complex molecules, which would aid in the creation of small, self-replicating molecules that are capable of evolving to better survive in their environment (life)."[7]

I've been through the majority of the important stages of abiogenesis and proving them. That last quote pretty much explains how a heterotrophic protocell could have evolved into prokaroytes, eukaroytes, and complex life.


[4]: Miller, SL. "A production of amino acids under possible primitive earth conditions." Science. 117 (1953): 528-529
[5]: Chyba C and Carl Sagan. "Endogenous production, exogenous delivery and impact-shock synthesis of organic molecules: an inventory for the origins of life." Nature. 355:125-132
[8]: Mansy SS and Szostak JW. "Thermostability of model protocell membranes." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 105 (2008): 13351-13355

NOTE: Sources 4-5 and 8 were quoted from source 1.


First, I would like to thank Subutai for presenting a well documented argument. It was very informative and it humbles me because all I'm about to present is a simple mathematical calculation to figure out the odds of Abiogenesis.

After seeing many responses to the protein argument, it was concluded that creationists did not provide satisfactory evidence to diminish the odds of Abiogenesis. They would make either one of the following mistakes or both:

- They would calculate the odds of forming a modern day protein containing 1000 amino acids.
- They would assume a fixed sequence (one combination) to be the only one required for life.

In my work, I will calculate the odds of forming a functional protein of length 32 Amino Acids only (A number given to me from a pro Abiogenesis debater as a form of a primitive protein that was first to arise).

The next step is to figure out the number of possible combinations 32 amino acids can form and find the ratio of the functional proteins to the total number. For a protein to be functional, it is known that all amino acids in the chain have to be left-handed[1]. Put one right-handed amino acid in the chain and the protein will not function. Both left-handed and right-handed amino acids occur in nature in equal amounts (50-50)[2]. This reduces the percentage of functional proteins to 1 in 2^32 (or 2.33E-10). Another probabilistic hurdle to overcome is that all bonds between the amino acids in the chain have to be peptide bonds[3]. Put one non-peptide bond in the chain and the protein will not function. Both peptide bonds and non-peptide bonds occur in nature in equal amounts (50-50). This reduces the percentage of functional proteins to 1 in 2^31 (or 4.66E-10). By multiplying both probabilities (because they have to exist in the same time), we get 1 in 2^63 (or 1.08E-19). This is only the ratio of functional proteins to total combinations.

This ratio (1.08E-19) represents the number of all the possible functional proteins (given the two restrictions above) to the total number of possible combinations. Lets calculate the total possible combinations (given we have 20 different kinds of amino acids, each having two versions, left-handed and right-handed. So that's 40):
40^32 * 2^31 = 3.96E+60 (number of all possible combinations)

Now, let's calculate the number of functional combinations:
(3.96E+60)*(1.08E-19) = 4.28E+41 (Wow! the number of functional combinations of proteins is that big!)
As you can see, I'm avoiding the second mistake that creationists make, which was to assume only one functioning combination out of the total number of total combinations 3.96E+60.

In the following, I'll be using the ratio only instead of using the absolute number because it will be easier to deal with and in the end should give the same result. So be prepared to see this number 1.08E-19 later in the following calculations.

Next step is to figure out the total number of amino acids available in the universe:

- Let's start by saying that the total number of atoms in the universe is 10^80 [4]
==> # of Nitrogen atoms in the universe is 10^77 [5]
(I chose nitrogen because every amino acid has to have at least one N atom).
But wait, N is abundantly occurring in nature in the form of N2 gas, which is very close in characteristics to noble gases because it's very hard to break or to react even in very high temperatures. Amino Acids get its nitrogen from forms of N like NH3 or NH4+ that are mainly products of living organisms. Before life began, it only makes sense that Nitrogen is found in the form of N2, since NH3 can burn or combust easily. Anyways, I'll rely on NH3 concentrations in the atmosphere and in the ocean (even though concentrations are rising due to industrial and biological effects). Concentrations are in extreme cases 0.7 ppm. [6][7]
==> # of NH3 in the universe is 10^70
I'll assume 0.01% (very high) of all NH3 in the universe went into the formation of amino acids.

==> # of amino acids in the universe is 10^66 (still big!)
Let's assume that, somehow, all the amino acids in the universe, over billions of years, formed 32 long proteins.

==> # of 32 long proteins in the universe is (10^66)/32 = 3.13E+64
Since all combinations have the same likelihood of appearing, we will use the ratio of the functional proteins (1.08E-19) to find the absolute number of functional proteins we get:

==> # of functional proteins in the universe= 3.13E+64 * 1.08E-19 = 3.38E+45
Yes!! I am admitting that chance will produce functional proteins useful for life (at least according to my generous calculations).

But since we did all our calculations in universal terms, it would be absurd to put all that protein in Earth alone (We are not special). So considering the Sun is an average star and one in 200 billion stars in the milky way and the milky way is one galaxy in 200 billion galaxies in the universe, we can extrapolate the number of stars in the universe to be 4E+22. [4]

==> Earth's share (actually the solar system's share) of protein = (3.38E+45)/(4E+22) = 10^23 molecules.

==> That is equal to 35 grams!!!

Now for the second part: In order to create the simplest living cell, we will need 600 different proteins of different lengths, many of them long (more than 500 amino acids long). We will also need enzymes (Essentially very large proteins) to be responsible for many metabolic processes to sustain life. We will also need nucleotides to form RNA in parallel to the formation of proteins from amino acids. And nucleotides have Phosphorus, which is 2 orders of magnitude rarer than Nitrogen[5]. Finally, we need all of them to appear in the same place within micrometers.

To be honest, I don't see a need to go through the calculations of the second part. If the opponent sees a point of weakness within my math, then I will be obliged to go through further calculations.

I Know I'm not being very accurate, but I'm definitely giving Abiogenesis a benefit of the doubt by being generous in my calculations.

1- Why didn't you account for simultaneous trials that occurred for billions of years since the big bang?
That's because I gave amino acids all the time they need to build up to proteins to the point where there are no amino acids left to use. The only limitation is the finite amount of matter in the universe.

[2] Miller-Urey experiment found both in equal amounts.
Debate Round No. 2


I would like to thank Moze for presenting his arguments.

Almost all of my opponent's entire argument is predictated on the use of odds to make his argument. Unfortuntely for him, these arguments are fundamentally flawed. Here is a quote that explains the basis of this argument:

1) They calculate the probability of the formation of a "modern" protein, or even a complete bacterium with all "modern" proteins, by random events. This is not the abiogenesis theory at all.
2) They assume that there is a fixed number of proteins, with fixed sequences for each protein, that are required for life.
3) They calculate the probability of sequential trials, rather than simultaneous trials.
4) They misunderstand what is meant by a probability calculation.
5) They seriously underestimate the number of functional enzymes/ribozymes present in a group of random sequences.[1]

I'll go more into the third one later since my opponent addresses that one specifically. My main rebuttal in this argument will be that one simply cannot be accurate probability calculations for something as inherently complex as biological abiogenesis.

First, I will address the left-handed/right-handed and peptide/non-peptide bond arguments. "The amino acids that are used in life, like most other aspects of living things, are very likely not the product of chance. Instead, they likely resulted from a selection process. A simple peptide replicator can amplify the proportion of a single handedness in an initially random mixture of left- and right-handed fragments. Self-assemblies on two-dimensional surfaces can also amplify a single handedness... An excess of handedness in one kind of amino acid catalyzes the handedness of other organic products, such as threose, which may have figured prominently in proto-life." It is easy to see how the same problems could be said of peptide bonds, which were only the result of a bond of certain common elements. Overall, it is easy to see how such probability calculations are not adequate for determining the actual probability of a biological event.[2][3]

"The first "living things" could have been a single self replicating molecule, similar to the "self-replicating" peptide from the Ghadiri group, or the self replicating hexanucleotide, or possibly an RNA polymerase that acts on itself." The mathematical calculations rely too much on the flawed assumption that life resulted from complex molecules. Here is an illustration of how those Ghadiri peptide bonds could self-replicate


And this shows how life could have easily self-replicated from a combination of simple molecules.

Back to that third premise I made at the beginning: " the above examples we were examining sequential trials, as if there was only one protein/DNA/proto-replicator being assembled per trial. In fact there would be billions of simultaneous trials as the billions of building block molecules interacted in the oceans, or on the thousands of kilometers of shorelines that could provide catalytic surfaces or templates." What this means is that the seemingly low probabilities that always result from probability calculations are inaccurate.[1]

Using the sequential trials, the probability of creating a 32 amino acid long-protein is 4.29 x 10^40. I will now be making my own version of a mathematical argument that actually considers these conditions.

P1. Probability of the creation of a 32 amino acid long-protein: 4.29 x 10^40
P2. The number of atoms in one kilogram of the amino acid arginine: 2.85 x 10^24
P3. Volume of the Early Earth's oceans: 10^24 L
P4. Amino acid concentration: 10^-6 M
===>C. Potential starting chains: 10^50 molecules, and therefore 10^31 efficient peptide ligases could be produced in under one year.[1][4]

Using this data, "Assume that it takes a week to generate a sequence. Then the Ghadiri ligase could be generated in one week, and any cytochrome C sequence could be generated in a bit over a million years (along with about half of all possible 101 peptide sequences, a large proportion of which will be functional proteins of some sort).[1][5]

My opponent does not offer an argument considering ribozymes or enzymes, so I will just add this short quote that extends the conclusion I just made: "Similarly, of the 1 x 10^130 possble 100 unit proteins, 3.8 x 10^63present cytochrome C alone! There's lots of functional enyzmes in the peptide/nucleotide search space, so it would seem likely that a functioning ensemble of enzymes could be brewed up in an early Earth's prebiotic soup. So, even with more realistic (if somewhat mind beggaring) figures, random assemblage of amino acids into "life-supporting" systems (whether you go for protein enzyme based hypercycles, or RNA ribozyme-protein enzyme coevolution would seem to be entirely feasible, even with pessimistic figures for the original monomer concentrations and synthesis times."[1]

At this point, my argument is complete. It may seem like my own arguments are subject to the same downfalls as my opponent's, but my argument's address all five of the problems, including the problems of biological prbability considerations. My argument is fundamentally different than my opponent's because it considers the conditions on early Earth and how molecules coalesce.

Again, chemical and biological processes are inevitably "loaded": "Given certain conditions, some results are more likely than others. Did the people offering/making the calculations take this into account? There is no evidence of that; if by some miracle they did, do they have good evidence to know what, exactly, the more probable results might have been and why?"[6]

In conclusion, mathematical probabilities cannot even begin to explain how life could develop in the conditions of early Earth. In the end life's feasibility depends on chemistry and biochemistry that we are still studying, not coin flipping.


[3]: Saghatelian, A., Y. Yokobayashi, K. Soltani and M. R. Ghadiri. 2001. A chiroselective peptide replicator. Nature 409: 797-801
[5]: Yockey HP, On the information content of cytochrome c. J Theor Biol, 67: 345-76, 1977


This will be short. When Abiogenesis is presented to me as a theory, I have nothing against it. What I'm against is the possibility of the theory to manifest itself in real life driven only by the laws of nature. The pro argument presented in round 2 was more explaining what Abiogenesis is than explaining the odds of it happenning theoretically. Supporting the odds was only presented in the Miller-Urey experiment. However, it only proves the spontaneous generation of amino acids from basic molecules. But what are amino acids? They are only the building blocks of life. Achieving them is less than 1/10000 of achieving the first living cell. The Miller-Urey experiment did not report any traces of any kind of protein. That fact is considered to be against the odds of Abiogenesis. In a significant amount of time (Two weeks & more), in almost ideal circumstances (right temperature and the presence of sparks), and with having the right ingrediants, no proteins were produced at all. Bare with me for a minute:

Let's assume the Miller-Urey experiment, in 13 days, produced only 0.01 grams of amino acids = 0.01x6.023E23/75(molecular weight of glycine)= 8E19 molecule. And let's assume it was given a period of one day (the last day of the two week experiment) to try and produce proteins (specifically our small 32 long protein). The total number of events will be equal to 1 day in nanoseconds multiplied by the number of amino acid molecules (8E19), divided by 32 = 8E13 * 8E19 / 32 = 2E32 event (simultaneous and continuing for a whole day). From my argument in round 2, I concluded the probability of producing a functional protein from a set of 32 amino acids to be 1.08E-19. But we have a lot more events. This should lead to protein production with an estimated amount of 2E32 * 1.08E-19 = 2.16E13 protein molecules!!!

Do you know what this means? It means that I, Moze, a creationist, predict (through my generous theoretical calculations) that the Miller-Urey experiment will produce 2.16E13 protein molecules in one day. However, we all know that it didn't produce one single protein molecule. This means that my original calculations were far more generous than I would have ever imagined.

Please don't misunderstand me. I'm not trying to defend my math from your refute (I will defend it later in round 4). All I'm trying to do here is to refute the fact that the Miller-Urey experiment supports Abiogenesis's possibility. In fact, I'm doing more than that. I'm using the experiment, that is perceived to support Abiogenesis, against Abiogenesis. So it's those who believe in Abiogenesis should be avoiding the Miller-Urey experiment, NOT creationists!!

The rest of the argument was just telling a story without proof. To me, the science of Abiogenesis is just the science of reverse engineering the living cell; Break it down and draw a flow chart, then repeat the process over and over until you reach the building blocks of life leaving a large flow chart behind. Now what do you do with this flow chart? You simply flip it and start presenting from the building blocks moving up the chart to reach the cell. Again, it was just a story without any calculations of the odds of it happenning, which makes it useless.

Now I know you've provided your version of calculations in round 3. But I asked if I can refute it here and you preferred not to. So I'm only judging your round 2 argument as if I didn't see round 3. In round 4, I will speak of your math.

Debate Round No. 3


I would like to thank Moze for this debate.

My opponent continues to rely on erroneous probability calculations and incorrect assumptions on how life first began on Earth.

For example, first off, my opponent claims that I was simply explaining the abiogenesis theory in round 2. What I actually did was give an account of how life formed from a collection of simple organic molecules - I provided empirical evidence to support each of my claims. If he had read my argument more carefully, he wouldn't have made the claim that amino acids directly coalesced into proteins. However, as I explained in my argument, RNA came right after the agglomeration of amino acids from organic compounds, and proteins came after RNA:

"Within a day, the mixture had turned pink in colour, and at the end of two weeks of continuous operation, Miller and Urey observed that as much as 10–15% of the carbon within the system was now in the form of organic compounds. Two percent of the carbon had formed amino acids that are used to make proteins in living cells, with glycine as the most abundant."[5][6]

"Instead, it is assumed that RNA acted as a precursor of both protein and DNA, in the sense that it can serve both as catalyst (like protein enzymes) and as carrier of genetic information. Even in the modern cell ribozymes (catalytic RNAs) still play a vital, albeit limited, role. In the ribosome, the synthesis of the peptide chains of proteins from RNA code is accomplished by ribozymes. They also catalyze splicing of RNA." I mentioned in the last round a study that showed how RNA could form from amino acids and organic compounds that were already on Earth.[1]

So how did proteins synthesize? Proteins can be assembled by RNA: "Catalysts drive reactions between molecules. They reduce the amount of energy required for the reaction to occur, and they make sure the reaction is specific and accurate. Protein catalysts are known as enzymes, and RNA can also behave as a catalyst. In fact, the ribosome relies on the catalytic functions of rRNA to assemble proteins. RNA catalysts are called ribozymes. Ribozymes can "cut and paste" links between nucleotides in a strand, a process known as splicing. Some mRNA molecules must splice themselves before they can be accurately "read" by the ribosome during protein synthesis." Also, I find it ridiculous that my opponent expected proteins from the experiment in two weeks. It took millions of years for proteins to form from those chemicals.[2]

In conclusion to this small chemical argument: "This origin of life based on small molecules is sometimes called "metabolism first" (to contrast it with the "genes first" RNA world). To answer critics who say that small-molecule chemistry is not organized enough to produce life, Shapiro introduces the concept of an energetically favorable "driver reaction" that would act as a constant engine to run the various cycles." The possibility more complex chemicals like DNA and proteins could have easily come from simplier molecules like enzymes and RNA, which themselves came from simple molecules like methane.[3]

My opponent then goes back to the probability arguments I already disproved in the last round. Using more realistic probability senarios, abiogenesis actually becomes a very viable theory: "However, an analysis by Ekland suggests that in the sequence space of 220 nucleotide long RNA sequences, a staggering 2.5 x 10112 sequences are efficent ligases. Not bad for a compound previously thought to be only structural. Going back to our primitive ocean of 1 x 1024 litres and assuming a nucleotide concentration of 1 x 10-7 M, then there are roughly 1 x 1049 potential nucleotide chains, so that a fair number of efficent RNA ligases (about 1 x 1034) could be produced in a year, let alone a million years. The potential number of RNA polymerases is high also; about 1 in every 1020 sequences is an RNA polymerase. Similar considerations apply for ribosomal acyl transferases (about 1 in every 1015 sequences), and ribozymal nucleotide synthesis. Similarly, of the 1 x 10130 possible 100 unit proteins, 3.8 x 1061 represent cytochrome C alone! There's lots of functional enyzmes in the peptide/nucleotide search space, so it would seem likely that a functioning ensemble of enzymes could be brewed up in an early Earth's prebiotic soup. So, even with more realistic (if somewhat mind beggaring) figures, random assemblage of amino acids into "life-supporting" systems (whether you go for protein enzyme based hypercycles, RNA world systems, or RNA ribozyme-protein enzyme coevolution would seem to be entirely feasible, even with pessimistic figures for the original monomer concentrations, and synthesis times." (Sorry if some of this is a repeat - my opponent repeats his erroneous probability arguments).[4][7][8]

In conclusion to my arguments in this debate, simple compounds easily coalesced into enzymes, RNA, and finally, DNA and proteins. It is not very improbable because all of the necessary elements were already there. My opponent's sole argument relies on the supposed improbability of abiogenesis, but my opponent forgets the fact that biochemial reactions are oftentimes "loaded", and make my opponent's proability calculations irrelevant. Finally, because there are so many planets capable of supporting life (per the Drake equation), the supposed improbability works itself out on universal scales, even if it were that unlikely. Overall, abiogenesis is most certainly possible.


[6]: Barton, Nicholas H.; Briggs, Derek E. G.; Eisen, Jonathan A.; Goldstein, David B.; Patel, Nipam H. (2007), Evolution, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory Press, pp. 93–95.
[7]: Ekland EH, and Bartel DP, Nature, 381: 442-4, 1996.
[8]: Chyba C and Sagan C, Nature, 355: 125-32., 1992.

NOTE: Source 6 was quoted from source 5 and sources 7 and 8 were quoted from source 4.


Round-3 was supposed to be a rebuttal to the first argument. My main argument was the probability argument. In order to refute my argument, you’ll have to show me exactly where I went wrong. What you have done was to provide another alternative probability calculation (Your version of it). You have never showed me where I went wrong in my calculations. Well, to be fair, you did provide a response to the right hand left hand assumption as well as the peptide non-peptide assumption. But that’s a funny story J. The whole purpose of these assumptions was to give a probability of the creation of a 32 long protein, given a set of amino acids. When I considered my assumptions, I concluded to a probability of 1.08 x 10^-19. After Pro’s refute of my assumptions, he concludes a probability of 4.29 x 10^40!! That’s contradicting the first rule of probabilities (A probability has to be between 0 and 1). So I will assume it was an honest mistake and that he meant 4.29 x 10^-40. If that’s the case, then that is much much much smaller than what I have portrayed (1.08 x 10^-19). This makes me very very happy. Do you see how this is funny?!! Pro refutes my assumptions and then concludes to a probability that agrees more with my views!! That is funny… At least for me J.

Regarding the rest of your calculations, I don’t have to refute it because it doesn’t speak to my original argument. In this round, I’m only allowed to defend my argument, not attack a new argument that pro gives. So to make this simple, my argument hasn’t been touched as I have explained. And therefore, I have nothing to defend. I don’t need to defend the factual numbers I relied on. I don’t even need to defend the rational deduction method I used in my calculations, because none of those were attacked.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot. Pro mentioned that “one simply cannot be accurate probability calculations for something as inherently complex as biological abiogenesis”. That is totally true. It is too complex to calculate it accurately. I mentioned that!! However, we can be too generous with the numbers (or cutting Abiogenesis some slack) to the extent that we are sure the probability we calculated is much bigger than what it actually is.


Debate Round No. 4
55 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by AbhijeetWatts 5 years ago
It's interesting because this usually also comes up in Physics, where we are normally asked how the planets are able to form so perfectly, where it looks as though it is almost designed by an Intelligent Designer. The simplest answer we give is that during the early stages of the Universe, the amount of heat in the Universe which was causing it to expand so violently was also able to provide the conditions suitable for other elements in the Universe to form as well as allowing the formation of the stars and planets. This is where we think was the origin of the Four Fundamental Forces in the entire Universe. This would have been the stage where there was a Unified Force, which we call the Unified Field Theory or the Theory of everything. Nature provides the conditions needed for the formation of amino acids and molecules and whatnot. It is fallacious to say 'I just can't believe it.' just because you cannot grasp the immensity of time for which Abiogenesis is possible.
Posted by Ratsybear 5 years ago
I'm 100% sure that abiogenesis is possible, however, not with the technology we have right now. I believe that the life itself is so complex that for natural matter, that may or may not be composed of the same elements, to turn into a life form is nearly impossible. Even if science is involved, the technology that we have is inferior to life itself. I believe that when our technology goes beyond what it is right now, we gan achieve abiogenesis.
Posted by LightlessDimension 5 years ago
Abiogenesis is in fact possible.
Posted by Idealist 5 years ago
After a lifetime of reading about this subject, I honestly feel that I have to go with the legendary atheist Antony Flew, a British professor of philosophy who, after decades of internal debate with himself, came to the conclusion that "It has become inordinately difficult even to begin to think about constructing a naturalistic theory of the evolution of that first reproducing organism." Still, it was an awesome debate which I enjoyed very much, and which has left me with a lot to think about.
Posted by Enji 5 years ago
A small grammatical note on Con's R3: It's "bear with me", not "bare with me" ("bare with me" means to get naked with you!!). The verb "to bear" (amongst other meanings) means to endure or tolerate, hence the phrase.
Posted by Moze 5 years ago
To me, I would accept 0.1% as possible. And consider 10^-10 to be impossible, on a personal level. Anything in between, I would say "I don't know".

But I have a question. English is my second language. Did you feel at any point in the debate that I wasn't being very clear and hard to understand?
Posted by Yraelz 5 years ago
I have no idea why my vote changed.*
Posted by Yraelz 5 years ago
From a debate standpoint I have trouble rationalizing your approach with the resolutional term of "possible". I understand the improbability that you're going for but I don't know where to justify the brightline on "possible" and I don't see either of you doing that work for me. Pro is making arguments in an attempt to discredit your numerical scenario, some of which I believe (read: chirality), so at the end of the debate I'm not sure what the general probabilities even are. That uncertainty combined with the sheer turnover frequency (to mildly misuse some catalyic jargon) and the expansive amount of time make me feel justified in voting for a "possible".

I have no idea why vote changed. I very clearly remember voting just "convincing arguments", I don't know what happened afterwards.

As for truths. To be honest I'm kind of interested in actually going through this entire process with you. I'd love to figure out the (most likely) conclusion and leave it in a google doc to access eternally. The stereoselectivity of chemical processes can be nearly quantitative ( That brief overview includes a few that are 98% selective, from my days in Ochem I remember seeing selectivity surpassing 99.9%. If you'd like I will have this debate with you after my current two debates are finished. We'll make it 5 rounds; if we need to we'll continue it into the comments until we come to a satisfactory conclusion.
Posted by Moze 5 years ago
Thanks for voting @Yraelz. I saw you changed your voting a little bit. What made you do that?

But regarding your vote, pro just mentions the simultaneous trials for billions of years. He never really plugged it in his calculations. I, on the other hand, accounted for an infinite amount of simultaneous trials. I relied only on the material limitation. That's my issue with Abiogenesists. It's true that billions of years of simultaneous trials do raise the odds dramatically, but why don't they account it in the calculations? Why are they afraid to go through with the calculations? It's not scientific to just rely on SAYING there were billions of years of simultaneous to say something is possible.

Your probably right. I'm not a chemist, but I do know how to calculate odds. So if you would just tell me how much selective those chemical processes are in numbers and we'll do the calculations again. Our goal is to seek the truth. Can you do that favour for me? I would really appreciate it.
Posted by Yraelz 5 years ago
Awesome debate!
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Yraelz 5 years ago
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Total points awarded:30 
Reasons for voting decision: Wooo, as a chemist, I kind of loved this debate. The word you two are looking for his "chirality" and Pro is correct, many chemical processes are selective rather than racemic. With that in mind I think enough of Con's premise is eroded for me not to know what the probability actually is. I'm not concerned by that, because Pro successfully argues for billions of simultaneous trials over millions of years. I think this gives significant probabilitistic leeway, which (when the debate is only concerned with the possibility) inclines me to vote Pro.