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I am faced with a dilemma. I am currently engaged in a conversation with several scientists around the world. We are discussing the effort to create novel organisms from scratch. That is, we are considering the various issues surrounding the establishment of new living forms where previously there was no life. In some sense it has parallels with abiogenesis.

 

I am torn. At once I see that such an effort might result in some very positive outcomes, chief among them being that such an effort might teach us a lot about life. And on the other hand I get the sense that it might also be dangerous. For once these fabricated organisms have been established they will have a life of their own and everything that this entails.

 

Few doubt that it is possible. There seems to be a consensus that it can be done. But conflict reigns about whether we should do this and why.

 

You guys strike me as an intelligent, capable and conscientious people. I would value any thoughts that you have on this matter.

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It really sounds like a dilemma. It worries me that these things could get out and be more destructive than any other known viruses etc. Just like genetic modified food worries me. Since we really don't understand all things about cancer and diseases, we surely can't know what the effects are when we do these things.

 

Have you thought of the consequences if the military gets involved too? Could this be the first step to a new "atom bomb" situation? A new super weapon, just like in the movies.

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Have you thought of the consequences if the military gets involved too? Could this be the first step to a new "atom bomb" situation? A new super weapon, just like in the movies.

Yes, some have pointed out that historically when mankind has aquired a new ability or power, they have immediately misapplied it.

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Why does it have to be able to live in an environment we can? Chances are life slowly adapted from something that was forged in the extremes (very hot, very cold, very dark, lots of ionising radiation, ultra-high pressure, ultra-low pressure or some combination of the preceding where not mutually exclusive) since 'ideal' conditions (environments we can live in) are pretty rare in this universe.

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Why does it have to be able to live in an environment we can?

I think this is an excellent point. There seems to be no reason why life can't be established in an environment that some might consider exotic. If we wish to limit the reproductive potential of these fabricated organisms then this might be the best way to achieve that.

 

Thank you Gramps.

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Welcome... I personally think there is sufficient of a smoking gun to suggest that life did not emerge in the Goldilocks zone of our star... Life is, generally, an energy inefficient system (the level of waste in evolutionary systems), thus an environment where there is a lot of available energy (heat, light, chemical, pressure...) would perhaps be more conducive to making new life. Look at the black smoker colonies... the assumption is that things adapted to go there, rather than, perhaps, crawled away from the mineral rich, hot, high pressure, darkness of life's first toe hold, the 'seed' having arrived in a big hot rock from the days before the sun had ignited...

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This is also my suspicion. I suspect that terrestrial life began at great depth and pressure in the Earth's crust. Some have suggested that life might still be emerging there.

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So, chances are, Goldilocks areas are cold and nasty places... Who'd think life would evolve in a place like that? ;)

I was under the impression that it is quite warm down there. Heat, crushing pressures, percolating water. I think it is likely that life emerged in a place that some would think of as hell.

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We live in the Goldilocks zone... it's 'just right' for temperature, pressure, ambient radiation, percentage of liquid water etc for life like us to live

 

 

the Black Smokers are so high pressure that water is liquid at 250Celcius, no light save the occasional red/yellow glow of molten rock, iron sulphides, sulphur, high temperature HCl and H2SO4... close to Hell as makes no odds...

 

On the other end the cold, dark, high radiation, dusty, carbon and water rich clouds of deep space are the polar opposite of the Black Smoking depths. Life has already proved itself tenacious, and that it can survive speeds and temperatures of atmospheric insertion, even in (relatively) complex forms.

 

One of the reasons I like deep space as a possible cradle of life is that it's high energy and there is lots of time for it to happen... >~10 billion years...

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Guest Ghostwriter565

I am amazed at the ability of those who assume they can recreate "life from scratch." Men have yet to figure out how their own existence works and why, and now they want to create another life form? Then, we debate over the place where all of life began. Regardless of the spot you pick, you still have to consider where that spot came from. Most of you will reason, well that came with a grand cosmic big bang from matter that exploded. Then you have to consider, where did that matter come from? Natural law demands that something does not come from nothing. Just like the beginning of life, no matter how primitive, one cell or two, could not appear from nothing. It just doesn't happen that way. You know it, I know it, all the scientific minds in the world know it. You can argue with it, you can debate it, you can get mad at it, but you cannot deny it.

 

"The heavens are telling of the glory of God; And their expanse is declaring the work of His hands." (Ps 19:1) for "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth." (Genesis 1:1) Whether you think you visibly see Him or not, every day you walk outside, you see evidence of His existence. You cannot miss it. He is the beginning of life.

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GhostWriter, actually when scientists talk about "creating new life" they don't mean the way you mean it. The scientists only use matter and energy that exists, and they don't "create" anything ex-nihilo like supposedly your god did. Hence, they are not "creating" life in the same sense as you think of in your "creation" story.

 

Humans are able to create robots today, and even self-replicating robots (of simpler kind). So to take this step isn't much more than to take it from electro-mechanic machinery into the bio-chemical machinery.

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egardless of the spot you pick, you still have to consider where that spot came from. Most of you will reason, well that came with a grand cosmic big bang from matter that exploded. Then you have to consider, where did that matter come from? Natural law demands that something does not come from nothing. Just like the beginning of life, no matter how primitive, one cell or two, could not appear from nothing. It just doesn't happen that way. You know it, I know it, all the scientific minds in the world know it. You can argue with it, you can debate it, you can get mad at it, but you cannot deny it.
This is off topic, and probably will be repeated elsewhere, but I think the reason that people, especially christians presume god as the "ultimate starter", is because they recognize that something must be eternal, so to speak, and since that's true, this ultimate starter MUST be not only conscious, but intelligent, because of the apparent order and design of the universe.

 

They don't see how a conscious creator is a begging of the question, because the conclusion that the universe is ordered and therefore designed is also begging the question.

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The idea of matter and energy having always existed is much easier to envision than some omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, timeless, invisible, inaudible, undetectable (not to mention irreducibly complex) creator of the universe — at that, a creator which takes a special interest in one of millions of species, on one out of all the countless planets in our immensely vast universe, which makes the probability for life on other planets undeniable to a reasonable person.

 

Where does this whole mentality come from anyway, which says life had to come from nothing in order for something to exist without a god? And why do some people prefer the more far-fetched explanations over the simpler ones?

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One of the points of creating biological life from raw materials (where the materials come from is a non point) is to give an insight into the mechanisms and conditions that potentially caused life in the first place, where ever that was, and thus allows one to see if the same, or similar, mechanisms and conditions are still extant and active in the current universe. If still extant and active that means 'new' life is happening all the time, and thus there was no 'moment' of creation of life.

 

We're not looking at Cosmology at the moment, just biology... and biology tends to be just chemistry (largely of carbon) and some currently un-modelled aspect of physics being the animus. To drag Cosmology in at this stage is just muddying the water to try and prove a God... :rolleyes:

 

In the end, even the 'God' Hypothesis of Cosmology just ends up in the 'Causeless Cause' trap, but that's more to do with the strangle hold of our perception of the way time 'works' and the Greco-Romano view of causality (in the macro/Newtonian sense, as opposed to the modern physics sense) TBH the God Hypothesis adds nothing to the mix, since its replacing one Causeless Cause with another...

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Welcome to the forums Ghostwriter.

 

I am amazed at the ability of those who assume they can recreate "life from scratch." Men have yet to figure out how their own existence works and why, and now they want to create another life form?

I think much of this assumption comes from the fact that many have expunged vitalistic notions that there is some essence of life which stands outside the workings of natural law. Many of us believe that organisms can eventually be understood and that there will come no point at which we will have to stop in our systematic inquiry and say: “Well, we’ve reached the mysterious core. We can go no further.”

 

But I think that you are correct in that we do not yet have a comprehensive grasp of even the most unadorned of organisms, such as yeast for example, much less humans. We have a great deal more to learn and the effort to create “life from scratch” may aid us in the quest to understand. Biology is still a wide open frontier in my estimation.

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I am faced with a dilemma. I am currently engaged in a conversation with several scientists around the world. We are discussing the effort to create novel organisms from scratch. That is, we are considering the various issues surrounding the establishment of new living forms where previously there was no life. In some sense it has parallels with abiogenesis.

 

I am torn. At once I see that such an effort might result in some very positive outcomes, chief among them being that such an effort might teach us a lot about life. And on the other hand I get the sense that it might also be dangerous. For once these fabricated organisms have been established they will have a life of their own and everything that this entails.

 

Few doubt that it is possible. There seems to be a consensus that it can be done. But conflict reigns about whether we should do this and why.

 

You guys strike me as an intelligent, capable and conscientious people. I would value any thoughts that you have on this matter.

Just a little note from this site here: The Mystery of Matter

 

There is something so fundamental about the idea of form in biology that it keeps on reappearing. "All attempts to force the organizing principles of life into material objects such as genes have failed: they keep bursting out again. The concept of purposive organizing principles which are non-material in nature have been reinvented again and again." (20) Even the idea of the universe as a machine implies a plan of organization. Whether we look to the laws of nature or information theory, we return to the fundamental idea of form. "Information is what informs; it plays an informative role..." (21) "Is the information Platonic, somehow transcending time and space? Or is it immanent within organisms?" (22) For Sheldrake this kind of biological information, or morphogenetic fields are immanent in organisms and "inherited in a non-material manner." (23) These morphogenetic fields are physically real fields with their own spatio-temporal organization. Past fields influence present ones by "a non-energetic transfer of Information." (24) Therefore, while physically real they are not like the fields physics knows, and involve "a kind of action at a distance in both space and time" which doesn't decline with distance in space and time. (25)

 

:scratch:

 

:D

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There is a theory that the self organisation element of life antedates organics by a while, in terms of hydrated clays and amorphous crystalline structures therein... If there are clay 'life forms' in the deeps, we'd never see them, since to pull them out of the water would reduce them to silt.

 

There some very odd self ordering 'things' in the Indonesian seas, that have been recorded by Dr Lawrence Blair.

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Chaotic systems descend into ordered ones all the time. It simply is a matter of how much of the ordered system remains after the subsequent descent back to chaos, then how much order remains after the next cycle. Aside from the laws of physics themselves, that as far as I know is how all complexity in the universe came about.

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One of the points of creating biological life from raw materials (where the materials come from is a non point) is to give an insight into the mechanisms and conditions that potentially caused life in the first place, where ever that was, and thus allows one to see if the same, or similar, mechanisms and conditions are still extant and active in the current universe. If still extant and active that means 'new' life is happening all the time, and thus there was no 'moment' of creation of life.

 

We're not looking at Cosmology at the moment, just biology... and biology tends to be just chemistry (largely of carbon) and some currently un-modelled aspect of physics being the animus. To drag Cosmology in at this stage is just muddying the water to try and prove a God... :rolleyes:

 

In the end, even the 'God' Hypothesis of Cosmology just ends up in the 'Causeless Cause' trap, but that's more to do with the strangle hold of our perception of the way time 'works' and the Greco-Romano view of causality (in the macro/Newtonian sense, as opposed to the modern physics sense) TBH the God Hypothesis adds nothing to the mix, since its replacing one Causeless Cause with another...

 

It's always amazing to me that, not only do fundamentalists believe the strawman arguments that lump the big bang, abiogenesis, and evolution together, but they also don't listen to anyone when we try to set them straight.

 

I agree that it would just be "muddying the water" to try and explain the beginning of the universe, the beginning of life, and the evolution of species, all at one time. After all, doesn't it make much more sense to "retrace our steps," so to speak, working backwards through the chain of events? Understanding what came immediately before us can help us understand what came before that, then we can work on what came before that, etc. Why do some people seem to feel that anything needs to be explained right now and all at once?

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Welcome to the forums Euthyphro's Thorn.

 

Why do some people seem to feel that anything needs to be explained right now and all at once?

I have often wondered the same thing. Why must I have an answer for everything? And why do some seem to demand it?

 

There are lots of things I don't know. And there are lots of things I don't care about knowing. For instance it matters not at all to me how the universe came into being. I am interested however in how terrestrial life came into being. It strikes me as fascinating, even though much of what have regarding the subject is supposition.

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you can never tell where things will lead. Who would think that finding that the speed of light being the constant that relates matter to energy would yield atom bombs, nuclear power, microwave ovens, and integrated circuitry. Without that one, apparently meaningless to the man on the Clapham Omnibus relationship we'd not have mobile phones, and self powered, massively powerful computers that can fold up and be carried by a child...

 

A 'theory of anything' will possibly have the same massive effect as that one discovery... we can't say. However, when the religious starts into a conversation 'What about milk?' while the discussion is on cheese is just trying to subvert the conversation...

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Men have yet to figure out how their own existence works and why, and now they want to create another life form? Then, we debate over the place where all of life began. Regardless of the spot you pick, you still have to consider where that spot came from.

 

Oh yes, god forbid that any of us should actually think and ask questions. All the answers are already in God's word, right?

 

Then you have to consider, where did that matter come from?

 

Gee, and you have the same dillema as you have to consider where an intelligent sentient being came from. Matter is a bit easier don't you think?

 

Natural law demands that something does not come from nothing.

 

Hence, you just argued your god right out of existence.

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Welcome to the forums Euthyphro's Thorn.

Thank you for the welcome, Legion Regalis. :)

 

Although I often ponder the idea of how the universe might have come into being, as well as the beginnings of terrestrial life, not knowing those answers doesn't decrease the value I place on life, nor does it leave any feelings of emptiness. On the contrary, mysteries can be fun to ponder, and I think I would be terribly bored if I had all the answers to everything.

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