Science Is So Full Of SHIT!
(A Scientific Discussion of God and Science)
As you might have guessed from the title of my talk, I’m a geek who has spent countless wasted hours on the internet debating the origin of life. I’ve done it with the most moronic believers in God and some very intelligent atheists. And vice -versa. And while the God people could be stupefyingly obtuse, it was the science guys who were truly Full of Shit. Here’s my reasoning:
Science’s holy grail is that EVERYTHING can be explained in terms of natural processes and it has a long and successful track record to support that contention. In keeping with that point of view, science’s Origin Of Life Hypothesis is this – Given the right conditions, spontaneous emergence of life is not only possible but inevitable. The proof is right in front of us! We’re Here! It happened so therefore, OBVIOUSLY it is possible and no supernatural intervention is required. To explain how life started we just need to unravel how it happened and the scientific method can and will get us there.
So I asked myself, if this is so, why do we not try the experiment? It took a long time, millions of years, you say. Well sure, if you have to wait on happy accidents and just the right conditions it does but we don’t have to depend on chance. We have evolved into really intelligent beings and can control things to get the conditions just right so we should be able to speed up the process. It takes nature millions of years to make diamonds but we can now do it in mere days using technology. So give the OOL experiment a head start, a really BIG fucking head start and speed things up as much as possible. After all, we already have a lot of pretty good theories about how and where life evolved so why not try them out?
We know, or at least have a pretty good idea what conditions were like on earth around the time life got started, and fuck it, we haven’t got all day to wait on results so if we scientists have any ideas for any conditions that might help, go for it! Give it the best chance you can imagine. It’s a reasonable tradeoff, and only fair because we don’t have millions of years to wait for the answer, we want the answer NOW! Or at least by the time our grant runs out 🙂
The first thing you need are the building blocks of life, amino acids, about 20 specific ones. The first pussyfooted experiment of this type was the Miller-Uray experiment, that was the one where they put the early earth atmospheric gases and material in a sterile sealed flask, put a sparking gap thingy in there to simulate lightening, let the sparky thing run for awhile and then analyzed the results. And holy shit, they actually found a few of the required amino acids. They’ve even found some on meteorites that might not have been picked up on the way through earth’s atmosphere. So SEE, science says, life in a test tube! But that’s BULLSHIT! Let’s say you stumbled across a naturally occuring source of concrete building blocks on some uninhabited planet. Pretty unlikely but let’s say it happens. But is it then reasonable to also assume that because there are skyscrapers on Earth that the blocks on our newly found planet will eventually self assemble themselves into buildings? There is long fucking way from a few amino acids to the absolute simplest self reproducing organism, which is what you need to kick start natural selection. But still, the undeniable existence of life is right here in front of us so it needs explaining.
So why not do THIS experiment? Screw all the problems with generating all the right amino acids (and none of the wrong ones which totally fuck things up) , let’s start with a massively big sample of all the ones we need, none of the ones we don’t, give it the best possible environment, and I mean screw trying to reproduce early earth conditions, we’ve got smart scientists up the butt just dying to show how life can start without any “God shit”, so if they’ve got an idea that might help move things along, do it!
But if nothing else, science is always fair and objective, so make it fair.. There is only one thing you can’t do. No God Shit, no information of any kind can be introduced to the system. It goes without saying that the experiment has to be hermetically sealed, no sneaking in any stray bacteria, viruses, DNA or RNA of any kind. And no cheating. No laser beams modulated to encourage any desired orders to any emerging polymerase, no fancy DNA sequencing gizmos, because that is the very essence of “God Shit”.
What you CAN do is instrument this thing up the wazoo to measure and detect anything promising going on. Keep it clean but grab a sample any time you want. Any problems that come up, you know, the ph is getting out of whack, a little more or less light, heat, or pot stirring needed, whatever, go ahead and adjust it, anything to make life easier I say.
Only thing left to do now is sit back and wait for those molecules to combine themselves into something alive see that inevitable life spontaneously spring into existence. You don’t actually need to wait for a wombat to leap out of this thing, That would take MUCH too long! Even something like an E. coli bacteria, about the simplest living thing we know , even that would take WAY too long even under our optimized conditions. No, let’s be realistic here. What we are looking for is that specific chain of polymerase, a string of instructions for how to build a bacteria (that’s what DNA or RNA is) if we get THAT out of this soup, we can legitimately declare success! The steps from there to the living organism aren’t trivial but hey!, we will have proved that as unlikely as it sounds, order does spontaneously spring out of chaos.
And this is no trillion dollar boondoggle, it’s a CHEAP TO DO experiment so expense is not a problem with such an important and fundamental question at stake. It would only take a tiny fraction of the cost to send a man to Mars which we are now planning to do. And lets be honest, there is no practical reason for going. No, the real reason to go is the hope of finding possible signs of life and give us the answer to the question. They don’t talk about it much, mostly we get a lot of BS about the human need to reach out, that need which must have served some evolutionary advantage in out distant past.
Oh we are curious, no denying that, but let’s be honest about what we really want to know. Science really wants to prove that life is possible elsewhere in the universe. Which is FINE! I mean, who wouldn’t want to know? But wait a minute, if we want to know if life really is a spontaneous process that can happen anywhere with the right conditions, Why the fuck spend all that money to go all the way to Mars? We can do the experiments that will prove it’s possible right here on earth for a fraction of the price and with a much higher likelihood of success. So why don’t we do it? Think of it! The origin of LIFE could be solved once and for all! No more listening to all that God shit or the even more lame “Intelligent Design” mumbo jumbo.
Did you have a feeling I was going to tell you why? Of course you did, and I’m not going to disappoint. Here is the reason no real scientist will ever do such an experiment:
Because intuitively they know it hasn’t got a prayer of working and so do you. And every good scientist is intuitive. I don’t mean just some emotional hunch they feel or a groundless hope. This intuition is based on everything they’ve learned in their life, professional or private. They know before the first dollar is spent if an experiment has a chance of success or not. It’s the same in every field of science. Physicists knew long before that fabulously expensive Large Hadron Collider was built that they would likely find the Higgs Boson. They did the math and the answer said it should be there.
So what is the basis for that intuition that tells them the OOL experiment is a dead end? It’s from knowing that the odds of that specific string of polymerase millions of “bio-bits” long that make up the instructions for even the simplest life coming together by chance are so long that winning the lottery every week for a year is much more likely. They know those odds can be calculated with reasonable accuracy and that there hasn’t been enough time in this universe’s 13.78 Billion year history for it to even come close to happening. This too they know intuitively, so they don’t actually do the math, I guess it’s just too depressing to see in black and white that what you have passionately believed to be possible is not.
That is why the OOL experiment will probably never be done.
I say probably because there may come a time when some scientist is so desperate for a grant that he WILL propose the experiment in spite of all the disparaging snickers directed at him by his fellow scientists. And chances are, some government agency will give him the money to do it.
But the really funny thing is that none of those snickering scientists will be able to say why they are laughing under their breath. If they really believed in the commonly accepted theory on the origins of life, the experiment is perfectly reasonable.
And that is why I say Science is So Full of SHIT!