This from the Wall Street Journal:
Did a Bacterial E.T. Bring Life to Earth? April 26, 2013 (emphasis mine)
A provocative calculation by two biologists suggests that life might have arrived on Earth fully formed—at least in microbe form.
Alexei Sharov of the National Institute on Aging in Baltimore and Richard Gordon of the Gulf Specimen Marine Laboratory in Panacea, Fla., plotted the genome size of different kinds of organisms against their presumed date of origin. Armed with just five data points they concluded that genome complexity doubles every 376 million years in a sort of geological version of Moore’s Law of progress in computers.
When the researchers extrapolate the chart backward, they find the origin of life must have happened almost 10 billion years ago, long before Earth existed. Therefore life may have spent its first five billion years on a different planet and got here as bacterial spores deep inside rocks that drifted through the vacuum after some cosmic explosion.
There are an awful lot of “ifs” in such a calculation. After all, the increase in complexity could have started fast and slowed down. Also, it isn’t the first time somebody has suggested “panspermia,” or microbial life hitching a ride here.
The molecular biologist Francis Crick wrote a whole book called “Life Itself” on one of these theories that involved intentional colonization. Crick argued that the universe was already so old when Earth was born that, if planets are common (check) and life is probable (still unknown), it was unlikely ours was the first life, in which case it was likely that advanced civilizations already existed when Earth was young and that one of them sent microbes out to seed other solar systems, knowing that the civilization itself could not manage the trip.
But then, as Enrico Fermi first asked, why have we not heard radio transmissions from these advanced civilizations? The deathly silence of the universe remains a paradox.
If it takes 10 billion years to achieve technology and civilization, Drs. Sharov and Gordon think the spore travelers were probably launched by accident from a primitive planet, rather than on purpose from an advanced one. For the same reason, they think they may have resolved the Fermi paradox, because if it takes so long to get to our stage of technology, then we may indeed be among the first to get there. And they predict that we may find life (or remains of it) on Mars, because we are unlikely to have been the only landing site for the wandering spores.
Earlier this month the National Aeronautics and Space Administration announced that its Kepler space telescope has discovered planets orbiting distant stars in the “Goldilocks” zone—neither too hot nor too cold for liquid water. Of the three planets detected, the most Earthlike is probably Kepler-62f, which is just 40% larger than Earth and orbits a star somewhat dimmer than our own sun, 1,200 light years from here.
That’s too far away for direct observation, but the planet’s passage across the face of its sun dims the starlight, so the size of the planet can be calculated. The ease with which Kepler is picking such planets up confirms that even small planets with rocky crusts and tepid-enough surfaces to hold oceans are probably fairly common in the universe.
Being watery creatures ourselves, depending on the free movement of soluble substances within our cells, we inevitably expect water and life to go together. It’s harder to imagine evolution getting started in a gas or a solid, though perhaps this is aqua-centric. Anyway, it seems that opportunities even for water-based life may abound. Does that mean life is common? No. We still don’t know if it’s very easy or very hard for life to emerge from nonlife even in the right conditions.
Leave the last word to the Monty Python “Galaxy Song”: “And pray that there’s intelligent life somewhere up in space / ‘Cause there’s bugger-all down here on Earth.”
So we see here yet another variation of the “No God Hypothesis.” We’re in the Atheists Cave and having looked in almost all of the corners and not finding her/him/it/them yet, we’ll look back into the far reaches of time and space and our unlimited imaginations, climb into our Buck Rogers Time and Space Ship, and find our origins billions of years before there was even an Earth to look for her/him/it/them here.
Here’s the “No God Hypothesis” as stated by one of the “smartest” men of the world, Steven Hawking: “ … tiny quantum fluctuations in the very early universe became the seeds from which galaxies, stars, and ultimately human life emerged.” The man is indeed in the cave.
And by contrast, here is the “God Hypothesis“ as stated by Genisis1:1: “In the Beginning God created the heavens and the Earth”
Alexei Sharov of the National Institute on Aging works for the National Institute of Health, a US Government agency and is engaged in this sort of wishful thinking and naval gazing at the taxpayers expense. Meanwhile, other legitimate scientists doing legitimate scientific research at the Institute for Creation Research and those folks under the umbrella of Intelligent Design at the Discovery Institute are prevented by law from introducing their findings into such tax funded institutions such as the public schools and universities.
Dr, Jerry Coyne a professor at the University of Chicago (a private school) and a very active atheist complains loudly at the intrusion of religion or Intelligent Design into the educational process as shown by his recent article “Science” course at Ball State University sneaks in religion.
Dr. Coyne is one of a group of very active, vocal and influential atheists, along with Richard Dawkins and Stephen Hawking, who are peddling the snake oil that science and materialism explain everything, and God is not necessary or even there, and in fact must be eliminate from the public square.
Folks, I may be just the son of an immigrant TV repairman from Butte Montana, but given the choice between the “No God Hypothesis” and the “God Hypothesis” as the basis of my scientific thinking on origins, I’d be a fool to sign on to the ideas presented by Alexei Sharov and Richard Gordon, who are indeed fools themselves.
Look at the speculations I have highlighted in the articles and ask yourself if real science is going on here. And ask yourself if this is the kind of “settled” science you want your children and grandchildren to buy into as a result of their careers in the high schools and universities of this nation.
Don Johnson – April 2013