Origin of life

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In hmolscience, origin of life (TR:307) (LH:4) (TL:311), aka the “great problem of natural philosophy” (Hilaire, 1836)[1], or a "hunt for a scientific Jabberwock" (Lotka, 1925), refers to the "loaded question" search for the point in time (or spacetime) at which "life", presuming this is a thing that exists (see: life does not exist), started or began, since the universe started (13.8 bya), the Milky Way formed (13.51 bya), the sun ignited (4.603 bya), the earth formed (4.543 bya), or water condensed and the oceans formed (4.28 to 3.8 bya), depending on point of view or belief system (e.g. bioism, emergent bioism, or abioism).


The question of the "origin of life", resolves into the question of at which point in time, space, and location, and by what mechanism did "life" start, aka where, when, and how is the "life start point", as diagrammed (see: large) below, which, to note, presupposes that "life exists" (see: life does not exist) in the first place:[2]

Life start point.png

In 1836, evolutionist Etienne Saint-Hilaire classified the origin of life question, as the great problem of natural philosophy:

“It is quite certain that there was a moment when life did not exist on our planet, and another moment when it appeared. It is the passage between these two states that forms the great problem of natural philosophy today.”
— Etienne Hilaire (c.1836), Publication (pg. #) [1]

Historically, attempted solutions to the question have come been come in several forms, as summarized below.

Emergent bioism

The first class of solutions, classified as "emergent bioism", amount to physico-chemical models to explain how life started on a certain day; these include: heat origin of life (Thales, 575BC), spark of life theory (Galvani, 1771), lightening origin theory (Shelley, 1818), abiogenesis (Huxley, 1870)[3], warm pond model (Darwin, 1871), clay substrate theory (Bernal, 1948)[4], hydrothermal vent theory (Wachtershauser, 1988), to name a few. All of these model, are based in the implicit assumption that a "point" or "life start point" exists, and can be defined and scientifically quantified precisely, i.e. life emerged or started at one single point in time.

Gradient bioism

Alternatively, a step above the former in thinking, there are handful or so of "half-alive theories"[5], according to which there exists “super-materiality matter” (Pearson, 1892), “half-living things” (Haldane, 1929), “semi-living molecules” (anon, 1957), “less alive” systems (Arnopoulos, 1993), become a “living” at some point. These, amount to what are called "gradient bioism" theories, wherein one has to conceded that the hydrogen atom, is "sort of alive", which is semi-palatable, but given prolonged mental digestion, amounts to objectionable nonsense.

Panbioism / Bioism

The third class of theories, are the bioism or panbioism theories, according to which either some things or all things, depending, in the universe are alive, such as found in the monad theory of Leibniz (1697) or the living universe theory of Henry Bray (1910).[6] These are intelligent theories, but they tend to have god at the bottom or basis of the argument, in some concealed way.


Fourth, is what is called "abioism", according to which there is NO origin life life, per reason that "life" is a thing that does not exist in the first place; the following is one statement of this view:

“Life is a property [that] does not exist. Life is a concept that we invented. On the most fundamental level, all matter that exists is an arrangement of atoms and their constituent particles. These arrangements fall onto an immense spectrum of complexity, from a single hydrogen atom to something as intricate as a brain. In trying to define life, we have drawn a line at an arbitrary level of complexity and declared that everything above that border is alive and everything below it is not. In truth, this division does not exist outside the mind. There is no threshold at which a collection of atoms suddenly becomes alive, no categorical distinction between the living and inanimate, no Frankensteinian spark. We have failed to define life because there was never anything to define in the first place.”
— Ferris Jabr (2013), “Why Life Does Not Really Exist” [7]

The no origin of life abioism view, results from the fact that (a) physics and chemistry do not recognize life (Sherrington, 1938), (b) it has been advised that the word "alive" should be abandoned (Crick, 1966), and (c) that attempt to define an exact reaction mechanism, for the purported "life start point", where chemical "reactants" become supposedly "living" chemical "products", resolves into belief in a "special" so-called "living" free energy of formation, which is supreme objectionable nonsense; something that was at the root of the recent defunct theory of life debate, in 2007 to 2013.


In 1971, a "Symposium on Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life", which took place at MIT, during the Third International Biophysics Congress, under the auspices of the international Union of Pure and Applied Biophysics and the Committee on Space Research, brought together four noted scientists: Aharon Katchalsky, Ilya Prigogine, Harold Morowitz, Howard Pattee, who each presented their thermodynamics theories in respect to the question of the origin of life. The following two quotes, from the opening remarks page, selected by Katchalsky, themed the symposium:

Creation is not the work of a moment. Millions of centuries will flow on, during which always new worlds will be created, one after the other, in distant regions. The creation is never complete.”
Immanuel Kant (1755), “Nature and the Theory of the Heavens”[8]
“The human imagination would infallibly look behind the ‘germ’ and, however hopeless the attempt, would inquire into the history of its genesis. A desire immediately arises to connect the present life of our planet with its past.”
John Tyndall (1871), Publication[8]

The symposium was followed up by open Q&A end session.


The following are related quotes:

“I have long regretted that I truckled to public opinion and used Pentateuchal term of ‘creation’, by which I really meant ‘appeared’ by some wholly unknown process. It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of ‘origin of life’; one might as well think of origin of matter.”
Charles Darwin (1863), “Letter to Joseph Hooker[9]

End matter

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 Great problem of natural philosophy – Hmolpedia 2020.
  2. (a) Reader, John. (1986). The Rise of Life. Roxby.
    (b) Lutgens, Fredrick K. (2006). Essentials of Geology. Pearson.
    (c) Ledo, W.; Martinez, J.D.; Ramos, C.; Saab, Z. (2013). “History of Life: as We Know It” (image). Pacific Rubiales Energy Corp.
  3. Abiogenesis – Hmolpedia 2020.
  4. Clay substrate theory – Hmolpedia 2020.
  5. Half-alive theory – Hmolpedia 2020.
  6. Henry Bray – Hmolpedia 2020.
  7. Jabr, Ferris. (2013). “Why Life Does Not Really Exist”, Scientific American, Brainwaves Blog, Dec 2.
  8. 8.0 8.1 Oster, George; Silver, Ira; and Tobias, Cornelius. (1971). Irreversible Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life: Symposium on Thermodynamics and the Origin of Life, Boston. (Kant and Tyndall, pg. ix). Gordon and Breach, 1974.
  9. (a) Darwin quotes – Age-of-the-Sage.org.
    (b) Walker, Sara. (2015). “Is Life Fundamental”, in: Questioning the Foundations of Physics (editors: Anthony Aguirre, Brendan Foster, Zeeya Merali) (pdf) (§19:259-68). Springer.

External links

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