Talk:Abiogenesis

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Frequently asked questions (FAQ)
Some users have noted that many of these questions should be included in the text of Abiogenesis. The reason for their exclusion is discussed below.

The main points of this FAQ (Talk:Abiogenesis#FAQ) can be summarized as:

  • The occurrence of abiogenesis is uncontroversial among scientists, and there is ongoing research and competing hypotheses for how abiogenesis could have occurred.
  • Wikipedia's neutral point of view policy requires that minority views not be given undue emphasis.
  • It is against Wikipedia policy for views without scientific support, such as all known objections to abiogenesis, to be included in a science article like Abiogenesis.

More detail is given on each of these points, and other common questions and objections, below.

Information.svg To view the response to a question, click the [show] link to the right of the question.

Q1: Why won't you add criticisms or objections to abiogenesis in the Abiogenesis article?
A1: Our policies on Wikipedia, in particular WP:WEIGHT and WP:FRINGE, require us to provide coverage to views based on their prominence within reliable sources, and we must reflect the opinion of the scientific community as accurately as possible. While there are scientific objections to hypotheses concerning abiogenesis, general objections to the overall concept of abiogenesis are largely found outside of the scientific community, for example, in religious literature and is not necessary to hash out the evolution-vs.-creationism debate, per WP:NECESSARY. There are articles covering some of those religious views, including Objections to evolution, Creationism and Creation myth, but we cannot provide significant weight to religious opinions within a science article, per our policies.
Q2: Why is abiogenesis described as though it's a fact? Isn't abiogenesis just a theory?
A2: A "theory" in science is different than a "theory" in everyday usage. When scientists call something a theory, they are referring to a scientific theory, which is an explanation for a phenomenon based on a significant amount of data. Abiogenesis is a phenomenon scientists are trying to explain by developing scientific theories. While there isn't one unifying theory of abiogenesis, there are several principles and competing hypotheses for how abiogenesis could have occurred, which are detailed in the article. Wikipedia describes the phenomenon of abiogenesis as a fact because the reliable sources from the peer-reviewed scientific literature describe it as a fact.
Q3: But isn't abiogenesis unproven?
A3: The scientific evidence is consistent with and supports an origin of life out of abiotic conditions. No chemical, biological or physical law has been discovered that would prevent life from emerging. Clearly, abiogenesis happened, because life exists. The other option is that life is a product of a supernatural process, but no evidence to support this has been published in reliable sources. There is plenty of evidence that nearly all the components of a simple cell can and do form naturally, but it has not yet been shown how molecules eventually formed self-replicating protocells and under what environmental conditions.
Q4: Abiogenesis is controversial, so why won't you teach the controversy?
A4: Abiogenesis is not controversial according to the reliable, published sources within the scientific community. Also, see Question 1.

Abiogenesis is, at best, only controversial in social areas like politics and religion. Indeed, numerous respectable scientific societies, such as the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the National Academy of Sciences, have issued statements denouncing creationism and/or ID.[1] In 1987, only about 0.15% of American Earth and life scientists supported creationism.[2]

Thus, as a consequence of Wikipedia's policies, it is necessary to treat abiogenesis as mainstream scientific consensus. Besides panspermia, there are no scientifically supported "alternatives" for this view.
Q5: Has abiogenesis ever been observed?
A5: No. How this happened is still conjectural, though no longer purely speculative.
Q6: How could life arise by chance?
A6: Based on the cited peer-reviewed scientific research, it is thought that once a self-replicating gene emerged as a product of natural chemical processes, life started and gradual evolution of complexity was made possible – in contrast to the sudden appearance of complexity that creationists claim to have been necessary at the beginning of life. Life did not happen just because there were huge intervals of time, but because a planet has a certain range of environments where pre-biotic chemistry took place. The actual nature of the first organisms and the exact pathways to the origin of life may be forever lost to science, but scientific research can at least help us understand what is possible.
Past discussions

For further information, see the numerous past discussions on these topics in the archives of Talk:Abiogenesis:

The article is not neutral. It doesn't mention that abiogenesis is controversial.

The article should mention alternative views prominently, such as in a criticism section.

Abiogenesis is just a theory, not a fact.

There is scientific evidence against abiogenesis.

References
  1. ^ See List of scientific societies rejecting intelligent design.
  2. ^ As reported in Newsweek magazine, 29 June 1987, Page 23: "By one count there are some 700 scientists with respectable academic credentials (out of a total of 480,000 U.S. Earth and life scientists) who give credence to creation-science..." See also Public beliefs about evolution and creation, Robinson, B. A. 1995. for a discussion on acceptance of evolution.

Uncontested[edit]

Closing thread as per a) WP:NOTAFORUM, and b) the article uses "theory" as in "a scientific explanation explaining a natural phenomenon," and not "a wild, unsubstantiated guess"
The following discussion is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

AFAIK there are three versions of abiogenesis: abiogenesis on planet Earth, abiogenesis elsewhere (panspermia) or abiogenesis by miracle (creationism). Panspermia simply refers to abiogenesis at another place, and creationism isn't a scientific hypothesis. Drawing the line, abiogenesis is uncontested. Tgeorgescu (talk) 03:00, 8 February 2020 (UTC)

You left out a fourth possibility: the first living organism on Earth was assembled – not miraculously, but using sophisticated technical means – by an intelligent entity.
Even the simplest living organism embodies incredible complexity: the instructions for its own assembly, which are executed each time the organism reproduces, are cleverly encoded in its DNA. The encoded information is software. The physical structure of the organism is hardware.
So it's far more likely that the first living organism on earth was assembled by an intelligent entity, than that it somehow assembled itself – its hardware, as well as its cleverly-encoded software – from molecules randomly floating by in the primordial soup.
The concept of a protobiont has been introduced as an intermediate step between non-living matter and a living organism. Given the sheer improbability of an organism assembling itself, it was necessary to introduce this concept, in order to make it more believable that a complex organism could form out of non-living matter. But protobionts are not found in the environment today, and there's no evidence that protobionts ever actually existed. And even if they did exist, it is still a huge, unexplained, and improbable leap to go from a protobiont to a DNA-based organism. 2601:281:CC80:5AE0:3511:23AA:5C26:F44B (talk) 07:03, 15 April 2020 (UTC)
Assembled by an intelligent entity is called panspermia. So that isn't a fourth possibility, but one of the three possibilities listed above. It becomes obvious when you ask: where that intelligent entity came from? Was it a god or a biological being? If it were a biological being, it or its initial creators had to arise through abiogenesis. If it were a robot, it was initially created by biological beings, so, again, abiogenesis. Tgeorgescu (talk) 07:54, 15 April 2020 (UTC)
Your "abiogenesis on planet Earth" possibility is distinct from your "abiogenesis elsewhere" possibility, and both are distinct from my "assembled non-miraculously by an intelligent entity on Earth" possibility. Sure, the possibility I raised begs lots of questions about the origin of the intelligent entity, but that's a separate issue. To insist that one must ultimately return to improbable theory of abiogenesis is really not that different from asserting that it's "Turtles all the way down."
Note: we are discussing how life began. The panspermia article says "Panspermia studies concentrate not on how life began, but on methods that may distribute it in the Universe." 2601:281:CC80:5AE0:19E0:7555:4019:6366 (talk) 15:47, 15 April 2020 (UTC)
Science does not have any other option for the apparition of life somewhere. See WP:OR and WP:NOTFORUM. Tgeorgescu (talk) 08:56, 16 April 2020 (UTC)

The very existence of this talk page on consensus simply demonstrates that this is NOT a topic without controversy. There are perfectly reasonable inferences to intelligent design, and to argue that the scope of your claim that science has no other conclusion therefore there is no other conclusion, precludes the possibility that there are scientists who also subscribe to intelligent design. I am one of them, so now that I have posted on this page, I will once more post my edits to the effect that this is a popular, but not uncontested theory. Glennfunk (talk) 14:12, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

Just as soon as Cdesign Proponentsists can be bothered to get off of their tuchases to cobble together, in a deliberately honest fashion, what scientific evidence there is for Intelligent Design, what scientific research can be and has been done for and with Intelligent Design, and most importantly, how Intelligent Design is science and not a deceptive example of the fallacy of appealing to ignorance via God in order to shoehorn anti-science propaganda into science classroom curricula in place of science, we will make mention of Intelligent Design as a competing theory to Abiogenesis, but not before. Having said that, there is no other theory or hypothesis about the mechanics of the origin of life on Earth that is as robustly studied or thoroughly supported than Abiogenesis.--Mr Fink (talk) 14:40, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

I will just quote you and thank you for proving my point: "there is no other THEORY or hypothesis about the mechanics of the origin of life on Earth that is as robustly studied or thoroughly supported than Abiogenesis" Glennfunk (talk) 15:08, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

It appears I have ruffled feathers around here as I am now being accused of warring with concensus. Is it wrong to call something a theory if it is acknowledged as such here? I just don't get why the word "theoretical" is being flagged as a weasel word when saying "the occurrence of abiogenesis is uncontested among scientists" is allowed to remain. Again, if there are ANY scientists that disagree with this statement, then it is baldly false. Does anyone have a better way to reconcile this disagreement? I will try to play nicely. I would like to hope that there are fair editors out there. Glennfunk (talk) 15:29, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

Technically there could be scientists who agree with the flat Earth, you never know unless you surveyed all scientists and all of them told you they don't. For how we know the scientific consensus see Scientific consensus and arguments from authority on YouTube. Tgeorgescu (talk) 16:01, 25 April 2020 (UTC)
It looks like everything that have mentioned so far is covered by the FAQ at the top of the page. We should probably not waste too much time here when the questions are already answered. --McSly (talk) 16:15, 25 April 2020 (UTC)
Yes - *entirely* agree with those above supporting the "current original text" in the main "Abiogenesis" article - also - please see the "FAQ" ("direct link") at the top of the talk-page for any other related questions and issues raised (all are very well answered there) - in any case - Stay Safe and Healthy !! - Drbogdan (talk) 16:49, 25 April 2020 (UTC)

The discussion above is closed. Please do not modify it. Subsequent comments should be made on the appropriate discussion page. No further edits should be made to this discussion.

Lack of clarity in this article[edit]

Suggest that abiogenesis applies to all life, on earth or (possibly) elsewhere. Thus suggest first para goes;

"Abiogenesis, or informally the origin of life,[3][4][5][a] is the natural process by which life has arisen from non-living matter.

For life on earth, it is speculated that life arose from simple organic compounds.[6][4][7][8] While the details of this process are still unknown, the prevailing scientific hypothesis is that the transition from non-living to living entities was not a single event, but an evolutionary process of increasing complexity that involved molecular self-replication, self-assembly, autocatalysis, and the emergence of cell membranes.[9][10][11] Although the occurrence of abiogenesis is uncontroversial among scientists, its possible mechanisms are poorly understood. There are several principles and hypotheses for how abiogenesis could have occurred.[12]"