So earlier this week I posted about PZ Meyers accusing some of us of punting on the question of the origin of life when it comes up in a conversation about evolution. I posted about how I disagreed because I thought that while abiogenesis is related they are two separate fields.
Well I’ve read up more from the link he provided, which is really fascinating stuff, and I have to say I now agree fully with his position on the topic. We DO know a lot about the origins of life, and while the validity of evolution may not rest on the validity of abiogenesis, understanding the origins of life depends heavily on understanding the process of evolution (something I’m trying to get better at everyday).
To say that the origin of life and the origin of species are separate in an argument about evolution is to brush aside what we do know, which appears much more significant than I thought, as though it didn’t matter. How much more compelling the argument is when we can trace back all life on the planet to one common ancestor (one species, not one organism). When we can show how easy it is to create amino acids, the building blocks of life (we find them in asteroids). When we can describe how the world looked before the DNA encoding scheme we see prevalent now (see RNA world).
I suggest we all read up on the study of abiogenesis and the next time evolution is challenged as not explaining the origin of life, as it so often is by religion and buffoonery, we can point out all the knowledge (which is increasing rapidly) we have about the origin of life and describe how it and evolution are intricately tied together.