The survey is absurd. As like the first human, the first atom, the first star, there was never a first cell. There were populations of pre-cells first and before that pre-pre-cells … Lot of chemical processes going on before biochemical processes. Perhaps going on for hundred of millions of years at many places on Earth, in fits and starts until it seems that what we call life took root around 4 billion years ago. Then a real long time (a billion years) before multicelluar life.
Good book to read:
The authors begin by discussing the geological eras and periods of the past. The Cryogenian (850-635 million years ago) and Ediacaran (635-542 million years ago) periods are important to this new understanding of life. But first we shift back to about 4.6 to 4.5 billion years ago, where we learn the importance of the oxidation-reduction cycle, the carbon cycle, and how chemical weathering and greenhouse gases affect global temperature. It is during this period, that the planet becomes Earthlike. We also learn the definition of life: life metabolizes, it reproduces, it evolves, etc. Knowing this is important in order to recognize it in the fossil record. There are three main branches: Archaea, Bacteria and Eucarya (we’re in this group).
The next period is from about 4.2 to 3.5 GA (GA means billions of years). It is during this period we find the first signs of life on the planet. Interesting the earliest life lived in the sea, needed sulfur to survive, and died if exposed to oxygen. In the next chapter, we cover the period 3.5 to 2.0 GA. In this chapter we see clear evidence of the photosynthetic cyanobacteria that produced oxygen (Earth was pretty much devoid of oxygen before this) and the evidence for this oxygen via the disappearance of pyrite and uraninite and the change in pattern of sulfur isotopes. It appears an oxygen-rich atmosphere was present by about 2.22 GA with a massive oxidation event at 2.1 GA according to pure hematite iron-ore deposits dated to that time.
The next period discussed covers time from 2.0 to 1.0 GA. This period is called the “boring billion,” as it is the time since the great oxygenation event and the appearance of more complex multicellular life. We also see a “snowball Earth” event here that seemed to jack up oxygen levels via a post-snowball algal bloom. Another such event occurred and ended prior to the Cambrian period. Finally we get to the period from 850 to 535 MA (millions of years). The case is made by the authors that the snowball Earth episodes of this period were key to the sudden rise of animals.
In each subsequent chapter, the authors cover a particular time period moving closer and closer to the present time. The next chapter covers the Cambrian Explosion (600-500 MA). This turned out to be a very detailed, information-packed chapter, which I found very informative. We continue to move through time covering the Ordovician-Devonian periods, the Carboniferous-Permian oxygen high and its effect on animal life on land and so on. Chapter XIX, the next to last chapter, covers 2.5 MA to the present.
The authors present for us a very detailed biography of the life on Earth. I found the book very fascinating and illuminating. I have come away with a much clearer picture of the ebb and flow of life over hundreds of millions of years. I mark this as one of my favorite books on the subject of evolution.
I am taking the discussion on the origin of life on Earth very seriously. Learn the science about the origin of life on Earth before making grandiose claims about the first cell. There is a lot of science done and being done on the origin of life. At least make yourself aware of what you are talking about before pontificating about how it happened.
I am a scientist George. The origin of life question is a scientific endeavor that thousands of scientists from many disciplines are working on. If YEC and ID can’t handle going from Australopithecus to Homo Sapiens, just watch the problems they are going to have going from chemicals to life in a half a billion years. The origin of life is science George. Keep your theology out of it.
Does your “400 million year” clock include the early period where nothing could make any progress because of the repeated bombardments that completely sterilized anything, raining down liquified rock (or something like that, or so I’ve been told)
I’m asking because I recently read Life’s Solution by Simon Conway Morris. He seemed to think the evidence pointed to 200mya max and possibly as “short” as 10mya for chemical processes to hit on the right stuff. He pokes fun at those who “worship at the crowded shrine of self-organization” and yet have been unable to make significant progress on the issue… From my reading, he would seem to think the question of this poll is somewhat irrelevant, since even if it was non-miraculous, per se, apparently whatever necessary conditions that we can’t figure out must have been so specific that they might as well have been as fine-tuned as the other cosmological stuff in the anthropic arsenal (if you go for those arguments, that is).
Of course, that book is now 15 years old, which is like a billion years in the time scale of scientific discovery, so…
Maybe I need to add that Ward/Kirschvink book to my list. Ward & Brownlee’s “Rare Earth” is a fantastic read somewhat along these lines.
Yes it does. This was a very chaotic period where a lot of chemicals could get mixed around in extreme conditions.
Yes, Simon Conway Morris could be right. It could have been a short time period where life took hold. My main point is that there was enough time, raw materials, energy, and chaos to get a large number of chemical reactions to turn into self-organized self-replicating biochemical processes.
Actually no one can say that based on evidence. We don’t know how the first life emerged. We don’t know what molecules were required. We are not sure what environmental conditions were required/existed. And hence we can’t know about the ammount of time required.
What you are articulating is a hope based on faith. Many OOL scientists seem to share this hope with you. However that doesn’t make it factual reality… or even a proven scientific claim.