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Origin of life

natural process by which life arises from non-living matter, such as simple organic compounds
Modern stromatolites in Shark Bay, Western Australia

The question of the origin of life in the natural sciences is studied in the field of abiogenesis, the study of how life on Earth might have emerged from non-life.


  • Life is not a miracle. It is a natural phenomenon, and can be expected to appear whenever there is a planet whose conditions duplicate those of the earth.
  • The cosmos is within us. We are made of star-stuff. We are a way for the universe to know itself.
  • Will it be possible to solve these problems? It is certain that nobody has thus far observed the transformation of dead into living matter, and for this reason we cannot form a definite plan for the solution of this problem of transformation. But we see that plants and animals during their growth continually transform dead into living matter, and that the chemical processes in living matter do not differ in principle from those in dead matter. There is, therefore, no reason to predict that abiogenesis is impossible, and I believe that it can only help science if the younger investigators realize that experimental abiogenesis is the goal of biology.
  • The world has arisen in some way or another. How it originated is the great question, and Darwin's theory, like all other attempts to explain the origin of life, is thus far merely conjectural. I believe he has not even made the best conjecture possible in the present state of our knowledge.
  • An example of such emergent phenomena is the origin of life from non-living chemical compounds in the oldest, lifeless oceans of the earth. Here, aided by the radiation energy received from the sun, countless chemical materials were synthesized and accumulated in such a way that they constituted, as it were, a primeval “soup.” In this primeval soup, by infinite variations of lifeless growth and decay of substances during some billions of years, the way of life was ultimately reached, with its metabolism characterized by selective assimilation and dissimulation as end stations of a sluiced and canalized flow of free chemical energy.
  • Q: Strange, isn't it, Jean-Luc? Everything you know... your entire civilization... it all begins right here in this little pond of goo. It's appropriate somehow, isn't it? Too bad you didn't bring a microscope -- this is quite fascinating. Here they go... the amino acids are moving closer... closer...closer...Ohhhh! Nothing happened! You see what you've done?
Jean-Luc Picard: You mean I caused the anomaly...and the anomaly... in some way...disrupted the beginning of life on Earth.
Q: Congratulations.
  • It is mere rubbish thinking, at present, of origin of life; one might as well think of origin of matter. —
  • The fine-tuning of the universe, about which cosmologists make such a to-do, is both complex and specified and readily yields design. So too, Michael Behe's irreducibly complex biochemical systems readily yield design. The complexity-specification criterion demonstrates that design pervades cosmology and biology. Moreover, it is a transcendent design, not reducible to the physical world. Indeed, no intelligent agent who is strictly physical could have presided over the origin of the universe or the origin of life.
  • It is as though a puzzle could be put together simply by shaking its pieces.
  • Life could spread from planet to planet or from stellar system to stellar system, carried on meteors.
    • Stephen Hawking Weaver, Rheyanne (April 7, 2009). "Ruminations on other worlds".
  • Evolution is not just "chance caught on the wing". It is not just a tinkering of the ad hoc, of bricolage, of contraption. It is emergent order honored and honed by selection.
    • Stuart Kauffman (1993) The Origins of Order : Self Organization and Selection in Evolution, p. 644.
  • You know, my brothers, the nature of our business. The child you see before you, thanks to a talisman stolen from the powers of Earth, is able to take possession of the Blue Bird and thus to snatch from us the secret which we have kept since the origin of life... Now we know enough of Man to entertain no doubt as to the fate which he reserves for us once he is in possession of this secret. That is why it seems to me that any hesitation would be both foolish and criminal... It is a serious moment; the child must be done away with before it is too late...

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