Life Origin

A Scientific Approach

Edited for the Non-Scientist

How did life’s thousands of on-off switches get “set” so cooperatively and productively?  

Cells are ever so much more than “integrated circuits.”1-5. But, they are integrated circuits! As with integrated circuits in man-made devices, many switches must be set in concert and in the right sequence to compute sophisticated function.6-13

Life depends on far more incredibly complex integration of many different kinds of configurable switch-settings than any man-made device. Not only does each switch have to be set a certain way individually, but all of the switch-settings have to cooperate in computing life’s processes.14 One wrong switch-setting can fatally arrest life’s processes.Life is a concert of activity performed by many diverse subcellular instruments, devices, and nanocomputers, the function of which must be instructed by pre-written programming.13, 15-18.  The slightest programming “bug,” or malfunction in molecular machines, can be fatal to life. Sickle cell anemia, for example, results from just one wrong nucleoside letter out of three billion in haploid human DNA.

But, the immediate subject at hand is this: “How did the simplest cell’s, and particularly the very first protocell’s, instructions get written and processed?”19-22

How did life’s symphony get written before it was ever performed?23-24    

The next question is, “How could each and every instrument in the orchestra show up and each perform its respective part with such purpose and harmony with all the other independent instruments?”    

How did that symphony get conducted with such finesse right from the start?  Not by “chance and necessity.”   Not by mere mass/energy interactions.  Not by exertion of any one or combination of the four known forces of physics. Not by inanimate chemistry. None of these factors can integrate, organize, control or govern formal function. 

Life is an all-or-none process.  Life cannot “come to life” piecemeal, a little at a time. 3

Control and regulation are essential to every aspect of life.22  But control and regulation are formal functions, not just physico-chemical reactions.15-18, 25-28 Physicality cannot practice and perform purposeful, goal-oriented, abstract, conceptual formalisms.24

In a purely physical, prebiotic, inanimate world, how could such finely-tuned formal controls and regulation have come into existence?  Neither chance nor physical laws could have organized anything, let alone have written programs and produced the sophisticated machines needed to process those computational programs.

A third fundamental category has to exist in reality in addition to Chance and Necessity (Physical Law). That third fundamental category of reality is Choice Causation.15 Formalisms such as mathematics, logic, language, categorization, organization, programing and processing are all formalisms. They are not only abstract and conceptual rather than physical. All formalisms are choice-based. Chance and Necessity cannot explain them. Any worldview that pontificates that “Chance and Necessity are all there is” represents a logical “false dichotomy.”

Formalism not only preceded physicality, it supervised its origin.15 To this day, formalism continues to control and regulate physical interactions. That is why we are able to predict physical events using nothing but non-physical mathematical equations and their formal manipulations and rearrangements. This most basic principle of science is called the Formalism > Physicality Principle (The F > P Principle).15 The P > P Principle is the reason why “the unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences”29-31 is not the least bit unreasonable! The supremacy of formalisms such as mathematics and organizing agency is exactly what The F > P Principle describes and predicts.

  1. Abel DL. What is Life? (under Definitions). [URL]. 1997; Life origin Info. Accessed November, 2011.
  2. Abel DL. Is Life Reducible to Complexity? Workshop on Life: a satellite meeting before the Millennial World Meeting of University Professors; 2000; Modena, Italy.
  3. Abel DL. Is Life Reducible to Complexity? In: Palyi G, Zucchi C, Caglioti L, eds. Fundamentals of Life. Paris: Elsevier; 2002:57-72.
  4. Abel DL. Life origin: The role of complexity at the edge of chaos. Lecture given at the Headquarters of the National Science Foundation, Arlington, VA, Jerry Chandler and Kay Peg, Chairmen. 2006; lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel Power Point slides and speaker notes downloadable.
  5. Abel DL. Complexity, self-organization, and emergence at the edge of chaos in life-origin models. Journal of the Washington Academy of Sciences. 2007;93(4):1-20 lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel [Last accessed: March, 2015].
  6. Abel DL. The capabilities of chaos and complexity. Society for Chaos Theory: Society for Complexity in Psychology and the Life Sciences; Aug 8-10, 2008; International Conference at Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA.
  7. Abel DL. The ‘Cybernetic Cut’: Progressing from Description to Prescription in Systems Theory. The Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal. 2008;2:252-262 Open Access at https://benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOCSJ/TOCSJ-252-252.pdf Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel [Last accessed January, 2017]
  8. Abel DL. The GS (Genetic Selection) Principle. Frontiers in Bioscience. 2009;14(January 1):2959-2969 Open access at bioscience.org/2009/v2914/af/3426/fulltext [Last Accessed May, 2015] Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel .
  9. Abel DL. The capabilities of chaos and complexity. Int J Mol Sci. 2009;10(Special Issue on Life Origin):247-291 Open access at mdpi.com/1422-0067/1410/1421/1247 [last accessed: March, 2015] Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel">.
  10. Abel DL. The biosemiosis of prescriptive information. Semiotica. 2009;2009(174):1-19 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel
  11. Abel DL. Prescriptive Information (PI) [Scirus SciTopic Page]. 2009; lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel [Last accessed: March, 2015].
  12. Abel DL. The Genetic Selection (GS) Principle [Scirus SciTopic Page]. 2009; "lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel [Last accessed: March, 2015].
  13. Abel DL. Constraints vs. Controls: Progressing from description to prescription in systems theory. Open Cybernetics and Systemics Journal. 2010;4:14-27 Open Access at benthamopen.com/contents/pdf/TOCSJ/TOCSJ-14-14.pdf [Last accessed: April, 2016] Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel
  14. Johnson DE. The Programming of Life. Sylacauga, Alabama: Big Mac Publishers; 2010.
  15. Abel DL. The Formalism > Physicality (F > P) Principle. In: Abel DL, ed. In the First Gene: The birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, New York: Ed. LongView Press-Academic, 2011: Biological Research Division; 2011:447-492 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  16. Abel DL. What is ProtoBioCybernetics? In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: LongView Press-Academic: Biolog. Res. Div.; 2011:1-18 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  17. Abel DL. The three fundamental categories of reality. In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: LongView Press-Academic: Biolog. Res. Div.; 2011:19-54 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  18. Abel DL. What utility does order, pattern or complexity prescribe? In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: LongView Press--Academic, Biol. Res. Div.; 2011:75-116 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  19. Abel DL. The Birth of Protocells. In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: LongView Press--Academic, Biol. Res. Div.; 2011:189-230 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  20. Abel DL. Examining specific life-origin models for plausibility. In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control: LongView Press Academic; 2011:231-272 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  21. Abel DL. Moving 'far from equilibrium' in a prebitoic environment: The role of Maxwell’s Demon in life origin. In: Seckbach J, Gordon R, eds. Genesis - In the Beginning: Precursors of Life, Chemical Models and Early Biological Evolution. Dordrecht: Springer; 2012:219-236 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  22. Abel DL. Is life unique? Life. 2012;2(1):106-134 Open access at mdpi.com/2075-1729/2072/2071/2106 [Last accessed July, 2016] Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  23. Abel DL, ed The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: Longview Press Academic; 2011.
  24. Abel DL. Primordial Prescription: The Most Plaguing Problem of Life Origin Science New York, N. Y.: LongView Press Academic; 2015.
  25. Abel DL. The Cybernetic Cut and Configurable Switch (CS) Bridge. In: Abel DL, ed. The First Gene: The Birth of Programming, Messaging and Formal Control. New York, N.Y.: LongView Press--Academic, Biol. Res. Div.; 2011:55-74 Abel DL, Trevors JT. More than metaphor: Genomes are objective sign systems. Journal of BioSemiotics. 2006;1(2):253-267 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  26. Abel DL, Trevors JT. Self-Organization vs. Self-Ordering events in life-origin models. Physics of Life Reviews. 2006;3:211-228 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  27. Abel DL, Trevors JT. More than Metaphor: Genomes are Objective Sign Systems. In: Barbieri M, ed. BioSemiotic Research Trends. New York: Nova Science Publishers; 2007:1-15 Also available from lifeorigin.academia.edu/DrDavidLAbel.
  28. Hamming RW. The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics. The American Mathematical Monthly. 1980;87(2 February):81-90.
  29. Steiner M. The Applicability of Mathematics as a Philosophical Problem. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press; 1998.
  30. Wigner EP. The unreasonable effectiveness of mathematics in the natural sciences. Comm Pure Appl Mathematicsw. 1960;13(Feb):The miracle of the appropriateness of the language of mathematics for the formulation of the laws of physics is a wonderful gift which we neither understand nor deserve. – “The Unreasonable Effectiveness “The Unreasonable Effectiveness of Mathematics in the Natural Sciences,” in Communications in Pure and Applied Mathematics, vol. 13, No. I (February 1960). New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. Copyright © 1960 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc.