Life might have Evolved in Clay, Researchers Find


#1

Nature World News:

Life might have Evolved in Clay, Researchers Find

Cornell University scientists might have unraveled the mystery around formation of life on earth. Their research shows that clay supported the synthesis of biochemicals.
For centuries, humans have been speculating about the origins of life. Recently, a Texas Tech University researcher had presented a study describing the evolution of basic organisms, which suggested that key molecules came on earth from space and the planet provided the right conditions for them to jump-start life. However, nobody has been able to explain how inorganic molecules suddenly got together to form complex life.

In the present study, Cornell University biological engineers speculate that clay hydrogel provided the necessary shelter for chemicals to come together and synthesize complex biomolecules.
Experiments using water samples that resemble ancient seawater have shown that clay forms a hydrogel under certain conditions. Hydrogel is a network of polymer chains that has the ability to soak-up huge quantities of water. Basically, these gels are super-sponges. Over billions of years, the trapped chemicals reacted and formed biochemicals such as proteins and DNA.

Clay, huh. Why does that sound familiar?


#2

That is so cool. This is why it sounds familiar. :wink:

Thus the heavens and the earth and all their array were completed. Since on the seventh day God was finished with the work he had been doing, he rested on the seventh day from all the work he had undertaken. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work he had done in creation. Such is the story of the heavens and the earth at their creation. At the time when the LORD God made the earth and the heavens-- while as yet there was no field shrub on earth and no grass of the field had sprouted, for the LORD God had sent no rain upon the earth and there was no man to till the soil, but a stream was welling up out of the earth and was watering all the surface of the ground-- the LORD God formed man out of the clay of the ground and blew into his nostrils the breath of life, and so man became a living being.
(Genesis 2:1-7 NAB)


#3

:thumbsup:


#4

No!! We Catholics would never have known anything like that would be possible…:rolleyes:


#5

This happens *all the time *with “new, breakthrough” science findings. Ya think they would have learned by now!?!

Science now tells us that plants can grow without the sun, that there are two main types of plants, that types of birds are among the earliest fossils, etc. All stuff you can find out by reading Genesis.

I don’t at all say that the creation story is a science textbook and timelines need to be literal - but God has no reason to relate a myth when telling us how the world was created. The text isn’t detailed but the order and basic process is all there.


#6

Well, they’re about… oh… 4000 years or so behind, but hey, at least they’re finally getting there :stuck_out_tongue:

(I don’t actually know when the creation story in Genesis was first recorded, so that number is more of a guess than anything :p)

All joking aside, I love it when they make discoveries like this, the more we learn about the universe God fashioned for us, the more amazing I find it. He really must love us to give us all this cool stuff to discover!


#7

Notice that the hardest, most reliable part of this is about the formation of certain complex organic molecules, not necessarily the formation of the first cells. That next step remains guesswork unsupported by science. Popular science publications love such speculation but we ought to approach it more intelligently. Still, it’s an interesting piece of the puzzle.

By the way, let’s not get too silly about the “clay of the earth” stuff. Even aside from the question of whether to translate the word as “clay” or “dust”, we surely should not take the passage in a sense that goes beyond the fact that our bodies are made of the stuff of the earth (plain old run-of-the-mill matter). Also notice no one is saying the first living beings were made of clay, but that organic molecules and even (speculatively) cells could have formed within clay-based hydrogels.


#8

Hurrah! our old Filipino legend of the races can stand true! That God used an oven to bake the clay… :D:D


#9

There are American Indian legends along the same lines. I seem to recall one in which he baked a pair of people too long, and they became the ancestors of black people, another not long enough, and they became the ancestors of white people, and another just the right amount of time and they became the ancestors of the American Indians.


#10

LOL that is exactly the legend…a little tweeked though. God left the clay too long, and those became the ancestors of the Aetas, God removed the second batch to early hence they are the ancestor of the Caucasians the third batch God left the clay just enough, hence the Filipino golden skin…


#11

Yes, you are definitely right Aelred Minor. I only posted the Bible passage in response to Didymus saying that the mention of clay sounded familiar. He was referring to the Bible passage I believe.

But yeah, I definitely do not believe that human beings are made of clay. However, I do believe, like you said, that the word “clay” or “dust of the earth” or whatever the particular translation of the Bible uses could simply be a reference to the fact that we are made of the stuff of the earth as you said. I can’t get much more detailed in my explanation of that though because while I know what I want to say, I don’t know how to say it. :o


#12

That’s funny. I just looked it up and confirmed that there is a Pueblo version of the legend, but it is different from the one I had read some time ago, which I thought had been from further north and east (the Pueblo version introduces a coyote as the cause of all the mistakes, and makes dogs humans who the coyote altered to look like himself- an amusing idea). I’m guessing the same idea about baking clay may have occurred quite naturally to different cultures.

To move back to the matter at hand (don’t want to sidetrack the thread too much), the image of God making man out of clay in Genesis could also have a connection to the common human experience of forming objects out of clay. In a biblical context we cannot, of course, regard the story as just one human myth out of many, but figurative or “mythological” language could be used to express the truth that God made man and made him out of preexisting matter. This need not necessarily imply an actual connection between physical clay and the origin of life. Any real connection like that would be coincidental, it seems to me.


#13

If I remember, Richard Dawkins speculated on this a while ago (in The Blind Watchmaker), apparently without being aware of the implications.

Interesting, and thanks for this, OP. Yet another example of how the Bible continues to confound both skeptics and ultra-literalists. :thumbsup:


closed #14

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