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Here's another good quote from Dr. Shapiro's article in Scientific American:
In a form of molecular vitalism, some scientists have presumed that nature has an innate tendency to produce life's building blocks preferentially, rather than the hordes of other molecules that can also be derived from the rules of organic chemistry.Is presumption science? But, let's assume they are right -- and they are assuming this only because, otherwise, the odds of life appearing spontaneously in the time available become distantly improbable. Let's assume that nature is predisposed towards life rather than barren lifelessness. What does that tell us about the nature of nature?
Reading on, the air comes out of the vitalist's balloon:
A careful examination of the results of the analysis of several meteorites led the scientists who conducted the work to a different conclusion: inanimate nature has a bias toward the formation of molecules made of fewer rather than greater numbers of carbon atoms, and thus shows no partiality in favor of creating the building blocks of our kind of life. (When larger carbon-containing molecules are produced, they tend to be insoluble, hydrogen-poor substances that organic chemists call tars.) I have observed a similar pattern in the results of many spark discharge experiments.These two scenarios aptly illustrate the issues at stake in theistic evolution vs. intelligent design. In theistic evolution (or, evolutionary creation), God builds the potential for life into the fabric of the universe, and it works itself out (with God sustaining and directing nature as it goes). This fits the vitalism scenario posited by the scientists. Proponents of ID theory say that the odds indicate that nature by itself would not produce life and point to the active intervention of an intelligent agent.