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Even the simplest life is incredibly complex
- Sherwin, Frank, 2001 (Feb.). Just how simple are bacteria? Back to Genesis No. 146.
- This argument is built on the unspoken presumption that bacteria are, not merely "the simplest, most primitive forms of life" known today, but, in fact, "the simplest, most primitive forms of life" of all time, which bacteria are not. In view of the number of times Creationists have complained that present-day observations do not necessarily provide any illumination as regards events which happened a long time ago, it is curious that they would put up an argument which requires that observations of present-day life must necessarily be applicable to long-ago events such as the initial abiogenesis event.
- Self-replication and evolution has been observed in modified viruses that only have 50 or less base-pairs + an enzyme, and the trend of this research has been to always find simpler and simpler viable versions. There is no known limit on how simple a viable self-replicator can get, and mathematically, it is impossible to prove as a general case that something is the simplest it can be (this is a variant of the Incompleteness Theorem).
- Self-replicating RNA polymers, such as the plant parasites known as "viroids," are known to exist and are "life" by some definitions of the word. They consist of a single molecule, much simpler than any bacteria.
- There are no universally accepted criteria for the definition of life, so it is meaningless to appeal in argument to what may or may not be the simplest form of it. The argument ends up being tautologous, since it suits the arguer to define life as being "incredibly complex".
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Fallacies contained in this claim
- Sweeping Generalization (assumes that ancient simple forms of life are similar to today's simplest life)
- Straw Man (nobody claims life arose by chance)
- Equivocation ("simplest life" can mean roughly whatever one wants it to mean)
- Musgrave, Ian, 1998. Lies, Damned Lies, Statistics, and Probability of Abiogenesis Calculations.