Are the different hypotheses on the emergence of life as different as they seem?

Biology and Philosophy 10 (4):389-417 (1995)
This paper calls attention to a philosophical presupposition, coined here the continuity thesis which underlies and unites the different, often conflicting, hypotheses in the origin of life field. This presupposition, a necessary condition for any scientific investigation of the origin of life problem, has two components. First, it contends that there is no unbridgeable gap between inorganic matter and life. Second, it regards the emergence of life as a highly probable process. Examining several current origin-of-life theories. I indicate the implicit or explicit role played by the continuity thesis in each of them. In addition, I identify the rivals of the thesis within the scientific community — the almost miracle camp. Though adopting the anti-vitalistic aspect of the continuity thesis, this camp regards the emergence of life as involving highly improbable events. Since it seems that the chemistry of the prebiotic stages and of molecular self-organization processes rules out the possibility that life is the result of a happy accident, I claim that the almost miracle view implies in fact, a creationist position.
Keywords Catalysis  chance  determinism  emergence of life  evolution  non-equilibrium thermodynamics  panspermia  protometabolism  reduction  RNA world  self-organization
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