Understanding the Origin of Life

There’s a fascinating article on Phys.Org claiming that a lab is one step closer to understanding how life started on earth. What I find remarkable is that, despite their findings, they missed some important clues that would help solve this riddle. The actual science behind this study involves cutting edge research that advances our understanding of biology, but their conclusions are off target.

This study gets quite technical, but at the heart of it, we learn that researchers have isolated an important enzyme called RNA polymerase, which has a unique clamping feature they theorize could synthesize RNA by using RNA as a template.

Now, when it comes to evolutionists and the origin of life, there are many different camps. The one here focuses on the RNA World Hypothesis, which is an attempt to resolve a paradox: DNA is needed to code RNA, and RNA is needed to build proteins; proteins are necessary for copying the DNA, and proteins need DNA to store information. So, how did RNA or DNA arise spontaneously if one is needed to make the other?

Well, according to this research, life began with “self-replicating” RNA molecules. However, this self-replicating RNA molecule doesn’t exist. We can’t find evidence of it anywhere on earth, and there’s no evidence they ever existed in the past… except that they’re needed to advance the origin of life theory. But that doesn’t really count as evidence.

The article also doesn’t mention the fact that this hypothetical RNA World isn’t even plausible, as scientists think conditions on an early earth would not have been hospitable to RNA due to the fact that RNA is unstable in water.

But that little detail didn’t deter this study. No, they marched on and were able to isolate a particular enzyme through a process known as “in vitro evolution”, and they compared it to modern-day protein polymerases- which are capable of copying RNA, and they found them to be similar. Therefore, the researchers believe this implies that an ancient (hypothetical) RNA enzyme could have also copied RNA.

Did you catch all that? Their conclusions are derived from an artificial process in which the RNA is manipulated. They began with evolutionary speculation and ended with the conclusion they wanted. And that somehow helps them understand how life could begin by natural processes. Sorry, I find these conclusions lacking credibility.

Replication is an extremely complex process. Trying to explain a natural origin is essentially like trying to explain how a complex computer program wrote itself without any input from an intelligent being. Interestingly, the author of the article actually refers to ribosomes as a ‘machine’, which is an apt description for what it does. However, machines don’t build themselves!

Another point to ponder is that the researchers refer to DNA as an “upgrade” to RNA. In other words, they’re claiming that DNA, which is essential to the process, was unnecessary at the beginning, but only came into existence due to a process improvement, and only then did RNA stop being part of the process… leaving behind no evidence that this switcheroo happened. This means that the work done in the lab takes the place of evidence.

The stated goal of these researchers is to “build” a self-evolving system in their lab so that they can “create” their own self-sustaining RNA polymerase ribosome- as if doing so will help them understand how a speculative life-form could have originated.

I love this quote by Professor Peter Unrau. He says, “If we are able to create a living and evolving RNA-based system in the laboratory we’d have made something quite remarkable, something that has probably has never existed since the dawn of life on this planet.” Perhaps such a creation would be remarkable, but I’d argue it would be something that has never existed… ever. Unrau recognizes how remarkable such a creation would be, yet he doesn’t see how ironic it is that he believes this could occur naturally, without a creator.

He goes on to say, “By understanding the fundamental complexity of life, in the laboratory, we can start to estimate the chances of life on other planets and determine the likelihood that planets such as Mars either had or still have the potential to harbor life.” He recognizes that life is complex, but doesn’t recognize that a creator is a better explanation for the origin of life.

I think the evidence in this study points to an intelligent designer rather than spontaneous generation. Complex machines don’t build themselves. Intelligence is required. DNA contains coded information that must be interpreted and decoded.

While they believe they’re one step closer to understanding how life started, I suggest they’re headed in the wrong direction. They would have already solved this “mystery” had they read the Bible, which explains that life began when God created it in the beginning. They’ve made this more complicated than necessary.

2 thoughts on “Understanding the Origin of Life

  1. Some time back, I read a book about dna, looking more specifically at replication. What I came to understand, through the reading, is the immense complexity of a single-cell, the most basic of life. In other words, for life to have “accidentally” begun on Earth millions of years ago, or billions, all the components would have had to come together at once, or no existence, for the cell requires all of it’s parts, each extremely complex. And how does one explain dna? ** I remember telling some people, based upon the then current understanding (I have far to go.), that there was greater likelihood of astronauts landing on a distant, unvisited, planet, going into a cave, and finding 20 folding chairs in rows of 5, theorizing they spontaneously formed, than one of these cells. But I read something else, which I think goes with your article, and that is principles exist that makes impossible for a cell to form. Like, by principle, it can’t happen. Together all at once, or not at all. **Here’s a serious concern. If scientists are supposed to be experts, and they should know what little old me knows, then how could they possibly believe in accidental life, when they can’t produce one in a lab with all the ingredients, and evolution has no support? Pondering.

    • You make some great and valid points. It’s hard to understand how any knowledgeable person could accept a naturalistic origin of life when the evidence suggests that an intelligent creator is the best explanation for the origin of life. Sadly, that’s human nature, and it’s hard to overcome.

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