The Origin of Life: Not so Simple (Part III)

This post will provide a final discussion of an article in Scientific American entitled “A Simpler Origin for Life” by Robert Shapiro. Part I explained why the Miller-Urey experiment and the DNA-first hypothesis is deficient. In Part II, I explained Shapiro’s apt criticisms of the RNA-world hypothesis. Those who have abandoned the RNA-world hypothesis still seek a self-replicating molecule to qualify as the climax of chemical-origin of life scenarios–the “pre-RNA world.” However, Shapiro observes not only that “no trace of this hypothetical primal replicator and catalyst has been recognized so far in modern biology,” but also that “the spontaneous appearance of any such replicator without the assistance of a chemist faces implausibilities that dwarf those involved in the preparation of Read More ›

The Origin of Life: Not so Simple (Part II)

Writing in Scientific American Robert Shapiro recounts many criticisms of popular models for the chemical origin of life. Part I recounted why many origin of life theorists reject the possibility that DNA was the first genetic molecule. As noted, Shapiro even takes aim at those who suggest that the Miller-Urey experiment chemistry was important for forming prebiotic molecules on meteorites because studies of these meteorites show “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.” Due to these deficiencies, Shapiro then notes that increasing numbers of prebiotic chemists now turn to RNA as the first Read More ›

The Origin of Life: Not so Simple (Part I)

In an article titled “A Simpler Origin for Life“–a title which hides the implication of the article, Robert Shapiro, writing in Scientific American, highlights many problems with chemical origin of life scenarios. Shapiro quotes Richard Dawkins on his worship of the first self-replicating molecule and says “[a]t some point a particularly remarkable molecule was formed by accident. We will call it the Replicator.” (emphasis in original) That’s “Replicator” with a capital “R“. But, as Shapiro explains, the conventional explanation is not nearly so simple: Unfortunately, complications soon set in. DNA replication cannot proceed without the assistance of a number of proteins–members of a family of large molecules that are chemically very different from DNA. Proteins, like DNA, are constructed by Read More ›

Follow-up on Junk-DNA

Since my post on “junk-DNA” last week, I would like to report a couple interesting discoveries on the topic. Wonderful List of References for Functionality of “Junk-DNA” I discovered a website at http://www.junkdna.com/new_citations.html which has compiled dozens of citations to articles discussing functionality for non-coding junk-DNA. The site also provides two quotations readers should consider: “…a certain amount of hubris was required for anyone to call any part of the genome ‘junk’.” — Francis Collins (2006) “You only believe theories when they make predictions confirmed by scientific evidence.” Star Trek Promotes the “Introns are Evolutionary Junk” Myth Last last night I was amused by watching an episode of Star Trek: the Next Generation. The episode, called “Genesis,” featured the Enterprise Read More ›

Junk DNA and Science-Stopping

Over the years, many (though not all) Darwinists have stated that non-coding DNA is not worth exploring because it is thought to be mere evolutionary junk. In 2003, Scientific American explained that “the introns within genes and the long stretches of intergenic DNA between genes, Mattick says, ‘were immediately assumed to be evolutionary junk.’” John S. Mattick, director of the Institute for Molecular Bioscience at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia was then quoted saying this might have been “one of the biggest mistakes in the history of molecular biology.” (Wayt T. Gibbs, “The Unseen Genome: Gems Among the Junk,” Scientific American (Nov. 2003), emphasis added) Of course known functionality for non-coding DNA now goes far beyond intronic DNA. Read More ›