November 27, 2009 | David F. Coppedge

Gap Between Origin-of-Life Research and Simplest Life Grows

Evolutionists are celebrating experiments that allegedly showed RNA chains can assemble in water – given nucleotides to start with (see Science Daily).  The suggestive steps over the gap from nonlife to life should be tempered with other discoveries that life is anything but simple.
    New Scientist reported today that a “‘Simple’ bacterium shows surprising complexity.”  A species of Mycoplasma, an obligate parasite, should represent a stripped-down life form that can be considered a minimal living cell.  Researchers at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory uncovered “uncanny flexibility and sophistication, allowing it to react fast to changes in its diet and environment,” even with just 689 genes (compared to 4000 in most other bacteria).  Peter Bork said, “There were a lot of surprises.  Although it’s a very tiny genome, it’s much more complicated than we thought.”  Among the cell’s tricks are the ability to use antisense strands of DNA as molecular switches, the ability to employ operons in sequence rather than simultaneously, and ability of cellular components to do multitasking.
    Another report on Science Daily described the highly-choreographed dance of the chromosomes during meiosis.  Scientists at UC Berkeley found that “the cytoskeleton appears to encourage the dance of the chromosomes around the nuclear membrane as they search for their partners, and help make sure they have the right partner before meiosis continues.”  The cytoskeleton does this by means of teams of molecular motors called dyneins.  “Our work teaches us about the fundamental mechanisms of genome organization, about how cells execute processes in precise ways, monitor their own mistakes and correct or eliminate them.
    A cell is so smart, it can even employ mistakes on purpose.  Science Daily reported that some cells cause their own mutations for protection.  By making proteins with mistakes (the wrong amino acid inserted here or there), they employ a “non-genetic strategy used in cells to create a bodyguard for proteins.”  As a result, “this way the cells can always ensure that a subset of these proteins is somewhat less sensitive to the extra hits” caused by invading viruses, chemicals or other bacteria.  It “sounds chaotic and doesn’t make a lot of sense according to the textbook,” but the net result is that the organism gains protection from reactive oxygen species when under stress by means of “regulated errors.”  The organism must have ways of recovering from these errors after the stress is relieved, else the population would mutate itself out of existence.
    Interestingly, human designers might employ a similar strategy to ward off computer viruses.  New Scientist reported that a company in the UK is patenting a strategy to insert “dumb code” into file headers to defeat any computer virus instantly.  “A key feature of the scheme is that no knowledge of the virus itself is needed, so it can deal with new, unrecognised ‘zero day’ viruses as well as older ones,” the company claims.  It remains to be seen whether human programmers will be as successful at defensive strategies as cells are.

If cells are so well designed they can even regulate errors to maintain their genetic integrity, how could life evolve?  This might be a defeater for neo-Darwinism.  And if even the most minimal life is so complex it surprises scientists, how can origin-of-life researchers keep up hope?  Their simple experiments are like baby steps on the beach with an ocean to cross, and no motivation for the baby to go in that direction.
Details, details.  They sure get in the way of a good myth.

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