July 21, 2011 | David F. Coppedge

OOLs for Evolution

Soviet communists may or may not have needed Rules for Revolution, but Darwinists, without doubt, need OOLs for Evolution: i.e., origin-of-life scenarios.  Obviously, Darwinian evolution won’t get past square one without a self-replicating system complex enough to call “life” in place.  Whether or not a given evolutionist is a Marxist materialist or a theistic Darwinist, OOL is a key link in the naturalistic dream of an unbroken chain of natural causes from big bang to man.  It’s proving a tough link to find.

PhysOrg presented a new idea for OOL: “RNA reactor could have served as a precursor of life.”  This new hypothesis by Germans at the Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich relies on the “RNA World” scenario (02/15/2007, 07/11/2002), a genetics-first attempt to jumpstart life.  The opening paragraph explains:

Nobody knows quite how life originated on Earth, but most scientists agree that living cells did not abruptly appear from nonliving cells in a single step. Instead, there were probably a series of pre-cellular life forms that arose from nonliving chemicals and eventually led to a living cell, one that could undergo metabolism and reproduce. One of the most well-known theories of pre-cellular life is the RNA world theory, which proposes that life based on RNA predates current life, which is based on DNA, RNA, and proteins. But recently, scientists have been wondering what may have preceded RNA. In a new study, a team of scientists from Germany has suggested that the ability to self-replicate may have first emerged in the form of an RNA reactor, which they show can transmit information.

A diagram with the article shows weak information transfer in RNA strands, but the text is vague about the definition of information.  At the end of the article, you can click a link for “More information” on the hypothesis, but we all know that kind of information requires a mind at the sending end and the receiving end.  Before minds existed, did information exist?  It cannot be mere survival of random sequences. Those would be unlikely to contribute to any function needed by a living entity.  Even granting some hypothetically meaningful use of “information” in this scenario, it would be quickly lost in an “error catastophe” without accurate replication (09/15/2005).

The researchers in Munich did not promise much about their scenario.  Their hunch was a mere “exciting direction to explore” about a so-called RNA reactor that “could serve as a stepping stone toward the emergence of a true RNA replicator.”  Not being a true replicator, the theoretical entity is unlikely to have been a stepping stone to anything, let alone life.  Besides, “stepping stone” implies a direction and purpose, for which molecules had neither.

Two Chinese researchers offered their RNA-World scenario in PLoS One,1 “Small Cofactors May Assist Protein Emergence from RNA World: Clues from RNA-Protein Complexes.”  Here’s their idea:

It is now widely accepted that at an early stage in the evolution of life an RNA world arose, in which RNAs both served as the genetic material and catalyzed diverse biochemical reactions. Then, proteins have gradually replaced RNAs because of their superior catalytic properties in catalysis over time. Therefore, it is important to investigate how primitive functional proteins emerged from RNA world [sic], which can shed light on the evolutionary pathway of life from RNA world to the modern world. In this work, we proposed that the emergence of most primitive functional proteins are assisted by the early primitive nucleotide cofactors, while only a minority are induced directly by RNAs based on the analysis of RNA-protein complexes. Furthermore, the present findings have significant implication [sic] for exploring the composition of primitive RNA, i.e., adenine base as principal building blocks.

Admitting up front that “The origin of life is undoubtedly a fundamental problem of natural science,”2 Shen and Ji ruled out other contenders: “at present there are no serious alternatives to an RNA world being one essential intermediate stage in the origin of life,” they claimed.  Stuck within that best-in-field contest, they tried to augment it by adding bits of RNA and protein.  But their method consisted of searching a database for existing RNA-binding proteins in living cells that they ranked as possibly “primitive”.  Since polypeptide chains do not naturally form from amino acids in water (and even if they did, are unlikely to be functional), any results from a dubious method are likely to be dubious.

Their hypothesis leaps from the fact that ATP, NAD, FAD, ADP, SAH, AMP all contain adenine.  “Considering the notion that early cofactors are vestiges of RNA world, we thus believed that adenine base should be included in the original composition of primitive RNA,” they said.  This is important, because a “dangerous weakness” in the RNA World scenario is having to believe that the building blocks of RNA, the bases A, G, C, and U, formed naturally and “were readily available on early prebiotic Earth.”  Unfortunately, while some of these bases have been found in meteorites (A, G), no one has been able to cook up cytosine (C) in a plausible early earth.  “Thus, it seems difficult for the primitive RNA to be constituted by four types of bases, i.e., A, C, G, U.”   That is why they turned their attention to adenine, since it could have come from space, and is a common ingredient in the cofactors.

“….Based on the above results, we proposed that primitive RNA is most likely composed mainly by adenine base.”  In a nutshell, their scenario posits that “primitive functional protein emergence is mainly assisted by early primitive nucleotide cofactors, while only a minority induced by RNA itself.”  If their idea has any merit, they believe this scenario might have “significant implications for understanding origin of the homochirality of biomolecules and the composition of primitive RNA.”  This promise was not explored in detail, other than to suggest that “the preferential stabilization of the naturally occurring D-configuration of RNA over the L-configuration is an inducement for proteins’ selecting L-amino acid as their building blocks when early cofactors or RNA itself assisted the origin of primitive proteins.”  (See online book for why preferential stabilization falls short of the required 100% purity of one hand.)

If meteorites were the wet-nurses of life on earth, might as well make them dramatic.  An article on PhysOrg begins,

The plot has the makings of a summer blockbuster:  An asteroid on a potential collision course with our planet holds the power to destroy life on Earth but also holds clues to what seeded it with the ingredients for life. One of the people seeking to recover its precious planetary science clues, while at the same time learning enough to prevent any collision with Earth, is the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s own Josh Emery.

Emery is helping NASA plan an $800 million asteroid sample-return mission called OSIRIS-REx, which stands for Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer.  He explains its purpose: “The asteroid’s organic materials, and the detailed analyses that we will perform on Earth will tell us a lot about how life began and whether it could get started anywhere else.” If you can wait till 2023 when the dust comes home, maybe evolutionists will have new OOLs for Evolution.

1. Liang Shen and Hong-Fang Ji, “Small Cofactors May Assist Protein Emergence from RNA World: Clues from RNA-Protein Complexes,” Public Library of Science One,July 18, 20111, 6(7): e22494. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0022494.

2. Suggested reading:  Moshe Averick, Nonsense of a High Order (Tradition & Reason Press, 2010), Part II: “Origin of Life and The Scientific Distortions of the Non-Believer.”

Your tax money at work.  German rationalists and Chi-Coms at work, providing pseudo-scientific props for their materialist worldviews.  Don’t be distracted by the aura of science: seeing these myths propounded by scientists, published in scientific journals, reported by science news sites.  Scenarios are not science.  Busy work is not science.  Miracle language like arose and emerged is not science.  Makings of a summer blockbuster are not science.  Suggestive phraseology like “RNA world” and “building blocks of life” is not science (remember to remove the f to see how they use it).

Science is supposed to represent knowledge.  Anyone see any knowledge in these articles?  Knowledge is supposed to be justified true belief.  There’s lots of belief in these stories, all right (could, might, perhaps, maybe, possibly), but it’s not justified, and it’s not true. 

The first rOOL for Evolution: become a fOOL for evolution.  Sacrifice your brain to Charlie by signing a pledge to force the world, including uncooperative chemistry, into his fantasy scenarios of molecular shotgun weddings, hopeful monsters, and blockbuster shadows projected onto the cave wall.  Since many in the funding institutions are intellectually fool-filled atheists, too, life on the fun E-farm (07/14/11) can be rewarding.  You’ll have lots of fool-o-ship, and you can drOOL all the way to the bank. Cool.

For your own good, though, we wish you a reality check.  It might hurt a bit.  Tough love can seem crOOL (creation origin of life), but satisfying in the long run; in fact, wooly good (Isaiah 1:18).

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  • DSnell says:

    I believe that OOL experiments show (and will continue to show) that it is impossible for life to have begun spontaneously. So any future efforts will bolster Creationism/ID, just as they have in the past and currently do. I don’t like the fact that some are spending tax dollars to do it, but it is almost a necessary “evil”. If funding is cut off and research is stopped, some will say they weren’t given enough time to prove it, or it was politically motivated, or IDiots have stopped science. So the efforts need to continue, in order to continue to be able to say that no one has been able to experimentally describe a completely materialistic, spontaneous OOL. The evidential cut off point will be different for each person examining the experimental history. Probably most have already reached that point, even though some will not say it out loud. Some will never reach that point. Many in the field will look back on their careers as having been composed totally, or nearly so, of experimental dead ends. But as you have frequently pointed out here, as long as there is funding, someone will make another attempt.

  • Editor says:

    Nobody is stopping any OOL scientist from doing whatever they want with non-taxpayer money. More power to them… lots o’ luck.

  • Rkyway says:

    “The asteroid’s organic materials, and the detailed analyses that we will perform on Earth will tell us a lot about how life began and whether it could get started anywhere else.”

    – I want you to notice how Emery is writing with a passive voice; apparently he wants us to forget that he is the one will do the analysis and that he is the one who will tell us what this analysis means about the origin of life here on earth. Scientists frequently use this ploy (of the passive tense) to hide their bias, and to foster a pretense of neutrality. (How does he know what his analysis will reveal before he does it?)

    Rocks don’t tell any stories (not even pet rocks); people tell stories. There’s a decided tendency for scientists to pretend that the claims and statements they make come directly from the data involved, and that they had nothing to do with formulating (or inventing) these statements.

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