August 10, 2013 | David F. Coppedge

Origin of Life Theory Invokes Resurrection

Some scientists from Europe and America believe in the resurrection – of proteins.

Resurrected protein’s clue to origins of life,” writes Simon Redfern at the BBC News about an experimental “resurrection” of a presumably ancient protein.  Spanish and US scientists theorized that thioredoxin, an important protein that “has a number of metabolic functions in cells” and can tolerate heat up to 110 °C, was essential to the first life.  Using genetic comparisons, they “resurrected” the presumed original, ancient form of the gene, had a bacterium build it into protein, and tested its properties.  They speculate that this protein arose around 4 billion years ago, helping the first life get established on a “hellish” earth coming out of the presumed “Late Heavy Bombardment” of meteor strikes.

Tia Ghose at Live Science also preached the resurrection, adding a little background to the secular mystery religion:

Exactly how life emerged on Earth more than 3 billion years ago is a mystery. Some scientists believe that lightning struck the primordial soup in ammonia-rich oceans, producing the complex molecules that formed the precursors to life. Others believe that chemical reactions at deep-sea hydrothermal vents gave rise to cell membranes and simple cellular pumps. And still others believe that space rocks brought the raw ingredients for life — or perhaps even life itself — to Earth.

The intelligently-designed thioredoxin had some nice properties, if one can believe it “arose” without design in the unobserved past:

They then recreated the protein in the lab. The “fossil” protein was incredibly stable, bound to many different chemicals and functioned well in a highly acidic environment.

“That makes a lot of sense because 4 billion years ago, many people think that the temperature was high and the oceans were acidic,” Sanchez Ruíz told LiveScience.

Nevertheless, there are problems with the idea.  The BBC article noted that the protein cannot tolerate much tinkering:

Prof Eric Gaucher of Georgia Tech, US, helped with the ancestral gene sequence reconstruction and commented: “A gene can become deactivated by as few as one or two mutations.

“If our ancestral sequences were incorrectly inferred by having a single mistake, that could have led to a dead gene. Instead, our approach created biochemically active proteins that fold up into three dimensional structures that look like modern protein structures, thus validating our approach.”

Another problem is that the work had to rule out gradualism, a core tenet of neo-Darwinism:

The results suggest that biological systems might evolve at the molecular level in discrete jumps rather than along continuous pathways, as has been suggested from studies of the evolution of species.

Ghose realized that there is no way to know if the designed protein in the lab had anything to do with a hypothetical lonely protein in an imagined hot sea:

“There is no way to make absolutely certain unless we invent some kind of time machine,” Sanchez Ruíz said. “But we know that the properties we measure for these proteins are consistent with what we would expect of 4-billion-year-old proteins.

But shouldn’t the earliest proteins be simple, not complex, stable, and possessing multiple functions?  And what would it function with, if not a cell filled with many other proteins and genes?

The BBC article ended with Ruiz speculating that thioredoxin arose on Mars, then was transported to Earth in meteorites.  “Four billion years ago Mars was a much a safer place than Earth,” he said.  “Maybe we have resurrected Martian proteins. Maybe the last universal common ancestor (the first life) formed on Mars and transferred to Earth.”  No life or products of life have yet been discovered on Mars.

Before deciding how life “arose,” astrobiologists had better figure out what life is.  On Astrobiology Magazine, Gerald Joyce gave his opinions; but can evolutionists define life without begging the question of evolution?  (See Evolution News & Views 7/29/13).

Has it come to this?  The tale makes Fantasyland look like science class.  It’s unbelievable that the BBC, Live Science and other sites in the Darwin echo chamber can print this malarkey in all seriousness and call it science.  The perhapsicouldness index is off the charts: “maybe” this, “perhaps”that, it “could” happen. What do you want to bet that NASA’s Astrobiology Magazine website will regurgitate this story in a day or so?

One cannot look at highly-complex proteins in living cells, functioning as parts of complex networks, and assume that they “emerged” in a mythical, unseen ancestor.  One cannot “resurrect” something already alive that was never observed to be dead.  This is crazy.  But it’s not unique; the OOL lit is rife with perhapsicouldness.  Another story on Science Daily alleged that “protocells may have formed in a salty soup.”  DNA and RNA molecules (however they “emerged”) may have clustered together without a cell membrane at first.  But even that storyteller needed a reality check: “A functioning cell must be entirely correct at once, in all its complexity,” admitted Wilhelm Huck.  Well, huck yes.  Tell us how that happened.  Was it a miracle?

The take-away message should be that origin-of-life (OOL) studies are futile exercises in imagination that contradict one another.  Ghose tells us about three kinds of OOL researchers who “believe” this or that.  Who cares what they “believe”?  Science is supposed to be about observable, repeatable, testable experiments.  All these scientists observed, repeated, and tested were their own intelligently-designed proteins in the present, not ones that they “resurrected” like conjurers calling up a mythical past.  Their house of cards includes a mythical Late Heavy Bombardment, mythical life on Mars, mythical jumps and starts.

They want a time machine to be “certain,” they say.  We would love to watch them hit the wall a few thousand years ago and land on dry land on Day Two, then stick around for a few days more to see if life evolved or was designed.  Then we would like them to go back to the future to about 31 A.D. to learn some truth about Resurrection.


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  • lux113 says:

    This was the biggest laugh out of the whole article:

    “the properties we measure for these proteins are consistent with what we would expect of 4-billion-year-old proteins.”

    Talk about egotistical. There is no way any of these guys know what would be CONSISTENT with ANYTHING 4 billion years old.

    We’ve been here on this planet writing things down for about 4,000 years. They are only extrapolating the other 3,999,996,000.

  • lux113 says:

    For the record.. 4000 years out of 4 billion – that’s 0.0001%

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