Another Uncontested Origin of Life Theory

Climate change theories are not the only issues in science that became an uncontested concept (until recently) in the media, the origin of life theories too, go vastly uncontested by the mainstream media but not here…

Michael Yarus and team had a paper published in PNAS with which had a research grant worth $415,610 dollars from the National Institutes of Health. The paper is called; “Tiny RNA Molecule With Big Implications for the Origin of Life.” Costing over 400,000 dollars in research money you better believe it would have “big implications” or claim to have them. So what is the fuss? The smallest ribozyme yet, with only five nucleotides, is able to “catalyze a key reaction that would be needed to synthesize proteins.”

Yarus who is a strong advocate of the RNA hypothesis, believes that ribozymes didn’t have to be complex to function. This is because specialized complexity would not be able to function under an origin of life theory. However, natural selection is unable to function as well because there is no replicator.  A system able to duplicate its parts accurately in order for natural selection to work. Yarus admits that no tiny replicator has been found and goes on to say no experiments or imagination have been formulated and processed yet.

Is there evidence to support Yarus hypothesis? Let’s take a look…

“RNA was synthesized by Dharmacon. GUGGC = 5’-GUGGC-30 ; GCCU – 5’P-GCCU-3’ ; 5’OH-GCCU = 5’-GCCU-3’ ; GCCU20dU = 5’-GCC-2’-dU; GCC = 5’-GCC-3’ ; dGdCdCrU = 5’-dGdCdCU-3’ . RNA GCC3’dU was prepared by first synthesizing 5’-O-(4,4’- Dimethoxytrityl)3’-deoxyuridine as follows: 3’-deoxyuridine (MP Biomedicals; 991 mg, 0.434 mmol) was dissolved in 5 mL anhydrous pyridine and pyridine was then removed under vacuum while stirring.

Solid was then redissolved in 2 mL pyridine.  Dimethoxytrityl chloride (170 mg, 0.499 mmol) was dissolved in 12 mL pyridine and slowly added to 3’-deoxyuridine solution.  Solution was stirred at room temperature for 4 h.  All solutions were sequestered from exposure to air throughout.”

“Reaction was then quenched by addition of 5 mL methanol, and solvent was removed by rotary evaporation.  Remaining solvent evaporated overnight in a vacuum chamber.  Product was then dissolved in 1 mL acetonitrile and purified through a silica column (acetonitrile elution).  Final product fractions (confirmed through TLC, 1.1 hexane:acetonitrile) were pooled and rotary evaporated.”

“Yield was 71%. Dimethoxytrityl-protected 30dU was then sent to Dharmacon for immobilization of 30-dU on glass and synthesis of 5’-GCC-3’-dU. PheAMP, PheUMP, and MetAMP were synthesized by the method of Berg (25) with modifications and purification as described in ref. 6.  Yield was as follows: PheAMP 85%, PheUMP 67%, and MetAMP 36%.”

Purification and isolation steps under controlled conditions. The multiple solvents were also used at various temperatures, which were needed to prevent cross-reactions. Where was the media on this? Questions like this should have been asked…“How would nature sequester the desired compounds from damaging cross-reactions without the techniques you used?” Not surprisingly, creationists and intelligent design proponents are the only ones asking these critical questions. Producing something in a lab doesn’t mean it can happen in nature allegedly millions of years ago…


8 thoughts on “Another Uncontested Origin of Life Theory

  1. Where to start with this one!

    ## Let’s start with a demonstrably false statement: “However, natural selection is unable to function as well because there is no replicator. A system able to duplicate its parts accurately in order for natural selection to work.”

    An article in Science about a month a go showed how natural selection occurs among prions. Prions are a form of proteins. They have no replicator.

    ## Next, a a basic misunderstanding: “the origin of life theories too, go vastly [sic] uncontested by the mainstream media but not here…”[1]

    Why should it be the task of the media to “contest” a scientific claim of any kind? Their job is to report discoveries and findings to the public. Why would anyone think that, say CNN, operates laboratories to investigate or verify experimental results?

    If you meant that scientists do not contest this claim, then you know nothing about science. I’d wager that at least one other lab right now is gearing up to replicate Yarus’ results, for the purpose of confirming, extending, modifying, or even overturning them.

    If you meanbt that scientists have converged upon tiny rybosymes as “the” theory of life’s origin, this is also demonstrably false. Even your own previous posts have mentioned a number of competing hypotheses.[2]

    ## MIchael begrudges $415,000 spent to investigate the properties of a new class of RNA molecules. Of course, creationists are basically against all research into subjects near and dear to their faith, because it tends to prove them wrong so often.

    Michael’s limited reading comprehension, however, only picked up on his hot-button subject of origin of life.[3] This research proposes hopefully cheaper and easier ways to synthesize proteins. Why do we wish to do that? New medical treatments, perhaps? Possible new materials based upon protein components? But no. All Michael can think of is half a mil down the tubes on research that might invalidate his religious beliefs.[4]

    ## Michael questions Yarus’ evidence: “Is there evidence to support Yarus hypothesis? Let’s take a look…” with a quote of buzz-saw sciency-sounding words that he hopes will bedazzle his fellow faithful. Then, “Purification and isolation steps under controlled conditions. The multiple solvents were also used at various temperatures, which were needed to prevent cross-reactions.”

    Guess what, Michael. “Controlled conditions” are what experiments are all about. If you don’t control the conditions, you don’t have an experiment, by definition. I think Michael picked up the quote[5] from someone who has at least read the paper—-Michael himself has certainly not.

    As to whether the actual conditions correspond to early-earth environments, the only actual claim made by the author is that “Small size and minimal requirements for regiospecific translational activity strongly support the hypothesis that minuscule RNA enzymes participated in early forms of translation.” Hardly a claim that this is THE key to life.

    Michael seems to believe that science progresses by giant saltations, like divine revelations. Guess what, Michael—science usually progresses by incremental steps—here is something that has certain characteristics that are amenable to early life; let’s take a look at them. Michael does not understand that research is valuable not only for its own results, but also for what it suggests for further research.[6]


    That’s enough for now. Let’s close with a suggestion for Michael. Hey, Michael. Why don’t you contest this finding, and convince the scrofulous media to publish your reasoned rebuttal that this research has no implications for OOL? Conduct your own research into early conditions on Earth, advance your own hypotheses, gather your own evidence. Fat chance, huh?


    [1] I have no idea what these last 3 words mean.

    [2] Most recently, “Are Evolutionists Coming To Grips With Primordial Soup?” (February 13, 2010)

    [3] Aided, of course, by the media jumping on the aspect that is likely to pique the public’s interest enough to cause them actually to read the article. Who would bother if the headline read “New protein-synthesizing molecule discovered”? Ho hum. No human interest.

    [4] Refer to my list of Michael’s stock phrases, #4, “Researchers squander millions (billions) of our hard-earned (tax) dollars in frivolous investigations on xxxx.” (“xxxx” = cold dark matter / evolution of thumbnails / hot chicken soup). Recall that the clinical trials alone for new drugs run to $800,000,000. Per drug; 4/5s of them don’t make the grade.

    [5] In true creationist fashion, Michael does not vouchsafe any citation to his source, thus preventing us from checking it. “Trust me,” he says, “would I lie to you?” Yes, Michael, creationists have a well-earned reputation for dishonesty.

    [6] As noted previously, real science is cumulative, building upon previous work. Creationist “science,” on the other hand, consists entirely of isolated contentions which do not support each other, and which do not offer foundations for other research.

  2. “Is there evidence to support Yarus hypothesis? Let’s take a look…” (Followed by entire “Methods” section of PNAS paper.)

    First, Michael divides up the quotation from the PNAS paper, not as the author did, but in the way that Colonel Sanders parses chickens. That is, in an arbitrary manner that does not follow the logical steps of the method. Which suggests that Michael does not himself understand a single word of the procedure for preparing, reacting, and analyzing the RNA.

    “The multiple solvents were also used at various temperatures, which were needed to prevent cross-reactions. ”

    Only a single temperature is mentioned—room temp for the reaction step, which is the only step significant to the results. (The reaction was shielded from air—the earth’s atmosphere at prebiotic times differed greatly from the present, so this is reasonable.)

    When are the “multiple solvents” employed? (1) To prepare the materials—in the early environment, the materials would already have been there, so those solvents are immaterial to the results (2) To stop the reaction in order to analyze the reaction products—the reactions have already occurred at that point. (3) To analyze the products, to find out what had happened during the reaction. Again, the solvents had no effect in determining what products had already appeared, but are used only to identify them.

    So the only artificial “controlled conditions” occurred during preparation of the starting materials and analysis of the results. During the reaction itself, it seems that the materials were at room temp in the absence of air, with gentle mixing—as would occur in a gentle water current.

    Michael, time for another pop quiz: Name any “cross-reactions” that might have occurred during the reaction itself from any artificial conditions imposed. Name any solvent other than water used during the reaction phase of the experiment. Name any temperature other than room temp used during the reaction.

    Oh, wait. Here’s an even simpler question: Michael, what is Yarus’ hypothesis in this paper? Since you dispute the evidence for it, what is it, actually?

    I thought not.

    You still have no idea what you’re talking about. Your real goal is not to advance evidence for creation, but only to deceive your readers with a tattered cloak of knowledge. Does your faith really tell you to engage in that kind of dishonesty?

    I hope not.

  3. Looks to me like the usual Naturalistic methodology of a lot of unsubstantiated theory padded around inconclusive data.

  4. Dom: “Looks to me like the usual Naturalistic methodology of a lot of unsubstantiated theory padded around inconclusive data.”

    You’re on, Dom. Full text of the PNAS article is available for free.

    Describe in your own words the hypothesis that the paper investigates, what “theory” presented by the paper is not substantiated, and why it is not substantiated.

    After that, you can describe the result data obtained in the experiment, and why they are “inconclusive.”

    Your turn, Dom.

    Or are you just sneering in the dark, as usual.

  5. Michael remains silent on his qualifications to discuss scientific matters, after challenging mine and receiving them.

    Michael: “What are your science qualifications? By your conduct, I suspect it’s not that much…lol”

    Olorin: “It’s still your turn for telling us all about your qualifications. We need to know whether your posts result from towering ignorance (if you have no qualifications) or from deliberate lies (if you do).”

    It’s still your turn, Michael. And it’s still your turn to provide hit data after you challenged Eelco’s estimate of your readership. And it’s still your turn to provide the substantive review of Stephen Meyter’s “Signature in the Cell” that you promised last August.

    Typical creationist. Bluster and fold. Bluster again and fold again. Do you really think no one will notice?


    But back to the PNAS article that Michael dismisses in this post.

    It’s even worse than you thought, Michael. The paper presents experimental evidence for one very simple RNA capable of protein synthesis. But there is more yet to come—

    PNAS: “The ultimate importance of these observations may be partly in the unknown number of other reactions that can be accelerated by comparatively small RNAs. This is because for each such minuscule RNA reaction, there is a prima facie case that it would become accessible even after the most primitive ribonucleotide polymerization.”

    In other words, there may be RNA for thousands of different reactions even in a tiny fraction of a gram of primitive RNA.

    PNAS: “Essential intermediates in protein biosynthesis therefore arise surprisingly easily in the presence of short RNAs.”

  6. Dom: “Looks to me like the usual Naturalistic methodology of a lot of unsubstantiated theory padded around inconclusive data.

    Looks to me like the usual creationist crapology of a lot of unsubstantiated denialism padded around with zero evidence.

    Try harder, Dom. Simple spleen won’t do the job.

  7. Michael: I’d also like to see the hit data for this blog, to see whether my earlier prediction actually holds. Typical scientist, me, but you have the data that can prove or disprove my hypothesis on the readership of this blog ….

  8. Duck and run, Michael!

    Eelco has again called your bluff about readership. (Feb. 18 comment to your Feb. 5 post)

    You also owe me your qualifications to discuss any kind of science. (Mar. 5 comment to your Feb. 27 post)

    You can run, but you can’t hide.

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