Growing up I was taught that the only valid theory of how we got here, of how life developed on this earth was the theory of evolution. If anyone dared to suggest that there might be some other explanation they were derided as crock-pots or religious fanatics. From as far back as 1925 and the hotly contested Scopes trial those that don’t believe in evolution as the origin of life have benn considered backwoods, ill-educated bumpkins. Evolution itself is taught more as fact than theory. It is, however, its theoretical under-pinning’s which need to examined in greater detail. In the light of modern science, much of the basis by which evolution is touted as fact is fallacious.
Evolution presents two key arguments at its very core. The first was that in isolated environments gene mutations created distinctive traits in certain populations of a species. The second was that when the assumed primitive earth atmosphere was subjected to electrical discharge basic amino acids were created. Let’s examine these two arguments in greater detail.
Taking the second argument first. The idea that the compounds in the primordial soup could randomly organize themselves into higher life forms seem far fetched to me. Even given the “Billions of Years” in which to do so, this feet seems unlikely as it opposes one of the principles of physics, that given the opportunity systems lose organization. They seek increased entropy, not increased complexity.
Looking at the cell as one of the simplest forms of life, how likely is it that this soup arranged itself into RNA and DNA with the ability to replicate itself, coordinate that replication to maintain an electrolyte balance, programmatically replace just the proteins required for continued life, and arrange to take in big molecules through 1000s of specific transporters in the lipid bilayer wall? (which randomly assembled itself around a separate membrane to house a cell nucleus.) Even the process of making new proteins requires coded DNA, and three types of RNA as well as ribosomal molecules that provide highly organized platforms to assemble proteins and then transport them to their destination. .Was all this complexity by chance only? In fact, this paragraph barely scratches the complexity of one simple cell.
Only recently with the help of powerful computers have we been able to synthesize DNA. Even doing that has required using existing DNA as a model. To date no life giving DNA has been created by chance. The point is that none of the most rudimentary processes of life can be demonstrated to have resulted from the combination of time, electricity and primordial soup. At best, this makes evolution a theory with a lot of unknowns, or holes depending how you look at it.
But what about Darwin’s finches? Looking at these or a myriad of other traits one thing remains evident, they are still finches expressing combinations of genetic material still within the finch genus. If survival of the fittest is an accurate description of the evolutionary process then many of the “Intermediate Forms” would never have existed. Nature has provided a mind boggling array of diversity. Even as small a thing as a bobcat, does not turn into a lion. If cells can’t assemble themselves how would creatures do so?
I have my own beliefs as to the origin of life, but for now I would argue that the theory of evolution leaves more questions on the table than answers. In the meanwhile I am going down to my lab. I have some NH3, H2O, CH4, and H2. With a little lightening I should be able to make a dragon or two. I just need a billion years or so.