Todayâ€™s New York Times features an article by science writer
Nicholas Wade highlighting what Wade calls â€śsurprising advances [that] have
renewed confidence that a terrestrial explanation for lifeâ€™s origins will
Yet the scientists quoted in the article fail
to address the fundamental issue that has generated the longstanding impasse in
the field: the problem of the origin of biological information.
describes the various developments in pre-biotic chemistry that are making some
scientists more optimistic about solving the problem of the origin of life. Yet,
the central problem facing them is not the synthesis of pre-biotic building
blocks or even discovering an environment in which life might have plausibly
arisenâ€”difficult as these problems have proven to be. Instead, the fundamental
problem is getting the chemical building blocks to arrange themselves into the
large information-bearing molecules (such as DNA and RNA) that direct the show
in living cells.
Even the experiments of Gerald Joyce that Wade
describes do not address this problem. The â€śself-replicatingâ€ť RNA molecules that
Joyce constructs are not capable of copying a template of information from free
standing chemical subunits as the polymerase machinery does in actual cells.
Instead, in Joyceâ€™s experiment, a pre-synthesized specifically-sequenced RNA
molecule merely catalyzes a single chemical bond, thus fusing two other
pre-synthesized partial RNA chains. More significantly, Joyce intelligently
arranged the matching base sequences in these RNA chains. Thus, as my
forthcoming book Signature in the Cell shows, Joyceâ€™s
experiments not only demonstrate that self-replication itself depends upon
information-rich molecules, but they also confirm that intelligent design is the
only known means by which information arises.