Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life


  • J.T. Trevors,

    Corresponding author
    1. Laboratory of Microbial Technology, Department of Environmental Biology, Room 3220, Bovey Building, University of Guelph, Guelph, Ontario, Canada, N1G 2W1
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  • D.L. Abel

    1. The Gene Emergence Project, The Origin-of-Life Foundation Inc., 113 Hedgewood Dr., Greenbelt, MD 20770-1610, USA
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Corresponding author. Tel.: +1 519 824 4120x53367; fax: +1 519 837 0442.


Where and how did the complex genetic instruction set programmed into DNA come into existence? The genetic set may have arisen elsewhere and was transported to the Earth. If not, it arose on the Earth, and became the genetic code in a previous lifeless, physical—chemical world. Even if RNA or DNA were inserted into a lifeless world, they would not contain any genetic instructions unless each nucleotide selection in the sequence was programmed for function. Even then, a predetermined communication system would have had to be in place for any message to be understood at the destination. Transcription and translation would not necessarily have been needed in an RNA world. Ribozymes could have accomplished some of the simpler functions of current protein enzymes. Templating of single RNA strands followed by retemplating back to a sense strand could have occurred. But this process does not explain the derivation of “sense” in any strand. “Sense” means algorithmic function achieved through sequences of certain decision-node switch-settings. These particular primary structures determine secondary and tertiary structures. Each sequence determines minimum-free-energy folding propensities, binding site specificity, and function. Minimal metabolism would be needed for cells to be capable of growth and division. All known metabolism is cybernetic—that is, it is programmatically and algorithmically organized and controlled.