So what progress has science made over the past 60 years? I just counted the number of papers and articles on the origin of life I have filed on my computer—54, and that is only a small sampling of what is out there. Reviewing this collection, the news is not good … we are still working on a plausible, reproducible process for the first step.
A recent review paper provides a current summary…
“The origins of life stands among the great open scientific questions of our time. While a number of proposals exist for possible starting points in the pathway from non-living to living matter, these have so far not achieved states of complexity that are anywhere near that of even the simplest living systems. … The hope is that a theory akin to our other theories in fundamental physics might one day emerge to explain the phenomenon of life, and in turn finally permit solving its origins.” (S. Walker, ‘Origins of life: a problem for physics, a key issues review’, Rep. Prog. Phys. 80, 2017.)
But there is an elephant in the room.
We know that intelligent minds can build pretty amazing things and write digital software. We have even started designing artificial proteins ourselves–intelligent design in action, if you will.(5,6) Almost nobody is keen to talk about this possibility in the halls of science, but two Russian scientists have shown that the genetic code cannot have a natural origin. They summarize their results in the abstract of their paper in one of the most prestigious journals in the field of solar system studies ….
“Here we show that the terrestrial code displays a thorough precision-type orderliness matching the criteria to be considered an informational signal. … (the null hypothesis that they are due to chance coupled with presumable evolutionary pathways is rejected with P-value < 10^–13). … extraction of the signal involves logically straightforward but abstract operations, making the patterns essentially irreducible to natural origin.” (v. shCherback & M. Makukov, ‘The “Wow! signal” of the terrestrial genetic code’, Icarus, 2013.)
The “p-value” in science is a way of calculating whether you should reject the “null hypothesis”, usually, if it is less than 0.05 (some argue for 0.005)(8). As you can see in the summary above, the hypothesis that evolution could produce the genetic code has a p-value so small that it must be soundly rejected by science. We can consider the theory that nature created the genetic code, as scientifically falsified. More.
The idea that nature just happened to create the genetic code won’t be considered scientifically falsified under any circumstances. It is fundamental to the script the researchers are working from. Prediction: Even if another answer could be shown to be correct and much more fruitful for further research, they would still reject it as “not science.”
See also: Is origin of life simply an attempt at history without hard data?
Origin of life: Rob Sheldon on “lies, damn lies, and models”
What we know and don’t know about the origin of life