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RNA World worst hypothesis but for all the others?

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Harold Bernhardt3
Harold S. Bernhardt

Further to: Biochemist: Is RNA world wrong after all? (As noted before, if we really wanted researchers not to find out how life originated, we would urge that they continue with full-bore Darwinism), from BioMed Central, we learn from biochemist Harold S. Bernhardt:

The RNA world hypothesis: the worst theory of the early evolution of life (except for all the others)

Abstract:The problems associated with the RNA world hypothesis are well known. In the following I discuss some of these difficulties, some of the alternative hypotheses that have been proposed, and some of the problems with these alternative models. From a biosynthetic – as well as, arguably, evolutionary – perspective, DNA is a modified RNA, and so the chicken-and-egg dilemma of “which came first?” boils down to a choice between RNA and protein. This is not just a question of cause and effect, but also one of statistical likelihood, as the chance of two such different types of macromolecule arising simultaneously would appear unlikely. The RNA world hypothesis is an example of a ‘top down’ (or should it be ‘present back’?) approach to early evolution: how can we simplify modern biological systems to give a plausible evolutionary pathway that preserves continuity of function? The discovery that RNA possesses catalytic ability provides a potential solution: a single macromolecule could have originally carried out both replication and catalysis. RNA – which constitutes the genome of RNA viruses, and catalyzes peptide synthesis on the ribosome – could have been both the chicken and the egg! However, the following objections have been raised to the RNA world hypothesis: (i) RNA is too complex a molecule to have arisen prebiotically; (ii) RNA is inherently unstable; (iii) catalysis is a relatively rare property of long RNA sequences only; and (iv) the catalytic repertoire of RNA is too limited. I will offer some possible responses to these objections in the light of work by our and other labs. Finally, I will critically discuss an alternative theory to the RNA world hypothesis known as ‘proteins first’, which holds that proteins either preceded RNA in evolution, or – at the very least – that proteins and RNA coevolved. I will argue that, while theoretically possible, such a hypothesis is probably unprovable, and that the RNA world hypothesis, although far from perfect or complete, is the best we currently have to help understand the backstory to contemporary biology. (Public access)

So “proteins first” is unprovable and we should stick with RNA world because it is least worst? And no one thinks there is anything wrong with this picture?

How about starting by determining ways we know that information is generated – instead of clinging to Darwinian evolution natural selection acting on random mutations; survival of the fittest, etc.), which is surprisingly hard to demonstrate as a source of information?

Is the reason for not addressing the information problem head-on – instead of through the obviously feeble claims for Darwinism today –  that intelligence and design may then be shown as real in our universe and not simply a user illusion generated by neurons? Then this is simply a fair assessment: These researchers don’t want to confront facts. They   want to protect and propagate a belief system they can live on, despite a century and a half of unworkable ideas.

See also: Welcome to “RNA world,” the five-star hotel of origin-of-life theories


Maybe if we throw enough models at the origin of life… some of them will stick?

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2 Replies to “RNA World worst hypothesis but for all the others?

  1. 1
    Mung says:

    Both “RNA first” and “protein first” miss an essential ingredient for life capable of Darwinian evolution.

    The cell as a trinity

    The Ribotype Theory on the Origin of Life (PDF)

    Chance and necessity do not explain the origin of life

  2. 2
    johnspenn says:

    How do these guys do it? They keep relentlessly beating their heads against the wall (or kicking against the pricks, if you prefer) trying to prove the impossible (i.e. life arose in an undirected process through chance forces of physics and chemistry).

    Guys, come on over to the dark side. Jesus is a nice fella, once you get to know him, I promise!

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