Re: Question regarding evolution.

Stephen Barnard (
Thu, 17 Oct 1996 18:47:57 -0800

lemnitz wrote:
> I have a question regarding the origin of life, and not being an authority
> on the subject, I thought I'd ask it here.
> What I understand of evolutionary theory indicates that life evolved from
> chance combinations of chemicals, with the heat and pressure of earth's
> atmosphere acting as a catalyst. Apparently, simple amino acids and such
> were formed from these chemical reactions, and from this we infer that
> single-celled life was also a possibility.
> My question is this:
> Assuming that a form of life, however simple, could be spontaneously
> created from it's chemical components, how would it reproduce? As far
> as I can tell, the first organism would have had to posess these
> attributes:
> - A DNA system, or perhaps a precursor to DNA - necessary for storing it's
> genetic makeup.
> - A system to transmit this information to its offspring, however simple.
> - Some apparatus capable of building a new organism based on the DNA.
> - A system for absorbing from its surroundings the energy necessary for
> reproduction.
> Obviously, were these not in place, the organism would eventually die, and
> earth would be back where it started - lifeless. Looking back on what I've
> just written, I suppose my real question is this: Am I to believe that a
> spontaneously produced creature could possibly be as complicated as I've
> loosely detailed here, and if not, where have I erred?
> I'd appreciate any light you could shed on this subject. None of my
> professors have been able to even begin to answer my question.
> --
> ______ ____
> _|___ || _| Jason Hickner
> | | | -=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-
> \ || | "Natura enim simplex est, et rerum
> \ ____||____| causis superfluis non luxuriat." - Newton

The origin of self-reproducing life in now a mystery, and don't let
anyone tell you differently. There are speculative theories, from clay
quasi-crystals to autocatalytic chemical reactions, but the fact is that
nobody knows. One of these days we will know, or at least have a very
probable hypothesis. For now it remains one of the most interesting and
speculative topics in biology.

Steve Barnard