"The 'RNA world' scenario hinges on some rather far-fetched assumptions about the catalytic ability of RNA. For example, RNA polymerase ribozymes must have been responsible for replicating the ribozymes of the RNA world, including themselves (via their complementary sequences). RNA replication is a very challenging set of reactions -- far more challenging than those yet known to be catalyzed by RNA."
"Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. There is no publication in the scientific literature in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred. There are assertions that such evolution occurred, but absolutely none are supported by pertinent experiments or calculations."
"Between a living cell and the most highly ordered non-biological system, such as a crystal or a snowflake, there is a chasm as vast and absolute as it is possible to conceive."
Evolution: A Theory in Crisis
Bethesda, MD: Adler and Adler Publishers, Inc., 1986
"Over the past sixty years, dedicated and skillful scientists have devoted much effort and ink to the origin of life, with remarkably little to show for it. Judging by the volume of literature, both experimental and theoretical, the inquiry has thrived prodigiously. But unlike more conventional fields of biological research, the study of life's origins has failed to generate a coherent and persuasive framework that gives meaning to the growing heap of data and speculation; and this suggests that we may still be missing some essential insight."
"The likelihood of the formation of life from inanimate matter is one to a number with 40,000 noughts after it .... It is big enough to bury Darwin and the whole theory of Evolution."
"If there were a basic principle of matter which somehow drove organic systems toward life, its existence should easily be demonstrable in the laboratory. One could, for instance, take a swimming bath to represent the primordial soup. Fill it with any chemicals of a non-biological nature you please. Pump any gases over it, or through it, you please, and shine any kind of radiation on it that takes your fancy. Let the experiment proceed for a year and see how many of those 2,000 enzymes [proteins produced by living cells] have appeared in the bath. I will give the answer, and so save the time and trouble and expense of actually doing the experiment. You would find nothing at all, except possibly for a tarry sludge composed of amino acids and other simple organic chemicals. How can I be so confident of this statement? Well, if it were otherwise, the experiment would long since have been done and would be well-known and famous throughout the world. The cost of it would be trivial compared to the cost of landing a man on the Moon." ...
"In short there is not a shred of objective evidence to support the hypothesis that life began in an organic soup here on the Earth."
"The origin of life is one of the hardest problems in all of science, but it is also one of the most important. Origin-of-life research has evolved into a lively, inter-disciplinary field, but other scientists often view it with skepticism and even derision. This attitude is understandable and, in a sense, perhaps justified, given the "dirty" rarely mentioned secret: Despite many interesting results to its credit, when judged by the straightforward criterion of reaching (or even approaching) the ultimate goal, the origin of life field is a failure - we still do not have even a plausible coherent model, let alone a validated scenario, for the emergence of life on Earth. Certainly, this is due not to a lack of experimental and theoretical effort, but to the extraordinary intrinsic difficulty and complexity of the problem. A succession of exceedingly unlikely steps is essential for the origin of life, from the synthesis and accumulation of nucleotides to the origin of translation; through the multiplication of probabilities, these make the final outcome seem almost like a miracle."
"Under slightly reducing conditions, the Miller-Urey action does not produce amino acids, nor does it produce the chemicals that may serve as the predecessors of other important biopolymer building blocks. Thus, by challenging the assumption of a reducing atmosphere, we challenge the very existence of the "prebiotic soup", with its richness of biologically important organic compounds. Moreover, so far, no geochemical evidence for the existence of a prebiotic soup has been published. Indeed, a number of scientists have challenged the prebiotic soup concept, noting that even if it existed, the concentration of organic building blocks in it would have been too small to be meaningful for prebiotic evolution."
"The third step, according to our hypothesis, was the gradual emergence of teleonomic systems which, around replicative structures, were to construct an organism, a primative cell. It is here that one reaches the real "sound wall," for we have no idea what the structure of a primitive cell might have been.... the simplest cells available to us for study have nothing "primitive" about them.... The development of the metabolic system, which, as the primordial soup thinned, must have "learned" to mobilize chemical potential and to synthesize the cellular components, poses Herculean problems. So also does the emergence of the selectively permeable membrane without which there can be no viable cell. But the major problem is the origin of the genetic code and its translation mechanism. Indeed, instead of a problem it ought rather to be called a riddle.
The code is meaniningless unless translated. The modern cell's translating machinery consists of at least fifty macromolecular components WHICH ARE THEMSELVES CODED IN DNA: THE CODE CANNOT BE TRANSLATED OTHERWISE THAN BY PRODUCTS OF TRANSLATION [emphasis original]. It is the modern expression of omne vivum ex ovo [all life from eggs, or idiomatically, what came first, the chicken or the egg?]. When and how did this circle become closed? It is exceedingly difficult to imagine."
"There is no agreement on the extent to which metabolism could develop independently of a genetic material. In my opinion, there is no basis in known chemistry for the belief that long sequences of reactions can organize spontaneously -- and every reason to believe that they cannot. The problem of achieving sufficient specificity, whether in aqueous solution or on the surface of a mineral, is so severe that the chance of closing a cycle of reactions as complex as the reverse citric acid cycle, for example, is negligible."
Thomas Huxley, believing that finite time and chance could produce vast amounts of information, claimed that six monkeys, typing randomly for millions of years, would eventually type out all of the books in thee British Museum. Those who have done the math know otherwise.
“Huxley was hopelessly wrong in stating that six monkeys allowed enormous time would randomly type all the books in the British Museum when in fact they could only type half a line of one book if they typed for the duration of the universe.
“… troops of monkeys thundering away at random on typewriters could not produce the works of Shakespeare, for the practical reason that the whole observable universe is not large enough to contain the necessary monkey hordes, the necessary typewriters, and certainly the waste paper baskets required for the deposition of wrong attempts. The same is true of living material.”
Fred Hoyle and Chandra Wickramasinghe
Evolution From Space
London: J.M. Dent & Sons, 1981, p. 148
"However, it is now held to be highly unlikely that the conditions used in these experiments [i.e., the modeling of strongly reducing atmospheres] could represent those in the Archean atmosphere. Even so, scientific articles still occasionally appear that report experiments modeled on these conditions and explicitly or tacitly claim the presence of resulting products in reactive concentrations "on the primordial Earth" or in a "prebiotic soup". The idea of such a "soup" containing all desired organic molecules in concentrated form in the ocean has been a misleading concept against which objections were raised early (see, e.g., Sillen 1965). Nonetheless, it still appears in popular presentations perhaps partly because of its gustatory associations."
"A related casualty of the organic aridity of a near-neutral atmosphere is the concept of solution in the ocean, taken for granted almost automatically in much of the literature as the site of early chemical evolution toward complex biomolecules. The dilution in the ocean of soluble compounds from any weak source is forbidding; already sparse, unstable molecules introduced in a volume of 1.3 x 10^9 km3 of seawater are mutually unreactive and hardly retrievable by evaporation or other means."
"Unfortunately for the theory of extraterrestrial seeding, in all the samples we checked the amounts of AIB deposited were either undetectable or pitifully small. Only one ice sample, approximately 4,500 years old, showed detectable quantities of AIB. Ice samples dating from 1908 showed no traces of it, indicating that the Tunguska object did not deliver an appreciable organic signal to the earth. In sediments from the KT boundary, we measured about 0.00005 gram of AIB for every square centimeter of the KT-boundary surface. If similar amounts of AIB were distributed over the entire surface of the earth (a generous assumption), then, in chemical terms, they would have created a two-billionths molar solution of AIB. That is like stirring a teaspoonful of sugar into a six-foot-deep swimming pool the size of a football field - too dilute a soup, in my opinion, for any kind of organic chemistry. The 4,500-year-old event recorded in the ice would have created a similarly dilute AIB solution. Even if (as Sagan and his colleagues have estimated) cosmic debris struck the prebiotic earth at 10,000 times the present levels, the resultant prebiotic soup would still have been much too weak, I believe, to engender life."
Jeffery Bada proposed a "Cold Soup" theory in which the primitive Earth was completely frozen over due to the dim young sun, which was only about 70% as luminous then as now, providing more stability for organic molecules trapped in the ocean underneath the ice layer. However, as with all other prebiotic models, it has some serious flaws.
"Oxygen isotope measurements (Knauth and Lowe 1978) and petrological observations (Cost et al. 1980) have been taken as indications of high water temperatures associated with the Archean banded-iron formations. The nature of the oldest known sedimentary rocks contributes testimony to a liquid hydrosphere persisting from the earliest recorded stages of the history of the Earth 3850 million years ago."
"Yet the record shows that this chilly fate didn't befall Earth or at least not for very long. Not only are there clear signs of life at 3.5 billion years ago, there are signs of running water and erosion too. And traces of photosynthesis a telltale pattern of isotopes found in marine rocks from about 2.7 billion years ago make it seem unlikely that the oceans were constantly frozen over, says Knoll."
Another objection to the "Cold Soup" theory is that, in general, chemical reaction rates decrease by 50% for each decrease of 10 degrees Celsius. So just how much would chemicals be reacting if they were in an ice-covered ocean on a frozen Earth?
"Temperature has a striking effect on the rate of chemical reactions. Reaction rates that are negligible at ordinary temperatures may become appreciable and even explosive at high temperatures. A rough useful approximation is that the rate of many chemical reactions is doubled for an increase of 10 Celsius degrees in temperature."
"One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom, a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written."
Using information theory, astrophysicist Edward Argyle calculated the probability that a single organism arose on the early Earth by chance. Argyle concluded: “It would seem impossible for the prebiotic Earth to have generated more than about 200 bits of information, an amount that falls short of the 6 million bits in E. coli by a factor of 30,000.”
“Chance and the Origin of Life”
Extraterrestrials – Where Are They?
Cambridge University Press, 1995
The simplest known organism which is capable of independent existence includes about 100 different genes. For each of 100 different specific genes to be formed spontaneously (in 10 billion years) the probability is 2 raised to the power of -100 raised to the power of 100 (or one chance in 10 followed by 3,000 zeroes). For them to be formed at the same time, and in close proximity, the probability is much lower.”
“Atmospheric Evolution, the Drake Equation and DNA: Sparse Life in an Infinite Universe”
Extraterrestrials – Where Are They?
Cambridge University Press, 1995