Dr Don Batten engages in an exchange with long-time sceptical correspondent Dr Richard M. (in red) from the United States, who writes in response to Is ATP synthase found in all life? concerning whether or not the hypothetical ‘first life’ needed to be cellular.

Dear CMI,

Brian Thomas, along with virtually all other creationists (as well as some evolutionists, unfortunately), makes the tacit but unwavering assumption that there was in the past some entity that they call the “first cell.” This implies a sharp and distinct line between the chemistry of life and of non-life and further that cellularity is a prerequisite for life. This is an assumption, and a shaky one at that. It is much more likely that that this “demarcation line” was instead a broad area in which many configurations came and went before cellularity was well established. We have in the present world instances of acellular organisms, as well as borderline forms such as viruses. Holding up the “first cell” as a prerequisite entity is a ‘straw man;’ other possibilities are readily conceivable and are the subject of scientific investigation.

Dear Richard,

Maybe the evolutionists who recognize that there must have been a first cell that allowed reproduction are actually correct. You ought to know that viruses are not ‘borderline forms’ of life at all, but are wholly dependent on the panoply of cellular enzymes, ribosomes, tRNAs and cofactors for production of their proteins and replication of their DNA or RNA. Furthermore, even evolutionary virologists are increasingly recognizing that viruses are derived from cellular life; they are not the precursors of life….

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