The origin of life clearly requires a major leap in complexity, but not just any complexity.  A conglomerate rock is complex, but not alive.  Life has functional complexity – the ability to selectively take in materials to grow, move and reproduce.  Life also requires growth, but not just any growth.  Fire grows and reproduces, but is not alive, whereas a living cell grows and reproduces according to internal programmed instructions.  Evolutionists think the origin of life by natural causes is a tractable problem that will eventually be solved.  Let’s see a couple of examples of how their work is coming along.

Metabolism-first domino effect:  In the long-standing debate between genetics-first and metabolism-first scenarios for how life began (see 1/26/2008), Günter Wächtershäuser has been a strong advocate for the latter.  Working his ideas into experimental form has been the project of Claudia Huber and Wolfgang Eisenreich at the Munich Technical University.  PhysOrg reported that they believe a single, fortuitous reaction can lead to an avalanche of fruitful chemical products, like the first falling domino can trigger cannons firing, pinwheels turning and all kinds of downstream effects.

Like JPL’s Michael Russell, Wächtershäuser and colleagues envision deep sea hot-water vents as ideal settings for where life began: “it is precisely this extreme environment, where the two mechanisms could have emerged, which are at the root of all life: The multiplication of biomolecules (reproduction) and the emergence of new biomolecules on the basis of previously formed biomolecules (evolution). ”  This glittering generality ignores serious problems like destructive cross-reactions, the conundrum of homochirality, and error catastrophe from inaccurate reproduction.

Nevertheless, Huber’s experiments seem to show that a self-stimulating mechanism is possible: some transition metals like nickel aided the production of new molecules starting with some simple amino acids.  Wächtershäuser’s imagination went spinning: “Life arises, if subsequently a whole cascade of further couplings takes place, and this primordial life leads eventually to the formation of genetic material and of the first cells” (gaps to be filled in later, since his metabolism-first theory doesn’t concern itself with genetics)….

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