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Open Mic: Evolution: Prebiotic Soup by Hannah Chen

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed herein are those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of clay Magazine or TPS.

Centuries ago, society generally accepted the belief that life can arise from non-living forms. However, the experiments of Francesco Redi in 1668 and Louis Pasteur in the 1860’s proved that spontaneous generation was impossible. Yet, to this day, the entire theory of evolution leans heavily on the belief that life originated through chemical reactions and natural processes. The widely accepted Oparin-Haldane hypothesis states that the Earth’s early atmosphere consisted mainly of carbon dioxide, methane, water vapor, and ammonia. Energy sources then caused the gases to react, forming organic compounds such as amino acids and nucleotides. The compounds “rained” down into the earth’s ocean, creating a rich “soup” known as prebiotic or primordial soup. Next, through cross reactions in the primitive ocean, proteins, RNA, DNA, lipids, and carbohydrates formed, which became the first living cells. Yet the question remains; is the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis scientifically accurate?

Under the environmental conditions provided by the hypothesis, energy can be both beneficial and detrimental. Since the atmospheric gases would not naturally react to form compounds, energy, whether in the form of ultraviolet rays, cosmic rays, radioactivity, lightning bolts, or heat, must have been present to cause the reactions. Unfortunately, the same energy which causes the molecules to form would also cause them to disintegrate. Since the compounds formed high up in the atmosphere, they would have been unable to quickly drop into the ocean where they are relatively protected from radiation. Yet, even if a few molecules managed to reach the ocean, the ultraviolet rays would still penetrate and destroy the remnants. Therefore, the possibility of the prebiotic soup forming is very minute, because energy acts as a double-edged sword.

Oxygen molecules in the atmosphere would have also decreased the likelihood of organic molecules forming. Ultraviolet rays from the sun break down some of the oxygen from its natural diatomic form (O2) and turn it into 2O. The remaining Oreacts with O to form O3, which is ozone.

As ozone absorbs the majority of destructive ultraviolet rays, it is necessary for the creation and sustaining of life. There are two possible kinds of atmospheres: a reducing atmosphere, which contains no oxygen, and an oxidizing atmosphere, which contains oxygen. In a reducing atmosphere, ozone would be unable to form from oxygen. Consequently, the organic compounds would not exist, due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet radiation. On the other hand, in an oxidizing atmosphere, even the smallest amount of oxygen present would oxidize all the gases, creating useless molecules or destroying all the organic compounds that managed to form. Thus, with or without oxygen, the molecules would not have formed in the early atmosphere.

If against all odds the prebiotic soup managed to form, the molecules have still to overcome great difficulties in forming living matter. First, in a prebiotic soup full of sundry chemicals, the amino acids would not naturally react with each other to form proteins, nor would sugars react to form carbohydrates. On the contrary, the useful chemicals would be tied up “in cumbersome masses of cross-reactions” (Davis and Kenyon 49). Furthermore, organic molecules may be chemically equivalent but structurally different. For example, scientists split amino acids into two different groups: L-amino acids and D-amino acids because they are exact mirrors of each other, similar to one’s right and left hand.

Only L-amino acids react together to form proteins. Similarly, only D-sugars react to form carbohydrates. In real life and in simulation experiments, these molecules are always found in racemic mixtures, containing fifty percent D-molecules and fifty percent L-molecules. Consequently, unless the L-amino acids and D-sugars were somehow separated from their counterparts and preserved, they would not have formed proteins and carbohydrates.

Even if L-amino acids were somehow preserved, they would have never formed proteins. In order for amino acids to react together in the right sequences, they require enzymes to act as catalysts. But these enzymes themselves are special proteins which require DNA to code for their “catalytic ability.” Unfortunately, the nucleotides which form DNA also require enzymes to act as catalysts. As a result, some scientists have proposed that RNA first existed, since it carries information and also has catalytic ability. But RNA also requires enzymes in order to form.

Therefore, it is evident that DNA and proteins require each other for formation and cannot arise through natural processes.

Thus, life cannot possibly have formed through the Oparin-Haldane hypothesis. First, the energy which causes the chemical compounds to form would also cause the chemicals to disintegrate. Second, if there was no oxygen, then the molecules would be exposed to ultraviolet radiation, which would destroy them. On the other hand, oxygen in the atmosphere would either create useless chemicals or decompose the organic compounds. Even if the prebiotic soup managed to exist, the organic compounds would not naturally react with each other to form useful chemicals for life. As a result, the best hypothesis science has offered for the origin of life through natural processes has utterly failed in its objective, and there is no other alternate explanation but intelligent design.

 

Works Cited

Davis, Percival and Dean H. Kenyon. Of Pandas and People. Edited by Charles B. Thaxton et al., Haughton Publishing Company, 1989, p. 49.

“How is Ozone Formed in the Atmosphere” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, 2010. https://csl.noaa.gov/assessments/ozone/2010/twentyquestions/Q2.pdf

Gaughan, Richard. “What Percent of UV Does the Ozone Absorb?”. Sciencing, 25 April, 2017 https://sciencing.com/percent-uv-ozone-absorb-20509.html

 

Photo Credits:

https://www.mun.ca/biology/scarr/Amino_Acid_stereoisomers.html

www.youtube.com/watch?v=p9K53vBKCys

https://www.chemistryviews.org/details/ezine/740799/Prebiotic_Soup.html

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Meet the Author

How old are you?

I am fourteen years old.

Where do you live?

We recently moved to Texas.

What classes are you taking with TPS?

I am taking English 3 Lit Analysis and Comp with Miss Shearon.

What is your favorite thing about writing?

My favorite thing about writing is that I get to share my thoughts and views with other people.

2 Comments

  1. I had to take AP Bio this year and all the theories about the origins of organic molecules were really confusing me, because I had never heard anyone address them from a biblical perspective; thanks so much for your explanation!

  2. Wow, this is really insightful and well written. Thank you for sharing, Hannah!