Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins

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Intelligent Design, the best explanation of Origins » Origin of life » Do viruses help explain the origin of life?

Do viruses help explain the origin of life?

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1Do viruses help explain the origin of life? Empty Do viruses help explain the origin of life? on Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:07 pm


Do viruses help explain the origin of life?

Koonin estimates that the likelihood of life’s evolving anywhere in the observable universe over its 13.8-billion-year lifetime is just 1 in 101,018 – that’s 1 in 1 followed by 1,018 zeroes! And that’s an estimate that Koonin himself describes as generous, in an article he wrote in 2007, titled, The Cosmological Model of Eternal Inflation and the Transition from Chance to Biological Evolution in the History of Life (Biology Direct 2 (2007): 15, doi:10.1186/1745-6150-2-15).

In the passage below, the term “O-region” refers to an observable universe, like our own. Koonin considers the emergence of life in our observable universe to be such an unlikely event that he is forced to postulate the existence of a vast and possibly infinite number of universes like our own, in order to make the origin of life somewhere reasonably probable. Even assuming the existence of self-replicating RNA molecules, the difficulty of generating a translation-replication system (which is found in all cellular organisms) by a process of Darwinian selection is truly staggering. As Koonin puts it:

In other words, even in this toy model that assumes a deliberately inflated rate of RNA production, the probability that a coupled translation-replication emerges by chance in a single O-region is P < 10-1018. Obviously, this version of the breakthrough stage can be considered only in the context of a universe with an infinite (or, at the very least, extremely vast) number of O-regions.

Dolja contends that cells could not have evolved without viruses, as they need reverse transcriptase (which is found only in viruses) in order to move from RNA to DNA.

In other words, instead of helping to solve the problem of the origin of life on Earth, recent research has only served to highlight one of its central paradoxes. And yet the science media reports the latest discoveries as if the solution is just around the corner. Don’t you find that just a little strange?

Last edited by Admin on Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:54 pm; edited 1 time in total

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On the Origin of Life

I'm no professional biochemist, but here's something very

which I haven't seen anyone explain before. I think that the single, miraculous, random event that keyed L.I.F.E...

reverse transcriptase.
Or, you might say, the random assembly of nucleotides comprising, suddenly, the RNA sequence from which RT is generated. The idea is that...
1) in a puddle of nucleotides, fats, and amino acids, all expectably present in the pre-life Earth environment, carrying out some natural level of protein synthesis weakly and slowly,
2) where the nucleotides in the puddle would combine in random sequences by the weak chemical bonding natural to them, (all expectable), these sequences being small RNAs and DNAs, and
3) where from those RNAs are generated proteins, using the amino acids and the driving energy of day/night cycling (all expectable), then
4) one of the RNA sequences generated was the random RNA which happens to be the one that codes for reverse transcriptase. This event (4) is the key, single, almost-but-not-actually-miraculous, random event in the creation of life according to this view. Then,
5) that RNA produced one or more reverse transcriptases using the protein synthesis going on in the puddle, and
6) the reverse transcriptase started doing its wonderful thing, which is generating a lot of DNAs from the nearby RNAs, and it's no miracle that that would include the DNA that its own RNA conceptually determines,
7) I have to wave my hands about the transcription of DNAs to RNAs, because now we have DNAs and need to get to the same RNA again, but once we get that, then
8 ) an extra copy of the RNA for reverse transcriptase appears having been transcribed from that DNA. Presto, reproduction.
8  ) Lots of copies of reverse transcriptase and its RNA and DNA can quite reasonably fall out of this without any miracle required, since it is right there in the soup next to its own RNA and can keep making lots of DNAs over and over. And so then
9) with reverse transcriptase floating about, converting randomly-generated RNAs into DNAs which themselves transcribe into RNAs, the soup now has a bunch of random RNA/DNA strings undergoing replication, along with a lot of replication engines and replication systems for the replication engine itself. So
10) then Darwin's logic applies: More replicatable stuff that randomly occurs, that happens to work better at being around for replication, and that therefore survives longer in the environment of replicating engines, will happen to get replicated more, and thus there will be a drift towards adaptive and useful parts, and to their combination in adaptive and useful ways, since those parts and combinations happen to be around longer and thus are present for replication more and therefore are replicated more often and therefore come to be more common.
So that is my idea of the essence of the evolution of life. There apparently were greasy puddles of nucleotides in the right part of the planet's evolution, undergoing day/night heat cycling and able to do protein synthesis without further aids. So with the one miracle of the random coming-together of the RNA for reverse transcriptase, the rest seems to be just cool and wonderful, but not actually dependent on God to overcome the infinite improbability of it all.

Last edited by Admin on Sun Jun 21, 2015 8:54 pm; edited 2 times in total

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3Do viruses help explain the origin of life? Empty RNA, HIV, and the Origins of Life on Sun Jun 21, 2015 3:14 pm


RNA, HIV, and the Origins of Life

The central dogma of Molecular Genetics is that information flow is unidirectional:  DNA to RNA to PROTEIN.  That is, DNA holds the blueprints, RNA is the messenger, and Proteins are the constructed functional units of life.

This dogma seems to hold for most of the species on the planet.  From bacteria to humans to insects, the central dogma acts as a unifying theory of life’s architecture.   But, there are a few key exceptions.

The first is that in some viruses, there is no DNA at all!  Instead, they used RNA exclusively for their coding.  Among these are the viruses that cause the common cold, flu, polio, and hepatitis.  In these, the flow of information is simply:  RNA to PROTEIN.

Another remarkable exception to the central dogma is that of retroviruses.  These break a big rule!  (Namely, that flow of information is unidirectional.)  A retrovirus is so called because it, like the above viruses begins with RNA, but it is able (by way of an enzyme called, appropriately, “reverse transcriptase”) to catalyze the formation of DNA from its RNA molecule.  The flow of information is then:  RNA to DNA to RNA to PROTEIN.   HIV is an example of a retrovirus.  It gets into the cell, creates new DNA that then incorporates itself into the hosts chromosome and gets nasty.

Why is this important to the discussion about evolution and life’s origins?  Because it is highly unlikely that life began with DNA.  DNA is far too complex, secure, and doesn’t have the enzymatic properties of RNA.  DNA is double stranded where RNA is single stranded.  This makes RNA more able to react chemically with other molecules in the environment.

In spite of how remarkably important it is to life on the planet today, DNA at one time didn’t exist.  But, that doesn’t mean life didn’t exist.  The first complex organisms may have been RNA carrying viruses.

Could a retrovirus be responsible for creating the first DNA carrying organism?  I dunno, but it’s an interesting question.

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