CHEMISTRY - On the Origin of the First Species

Dr. Edward Peltzer recently gave a lecture, "On the Origin of the First Species - Abiogenesis: The Faith and the Facts," at the University of California at Santa Barbara. Click on his photo to view the lecture.

On the Origin of the First Species

Dr. Edward Peltzer at UC Santa Barbara


Based upon the information content of the simplest irreducibly complex form of life, and the astronomical improbability of life arising on Earth through time, chance, and natural processes, Dr. Francis Crick, co-discoverer of DNA, has advanced the hypothesis of directed panspermia, the idea that life was sent to Earth from somewhere in outer space. Despite the difficulties in life arising somewhere else in the Cosmos and then being transported to Earth, he was convinced that this hypothesis was much more probable given the time-constraints and chemical conditions on the early Earth.

Is such an inference to an unobserved intelligence rational? Is it possible? Is it a valid scientific explanation? If you believe that it is rational and possible, but not a valid scientific explanation, explain. If you said "yes" to all three, explain.

If the previously unobserved intelligence took on human form, visited our planet, and had the ability to raise the dead back to life, would the explanation of life arising through intelligent intervention be considered scientific? Would you have reason to doubt the belief that life arose on Earth through time, chance, and natural processes alone? If time, chance, and natural chemical reactions alone inhibited life from occurring naturally, would the Law of Biogenesis (the Law that life arises only from pre-existing life) be considered good science?

Would students be more or less motivated to do future scientific research if they were exposed to the weakneses and/or problems with current theories and beliefs?


How were the first chemicals formed? What degree of fine-tuning was required to expand the Periodic Table beyond Hydrogen?

How does Chemistry point back to Physics and ultimately the need for a Creator of space-time, and matter-energy?

Does the information content of the simplest possible lifeforms exceed the creative capability of purely unguided natural processes? Support your answer using basic probability calculations and assumng 10^80 atoms in the universe and 10^18 seconds (approx. 15 billion years). List other assumptions in your calculations.

Given the racemic mixture of amino acids produced in Stanley Miller's Origin of Life experiment, what is the probablity of even a single protein consisting of only 200 amino acids would form by chance?

Were Stanley Miller's assumptions correct regarding the primordial atmosphere of the Earth? What do scientists currently believe?

Could chemical cross-reactions inhibit a naturalistic origin of life (e.g. the Maillard reaction)?

Why have Protein-first scenarios largely been abandoned?

What are some of the problems with RNA-world scenarios?

Why is the Law of Biogenesis stronger today than in Darwin's time?

Is it logical to infer an intelligent source of life outside our solar system?

Might it be even more logical to infer an intelligence outside our physical cosmos?

Who pasteurized the primordial soup?


"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."

Jaques Monod
Chance and Necessity
Collins London, pp 134-135





Walter Bradley

Professor Emeritus of Engineering
Texas A&M University

Dean Kenyon

Professor of Biology
San Francisco State University

Charles Thaxton

Lecturer and Author,
The Mystery of Life's Origin

Video material courtesy Access Research Network.