How the first life appeared on Earth?

How did the first life arise on earth? Are we the product of random process of nature? The fundamental question to be answered between the evolution and creation is how the first life appeared on the Earth. If it appeared naturally, we are the product of evolution. Otherwise, we have to acknowledge that God created us.

All living creatures on the Earth are composed of cells. As shown in the Figure below, cell itself is composed of protein, the protein of amino acids, and the amino acids of organic and/or inorganic matter. Therefore, to produce a living cell, amino acids has to be produced from (in)organic matter and protein has to be produced from amino acids. So, let's take a close look at each step how these processes can occur on early earth.

H, C, N, O, H2O, CH4 etc...
(In)organic matter Amino acids Protein Cell

Fig. 1 Hierarchical structure of cell

a) Organic matter to amino acids:

Evolutionists claim that the amino acids can naturally be formed from organic compounds. The first experiment to produce the amino acids from organic compounds was performed by Miller in 1952. He assumed that the early atmosphere of the Earth was composed of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water. With this mixture of gas and apparatus shown in the Figure below, he obtained 4 kinds of amino acids. Miller's experiment become strong weapon for the evolutionists to claim that the life arised naturally. Before accepting their claim, we need to analyze if this experiment does not contain any major flaws.

Figure 2. Miller experiment

Miller used arc lamp to simulate lightning. However, there exist big differences between arc lamp and lightning. There are some debates whether the apparatus he used does represent the actual condition of the early atmosphere. The arc lamp uses 50,000 Volts and creates 250 degrees of heat whereas the voltage of lightning is 100 million Volts and creates 50,000 degrees of heat. Miller used compound gas of methane, ammonia, hydrogen, and water to simulate early earth atmosphere. We do not have fossil record of early earth atmosphere, but if we analyze composition of comets, we can identify what kinds of gases are existed on early earth since comets are left-over building block of solar system. As shown in the next Figure, the most abundant gases in descending order are water, carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, ammonia, methane, etc.. Here, we find big differences again between miller's gas and early earth atmosphere: Miller's gas does not contain carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. A more serious problem is the assumption of reducing (devoid of oxygen) atmosphere in early earth atmosphere. This is because, if the early earth atmosphere was non-reducing, it will be impossible to produce the amino acids from (in)organic matter due to oxidation. Currently, we do not have a good knowledge of the early atmosphere mainly because the rock record to trace the components of the atmosphere is sparse or absent.

There's no consensus about the condition of the early earth atmosphere among scientists. Miller (1953) and Chyba & Sagan (1997) claim reducing atmosphere, Albeson (1966), Pinto et al. (1980), Zahnle (1986) claim weakly-reducing atmosphere, and Trail et al. (2011) claim non-reducing atmosphere. The Nature paper of the Trail et al. (2011) is interesting to mention. They studied the oxidation state of hadean zircons from the earth's interior (magma) and reported that out-gassing of earth's interior later than 200 Myr into the history of solar system formation could have resulted in a non-reducing atmosphere. The first life appeared on earth is about 500 Myr after the formation of the earth. Thus, if this is the case, then the life on earth could not appear naturally due to oxidation of amino acids.

b) Amino acid to DNA/Protein

Proteins are made up of about 20 different amino acids joined together in chains. Some proteins are just a few amino acids long, while others are made up of several thousands. To continue discussion, let's assume that these amino acids were created naturally. Then, the next step toward the formation of life is how DNA, RNA, and protein were formed from amino acids.

As shown in Figure 3, the central dogma of molecular biology states that DNA makes RNA makes proteins. The process by which DNA is copied to RNA is called transcription, and that by which RNA is used to produce proteins is called translation. Evolutionists first thought that DNA is the origin of life since DNA contains blueprint of the protein. However, it is later found that enzymes are needed to produce the protein, but enzymes themselves are composed of protein. Thus, it is impossible to form protein from DNA.

Fig 3. The central dogma of molecular biology

To solve this problem, they proposed RNA world hypothesis. The RNA world hypothesis claims that the RNA, unlike the DNA, can function as a messenger RNA (mRNA) and a catalyst (ribozyme).. Because of this, it can self-replicate RNA and hypothesized to have been the precursors to all current life on Earth. The RNA world hypothesis sounds promising, but it has the following problems: i) RNA is too complex a molecule to have arisen prebiotically, ii) RNA is inherently unstable, iii) catalysis is a relatively rare property of long RNA sequences only, and iv) the catalytic repertoire of RNA is too limited. Thus, the origin of life from natural processes confronts another unsolvable impasse.

c) RNA/DNA to cell:

Here once again, to proceed further, let's assume that the DNA, RNA, and protein were created naturally. Then, the next step toward the creation of life is to form cells from these components. As shown in Fig. 4, cell is consists of three parts: the cell membrane, the nucleus, and, between the two, the cytoplasm. Within the cytoplasm lie intricate arrangements of fine fibers and hundreds or even thousands of minuscule but distinct structures called organelles. A cell nucleus that contains DNA and RNA needs cooperation with other cell members to form a functional cell. Apparently, each cell component does not know how the cell members need to be arranged to become a functioning cell. Thus, it's hard to imagine each cell member positions itself to a specific place in the cytoplasm and cooperates with other cell members to become a living cell. The process of creating a living cell is similar to building a house. To build house, many kinds of preselected construction materials are needed. These construction materials can not be assembled by themselves to become a house, but need constructor. The constructor actually build the house based on a blue print. Similarly, cell members can not assemble themselves to become a cell, but need the Creator. Another fact people usually pay less attention is that there are not many acceptable explanations about the origin of cell members. Without cell members, the nucleus can not survive inside the cell. Here again, the origin of life from random processes faces another hurdle.

Figure 4. Structure of cell

Chirality is a geometric property of some molecules and ions. A chiral molecule/ion is non-superposable on its mirror image. The L-amino acid and D-amino acid are chiral with each other. Under the natural conditions, the L-amino acid and D-amino acid are produced in a similar proportion (50% each). However, almost all proteins in the living organisms are made of L-amino acids and D-amino acids are very rare in nature and have only been found in small peptides attached to bacteria cell walls. If the living organisms are product of a random process, their proteins should be composed of about 50% each of L-amino acids and D-amino acids. But, in reality, it's not! This is another evidence that the life was not produced from natural processes.