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Chemical Candidate to Carry Genetic Information in Earliest Life Forms

by Dr. Elizabeth Mitchell on December 1, 2012

Evolutionary scientists suggest a simple chemical candidate to carry genetic information in the earliest life forms.

No one has ever demonstrated life randomly emerging from nonliving elements. Nevertheless, molecules-to-man evolution would have required such an event. Evolutionists hypothesize that before DNA evolved, RNA did the job of coding and duplicating information as well as directing construction of simple life forms. But could a simpler molecular polymer have carried coded genetic information before the “RNA-world” evolved?

“Before RNA-based organisms arose, peptide nucleic acids [PNAs] may have been used to transmit genetic information by the earliest forms of life on earth,”1 writes a team of American and Swedish scientists who have discovered a potential building block for PNAs in cyanobacteria. This simple molecular building block (AEG) could hypothetically polymerize to form a code-carrying PNA, an evolutionary “dream molecule.” Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic bacteria believed by evolutionists to represent some of the earliest life forms. Therefore, the team writes, “It is tantalizing to hypothesize that the presence of AEG in cyanobacteria may be an echo of the pre-RNA world.”2

RNA is a polymer consisting of nucleobases attached to a chain of ribose sugar-and-phosphate building blocks. A “peptide nucleic acid” (PNA) is, analogously, a small polymer in which nucleobases ride on the molecular backbone of a small amino acid chain. (Peptides are chains of amino acids.) AEG is the amino acid N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine.

Some chemical reactions occur spontaneously when the ingredients are present under the right conditions.

Some chemical reactions occur spontaneously when the ingredients are present under the right conditions. Therefore, the discoverers hypothesize that molecules of AEG could spontaneously react with each other to form peptides. If the AEG molecules happened to have nucleobases attached to them, the resulting peptide nucleic acid (PNA) would resemble a super-simplified version of RNA.

The order of the nucleobases in RNA and DNA “spells” coded information to guide the formation of proteins. Evolutionists searching for a genetic jumpstart for life look for the simplest possible molecules that could conceivably carry this code. AEG was just a theoretical candidate to build the hypothetical PNA backbone. AEG was unknown in nature until its unexpected discovery in many types of cyanobacteria. This discovery has sparked the evolutionary imagination. Although coauthor Paul Alan Cox admits, “We just don't have enough data yet to draw that sort of conclusion,” the team writes, “The production of AEG by diverse taxa of cyanobacteria suggests that AEG may be a primitive feature which arose early in the evolution of life on earth.”3

Cyanobacteria are photosynthetic organisms, and evolutionists attribute the oxygen atmosphere of earth to them. Some are preserved as microfossils in the Early Archean Apex Chert of Western Australia, conventionally dated to 3.5 billion years ago. The dates themselves and the idea that life arose spontaneously from nonliving elements are unsubstantiated ideas based on unverifiable assumptions about the untestable past, the time of life’s origins. But because evolutionists are determined to explain life without God, they naturally look to life’s simplest types of organisms and the simplest possible chemical reactions in search of evidence to support their ideas.

In addition to these problems, however, is the problem of information. Random sequences of nucleobases are not genetic information. Nucleobases in PNAs, like those in RNA and DNA, would be like an alphabet. But without an understandable language, information to be transmitted, a producer of information, a decoder, and a method of using the decoded information, the nucleobase “words” would be utterly meaningless gibberish. Without God to provide the original information in the genomes of all created kinds of organisms, all the PNAs in the world could only be chemical chaos.

Biological observations tell us life only comes from life. And information must have a source. The living Creator God made all physical matter and all living things in the beginning, about 6,000 years ago. And He created the genetic code to enable all kinds of living things to reproduce and vary within their created kinds. His eyewitness account is in Genesis. And no scientific discoveries have ever shown life, or information, emerging through random natural processes from non-living components. Without that genetic jump-start—a genuine source of information and the machinery to interpret and apply it—life could never get off the ground . . . or out of the primordial scum.

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  1. S. A. Banack et al., “Cyanobacteria Produce N-(2-Aminoethyl)Glycine, a Backbone for Peptide Nucleic Acids Which May Have Been the First Genetic Molecules for Life on Earth,” PLoS ONE 7, no. 11 (November 7, 2012), doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0049043.
  2. Banack et al., “Cyanobacteria Produce . . . .”
  3. Ibid.


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