The evolution of the genetic code remains one of the most speculative, mysterious vignettes in the grand tale of evolution. On that subject, have evolutionary researchers made headway, or do they just reinforce the creationist’s perspective?
A team from the Salk Institute for Biological Studies set out to decode an evolutionary riddle: how is it that nearly all life, diverse as it is, uses the same 20 amino acids as molecular building blocks? And how could the amino acid–genetic codon relationship have developed in a stepwise fashion?
Salk Institute assistant professor Lei Wang explains one of the key problems evolutionists face: “Although different algorithms, or codes, were likely tested during a long period of chemical evolution, the modern code proved so robust that, once it was established, it gave birth to the entire tree of life. But the universality of the code makes it very hard for researchers to study its formation since there are no organisms using a primitive or intermediate genetic code that we could analyze for comparison” (emphasis added). So much for what might be called “transitional genetic forms!”
The team theorized that primeval chemical or physical interactions between amino acids and nucleotides (which make up the genetic code) led to the origin of the genetic code. To test their idea, they studied ribosomes inside modern cells, as evolutionists believe ribosomes trace back to “an early evolutionary stage of life . . . before the last universal common ancestor,” Wang explained. While the team claimed to find evidence of such chemical and physical interaction, they cannot trace the origin of the genetic code past some “primitive translational mechanism” that would have been required.
To creationists, the incredible workings of the genetic code are not a mystery to be explained but instead a marvel to be understood as one of God’s most incredible designs. How such a coding system (even in a simpler form) could have arisen through random interaction—yet still coding correctly for the basic building blocks of reproducing life—is yet another leap of faith by evolutionists.
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