Primordial Soup Remains Lifeless

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The stone starter for a nourishing primordial soup remains as lifeless as ever.

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Like the fabled stone soup, a well-garnished primordial soup is being built by geological and biological contributions. In the ancient fable, villagers readily contributed nourishing additions to a pot containing only boiling water and a stone. Why? Because they believed the pot already contained a yummy organic soup starter. Though the end product was tasty, the stone that got everybody excited never had any life of its own.

A featured ScienceNews essay recounts the mutual enthusiasm of geologists and biologists seeking to discover the chemical origins of life. As evolutionary biologist Bill Martin explains, “We’re conditioned to see what we’re looking for, and if no one knows what to look for in terms of these signs of life, they won’t find them. What I think is really exciting is that we know what to look for now, and we have expectations of finding these biosignatures that could extend back to the Hadean [pre-Archean]” (supposedly more than 3.85 billion years ago). Yet chemical signatures paint only the picture evolutionists already believe and inevitably fail to breathe evolutionary life into lifeless chemicals.

Since the most necessary proteins would have required potassium ions to function, they postulate life started in a potassium-rich place.

The essay recounts several fronts in the search for “traces of inaugural life.” Evolutionary biologists compare modern life forms to deduce what a Last Universal Common Ancestor (LUCA) must have been like. Since the most necessary proteins would have required potassium ions to function, they postulate life started in a potassium-rich place. Referring to research by Armen Mulkidjanian, as discussed in Primordial Soup Debate, the essay describes the role of interdisciplinary cooperation. Mulkidjanian needed a potassium-rich place for life to start because, he explained, “We know that original membranes were very leaky. Cells could keep proteins or nucleotides inside, but not potassium.” Geologists offered ancient warm volcanic ponds rich in potassium, zinc, and phosphate, made to Darwinian order. “That geochemical knowledge is really what fed our biology story,” says Mulkidjanian.

Other scenarios point to hydrothermal vents as the primordial chemical cradle. The essay describes a particular kind of hydrothermal vent in which methane and hydrogen spewing into the ocean cause chemical reactions to produce porous limestone chimneys, acetate, and a life-friendly alkaline environment. Acetate can be used as a biochemical energy source, and, according to Martin, “These microcompartments [pores in the limestone] serve the function of providing a way for chemicals to be concentrated in a physical way without cellular membranes.” Evolutionary biologists hope geologists can spin scenarios in which similar sites could have existed on the early earth.

The essay also explains that biologists want geologists to search for evidence of ancient minerals that would be consistent with metabolic products and their effects on primordial rocks. Evolutionary scientists believe life must have evolved before the Archean rocks were laid down because those rocks contain carbon-rich rocks and bands of rusted iron suggesting photosynthesis and oxygen production had already evolved.

The Annual Review of Earth and Planetary Sciences lists several “chemicals in rocks that could be key signatures of ancient life.” The geobiological challenge is increased because of the way in which earth’s crust and mantle mix in “the planet’s geological mixing bowl.” Thus, many minerals are subjected to high heat that can change their characteristics. The minerals believed sufficiently impervious to heat to offer geochemical evidence of conditions on the early earth are primarily zircon crystals embedded in other rocks. According to geophysicist Norm Sleep, I consider it my duty to provide a shopping list of early environments to these biologists. … Basically all the direct evidence that we have from the Hadean is a collection of crystals that you could fit on the tip of a thimble.”

Ideas about where life began, whether it was in an ocean or a pond or somewhere else entirely, are still just proposals, hypotheses with bits of evidence.

“Ideas about where life began, whether it was in an ocean or a pond or somewhere else entirely, are still just proposals, hypotheses with bits of evidence,” the writer acknowledges. “The same is true for existing views about when life emerged and what it looked like. But as geologists and biologists continue to learn from each other, they’re turning up new evidence that can strengthen existing scenarios and lead to new ones.” However, the essay reflects the common evolutionary certainty that life did evolve from the random interaction of chemicals billion of years ago.

Though the “how” and the “when” life evolved from lifeless chemicals are subjects for exciting research, the question of “if” is not even entertained. Why? All these questions involve historical science and therefore attempt to draw scientific conclusions without the possibility of performing empirical repeatable scientific tests. The conclusions therefore depend upon the worldview-based assumptions of each scientist. The evolutionary worldview rejects God as the originator of all life and therefore must violate observable biological laws that demonstrate life never randomly emerges from nonliving elements. Evolutionist Martin speaks volumes when he says, “We’re conditioned to see what we’re looking for.” The scientist’s worldview always determines his interpretations in the realm of origins science.

Archean rocks described in the essay are thought by many creationist geologists to have been formed very early in the Creation week.1 Zircons, cited in the essay as a source of information about the early earth, have characteristics most consistent with a young earth, not one billions of years old.2

God created the earth “to be inhabited” (Isaiah 45:18) and populated it with living things about 6,000 years ago. An oxygen-rich atmosphere and the process of photosynthesis were created during that week. Therefore, the presence of “chemical signatures” of early life in ancient rocks is not a surprise. But assertions that chemical evidence of life on the early earth demands a still earlier evolutionary source is nothing more than worldview-based speculation that denies God’s eyewitness account in Genesis.

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  1. See chapter 78 in A. Snelling, Earth’s Catastrophic Past for more in formation.
  2. See “Helium Diffusion Rates Support Accelerated Nuclear Decay,” “Radioisotopes and the Age of the Earth,” “Minerals Have Too Much Helium,” “A Tale of Two Hourglasses,” and “Fission Tracks in Zircons: Evidence for Abundant Nuclear Decay” to learn more.


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