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Instapundit has linked a story about the discovery of the amino acid glycine in a comet. This is supposed to support the hypotheses that amino acids in solution through the laws of physics and chemistry one day linked up and voila! life originated AND that we don’t have to worry our pretty heads about how amino acids originated and that there is no geologic evidence of a pre-biotic soup BECAUSE the amino acids were delivered from other planets, where, naturally, we don’t have to concern ourselves with how amino acids originated because life exists and therefore it was inevitable.
If you will pardon the expression.
THIS is why my father, Hubert P. Yockey, has been saying since the 1970’s that scientific explanations for the origin of life are based as much on faith and miracles as all of the religious ones combined.
Studying the origin of life through physics and chemistry is exactly the same as studying literature through the chemistry of ink and the physics of how ink is arranged on a page.
The non-material thing that distinguishes life from matter is information. Information is recorded in DNA by a 64-letter alphabet of codons (the four nucleotides in 64 combinations of three). Because it is recorded by an alphabet, it is digital. Because the letters of the alphabet are separate from one another, it is segegated. And because the “meaning” or capacity to create life through a series of instructions comes from the sequence of the letters, it is linear. This means that life is the first digitally recorded information and that the genome — the non-material information recorded in DNA — is digital, segregated and linear.
Information is recorded in DNA, transferred from the 64-letter alphabet of DNA to the 64-letter alphabet of RNA — the letters for DNA and RNA are called “codons” — and then to the 20-letter alphabet of protein, i.e., the amino acids. You cannot discover the origin of life by tracing it back from the amino acid alphabet to the RNA alphabet because some of the amino acids are matched in the genetic code to more than one RNA codon. (The genetic code tells which letters of DNA are coded to which letters of RNA — a one-to-one code — and which letters of RNA are matched to which letters of protein — a several-to-one code.) So you can never know with precision which RNA codon selected those amino acids. Therefore, just as the Central Dogma states, information flows only between alphabets of the same number of letters, or from larger alphabets to smaller ones.
Therefore, as Charles Darwin and Niels Bohr stated, and as Hubert P. Yockey has shown, the origin of life is an axiom of biology, just as the origin of matter is an axiom of physics and chemistry.
So whatever the discovery of glycine in a comet means, it has nothing whatsoever to do with the origin of life anywhere.