Discovery of an amino acid in a comet says NOTHING about the origin of life

by CynthiaYockey on August 18, 2009

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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.

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Red August 18, 2009 at 1:31 pm

“…scientific explanations for the origin of life are based as much on faith and miracles as all of the religious ones combined.”

.-= Red´s last blog ..My People Will Be In Touch =-.

Peter August 18, 2009 at 3:51 pm

So, let me get this straight, without paying $60.00 that I don’t have for your father’s book which is probably written in science-ese that I wouldn’t understand anyway. What you seem to be saying is that anyone claiming to know the origin of life is either working on faith or religion or is just plain a huckster. Is that close enough?
.-= Peter´s last blog ..Rocky Gibbs And His Cartridges =-.

Cynthia Yockey August 19, 2009 at 12:08 pm


Yes, close enough.

All of the scientific scenarios include the following step at some point: “Then a miracle occurs!” In addition, they include some combination of things that there is no evidence ever happened (the amino acid soup), leaving out pesky details (see and stuff that the probability of ever happening even with a favorable scenario so closely approaches zero as to be zero (chance and self-organization).

What we know scientifically about the origin of life is WHY it is unknowable (short version: the Central Dogma — information flows back and forth only between alphabets with the same number of characters that have a one-to-one mapping, but only flows from larger alphabets to smaller ones due to the several-to-one mapping in which many characters of the larger alphabet may code for a single character of the smaller one). THAT is what should be taught in schools. Scientists have no problem with the origin of matter being accepted as an axiom of physics and chemistry. They should not have a problem with the origin of life being taught as an axiom of biology.

Also, there is absolutely NO justification for teaching the religiously-based origin of life theory of Intelligent Design, which is based on William Dembski purposely misrepresenting my father’s work (“purposely” because my father told him he was wrong, but Dembski has kept it up). There is no need for Intelligent Design to substitute for the explanation of why the origin of life is unknowable to science, or to substitute for Darwin’s theory of evolution, which is as solidly demonstrated as it gets: the genome holds the place the IDers say requires a Designer, and there are no gaps in the genome from the origin of life to the present so morphological gaps in the fossil record are an obsolete objection, as my father has pointed out.


Barkha August 19, 2009 at 11:29 am

Hey Cynthia –

I have been reading your blog for a long time now, and truly appreciate it and agree with most of what you say. This comment is a general observation: Your links on the right side are mostly conservative blogs – except for the one for Drudge Report – it actually ends up at a drudge rip-off site called Drudge Retort.

The link you are using is “” and what you need (assuming you want to link to drudge report not retort) is

Thanks for the blog.


Cynthia Yockey August 19, 2009 at 12:11 pm


Thanks for the heads-up. I just looked and found out that the Drudge Retort has an RSS feed, but the Drudge Report does not, so I’ll have to take the Retort out of my newsfeed but I can’t put the Report in its place. Shucks!

Also, I’m glad you enjoy my blog!


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