Origin of life is regarded by many capable scientists as exceedingly difficult to research:
"The origin of life on the surface of the Earth is a unique historical event whose character cannot be established by experiments in contemporary laboratories ... Many scientists have taken this position on the origin of life. Jacques Monod, the distinguished French molecular biologist, said as much in 1970 in his elegant book Chance and Necessity. There is no way, he argued, that an event as improbable as the emergence of life on Earth could be analyzed by science, which is able to deal only `with events that form a class. ... A decade later, Francis H.C. Crick, co-originator of the structure of DNA, put the argument more specifically: the chances that the long polymer molecules that vitally sustain all living things, both proteins and DNA, could have been assembled by random processes from the chemical units of which they are made are so small as to be negligible, prompting the question whether the surface of the Earth was fertilized from elsewhere, perhaps from interstellar space. 'Panspermia' is the name for that."
Maddox J., What Remains To Be Discovered: Mapping the Secrets of the Universe, the Origins of Life, and the Future of the Human Race , , Touchstone: New York NY, 1999, reprint, p.131.
There are substantial problems with most current reasoning around how it happened:
In a dilute prebiotic soup, reactions would be very slow indeed. A wonderful cartoon I recently saw captures this. It was entitled "The Origin of Life." Dateline 3.874 billion years ago. Two amino acids drift close together at the base of a bleak rocky cliff; three seconds later, the two amino acids drift apart. About 4.12 million years later, two amino acids drift close to each other at the base of a primeval cliff. ... Well Rome wasn't built in a day.
(Kauffman S.A., At Home in the Universe: The Search for Laws of Self-Organization and Complexity , Penguin: London, 1996, reprint, p.35.)
The theories currently proposed derive more from existing habits of mind than fresh observation:
In his delightful 1998 essay "Extraterrestrials: A Modern View," [Guillermo] Gonzalez noted,
The kind of origin of life theory a scientist holds to seems to depend on his/her field of specialty: oceanographers like to think it began in a deep sea thermal vent, biochemists like Stanley Miller prefer a warm tidal pool on the Earth's surface, astronomers insist that comets played an essential role by delivering complex molecules, and scientists who write science fiction part time imagine that the Earth was ''seeded" by interstellar microbes.
Ward, Peter D., and Donald Brownlee, Rare Earth: Why Complex Life is Uncommon in the Universe (New York: Copernicus Springer-Verlag, 2000) . p. 69.
Journalist Denyse O'Leary (www.designorchance.com) is the author of By Design or by Chance? (Augsburg Fortress 2004), an overview of the intelligent design controversy, and co-author, with Montreal neuroscientist Mario Beauregard, of the forthcoming The Spiritual Brain (Harper 2007). Her blog is The Post-Darwinist, http://post-darwinist.blogspot.com/.
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