Volcanic vents too hot for evolving life, according to a Royal Society press release, 13 February 2006 and ScienceNOW, 15 February 2006. A current theory on the origin of life is that the first living organisms evolved from chemicals around hydrothermal vents – deep sea volcanoes, because numerous strange “primitive” bacteria are found living on the sides of these. A team of scientists led by David Deamer of University of California, Santa Cruz set out to test this theory by finding a volcanic pool devoid of any signs of life and pouring in “a can of primordial soup containing the building blocks of proteins, DNA as well as fatty acids that could form rudimentary cell membranes.”

They found such a pool in Kamchatka on the east coast of Russia, but when they tested the water a few hours after adding the biological building blocks they found most of the added material was no longer dissolved in the water but was bound to the clay lining the pool. According to Deamer, the molecules were “nailed down, so they can’t interact.” Deamer commented to the Royal Society, “The results are surprising and in some ways disappointing. It seems that hot acidic waters containing clay do not provide the right conditions from chemicals to assemble themselves in ‘pioneer organisms’. We don’t know what to make of this yet, but these results do appear to narrow down some of our ideas about where life could have begun. One possibility is that life really did begin in a ‘warm little pond’, (as proposed by Darwin 140 years ago) but not in hot volcanic springs or marine hydrothermal vents.”

Editorial Comment: Scientists hoping to find the origin of life by experimenting with chemicals will continue to be disappointed because they are looking in the wrong place. Living cells are made up of the chemicals that Deamer’s team used in their study, but living cells work because of the organisation of the chemicals, in the same way that a complex machine won’t work until it component parts are put together in the right way by the outside intelligence of the machines creator. The key to understanding the origin of life is not in the chemistry, but in finding the source of information that organises the chemicals. We suggest that origin of life researchers start by copying “In the beginning was the Word” (John 1:1). If they really want results, they will have to play Creator. (Ref. abiogenesis, biochemistry, thermophiles)