Who wants to be a millionaire?

$1 million prize offered for scientific proof of ‘natural-process’ origin of life


Photo by Mike Johnson, www.sxc.huSuitcase of money

15 August 2007

An international science-and-education foundation is offering a $1,000,000 prize to anyone who can ‘explain how genetic code arose spontaneously’!

The Origin-of-Life Foundation (OLF) is offering the prize through the Gene Emergence Project (MD, USA). This group is dedicated to finding the answer to what biology professor Jack Trevors (a member) calls the most pressing question in science, ‘The origin of the genetic instructions in the DNA …’, pointing out that ‘Genetic instructions don’t write themselves any more than a software program writes itself’.1

The OLF doesn’t appear friendly to creationists, stating on their website that ‘The OLF should not be confused with “creation science” groups …’ They describe themselves as ‘a science and education foundation encouraging the pursuit of natural-process explanations …’ They will not accept ‘supernatural’ explanations and emphasize that they have ‘… no religious affiliations of any kind …’.2

A theory submitted for the prize must include ‘… a thorough explanation and mechanism explaining how natural events might have given rise to … the genetic sign system …’ and ‘… a scenario of sequential, cause-and-effect … events explaining how genetic prescriptive information (instruction) arose naturally … sufficient to give rise to current life.’3

But documents on their website outlining the criteria for submissions list many reasons that the origin of life from non-living matter (abiogenesis) appears to be impossible. For example, any theory submitted must answer; ‘How does an algorithmically complex sequence of codons arise in nature which finds phenotypic usefulness only after translation into a completely different language (AA sequence)?’4

OLF has assembled an impressive range of well-known academics to judge applications for the prize.

The foundation points out that commonly cited mechanisms of evolution cannot help the process. ‘The problem is that natural selection works only at the phenotypic level, not at the genetic level. Neither physicochemical forces nor environmental selection choose the next nucleotide to be added to the biopolymer. Mutations occur at the genetic level. But environmental selection occurs at the folding (functional) level, after-the-fact of already strongly set sequence, and after-the-fact of already established algorithmic function of the folded biopolymer.’5

It’s good to see such a group publicly admitting what CMI has pointed out for decades: that despite evolutionary origin of life scenarios being taught as fact, there is not even a working theory of how it supposedly happened. As a matter of fact there isn’t a single example of new, never-before-existing genetic information arising by chance, while everything that we know about how information is generated supports the observation that it always requires intelligence.

Information specialist Dr. Werner Gitt says in his book In the Beginning Was Information, ‘there is no known law of nature, no known process and no known sequence of events which can cause information to originate by itself in matter.’6

Professor Paul Davies agrees. New Scientist quoted him as saying, ‘Nobody knows how a mixture of lifeless chemicals spontaneously organized themselves into the first living cell.’7 Emphasizing the bankruptcy of evolutionary ideas to account for the origin of information, Davies writes, ‘How did stupid atoms spontaneously write their own software … ? Nobody knows …’.8

Davies is an atheist/evolutionist, but the weight of modern scientific evidence is resulting in honest admissions like his becoming more common.

Typical evolutionary teaching shows that ‘materialistic only’ explanations for life are scientifically unsound and philosophically biased. Richard Lewontin, evolutionary biologist (Harvard) once said, ‘… materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.’9 However, information is nonmaterial, and the OLF website confirms that information is a necessary prerequisite for life.

Jack Trevors and David Abel (a fellow member of the OLF and an expert in theoretical biology) have published articles revealing that abiogenesis is not only unobservable, it is unimaginable. ‘Self-organization’ is without empirical and prediction-fulfilling support. No falsifiable theory of self-organization exists.’10

So will the million dollar prize be won? Are there any ‘best guesses’ kicking around? Andrew Vowles offers: ‘Perhaps it all began not with DNA but with a genetic precursor like RNA, a forerunner that figured out both how to fold itself like a protein and how to copy itself like genetic material, thus providing fodder for natural selection to work on.’

However, there are enormous chemical hurdles to scale before RNA could form in a primordial soup, as even evolutionists admit. Also, clothes don’t fold themselves and documents don’t make copies of themselves via random processes. An intelligent mind is behind such acts. So why would intelligent scientists propose such tasks from lifeless chemicals? Perhaps it is to avoid the obvious and most logical conclusion that supports my entry for the million dollar prize: God, the only sufficient cause we know of, did it. However, since ‘supernatural explanations’ are automatically disqualified I don’t expect to be Canada’s newest millionaire.

Published: 15 August 2007


  1. Vowles, A., The tree of life, The Portico, Summer 2007, pp. 20–23. Published by Communications and Public Affairs (U of G) Guelph On, Canada N1G 2W1. Return to Text.
  2. The Gene Emergence Project Website http://www.us.net/life/ ‘About the Gene Emergence Project’ Section. Return to Text.
  3. The Gene Emergence Project Website http://www.us.net/life/ ‘Definitions’ Section. Return to Text.
  4. The Gene Emergence Project Website http://www.us.net/life/ ‘Clarification of what the Foundation is looking for’ Section. Return to Text.
  5. The Gene Emergence Project Website http://www.us.net/life/ ‘Purpose of the Prize’ Section. Return to Text.
  6. Gitt, W., In the Beginning Was Information, CLV, Bielefeld, Germany, p. 64–67, 79, 107, 1997. Return to Text.
  7. Davies, P., Australian Centre for Astrobiology, Macquarie University, Sydney, New Scientist 179:32, 12 July, 2003. Return to Text.
  8. Davies, P., Life force, New Scientist 163:27–30, 18 September 1999. Return to Text.
  9. Lewontin, R., Billions and Billions of Demons, The New York Review, 9 January 1997, p. 31. Return to Text.
  10. Abel, D.L. and Trevors, J.T., Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models, Physics of Life Reviews Volume 3, Issue 4, December 2006. Return to Text.