Chapter 1: Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin

Life on earth: how has it come into being? How have materialists and atheists in East and West explained life on Earth and its origin? Are their theories true? Have they been proved scientifically? One of the most important experts for chemical evolution and dialectic materialism in the world is Aleksandr Ivanovich Oparin. He has been one of the first modern materialists, who have tried to explain, how the first cell on Earth has evolved by natural means. A. I. Oparin has been director of the Bakh Institute of Biochemistry in Moscow since 1946. For his biochemical research, Professor Oparin has received the Order of Lenin, the Bakh Prize and the Mechnikov Gold Medal, and was named Hero of Socialist Labor. He has also been an Active Member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. - What has he found out?

Prof. A. I. Oparin states in his book Genesis and Evolutionary Development of Life: "Materialism, based on facts derived from natural science, confirms that life, like all the rest of the world, is material in nature, and it does not need for its understanding any sort of spiritual origin incomprehensible by experimental means. On the contrary, from the materialistic viewpoint it is precisely the objective study of nature surrounding us which is the reliable means not only leading us to a perception of the essence of life itself, but also permitting us directly to vary or improve living nature for the welfare of man" (1968:2-4).

"Dialectic materialism, regarding life as a qualitative special form of the motion in matter, defines the task itself of comprehension of life in a different way than mechanistic materialism. Mechanically, the problem consists in the most complete reduction of living phenomena to physical and chemical processes. On the contrary, from a dialectical materialistic point of view, comprehension of life consists mainly in the establishment of its precise qualitative distinction from other forms of motion in matter."

"Engels in the 1870’s indicated very positively that the only possible route for the origin of life was the evolutionary development and does not originate spontaneously and suddenly. It emerges in the process of the evolution of matter everywhere and always, when the necessary condition arises for this sort of evolution. ... The amount of water on the Earth’s surface at its beginning must have been considerably less than at the present time. According to Urey, the primordial Earth had only about 10% of the water of the present-day seas and oceans." (1968:32, 55).

"The accumulation of compounds formed was the most significant in the seas and oceans, into which these compounds passed from the atmosphere and surface layers of the lithosphere, and were stored at sufficient depth to prevent their reverse destruction by short-wave radiation. For these reasons the quantity of organic compounds synthesized in the atmosphere and deposited in the waters of the terrestrial hydrosphere must have been quite considerable. According to the calculations of Urey and Sagan, these deposits amounted to approximately 1 kg/cm³ of surface, during the course of a billion years and their concentration in the ocean must have reached something on the order of 1%.

"Thus, at a certain period of the Earth’s existence, these waters were converted into a unique ‘primitive soup’ containing, in addition to inorganic salts, a variety of substances - simple and complex monomers and polymers, particularly the energy-rich phosphoorganic compounds, capable of many interactions. The composition of this ‘primitive soup’ was changing all the time, undergoing evolution both as a whole and in individual parts. The inorganic matter it contained on the other hand, was constantly being replenished at the expense of endogenic and exogenic sources of carbon compounds (in the Earth’s crust, meteorites and comets) and on the other hand, was being diminished as a result of partial but extensive breakdown." - Oparin, A. I. (1968:93).

"Appearance of hydrocarbons on the Earth’s surface was responsible for the formation of the ‘primitive soup,’ in which protein- and nucleinlike polymers emerged, in addition to relatively simple organic compounds. The formation of such high molecular weight polymers, although the monomers in the polymeric chains were still not arranged in orderly fashion, led to the segregation from the common solution of the ‘primitive soup’ of individual complex formations like coacervate drops. ... But the coacervate drops or other similar individual systems, however, formed in the original hydrosphere of the Earth, and set off from the environment, were immersed not merely in water but in a solution of various salts and organic compounds. ... Thus, always staying within the bounds of physical and chemical relationships, we have come to the emergence of ‘protobionts’." - Oparin, A. I. (1968:127)

Oparin’s Followers

How great a role, Professor A. I. Oparin was playing in science, the following words may show us, which famous biochemists wrote in honor of his 80th birthday:

S. E. Bresler, at the Leningrad Institute of Nuclear Physics, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, then wrote: "Spontaneous mutations are the main driving force of evolution. This is equally valid for the cellular or the prebiological period of life history. During the precellular prebiological period first considered by A. I. Oparin and theoretically analyzed by M. Eigen, spontaneous mutations were the main cause of structural changes of information-containing molecules that increased their ‘selection value.’ Gradually, the increasing sophistication of the self-instrumental process led to supermolecular structures and finally to their most perfect combination - the cell. But the same mechanism proceeded functioning and appeared as the basis of phylogeny of living matter." In: Dose, K. et al. (1974:29).

Herrick Baltscheffsky at the Dept. of Biochemistry, Arrhenius Laboratory, University of Stockholm, Sweden: "Already half a century ago, in his original version of Proiskhozdenie zhizny (The Origin of Life), Oparin was able to bring for the first time the central human problem on how life on Earth originated to the fundamental, molecular level." In: Dose, K. et al. (1974:9).

Dean H. Kenyon, Dept. of Cell and Molecular Biology, California State University, San Francisco, wrote there: "We are all indebted to Professor Oparin for reopening the origin of life problem in a scientific context. His writings were the original inspiration of what has become an impressive body of experimental research, especially in the last decade. The immense value of Oparin’s general conception on biogenesis is that they provide the overall theoretical framework in which specific experiments are conducted and interpreted. In recent years the view that life is an inevitable outcome of the property of matter and energy, a view long held by Professor Oparin, has gained increasing support. The alternative view that life was the result of a lucky random combination of chemical substances was popular when the experimental data on origins were scanty. However, this erroneous view has persisted in uninformed discussions of the subject in many biology textbooks and in recent criticism of the chemical theory of origins by the new creationists. The new data, taken in toto, indicate that the origin was in some sense, which must be carefully spelled out, foreordained from the beginning.

"Oparin has described in detail a plausible means by which a prebiological version of natural selection operating in a collection of competing protocells could have resulted in the origin of the first self-replicating cell. ... The evidence for the monophyletic theory of biogenesis is impressive. It is based on the Darwinian picture of evolution with all its supporting lines of evidence, especially the unity of biochemistry." Kenyon, D. H. In Dose, K. et al. (1974:207. 213, 215).

John Keosian, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Mass. USA: "It was once almost universally believed that there could never be a naturalistic explanation of the origin of life. That belief was based on two firmly held convictions: first, that only living things could synthesize organic compounds, and secondly, that the theory of spontaneous generation had been disproved beginning with the experiments of Redi and ending with those of Pasteur. The first conviction was shattered by the experiments of Miller inspired by Oparin’s hypothesis. The second conviction is still held by many, although experimenters on spontaneous generation had been few and their experiments were either limited or inconclusive.

"There seems to be no general agreement on what the term ‘prebiological conditions’ signifies. The great variety of compounds claimed to have been synthesized under primitive Earth conditions can be accepted only if we ignore the fact that the list is an accumulation of data from experiments employing a variety of reactants under a variety of conditions, some being mutually exclusive. For example, an experiment designed to produce nucleic acids produces little else. On the other hand, experiments of the Miller type, while producing many organic compounds, produce only traces of bases and no nucleic acids." Keosian, J., in: Dose, K. et al. (1974:228).

M. A. Mitz, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, D.C.: "Life as we know it, is the natural consequence of the environment and time. Biological laws are only special cases of the general laws of chemistry and physics. One of the first to state these ideas was A. I. Oparin, who also taught that we will understand the origin of life, if we can follow the path back to the earliest forms and in the process unravel the physics and chemistry of the primitive Earth." (1974:331).

T. E. Pavlovskaya at the A. N. Bakh Institute of Biochemistry, Academy of Sciences of the USSR, in Moscow: "Five decades lie between our time and the time when A. I. Oparin put forward his hypothesis of the origin of life on Earth. Oparin’s hypothesis has become a theoretical stimulation all over the world for experimental modeling of life’s origin; this research is one of the main trends in modern biology." (1974:387). 

Coacervates: Pre-stages of Life?

Professor A. I. Oparin (1968) claimed that with his coacervate droplets and protobionts, he has produced only through natural laws the pre-stages of the living cell. His biochemical experiments, he claimed, have proved that the first cell on Earth could have evolved by itself, only through natural laws. In the primordial soup, the coacervate droplets and then the whole living cell are supposed to have evolved by themselves from the dead chemical soup in a dialectic struggle, through quantitative changes, according to the basic laws of dialectic materialism, as taught already by Friedrich Engels. The coacervate droplets, the pre-stages of life, and then the whole living cell are supposed to have evolved in the chemical soup, because the soup’s chemicals contained already an inner drive toward life. - Has Oparin proved chemical evolution through his coacervate droplets and protobionts?

Hartmut Follmann is Professor for Biochemistry at the University of Marburg, West Germany. He says in his book Chemie und Biochemie der Evolution (Chemistry and Biochemistry in Evolution): "Coacervate droplets (‘What is heaped together’), one calls since de Jong, who in 1930 first described this phenomenon, the small, clear and muddy droplets, that separate themselves in watery solutions, that contain two or more polymers, like gelatine, serum-albumen, histones, gum arabic, - a sour polysaccharide -, RNA or DNA. ... Are the coacervates, therefore, models for selfreplicating protocells? This is rather unlikely, because they are not very stable and do reach after an astonishing activity at first then soon a stationary state. They can also only be made, when using complete molecules from animalic and plant sources." (1981:85, 86).

The Professors K. Dose and H. Rauchfuß say in their book Chemische Evolution und der Ursprung lebender Systeme (Chemical Evolution and the Origin of living Systems), about the coacervate droplets: "So far, more than 200 hydrophile (= water-loving) systems are known, for example, gelatine/gum arabicum, serum albumen/gum arabicum or serum albumen/gum arabicum. ... These very interesting results, though, are only possible, when using contemporary substances. ... The coacervates were also nearly only made from contemporary materials (proteins, gum arabicum, RNA, etc.)." (1975:152, 153).

Reinhard W. Kaplan, a well-known West German evolutionist, has been Director of the Institute of Microbiology, and is Professor emeritus at the Johann-Wolfgang-Goethe University in Frankfurt am Main. - Are Professor A. I. Oparin’s coacerate droplets alive? Are they pre-stages of living cells?

Prof. R. W. Kaplan: "These droplets, containing metabolism, are, of course, not living, since they cannot reproduce and mutate. They are also no pre-stages of protobionts, since the used components have been taken from present organisms." (1978:120).

The American Professor of Biochemistry, Sidney W. Fox says: "Because of the modern materials used by Oparin, the coacervate droplets could not answer these questions, how primitive living structures and functions have arisen". (1981:128).

"The coacervate droplets (Oparin 1957) have usually been made from polymers obtained from contemporary cells. The polymers are typically gum arabic and gelatin. In order to make droplets metabolically active, enzymes have been included in them. The enzymes, as well as the structural polymers, have been obtained from contemporary organisms." Fox, S. W. and T. Nakashima (1980:155). - Professor S. W. Fox also wrote to me in his letter of 21 July 1981: "Oparin’s details for prebiotic evolution are disproved by our experiments. ... Oparin’s details won’t work."

Coacervate droplets in a system of gum arabic and gelatine. After: Oparin (1968), Dose and Rauchfuß (1975). The coacervate droplets, Prof. A. I. Oparin was able to make in his chemical experiments at the Bakh Institute for Biochemistry in Moscow. They are supposed to prove chemical evolution and the basic laws of dialectic materialism. But these coacervates, he has made from modern materials, and not from compounds, one would expect to find in the dead primordial chemical soup.

The structural parts, he made from polymers (protein- and nucleic chains) like gelatine, serum albumin, histone, gum arabic, sour polysaccharide, RNA, and DNA. Into these coacervate droplets, made from modern substances, he then inserted the complete enzyme-proteins from modern plants and animals, to activate them metabolically. And this was supposed to prove then, that the first living cell has evolved by itself from the dead chemical soup through natural laws. This is just a big fraud. It has nothing to do with serious natural science.


Prof. A. I. Oparin’s Coacervate Droplets

The coacervate droplets, Professor A. I. Oparin was able to make in his chemical experiments at the Bakh Institute of Biochemistry in Moscow, are supposed to prove chemical evolution and the basic laws of dialectic materialism, as stated by Friedrich Engels. The coacervate droplets are supposed to prove that the first living cell - or at least the pre-stages of the living cell - were able to evolve by themselves through purely natural laws, through the laws of chemistry and physics, and through a drive toward life, contained already in the atoms and molecules of inorganic matter. The coacervates are supposed to prove that life just had to evolve, as explained by the theory of cosmic evolution.

But the atheists, materialists and evolutionists seem to have overlooked here a few small details: Their coacervates were made from modern materials, and not from compounds, which one should expect to find in the dead primordial soup, as explained by the theory of chemical evolution. The structural parts (as we have seen), they have made from polymers (protein- or nucleic chains) like gelatine, serum albumin, histone, gum arabic, sour polysaccharide, RNA, and DNA. Into the coacervate droplets, made from these modern substances, they inserted then complete enzyme-proteins from modern plants and animals, in order to activate them metabolically. - We should remember here: Oparin’s famous coacervate droplets are supposed to prove that the first cell, or at least the pre-stages of the first living cell, were able to evolve by themselves in the dead chemical soup, while there was no cell living yet in the chemical soup, nor any of its mythical pre-stages. - Where do we find the substances, from which Oparin and his helpers made their coacervate droplets? Could they have lived already in the dead chemical soup of the primordial ocean or pond of the Early Precambrian Time? - I looked into Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary (1977) and found the following:

Prof. A. I. Oparin used gelatine in his coacervate droplets, the assumed pre-stages of life. Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary says on page 476 under gelatin also gelatine: "glutinous material obtained from animal tissues by boiling esp.: a colloidal protein used as food..." - How can Oparin’s coacervates prove chemical evolution, how can they be pre-stages of life, of the living cell, if he uses animal tissue, colloidal protein, which could not even have been there yet in the dead chemical soup! Chemical evolution should show us, instead, how the first living cell was able to arise in the dead chemical soup by itself.

Also serum albumin was used as a structural element in the coacervate droplets. On page 1059 we read in this dictionary, under serum albumin: "a crystallizable albumin or mixture of albumins that normally constitutes more than half of the protein in blood serum and serves to maintain the osmotic pressure of the blood." - How, I wonder, can a mentally sound person use protein of blood serum from modern animals, which could not have been in the dead chemical soup, while trying to prove that the pre-stages of life were able to evolve there by themselves from inorganic matter only through natural laws, through the basic laws of materialism?

One has also used histones as building blocks in the coacervates. What is that? - On page 542 of the dictionary it says under histone; "any of various simple water-soluble proteins that yield a high proportion of basic amino acids on hydrolysis and are found associated with DNA in cell nuclei." - How, I wonder, can one use proteins, that one finds today with DNA in cell nuclei, while trying to prove, how the first cell with a DNA-nucleus was able to arise in the dead chemical soup? Professor A. I. Oparin surely cannot have a very high respect for the uninformed reader. And this fraud one has presented to the masses of mankind as a great scientific proof for chemical evolution!

Oparin also used gum arabic, when making his coacervate droplets. They are supposed to prove chemical evolution and the basic laws of materialism. - What is gum arabic? From where have they taken it? - Webster’s New Collegiate Dictionary says on page 511 under gum arabic: "a water-soluble gum obtained from several acacias (esp. Acacia senegal and A. arabica)..." - How can Oparin use gum of modern acacia trees, while trying to prove that the first living cell has evolved by itself in the dead chemical soup? Could acacia trees have grown in the primordial soup of the Early Precambrian Time, so that they could have supplied the coacervate droplets with the correct structural parts, while not even a bluegreen alga was living there yet?

Our famous self-organisation-theorists have also used sour polysaccharide, when making their coacervate droplets. - What is that? - The dictionary says on page 1017: "A saccharide is a simple sugar, a combination of sugars, or polymerized sugar." -Saccharides they have not found in the Urey-Miller-type experiments. There they tried to simulate the primordial chemical conditions. How can we expect, that saccharides have existed then in the primordial soup? Even if they had evolved, they would soon have broken down and would have become useless for life.

The materialists and atheists also used RNA and DNA in their coacervates. - How can they use RNA, the genetic code of viruses, and of DNA, the genetic code of real living cells (with their own metabolism), while trying to show, how the first cell came into being?

Enzymes added

Even if all of those modern substances had existed already in the dead chemical soup of the Early Precambian Time, and even if the coacervate droplets had formed from them, using them as their structural parts: nothing would have been won for them. They would still have been then metabolically inactive. That is why Professor A. I. Oparin and his followers then inserted the very complex enzyme-proteins into their coacervate droplets. These enzyme-proteins they have taken from modern plants and animals. And the result - the now metabolically active coacervate droplet - they presented then to the overawed general public as a great scientific achievement, as a great proof for chemical evolution, for dialectic materialism. Professor A. I. Oparin’s coacervate droplets are just a hoax, a deception of the uninformed reader. This has nothing to do with serious scientific research.


Coacervate droplets (after Oparin) with enclosed enzymes. After: Reinbothe and Krauss (1982). Top: Coacervate droplet, Oparin has made from modern substances, that could not have lived in the primordial soup. He has enclosed here two highly complex enzyme-proteins, to make the droplet metabolically active: the enzymes phosphorylase and amylase, taken from modern plants.

Bottom: The lower coacervate droplet, Oparin has also made from modern substances. It has become metabolically active, because he inserted the complex enzyme-protein NADH-dehydrogenase. This enzyme, taken from a bacteria, could not have lived in the dead chemical soup either. Because the coacervates are supposed to prove that the first living cell has evolved by itself through natural laws from the dead chemical soup of the early Precambrian Time. It is just a big fraud, designed to fool the ignorant public. It has nothing to do whatsoever with serious natural science.



Also Professor S. W. Fox has won world-fame, when he was able to make his "micropheres", while trying to find out, if life on Earth could have evolved by itself in a chemical soup. - What has he found out?

Prof. R. W. Kaplan: "Fox found that thermic proteinoid, dissolved in water, will form small balls, when cooling down. One calls them microspheres. They arose in large number. 15 mg proteinoic in 3 ml sea-water for example produces 106 to 109 small balls. Lava and sand will speed up their formation. They are much more stable, than coacervate droplets; even when left standing for weeks, they will not flow together. If microspheres were left standing in a mother-solution, that still contained dissolved proteinoid, in 1 to 2 weeks, bud-like outgrowths would form. The buds grow, by using matter from the mother-solution. When they reached a certain size, they were separated; they kept on growing and producing buds." (1978:120, 121).

What do Professor Fox’s "microspheres" prove? Are they pre-stages of living cells? Do they prove chemical evolution?

Prof. R. W. Kaplan: "These interesting characteristics and especially their growth have caused Fox to call them ‘protocells’. This, though, should not cause us to make the mistake, to actually view them as ‘first cells’ (Greek protos = the first) and as being alive. Individualized separateness from the environment and growth alone are not enough for ‘life’. These characteristics the crystals are also showing. Also their budding, remotely reminding us of cells, for example, of yeast-cells, should not mislead us to this conclusion."

"This budding is also no dividing of primordial cells, since the budding-material is not produced anew within the cell, but comes for the surrounding proteinoid-solution. ... Similar ordering-processes, as during the assembling of several macro-molecules, are also known and understood already for a long time in the crystals, that also do arise ‘by themselves’, when the atoms come together, forming a highly ordered lattice." (1978:120, 121, 125).

Bruno Vollmert is Professor for Chemistry and Director of the Polymer Institute of the University of Karlsruhe. He says about the "pre-stages" of living cells, which Oparin, Haldane, and Fox claim to have found: "One can only wonder, with what a naivety, lacking all expert knowledge, OPARIN, HALDANE and FOX have thought out their eobionts, protobionts, and microballs as pre-stages of cells and sold them to the uncritical reader as a science - as if these quite common colloid systems had anything to do with living cells." (1983:23).

Professor A. E. Wilder Smith states about the "microspheres": "The metabolism of a living cell is a complex enzymatic process, which consists of different reaction-chains and -steps. Within a microsphere, we do not find any allusions to the presence of any enzymes, so that no enzymatic processes can be used to explain its metabolism. To the contrary, everything there indicates a purely mechanical or physical phenomenon. Thus, there is no parallel between the food-intake of microspheres and cells." (1985:81).

What about their budding and reproduction?

Prof. A. E. Wilder Smith: "The microsphere is doubtlessly budding in a physical way. This process, though, is completely different from that of a cell-division, that is controlled by a complex mechanism, which includes, among other things, also the longitudinal division of the chromosomes as carries of the genes, and their even dispersion among the daughter-cells, so that they all receive the same genetic material, as the mother-cell. The different phases of this complex cell-division-process one has studied and photographed now for many years. Also the mechanism, leading to this division of a DNA-chain-molecule, one has intensely investigated. The process of reproduction depends fully on the chromosome-division; without it, there would be no steady transmission of the genetic material

"Because of these well-known processes, hidden behind cell-division and ‘budding’, it is a complete mystery, how any natural scientist could ever assume that the budding of microspheres had anything to do with biological reproduction, for microspheres do not contain any DNA-chains. ... The same applies to the ‘growth-process’. The living cell grows, by taking in food and by changing it chemically, by metabolizing it. It is based on a complex enzyme-system. The mass- and size-increase of a cell is, thus, based on a highly complex chemical and enzymatic process. A microsphere, however, does not contain an enzyme-system, through which it could grow. The microsphere is growing through absorption..." (1985: 81, 82).

"A fundamental structure, missing in the microspheres and coacervates, is a genetic code, that is absolutely needed for the forms of life, as we know them today. ... Since microspheres do not have such a code-system, one cannot really describe them as being alive or as reproducing, since for both of these processes, a code-system is needed." (1985:93).

"The microspheres, Fox has built up, contain no trace of DNA or of a genetic code, and thus, cannot be described in any way as being alive." ...The conformity between microspheres and coacervates on the one, and the biological cell on the other hand, is only surficial. In contrast to the latter one, microspheres and coacervates contain no viable proteins with specific amino-acid-sequences, nor any genetic component, like DNA or RNA. They are absolutely needed for the forms of life, as we know them today. Alone the fact, that the biological cells are highly coded, while the microspheres and coacervates are not, should help us to keep the things, one can compare, apart. ... So far, no coacervate is known, that is bearing within itself the structural order of the living cell." - Wilder Smith, A. E. (1985:60, 77, 82).

Top: Electron-microscopic picture of a cut through a proteinoid-microsphere. From Fox and Dose (1972), Dose and Rauchfuß (1975). Bottom: Electron-microscopic picture of a cut through a proteinoid-microsphere. From Fox and Fukushima (1964), Dose and Rauchfuß (1975). They have nothing to do whatsoever with a living cell, nor with any pre-stages of a living cell. 

Jacques Monod

How has life, how has the first living cell on Earth come into being? What have other scientists found out? - Jacques Monod became in 1945 a member of the Institute Pasteur in Paris as "Chef de Laboratoire" under A. Lwoff. In 1954 J. Monod became Director of the Department of Cell-Biochemistry. In 1959 he became Professor for Metabolism-Chemistry at the Sorbonne. In 1965 Jacques Monod received the Nobel prize for medicine together with André Lwoff and Francois Jacob. And since 1971 he is Director of the Institute Pasteur. - What has he found out?

Jacques Monod writes in his book Chance and Necessity (1971:176) about the origin of the first living cell: "The greatest problem, though, is the origin of the genetic code and of the mechanism of its translation. Actually, one should not talk here about a ‘problem’, but one should speak here instead about a real mystery. The code makes no sense, if it is not translated. The translating machinery of the modern cell contains at least fifty macro molecular components, that themselves are encoded in the DNA: The code can only be translated through translation-results. That is the modern expression of the old omne vivum ex ovo. When and how has this circle been closed? It is most difficult to imagine this."