In his article, The First Organisms, A. G. Cairns-Smith states to the reader about the original idea of how organisms first appeared on Earth. The idea says that before organisms roamed the Earth, various chemicals were spontaneously formed first. These chemicals served as the building blocks of the first organisms that eventually evolved into the organisms here today. Many biochemists have been testing this theory by conducting various experiments.
By simulating an atmosphere that supposedly resembled Earth's some million years ago, these biochemists have been able to extrapolate certain chemicals that were necessary to construct Earth's first organisms. A. G. Cairns-Smith, in his article, had a different idea of how Earth's first organisms were formed. His idea takes a radical turn from the original idea that many biochemists has considered the accepted general idea of how Earth's first organisms were formed. Though his idea is kind of radical, he does back up his hypothesis with very convincing evidence.
Cairns-Smith states that the general biochemistry idea suggests the first organisms were highly evolved. He had a different idea about their complexity. Cairns-Smith indicated that the first organisms must have been very low on the evolutionary ladder, or as he would call it "low tech" machines. Because of the simplicity of the "low tech" machines, Cairns-Smith they could have been made from different materials all together than those stated in the original idea developed by the biochemists. Cairns-Smith continues on his idea of how the first organisms were simple machines. He said that these machines were able to reproduce, to evolve, and were created from geochemical's.
In order for Cairns-Smith's organisms to reproduce and evolve, they must have had some sort of genetic information like genes. He says that the first organisms had genes but something lower than DNA in the evolutionary scale. He said that though much simpler than DNA, these so-called genes were able to duplicate the actions of DNA. Next Cairns-Smith said that since the first organisms were "low tech" machines, there wouldn't be any similar organisms in the present world.
He explains this by a process, which he developed as "genetic takeover." He describes "genetic takeover" as geochemical genetic material being gradually replaced by an altogether different organic chemical one. (94) Because of many "genetic takeovers" Cairns-Smith said that no one would ever find remnants of the first genetic material anywhere in the modern molecular construction kit. (94) These genes concocted by Cairns-Smith had to be well-structured objects and had to contain a large assemblage of atoms. These two properties Cairns-Smith developed about his genes led him to his idea, these genes could have been crystallizing in clay.
Clay was simple, and it was in abundance. Clay could carry the genes that Cairn-Smith described in crystals, which is a well-structured object. These mineral crystal genes could mutate hence evolved because of the differences in the formations of the crystals and the mineral crystal genes could reproduce, since there is an abundance of clay. Cairns-Smith's article provided the reader with a lot of evidence that crystals of clay could have contained the materials necessary for formation of the Earth's first organisms. His arguments can be convincing but since there is no actual evidence about the existence of mineral crystal genes, his arguments are only convincing but not fact.
Though his arguments aren't fact, there are experiments being conducted that involved clay and organic materials. Some of these experiments show that clays could be converted into organic molecules. These experiments are promising, but the only way to prove A. G. Cairns-Smith theory of crystal clay genes would be to actually discover these genes intact, and so far that has yet to be discovered..