Robert Shapiro (28 November 1935 – 15 June 2011) was professor emeritus of chemistry at New York University. He is best known for his work on the origin of life, having written two books on the topic: Origins, a Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth (1986) and Planetary Dreams (2001). He opposed the RNA world hypothesis, and held that the spontaneous emergence of a molecule as complicated as RNA is highly unlikely. Instead, he proposed that life arose from some self-sustaining and compartmentalized reaction of simple molecules: "metabolism first" instead of "RNA first". This reaction would have to be able to reproduce and evolve, eventually leading to RNA. He claimed that in this view life is a normal consequence of the laws of nature and potentially quite common in the universe.
- Origins: A Skeptic's Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth Summit Books (January 1986) ISBN 0-671-45939-2.
- Planetary Dreams: The Quest to Discover Life Beyond Earth Wiley; 1 edition (May 18, 2001) ISBN 0471407356.