Is Evolution a Religion?

by Dr. Tommy Mitchell and Dr. Monty White on July 1, 2010; last featured April 28, 2017

Surely, evolution is about the origin and development of life-forms on earth — what has this got to do with religion? Evolution is science, isn’t it?

We are sure that many people will find the question posed as the title of this chapter a little strange. Surely, evolution is about the origin and development of life-forms on earth—what has this got to do with religion? Evolution is science, isn’t it? And we are told that it has got to be separate from religious belief—at least in the classroom! Well, let’s see if evolution fits the bill as a true science as opposed to a religious belief. In order to do so, we must define some terms.

What Is Science?

Creationists are often accused of being unscientific or pseudoscientific, while at the same time those who promote evolution assume the mantle of “real scientist.” But what is science anyway? According to The American Heritage Dictionary, science is “the observation, identification, description, experimental investigation, and theoretical explanation of phenomena.”1 Or put more simply, science involves observing things in the real world and trying to explain how they work. The key word here is observation.

You see, creationists do, indeed, believe in real “observational science,” sometimes called “operational science.” We enjoy the benefits of observational science every day. Whether flying in an airplane, having our illness cured by the wonders of modern medicine, or writing this book on a space-age laptop computer, we are benefiting from the technology that applies genuine observational science to real-world needs. These triumphs of science exist in the present and can therefore be the subjects of examination and investigation.

Another type of science is known as “historical science,” sometimes called “origins science.” Historical science is the process of using the methods of science in the present to determine what happened in the past. Since the physical world exists in the present, all the evidence a scientist has available to examine the physical world also exists in the present. The scientist has no method to examine directly the past; thus, he must make assumptions in order to come to conclusions. However, assumptions are unproven, and generally unprovable, beliefs. Assumptions are no more than untestable guesses.

Things that happened in the past are just that, past. They cannot be observed or tested in the present. They cannot be repeated or verified in the present. Then, you ask, how do we know so much about the past?

Understanding the Past

Perhaps an example here would help illustrate this issue. If you were to ask a roomful of people, “Do you think George Washington was a real person?” what would you expect the response to be? Of course, everyone would say that he or she believed George Washington actually existed.

George Washington

George Washington

Now ask this question: “Can you give me a way to prove his existence scientifically, that is, by some experimental procedure?” The usual responses are “Test his DNA,” or “Dig up his bones.” But actually, these methods won’t work. First of all, DNA testing would only work if you already had a valid sample of his DNA to use as a comparison. If you dug up his bones, you still could not prove they were his. In order to make any conclusions, you would have to make some assumptions based on things you could not actually test.

Well then, if there is no scientific method to prove he lived, how do we know George Washington existed? It’s easy! We have abundant historical documentation of his life. These documents were held to be valid by the people who lived in that day and are not disputed. Thus, we have reliable evidence that he actually walked the earth. (Whether or not he actually chopped down a cherry tree is still a matter of debate!)

What Does This Have to Do with Evolution?

Molecules-to-man evolution is based on the premise that, through mutation and natural selection, organisms have, over the past three billion or so years, become more complex. These organisms have then progressed into an ever-increasing array of creatures until, ultimately, humans arrived on the scene.

When asked if anyone has ever seen one type of creature change into another, the answer is always no. Confronted with this, the evolutionists will usually counter that it happens too slowly to be seen. The claim is that it takes millions of years for these painfully slow processes to occur. Well then, if the process is too slow to be seen, how do we know it happened at all? After all, no one was there to observe all these organisms slowly changing into more complex forms. Also, there is no way in the present to test or repeat what happened in the past. Any conclusions about things that are not testable in the present must be based on unprovable assumptions about the untestable past.

The late Ernst Mayr, who was considered by many to be one of the 20th century’s most influential evolutionists, put it this way:

Evolutionary biology, in contrast with physics and chemistry, is an historical science—the evolutionist attempts to explain events and processes that have already taken place. Laws and experiments are inappropriate techniques for the explication of such events and processes. Instead one constructs a historical narrative, consisting of a tentative reconstruction of the particular scenario that led to the events one is trying to explain2 (emphasis added).

He then amazingly concluded, “No educated person any longer questions the validity of the so-called theory of evolution, which we know now to be a simple fact2 (emphasis added).

So-called Evidence for Evolution

What is so obvious in our world that Mayr could call goo-to-you evolution “a simple fact,” which according to him no educated person would question? There are many supposed evidences for evolution. We will now consider two of these supposed evidences here and will examine them in the light of observational, rather than historical, science.

Evolutionists often claim that the theory of evolution has nothing to do with the origin of life. They argue that evolution only deals with issues of the changes in organisms over time. They contend that life has progressed through purely naturalistic means, without any supernatural intervention. However, if they argue that life progresses by purely naturalistic mechanisms, then they must also delineate a natural process by which life came into being.

One supposed evidence for evolution is that life began spontaneously in the earth’s vast oceans approximately three billion years ago.3 Textbooks, magazines, and television documentaries constantly bombard us with this so-called fact. Just what is the evidence for the evolution of life from nonliving molecules? There isn’t any! There is no method to determine what the earth’s “ancient atmosphere” was like or the composition of the oceans at that time.4 No one was there to test or examine that environment. No one can say with certainty what the chemical makeup of the primordial oceans was. So how can it be claimed that simple proteins and nucleic acids arose spontaneously?

Secular Time-line of History

Based on our knowledge of these molecules using observational science in the present, it is difficult to imagine these processes happening by naturalistic processes. No scientific observation has ever shown how these complex molecules could arise spontaneously, let alone evolve simultaneously and assemble themselves in such a way as to become alive. One prominent evolutionist, the late Leslie Orgel, noted, “And so, at first glance, one might have to conclude that life could never, in fact, have originated by chemical means.”5

One of the primary evidences used to support the theory of evolution is the fossil record. Evolutionists have long proposed that the fossilized remains of dead organisms, both plant and animal, found in the rock layers prove that life has evolved on the earth over millions of years. Using observational science, how can this conclusion be reached? There are only the fossils themselves to examine. These fossils only exist in the present. There is no method to determine directly what happened to these creatures; neither to determine how they died, nor how they were buried in the sediment, nor how long it took for them to fossilize. Although it is possible to make up a story to explain the fossil record, this contrived story does not meet the criteria for true scientific investigation. A story about the past cannot be scientifically tested in the present.

The creationist looking at the fossil record reaches a far different conclusion from the evolutionist. To the creationist, the fossils in the rocks represent the result of a global cataclysm with massive sedimentation rapidly burying millions upon millions of creatures. This catastrophic event would account not only for the fossil record but also for the rock layers themselves. (Deposition of sediment in layers would have resulted from sorting in the turbulent Flood and post-Flood waters.) So which viewpoint is correct? Neither the creationist’s nor the evolutionist’s explanation can be tested in the present.

The Bible

But in this regard the creationist does have evidence. Evidence is found in a book called the Bible. The Bible claims to be the Word of God. It is a record of what God did and when He did it. In the Bible we learn how life began—God created it. The Bible helps us understand the fossil record—much of it is the result of a worldwide Flood as described in Genesis 6–8. Like the historical documents that establish George Washington existed, we have a reliable historical document called the Bible to give us answers about our origin and about our world.

An evolutionist has no historical documentation for his viewpoint. He relies on the assumptions of historical science for support. Herein lies a fundamental misunderstanding of the purpose and potential of science. Scientific inquiry properly involves the investigation of processes that are observable, testable, and repeatable. The origin and development of life on earth cannot be observed, tested, or repeated because it happened in the past.

So is evolution observable science? No, evolution falls under the realm of historical science; it is a belief system about the past. How can an evolutionist believe these things without rigorous scientific proof? The answer is that he wants to. Evolutionists are quite sincere in their beliefs, but ultimately these beliefs are based on their view that the world originated by itself through totally naturalistic processes. There is a term for this type of belief system—that term is religion. Religion is “a cause, a principle, or an activity pursued with zeal or conscientious devotion.”6 It should be pointed out that religion does not necessarily involve the concept of God.

Perhaps a few observations from some of the world’s leading evolutionists will now put the question posed in the title of this chapter into perspective.

Evolution as a Religion

Dr. Michael Ruse, from the Department of Philosophy at the University of Guelph in Ontario, is a philosopher of science, particularly of the evolutionary sciences. He is the author of several books on Darwinism and evolutionary theory, and, in an article in the National Post, he wrote:7

Evolution is promoted by its practitioners as more than mere science. Evolution is promulgated as an ideology, a secular religion—a full-fledged alternative to Christianity, with meaning and morality. . . . Evolution is a religion. This was true of evolution in the beginning, and it is true of evolution still today.

This is an incredible admission: the study of the origin and development of life-forms on earth is not “mere science,” but “a secular religion.”

However, this is also the view of the late William Provine, the Charles A. Alexander Professor of Biological Sciences at the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Cornell University. Writing in Origins Research, he told us, “Let me summarize my views on what modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear.”8 Now you would expect this leading professor of biology to say that modern evolutionary biology tells us something about the origin of life or something about natural selection or something about the origin of species or something about genetics. But, no! According to this leading evolutionary biologist, modern evolutionary biology tells us loud and clear that:

There are no gods, no purposes, no goal-directed forces of any kind. There is no life after death. When I die, I am absolutely certain that I am going to be dead. That’s the end for me. There is no ultimate foundation for ethics, no ultimate meaning to life, and no free will for humans, either.8

It is obvious that these two influential biologists believe that evolution is a religion—a religion of atheism where there are no end products and where evolution reigns supreme.

Religion of Atheism

Writing a superb article about the rise of the Darwinian fundamentalism in The Spectator, the journalist Paul Johnson sums up the belief system of atheistic evolutionists with great insightfulness.

Nature does not distinguish between a range of mountains, like the Alps, or a stone or a clever scientist like Professor Dawkins, because it is sightless, senseless and mindless, being a mere process operating according to rules which have not been designed but simply are.9

Although Paul Johnson uses the word nature, he actually is referring to evolution. By this he means chance random processes honed by natural selection over eons of time. This is the process by which everything has been created, according to the evolutionists. The everything can be an inanimate object like a range of mountains, or it can be incredibly complex creatures like you and the authors of this book.

This belief in molecules-to-man evolution can and does cause people to become atheists as admitted by leading atheist Dr. Richard Dawkins, the Charles Simonyi Professor of the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University. In answer to the question “Is atheism the logical extension of believing evolution?” Dawkins replied, “My personal feeling is that understanding evolution led me to atheism.”10

Evolution Contrasted with Christianity

The only true real religion is Christianity, and this can be used as the template to explain what a religion is. A religion will therefore give an explanation for

  • A holy book—Christianity teaches that the Bible is the Word of God and that this book teaches us what to believe concerning God and what God requires of us. The holy book of the evolutionists is Darwin’s Origin of Species. The evolutionists believe that this book gives an explanation for the origin and development of life on earth11 without the need of any God or supernatural agent.
  • The origin of everything—Christianity teaches that in the beginning God created everything (that is, the entire universe with all its stars and planets, all plant life and all animal and human life) out of nothing over a period of six literal days. In comparison, evolution teaches that in the beginning nothing exploded and gradually evolved over billions of years into the universe that we see today.
  • The origin of death and suffering—Christianity teaches that when God created everything, it was perfect. As a result of the sin of the first man, Adam, death, disease, and suffering entered the scene. Evolution does not recognize the word sin but teaches that fish-to-philosopher evolution can only proceed via death. Hence, death, disease, and suffering are the necessary driving forces of evolution; from this concept, we get the phrase survival of the fittest.
  • The reason why humans are here—Christianity teaches that humans are the pinnacle of God’s creation and that they were made in God’s image and likeness. In contrast, amoeba-to-architect evolution teaches that humans have evolved from some apelike ancestor, which in turn evolved from another sort of animal.
  • The future of humans—Christianity teaches that one day the Lord Jesus Christ will return to this earth and that He will create a new heavens and earth where those people who trusted Him as their Lord and Savior in this life will live with God forever. Evolution, on the other hand, teaches that humans are not the end product of evolution; evolution will continue and humans will either become extinct or evolve into some other species of creature that will definitely not be human.
  • The future of the universe—Christianity teaches that the present universe will be burned up by God, and He will then create a new heavens and earth. Evolution, on the other hand, teaches that one day the universe will reach what is called a heat death, although it is in effect a cold death, for the temperature of the universe will be just a fraction of a degree above absolute zero. This will happen when all the energy that is available to do work will have been used up, and then nothing will happen—the universe will just “be.” The time period for the universe to reach this state is almost unimaginable. It is thought that it will take about a thousand billion years for all the stars to use up all their fuel and fizzle out. By then, of course, there will be no life in the universe; every single life-form, including humans, will have become extinct billions of years previously. There will still be, however, occasional flashes of starlight in the dark universe as very large stars collapse in on themselves to form black holes. For the next 10122 (that is the figure 1 followed by 122 zeros!) years, this so-called Hawking radiation will be the only thing happening in the universe. Then, when all the black holes have evaporated, there will be darkness for 1026 years, during which time the universe will simply “be” and nothing will happen.

Evolution—an Attractive Religion

At first sight, believing in evolution may not seem an attractive proposition. However, what makes it attractive is that there is no God to whom you have to give an account of your actions. This is borne out by the following quote from an atheist:

We no longer feel ourselves to be guests in someone else’s home and therefore obliged to make our behavior conform with a set of preexisting cosmic rules. It is our creation now. We make the rules. We establish the parameters of reality. We create the world, and because we do, we no longer feel beholden to outside forces. We no longer have to justify our behavior, for we are now the architects of the universe. We are responsible to nothing outside ourselves, for we are the kingdom, the power, and the glory forever and ever.12

Evolution therefore leads to the teaching that you can do as you please. You can live your life just to please yourself. Many people today live such a life. They have abandoned the faith of their forefathers and have embraced the doctrines of evolution with its atheism. No wonder we are living in a “me, me, me,” hedonistic society where everything that you do is to try to please and bring pleasure to yourself. This is more than “selfish ambition”; it is totally decadent and is in total contrast to what Christianity teaches about what our ambition should be—our chief end is to glorify God (not ourself) and to enjoy Him (not ourself) forever.

(original link)

Worldwide Flood, Worldwide Evidence

When the Bible refers to a worldwide Flood in Genesis 7–8, that’s exactly what it means. Not local, not metaphorical, not some crazy dream—the waters covered the whole earth. Don’t just take our word for it, though. Take a look at the evidence right beneath your feet.

Evidence 1: Fossils of sea creatures high above sea level due to the ocean waters having flooded over the continents

We find fossils of sea creatures in rock layers that cover all the continents. For example, most of the rock layers in the walls of Grand Canyon (more than a mile above sea level) contain marine fossils. Fossilized shellfish are even found in the Himalayas.

Evidence 2: Rapid burial of plants and animals

We find extensive fossil “graveyards” and exquisitely preserved fossils. For example, billions of nautiloid fossils are found in a layer within the Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon. This layer was deposited catastrophically by a massive flow of sediment (mostly lime sand). The chalk and coal beds of Europe and the United States, and the fish, ichthyosaurs, insects, and other fossils all around the world, testify of catastrophic destruction and burial.

Focus in: The World’s a Graveyard

Evidence 3: Rapidly deposited sediment layers spread across vast areas

We find rock layers that can be traced all the way across continents—even between continents—and physical features in those strata indicate they were deposited rapidly. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone and Redwall Limestone of Grand Canyon can be traced across the entire United States, up into Canada, and even across the Atlantic Ocean to England. The chalk beds of England (the white cliffs of Dover) can be traced across Europe into the Middle East and are also found in the Midwest of the United States and in Western Australia. Inclined (sloping) layers within the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon are testimony to 10,000 cubic miles of sand being deposited by huge water currents within days.

Focus in: Transcontinental Rock Layers

Evidence 4: Sediment transported long distances

We find that the sediments in those widespread, rapidly deposited rock layers had to be eroded from distant sources and carried long distances by fast-moving water. For example, the sand for the Coconino Sandstone of Grand Canyon (Arizona) had to be eroded and transported from the northern portion of what is now the United States and Canada. Furthermore, water current indicators (such as ripple marks) preserved in rock layers show that for “300 million years” water currents were consistently flowing from northeast to southwest across all of North and South America, which, of course, is only possible over weeks during a global Flood.

Focus in: Sand Transported Cross Country

Evidence 5: Rapid or no erosion between strata

We find evidence of rapid erosion, or even of no erosion, between rock layers. Flat, knife-edge boundaries between rock layers indicate continuous deposition of one layer after another, with no time for erosion. For example, there is no evidence of any “missing” millions of years (of erosion) in the flat boundary between two well-known layers of Grand Canyon—the Coconino Sandstone and the Hermit Formation. Another impressive example of flat boundaries at Grand Canyon is the Redwall Limestone and the strata beneath it.

Focus in: No Slow and Gradual Erosion

Evidence 6: Many strata laid down in rapid succession

Rocks do not normally bend; they break because they are hard and brittle. But in many places we find whole sequences of strata that were bent without fracturing, indicating that all the rock layers were rapidly deposited and folded while still wet and pliable before final hardening. For example, the Tapeats Sandstone in Grand Canyon is folded at a right angle (90°) without evidence of breaking. Yet this folding could only have occurred after the rest of the layers had been deposited, supposedly over “480 million years,” while the Tapeats Sandstone remained wet and pliable.

Focus in: Rock Layers Folded, Not Fractured

What now?

The Bible’s history is reliable throughout—from the creation of man from the dust of the ground to the worldwide Flood to the coming of Jesus Christ. But just reading the evidence isn’t enough. The message of salvation founded in the Bible’s history is also true, and, God wants us to accept the gift of salvation He freely offers us.

The evidence is real. God has revealed Himself to us in His Word and in His creation (Romans 1:20).

(original link)

Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism

by Dr. Jerry Bergman on July 28, 2010

Abstract

A common claim is that no conflict exists between modern neo-Darwinism and orthodox biblical Christianity. The conclusions of many of the most eminent biologists today and a major study of leading biologists were reviewed, finding that they strongly disagree with the non-conflict hypothesis.

Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism

Charles Darwin

Introduction

U.S. District Judge Jones ruled in the 2005 Dover, Pennsylvania Intelligent Design court decision that no contradiction exists between modern Neo-Darwinism and theism. The judge ruled that:

Both Defendants [Dover Area School Board of Directors] and many of the leading proponents of ID make a bedrock assumption which is utterly false. Their presupposition is that evolutionary theory is antithetical to a belief in the existence of a supreme being and to religion in general. Repeatedly in this trial, Plaintiffs’ scientific experts testified that the theory of evolution represents good science, is overwhelmingly accepted by the scientific community, and that it in no way conflicts with, nor does it deny, the existence of a divine creator (Kitzmiller et al. 2005, p. 136).

Many, if not most, eminent biologists openly disagree with Judge Jones and have expressed this disagreement in the strongest terms possible. For example, University of Chicago biology Professor Jerry Coyne wrote that science has in the past delivered several crippling blows to humanity’s theistic worldview, and the most severe blow was

in 1859, when Charles Darwin published On the Origin of Species, demolishing, in 545 pages of closely reasoned prose, the comforting notion that we are unique among all species—the supreme object of God’s creation, and the only creature whose early travails could be cashed in for a comfortable afterlife . . . like all species, we are the result of a purely natural and material process (Coyne 2009, p. 34).

Coyne notes that the views of theologian John Haught, who testified in the Dover case, about the harmony of evolution and theism, have been soundly rejected by most scientists. Specifically Haught’s view was, although life may have evolved, the

process was really masterminded by God, whose ultimate goal was to evolve a species, our species, that is able to apprehend and therefore to admire its creator. This progressivist and purpose-driven view of evolution, rejected by most scientists, has been embraced by Haught and other theologians (Coyne 2009, p. 34).

In contrast to Haught, who also testified in the Dover trial that Darwinism and Christianity are fully compatible, the late Harvard Professor, Stephen Jay Gould, one of the most eminent evolutionary biologists of the last century, rejected the idea that the “improbability of our evolution indicates divine intent in our origin” (Gould 1991, p. 15). Rather, Gould noted, evolutionists have concluded that humans are “pitiful latecomers in the last microsecond of our planetary year” (Gould 1991, p. 18). Gould also wrote that no

scientific revolution can match Darwin’s discovery in degree of upset to our previous comforts and certainties. . . . Evolution substituted a naturalistic explanation of cold comfort for our former conviction that a benevolent deity fashioned us directly in his own image, to have dominion over the entire earth and all other creatures (Gould 2001, p. xi).

Gould concluded that humans are a “tiny and accidental evolutionary twig . . . a little mammalian afterthought with a curious evolutionary invention” called the human brain (Gould 1991, p. 13). Gould has made it clear elsewhere that Darwinism demands atheism, adding that

although organisms may be well designed, and ecosystems harmonious, these broader features of life arise only as consequences of the unconscious struggles of individual organisms for personal reproductive success, and not as direct results of any natural principle operating overtly for such “higher” goods . . . by taking the Darwinian “cold bath,” and staring a factual reality in the face, we can finally abandon the cardinal false hope of the ages—that factual nature can specify the meaning of our life by validating our inherent superiority, or by proving that evolution exists to generate us as the summit of life’s purpose (Gould 2001, p xiii).

Kansas State University Professor of Biology Scott Todd wrote that a stark contrast exists between the Darwinism and theism worldviews that Judge Jones ruled “in no way conflict” with each other, noting that the

crucial difference between what the creationists believe and what the proponents of evolutionary theory accept concerns the issue of whether the origins of life were driven by randomness or by an intelligent creator (Todd 1999, p. 423).

Design by an intelligent creator and the effects of randomness are diametrically opposed opposites, two ends of a dichotomy separated by a chasm. The fact is that

evolutionary theory weakened one of the most intuitively compelling arguments for the existence of God: the argument from design. Theists going back at least as far as Thomas Aquinas had argued that the intricate design found in organisms was evidence of a designer, namely God . . . neither Hume nor anyone else had been able to think of a better explanation, and the design argument retained much of its force. Darwin changed all of this. His theory of natural selection provided a naturalistic account of the origin of species—an explanation for design without a designer (Stewart-Williams 2004, p. 19).

Professor Nigel Williams was even more blunt, writing that Darwin “destroyed the strongest evidence left in the nineteenth century for the existence of a deity” (Williams 2008, p. R579). Professor Francisco Ayala explained in detail why Darwinism ruled out theism, namely that it negated the need for an intelligent creator because “Darwin’s greatest contribution to science” is that he led the way to prove that natural law can create all that is real, and no need exists for an intelligent creator because “organisms could now be explained . . . as the result of natural processes, without recourse to an Intelligent Designer” (Ayala 2007, p. 8567).

The Darwinian revolution resulted in a major rethinking of the nature of humans and human institutions. Oxford University Professor of the History of Science I. B. Cohen concluded that the

Darwinian revolution was probably the most significant revolution that has ever occurred in the sciences, because its effects and influences were significant in many different areas of thought and belief. The consequence of this revolution was a systematic rethinking of the nature of the world, of man, and of human institutions . . . This event, a declaration of revolution in a formal scientific publication, appears to be without parallel in the history of science (Cohen 1985, pp. 285, 299).

Scientists in Darwin’s day knew that this revolution was upon them. Botanist and phrenologist Hewett C. Watson wrote to Darwin on November 21, 1859, informing him that he (Darwin) was “the greatest Revolutionist in natural history of this century, if not of all centuries,” adding that a quarter of a century ago he and Darwin were two of the few persons who doubted special creation (Watson 1991, p. 385). Ernst Mayr concluded that Darwin “caused a greater upheaval in man’s thinking than any other scientific advance since the rebirth of science in the Renaissance” (Mayr 1976, p. 291).

The Most Significant Revolution in History

In the minds of many, if not most Darwinists, the Darwinian Revolution has resulted in explaining away the task that once required a creator and has replaced Him by blind, unintelligent and amoral natural laws. This is because

Darwin’s theory of natural selection accounts for the “design” of organisms, and for their wondrous diversity, as the result of natural processes, the gradual accumulation of spontaneously arisen variations (mutations) sorted out by natural selection. (Ayala 2007, p. 8567).

Ayala concluded, noting that

Mutation and selection have jointly driven the marvelous process [of evolution] that, starting from microscopic organisms, has yielded orchids, birds, and humans. The theory of evolution conveys chance and necessity, randomness and determinism . . . this was Darwin’s fundamental discovery, that there is a process that is creative, although not conscious (Ayala 2007, p. 8568).

The fact is, nowhere in Darwinism is there any mention or need for God, or even an Intelligent Creator, a fact which

raised an uncomfortable possibility: If God is not needed to explain the design in nature—which was generally considered the best evidence for a designer—maybe God does not exist at all (Stewart-Williams 2008, p. 19).

Darwin himself knew that his evolution theory not only supported atheism, but atheism was a logical result of his theory. Although Darwin personally

discouraged militant arguments against religion because they supposedly have little effect on the public, he nevertheless indirectly supported their use of his theory to propagate atheism (Caton 2008, p. 3).

An example is, in 1880 Darwin wrote a letter to atheist Edward Aveling that “it appears to me (whether rightly or wrongly) that direct arguments against christianity [sic] and theism produce hardly any effect on the public.” Darwin added that, instead of arguing directly against Christianity, the task of converting people to atheism

is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds, which follow from the advance of science [i.e. evolution]. It has, therefore, been always my object to avoid writing on religion [for publication, and for this reason] I have confined myself to science (Aveling 1883, pp. 4–5).

Darwin once said that he was with atheists “in thought” even though he preferred to call himself an agnostic as opposed to an atheist (Aveling 1883, p. 5). Ignored is the fact that, as noted in a review of Richard Dawkin’s book The God Delusion, Dawkins and other atheists usually totally ignore the faith-based nature of their own convictions:

As Dawkins acknowledges and physicists have shown, the existence of conscious, rational beings is a wildly improbable outcome. To insist that we are simply the products of the workings of, ultimately, physical laws is to avoid the question of the nature and origin of those laws. To say that there is no evidence for God is merely, therefore, an interpretation, justified in one context but quite meaningless in another. Everywhere we look, there is evidence of . . . something of a startling intelligibility (Appleyard 2007, p. 47).

University of Chicago Professor Jerry Coyne wrote that there exist

religious scientists and Darwinian churchgoers. But this does not mean that faith and science are compatible, except in the trivial sense that both attitudes can be simultaneously embraced by a single human mind. (It is like saying that marriage and adultery are compatible because some married people are adulterers.) (Coyne 2009, p. 33).

Cornell Professor William Provine wrote that the

implications of modern science produce much squirming among scientists, who claim a high degree of rationality. Some, along with many liberal theologians, suggest that God set up the universe in the beginning and/or works through the laws of nature. This silly way of trying to have one’s cake and eat it too amounts to deism. It is equivalent to the claim that science and religion are compatible if the religion is effectively indistinguishable from atheism. Show me a person who says that science and religion are compatible, and I will show you a person who (1) is an effective atheist, or (2) believes things demonstrably unscientific, or (3) asserts the existence of entities or processes for which no shred of evidence exists (Provine 1988, p. 10).

One study concluded that “science and religion have come into conflict repeatedly throughout history, and one simple reason for this is the two offer competing explanations for many of the same phenomena” (Preston and Epley 2009, p. 238). This study found from scientific research that increasing the values of one decreases the value of the other because the “two ideologies are inherently opposed, and that belief in one necessarily undermines belief in the other.”

The researchers concluded that, just as it is impossible to believe a single proposition can be both true and false at the same time, likewise one cannot logically and simultaneously believe in two contradictory explanations of life’s origins. Either God created life, thus creationism, or purely natural forces did, thus naturalistic evolutionism is true. The implications of this worldview are clear. In an essay based on the Phi Beta Kappa Oration given at Harvard University on June 3, 2008, Nobel Laureate Professor Steven Weinberg wrote that the

worldview of science is rather chilling. Not only do we not find any point to life laid out for us in nature, no objective basis for our moral principles, no correspondence between what we think is the moral law and the laws of nature . . . . the emotions that we most treasure, our love for our wives and husbands and children, are made possible by chemical processes in our brains that are what they are as a result of natural selection acting on chance mutations over millions of years. And yet we must not sink into nihilism or stifle our emotions. At our best we live on a knife-edge, between wishful thinking on one hand and, on the other, despair. Living without God isn’t easy. But its very difficulty offers one other consolation—that there is a certain honor, or perhaps just a grim satisfaction, in facing up to our condition without despair and without wishful thinking—with good humor, but without God (Weinberg 2008, p. 1).

This View in Science is Widespread

Surveys of eminent evolutionists find that most agree with those scientists quoted above. For example, Greg Graffin completed a Ph.D. in evolutionary biology at Cornell University under Professor William Provine. His thesis was on the religious beliefs of leading evolutionary biologists. The sample he polled consisted of 271 scientists, and close to 56% completed the entire questionnaire (151 persons). Graffin found that as a result of accepting the Darwinian worldview almost 98.7% of his respondents rejected a traditional theistic worldview and, instead, became functional atheists. He defined theism as a belief in a personal creative God as taught by the Christian, Jewish, and Muslim religions. He added that a San Antonio, Texas, attorney wrote recently to him asking

“Is there an intellectually honest Christian evolutionist position? . . . Or do we simply have to check our brains at the church house door?” The answer is, you indeed have to check your brains (Provine 1988, p. 10).

Over 84% of the scientists that returned the questionnaire rejected all theistic religions and most concluded that evolution serves as a replacement for theism. Almost none of the scientists in this pool of world-famous scientists even tried to marry Darwinism and theism, the two popular worldviews that Judge Jones ruled “in no way conflicts.” Graffin found that a rare few scientists attempted to harmonize Darwinism with theism, and an even rarer few tried to claim, as did one Ivy League paleontologist, that evolution is the fruit of “Gods love” (Graffin 2004, p. 78). Almost every scientist in his study recognized the unbridgeable gap between evolution and theism.

Both Graffin’s Cornell Ph.D. dissertation, and his book on the same topic, document in detail why orthodox Neo-Darwinism (a central tenet is Naturalism) and theism are at opposite ends of the spectrum. This is true not only for theism, but also of all major worldview questions, such as if an ultimate purpose exists in life and if we will be held accountable for our behavior in an afterlife or even if an afterlife exists. In Graffin’s words, “in most evolutionary biologists’ view, there is no conflict between evolution and religion on one important condition: that religion is essentially atheistic” (Graffin 2004, pp. 21–22). Graffin concluded that his study has documented that “naturalism is a young, new religion” that is now the dominant religion among almost all leading Darwinists (Graffin 2004, p. 38).

Most atheists and secular humanists recognize the fact that evolution commonly leads to atheism and they are, for this reason, at the forefront of defending evolution (Sharp and Bergman 2008). In a British article subtitled “Grayling dissects a new defense of Intelligent Design”, Grayling writes that science had proven molecules to man evolution is fact and, as a result, “the more science, the less religion. And this is a universal phenomenon (see the Pew polls on the decline of religion, even in the USA)” (Grayling 2008, pp. 27–29). It is for this reason that evolutionists fight so tenaciously to insure that dogmatic Darwinism is forced into the schools and that criticism of this view is, by law, censored.

Evolution Anti-Science

The chasm between evolution and theism is not the only concern of theists. Some theists object to what has now become dogmatic evolutionism for other reasons. Noble laureate Robert Laughlin concluded that evolution is actually anti-science. He wrote “of” or “about” his concern that much “present-day biological knowledge is ideological” which, he notes, involves explanations that have

no implications and cannot be tested. I call such logical dead ends antitheories because they have exactly the opposite effect of real theories: they stop thinking rather than stimulate it. Evolution by natural selection, for instance, which Charles Darwin originally conceived as a great theory, has lately come to function more as an antitheory, called upon to cover up embarrassing experimental shortcomings and legitimize findings that are at best questionable and at worst not even wrong. Your protein defies the laws of mass action? Evolution did it! Your complicated mess of chemical reactions turns into a chicken? Evolution! The human brain works on logical principles no computer can emulate? Evolution is the cause! . . . Biology has plenty of theories [to explain origins]. They are just not discussed—or scrutinized—in public (Laughlin 2005, pp. 168–169).

In other words, Laughlin notes that evolutionism has become an explanation for events for which no explanation as of yet exists. This implies that a valid scientific explanation does exist, which may discourage scientific investigation to find the real explanation.

Given the validity of the conclusions in this paper, Judge Jones’s ruling means that teaching a theistic worldview in state schools is illegal and only one worldview, Darwinism, can be taught. Professor Todd noted that

it should be made clear in the classroom that science, including evolution, has not disproved God’s existence because it cannot be allowed to consider it (Todd 1999, p. 423, emphasis added).

Professor Todd concluded that even if “all the data point to an intelligent designer, such an hypothesis is excluded from science because it is not naturalistic” (Todd, 1999, p. 423). Professors Cobb and Coyne wrote that

science is about finding material explanations of the world . . . Religion, on the other hand, is about humans thinking that awe, wonder and reverence are the clue to understanding a God-built Universe . . . There is a fundamental conflict here, one that can never be reconciled until all religions cease making claims about the nature of reality. The scientific study of religion is indeed full of big questions that need to be addressed, such as why belief in religion is negatively correlated with an acceptance of evolution (Cobb and Coyne 2008, p. 1049, emphasis added).

They concluded that efforts to bring religion and science into harmony will not bring science and religion (or “spirituality”) closer to one another nor bring about “advances in theological thinking” because the “only contribution that science can make to the ideas of religion is atheism” (Cobb and Coyne 2008, p. 1049). In 1929 Professor Watson wrote that evolution “is accepted by zoologists, not because it has been observed to occur or . . . is supported by logically coherent evidence to be true, but because the only alternative, special creation, is clearly incredible” (Watson 1929, pp. 231–233). The same is still true today. For example, Oxford Professor Richard Dawkins wrote that

instead of examining the evidence for and against rival theories [of the origins of life], I shall adapt a more armchair approach. My argument will be Why Orthodox Darwinism Demands Atheism 151 that Darwinism is the only known theory that is in principle capable of explaining [the origins of life] . . . even if there were no actual evidence in favor of the Darwinian theory . . . we should still be justified in preferring it over all rival theories (Dawkins 1986, p. 287).

Dawkins believes that there is evidence for Darwinism, but nonetheless admits his bias as did Watson. This is why Professor Laughlin has concluded that Darwinism is anti-science dogma. Professor Daniel Dennett concluded that Darwinism spelled the end of theism because Darwin’s idea of natural selection

is the best idea anybody ever had, ahead of Newton, ahead of Einstein. What it does is it promises to unite the two most disparate features of all of reality. On the one side, purposeless matter and motion, jostling particles; on the other side, meaning, purpose, design. Before Darwin these were completely separate realms (quoted in Ruvinsky 2010, p. 146).

Darwinism united the “most disparate features of all reality,” meaning that purpose and design, both of which can be explained by natural selection, negate the need for God.

This View Existed from the Beginning of Darwinism

Nagel wrote that from the start of the Darwinian revolution

it has been commonplace to present the theory of evolution by random mutation and natural selection as an alternative to intentional design as an explanation of the functional organization of living organisms. . . . Its defining element is the claim that all this happened as the result of the appearance of random and purposeless mutations in the genetic material followed by natural selection due to the resulting heritable variations in reproductive fitness. It displaces design by proposing an alternative (Nagel 2008, p. 188).

As noted above, Darwin himself made it very clear that his theory displaced God and he felt that an indirect approach was a more effective route to atheism. Darwin had murdered God, at least in the minds of many scientists. Cornell University biology professor William B. Provine made this very clear:

When Darwin deduced the theory of natural selection to explain the adaptations in which he had previously seen the handiwork of God, he knew that he was committing cultural murder. He understood immediately that if natural selection explained adaptations, and evolution by descent were true, then the argument from design was dead and all that went with it, namely the existence of a personal god, free will, life after death, immutable moral laws, and ultimate meaning in life. The immediate reactions to Darwin’s On the Origin of Species exhibit, in addition to favorable and admiring responses from a relatively few scientists, [was] an understandable fear and disgust that has never disappeared from Western culture (Provine 1994, p. 30).

So confident are Darwinists that evolution has destroyed theism that some scientists predict theistic religion will eventually die out as knowledge of evolution spreads. University of Pennsylvania professor Anthony Wallace wrote in 1966 that religion, under the assault of science, by which he means evolution, has been increasingly restricted in its influence, and he predicts that the

evolutionary future of religion is extinction. Belief in supernatural beings and in supernatural forces that affect nature without obeying nature’s laws will erode and become only an interesting historical memory. To be sure, this event is not likely to occur in the next generation; the process will likely take several hundred years . . . but as a cultural trait, belief in supernatural powers is doomed to die out, all over the world, as a result of the increasing adequacy and diffusion of scientific knowledge . . . the process is inevitable (Wallace 1966, pp. 264–265).

Why do many “scientists publicly deny the implications of modern science, and promulgate the compatibility of religion and science?” Provine answered as follows:

Wishful thinking, religious training, and intellectual dishonesty are all important factors. Perhaps the most important motivation in the United States, however, is fear about federal funding for science. Almost all members of Congress profess to being very religious. Will Congress continue to fund science that is inconsistent with religion? Scientists are trading intellectual honesty for political considerations (Provine 1988, p. 10).

Conclusions

It is clear that the most eminent life scientists of our age agree, and have expressed themselves in the strongest terms on the matter, that a clear, unbridgeable contradiction exists between Darwinism and theism. As Nick Lane of University College, London, wrote

Evolution has no foresight, and does not plan for the future. There is no inventor, no intelligent design . . . Design is all around us, the product of blind but ingenious processes. Evolutionists often talk informally of inventions, and there is no better word to convey the astonishing creativity of nature (Lane 2009, p. 5).

Claims such as Judge Jones’s that no contradiction exists between theism and Darwinism are not only naïve, but as documented above, are grossly uninformed. The common claim that no conflict exists between modern neo-Darwinism and orthodox biblical Christianity is contradicted by the conclusions of many of the most eminent biologists living today. Furthermore, a survey by Graffin of leading biologists found that they strongly disagree with the claim that evolutionism and Christian theism involving a personal God are compatible. Further, they can articulate valid reasons for their conclusion.

References

Appleyard, B. 2007. The delusion is all yours. New Scientist 193, issue 2593:47.

Ayala, F. J. 2007. Darwin’s greatest discovery: Design without designer. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 104:8567–8573.

Aveling, E. B. 1883. The religious views of Charles Darwin. London: Freethought Publishing Company.

Caton, H. 2008. The Darwin legend. Queensland: Institute of Medical Research.

Cobb, M. and J. Coyne. 2008. Atheism could be science’s contribution to religion. Nature 454:1049.

Cohen, I. B. 1985. Revolution in science. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Coyne, J. A. 2009. Creationism for liberals. The New Republic, August 12, pp. 34–43.

Dawkins, R. 1986. The blind watchmaker. New York: Norton.

Graffin, G. W. 2004. Evolution, monism, atheism, and the naturalist world-view. Ithaca, New York: Polypterus Press.

Grayling, A. C. 2008. Origin of the specious; A. C. Grayling dissects a new defense of Intelligent Design. New Humanists123, no. 5:27–30.

Gould, S. 1991. Bully for brontosaurus. New York: W.W. Norton

Gould, S. J. 2001. Introduction. Evolution: The triumph of an idea. by C. Zimmer, pp. ix–xiv. New York: Harper Collins.Kitzmiller, et al. v. Dover Area School District, et al. Case No. 04cv2688, December 20, 2005. In the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.

Lane, N. 2009. Life ascending. New York, New York: W. W. Norton and Company.

Laughlin, R. B. 2005. A different universe. New York: Basic Books.

Mayr, E. 1976. Evolution and the diversity of life. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press.

Nagel, T. 2008. Public education and intelligent design. Philosophy & Public Affairs 36, no. 2:187–205.

Preston, J. and N. Epley. 2009. Science and God: An automatic opposition between ultimate explanations. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology 45:238–241.

Provine, W. 1988. Scientists, face it! Science and religion are incompatible. The Scientist 2, no. 16:10.

Provine, W. B. 1994. Dare a scientist believe in design. In Evidence of purpose: Scientists discover creativity, ed. J. M. Templeton, pp. 21–32. New York: Continuum.

Ruvinsky, A. 2010. Genetics and randomness. Boca Raton, Florida: CRC Press.

Sharp, D. and J. Bergman (eds). 2008. Persuaded by the evidence. Green Forest, Arkansas: Master Books.

Stewart-Williams, S. 2004. Can An evolutionist believe in God? Philosophy Now 47:19–21.

Todd, S. C. 1999. A view from Kansas on that evolution debate. Nature 401:423.

Watson, D. M. S. 1929. Adaptation. Nature 124:231–234.

Watson, H. C. 1991. Letter to Charles Darwin, November 21, 1859. In The correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7: 1858–1859, eds. F. Burkhardt and S. Smith, p. 385. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Wallace, A. 1966. Religion: An anthropological view. New York: Random House.

Williams, N. 2008. Darwin celebrations begin. Current Biology 18, no. 14: R579–R580.

Weinberg, S. 2008. Without God. The New York Review of Books 55, no. 14.

(original link)

Self-Replicating Enzymes?

A critique of some current evolutionary origin-of-life models

by

Evolutionary origin-of-life theories have many hurdles to overcome.1,2,3 To form a self-reproducing cell from non-living chemicals requires the generation of a large amount of information, or specified complexity. A cell must be able to perform many chemical reactions in the right order, place and degree, which requires a number of specific catalysts (enzymes). It must also be able to reproduce the information needed to produce these enzymes.

In all known cells, the specific catalysts are proteins, while the information storage/retrieval and reproduction tasks are carried out by the nucleic acids DNA and RNA. Proteins are polymers of amino acids, while nucleic acids are polymers of nucleotides. Nucleotides themselves are a combination of a sugar (deoxyribose for DNA, ribose for RNA), a nitrogenous base and a phosphate group.

But the DNA itself codes for the proteins, yet requires at least 50 proteins for the necessary decoding, and still others for replication. The noted philosopher of science, the late Sir Karl Popper, commented:

What makes the origin of life and of the genetic code a disturbing riddle is this: the genetic code is without any biological function unless it is translated; that is, unless it leads to the synthesis of the proteins whose structure is laid down by the code. But … the machinery by which the cell (at least the non-primitive cell, which is the only one we know) translates the code consists of at least fifty macromolecular components which are themselves coded in the DNA. Thus the code can not be translated except by using certain products of its translation. This constitutes a baffling circle; a really vicious circle, it seems, for any attempt to form a model or theory of the genesis of the genetic code.

Thus we may be faced with the possibility that the origin of life (like the origin of physics) becomes an impenetrable barrier to science, and a residue to all attempts to reduce biology to chemistry and physics.4

The obvious conclusion is that both the DNA and proteins must have been functional from the beginning, otherwise life could not exist.

RNA World?

To avoid this conclusion, some evolutionists have theorised that one type of molecule could perform both catalytic and reproductive roles. A recent discovery of some catalytic functions in RNA has led many evolutionists to postulate an ‘RNA world’. The idea is that the first life consisted mainly of RNA, which could not only reproduce but also carry out many of the functions now carried out by enzymes. But this model has several dubious postulates:

  1. A pool of exclusively ‘right-handed’ ribose molecules could be produced, separated from a jumble of other sugars, and remain stable long enough; the bases could be produced in large quantities; and a high concentration of phosphate (PO43-) would be in solution rather than precipitated out.
  2. Ribose could combine with the bases and phosphate to produce β-D-ribonucleotides.
  3. These β-D-ribonucleotides could spontaneously produce RNA polymers of the proper form.
  4. That if such polymers form, they could replicate themselves.
  5. That such self-replicating RNA molecules would have all the functions needed to sustain an organism.
  6. That such an RNA organism could give rise to a modern organism with protein catalysts, coded on the reproducing material, and the means to decode them.

These postulates are all contrary to experimental evidence.5 It is no wonder that one of the leading researchers into ‘RNA World’ models, Gerald Joyce, wrote:

The most reasonable assumption is that life did not start with RNA …. The transition to an RNA world, like the origins of life in general, is fraught with uncertainty and is plagued by a lack of experimental data.6

A Self-replicating Molecule

A group led by Julius Rebek synthesized a molecule called amino adenosine triacid ester (AATE), which itself consists of two components, pentafluorophenyl ester and amino adenosine. When AATE molecules are dissolved in chloroform with the two components, the AATE molecules act as templates for the two components to join up and form new AATE molecules.7 There are a number of reasons why this is irrelevant to an evolutionary origin of life

  1. This system carries very little information, in contrast to even the simplest cell. Mycoplasma genitalium has the smallest known genome of any living organism, which contains 482 genes comprising 580,000 bases.8 This organism is an obligate parasite. A free-living organism would need many more genes.
  2. The new AATE molecule binds too strongly to the parent, so no new reactants can come in and join, as Rebek himself admits.9
  3. Replication only occurred in highly artificial, unnatural conditions.10 A reaction in chloroform is irrelevant to living organisms. In particular, chloroform would not hinder condensation reactions as water does. Most polymerisation reactions in life are condensation reactions, that is, they eject a small molecule like water. If there is much water around as there is with all living things, the reverse reaction is favoured, that is the hydrolysis (break-up) of polymers. [For more information, see my later paper, Origin of Life: The Polymerization Problem].
  4. The molecule reproduced too accurately—there is no possibility of neo-Darwinian evolution by mutation and natural selection.11

Self-replicating Peptides?

Amino acids can be formed (with difficulty12) in Miller-type experiments where reducing gases are sparked, unlike ribose and the nitrogenous bases. Thus some evolutionists are investigating protein-first rather than nucleic-acid-first theories of the origin of life. But proteins do not have anything analogous to the base-pairing in nucleic acids. So there was a surprise in August 1996, when some newspapers and science journals reported a peptide that can reproduce itself. David Lee et al. reported that a short peptide derived from part of a yeast enzyme can catalyse its own formation.13

Lee et al. made a 32-unit-long a-helical peptide based on the leucine-zipper domain of the yeast transcription factor GCN4. They found that it catalysed its own synthesis in a neutral, dilute water solution of 15 and 17-unit fragments. This was an ingenious experiment, but it does not help the evolutionary cause because:

  1. Where would the first 32-unit long chain of 100 % left-handed amino acid residues come from? Amino acids are not formed as easily as Lee et al. claim. If they form at all, they are extremely dilute and impure, as well as racemic (50–50 mix of left and right-handed forms). Such amino acids do not spontaneously polymerise in water.
  2. Where would a supply of the matching 15 and 17-unit chains come from? Not only does the objection above apply, but what mechanism is supposed to produce the right sequences? Even if we had a mixture of the right homochiral (all the same handedness) amino acids, the chance of getting one 15-unit peptide right is one in 2015 (= one in 3 x 1019). If it is not necessary to get the sequences exactly right, then it would mean that the ‘replication’ is not specific, and would thus allow many errors.
  3. The 15 and 17-unit peptides must be activated, because condensation of ordinary amino acids is not spontaneous in water. Lee et al. used a thiobenzyl ester derivative of one peptide. As they say, this also circumvents potential side reactions. The hypothetical primordial soup would not have had intelligent chemists adding the right chemicals to prevent wrong reactions!
  4. The particular 32-unit chain was an a-helix, where hydrogen bonds between different amino acid residues cause the chain to helicize. This common structure is more likely to be able to act as a template under artificial conditions. Lee et al. claim that b-sheets, which also depend on hydrogen bonding, might also be able to act as templates. This seems plausible. a-helices and b-sheets are known as the secondary structure of the protein.14

The exact way in which the protein folds is called the tertiary structure, and this determines its specific properties. Although Lee et al. say:

we suggest the possibility of protein self-replication in which the catalytic activity of the protein could be conserved,

they present no experimental proof.

Complexity Theory

This has been promoted by Stuart Kauffman.15 It claims that large numbers of interacting components spontaneously organise themselves into ordered patterns. Sometimes a small perturbation of a system could cause it to switch from one pattern to another. Kauffman proposes that his idea could account for the origin of life, body shapes and even cultural patterns and economics. Complexity theorists point to computer simulations of the patterns of clam shells and other shapes found in nature.

But this has little relevance to the real world of chemicals. Chemicals obey the Second Law of Thermodynamics, and do not arrange themselves into self-sustaining metabolic pathways. Living cells have molecular machinery to channel the chemistry in the right direction and amounts. If the clam shell pattern on the computer screen was enlarged, there would be no traces of cells with cilia, mitochondria, DNA, etc.16

It is small wonder that even most sections of the evolutionary establishment are sceptical of complexity theory. The cover of the June 1995 issue of Scientific American asked ‘Is Complexity Theory a Sham?’. This issue contained an article called ‘From Complexity to Perplexity’, which said:

Artificial life, a major subfield of complexity studies, is “fact-free science”, according to one critic. But it excels at generating computer graphics.17

(original link)

Hydrothermal Origin of Life?

Jonathan Sarfati
© 1999 J. Sarfati & Creation Ministries International. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
This article first appeared in Vol. 13, No. 2 of the Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal,
a peer-reviewed journal published by Creation Ministries International.

Some Japanese researchers have claimed to prove that life could have arisen in a submarine hydrothermal vent. However, the most complex molecule their ‘simulation’ produced was hexaglycine, in the microscopic yield of 0.001%.  Compared to the complexity of even the simplest living cell, hexaglycine is extremely simple.  High temperatures would degrade any complex molecules over the alleged geological time.


Introduction

he simplest possible cell, according to recent theoretical analysis, would need a bare minimum of 256 genes coding for the required enzymes, which are long polypeptides.  And it is doubtful whether such a hypothetical organism could survive, because such an organism could barely repair DNA damage, could no longer fine-tune the ability of its remaining genes, would lack the ability to digest complex compounds, and would need a comprehensive supply of organic nutrients in its environment.[1]One major difficulty is linking up the building blocks at all, let alone in the right sequence.  This is because thermodynamic considerations show that long molecules like proteins and nucleic acids tend to break up into their component monomers (amino acids and nucleotides respectively).[2]  Any undirected energy input is more likely to be destructive rather than constructive, like ‘a bull in a china shop’, and to increase the variety of undesirable side reactions possible.

Hydrothermal Vents

Some researchers have proposed that life began in submarine hydrothermal vents, where superheated subterranean water pours into the sea.  The idea is that the heat can help synthesize polymers, which would then be quenched in the surrounding sea water — this would prevent the same energy from destroying the products soon after they were formed.

Five researchers in Nagaoka, Japan, claimed to have simulated such conditions in a flow reactor.[3]  They circulated 500 ml of a strong solution of glycine (0.1 M) through several chambers at a high pressure of 24.0 MPa.  The first chamber was heated mainly to 200–250 ° C; from there, the liquid was injected at the rate of 8–12 ml/min into a cooling chamber kept at 0 ° C.  Then the liquid was depressurized before samples were extracted at various intervals.  The whole cycle was completed in 1–1.3 hours.  In some of the runs, 0.01 M CuCl2 was added to the 0.1 M glycine solution, which was also acidified to pH 2.5 by HCl at room temperature.

Experimental Results

The most spectacular results occurred in the runs with the extra CuCl2 and HCl.  The Cu2+ ions catalyzed the formation of tetraglycine (yield 0.1%).  Even some hexaglycine formed (yield 0.001%). But the product with the highest yield was the cyclic dimer, diketopiperazine, which peaked at about 1% yield, then dropped.  The reader is not informed as to how much effort was invested in optimizing the conditions to maximize the amount of larger polyglycines.

Assessment

The team leader, Koichiro Matsuno, was quoted as follows:

‘For 10 years, underwater hydrothermal vents have been thought to be the place where life began — and we were able to prove it.’[4]

But is this justified by the experimental results?  No!  As shown by the following reasons, Matsuno’s claim is based on evolutionary faith, which results in over-optimistic interpretation of the data.

  1. The concentration of glycine of 0.1 M was far higher than could be expected in a real primordial soup.  In reality, prebiotic simulations of glycine production produce far lower yields.  Also, any glycine produced would be subject to oxidative degradation in an oxygenic atmosphere.  Or else, if there was a primitive oxygen-free atmosphere,[5] the lack of an ozone layer would result in destruction by ultraviolet radiation.  Also, adsorption by clays, precipitation or complexation by metal ions, or reactions with other organic molecules would reduce the concentration still further.  A more realistic concentration would be 10–7 M.[6]
  2. While the hydrothermal conditions might be right for this experiment, overall, they would be harmful in the long term to other vital components of life.  For example, the famous pioneer of evolutionary origin-of-life experiments, Stanley Miller, points out that polymers are ‘too unstable to exist in a hot prebiotic environment’.[7]  Miller has also pointed out that the RNA bases are destroyed very quickly in water at 100 ° C — adenine and guanine have half lives of about a year, uracil about 12 years, and cytosine only 19 days.[8]  Intense heating also readily destroys many of the complex amino acids such as serine and threonine.[9]  Another problem is that the exclusive ‘left-handedness’ required for life is destroyed by heating, i.e. the amino acids are racemized.[10]  But this was not put to the test because the Japanese team used the simplest amino acid, glycine, which is the only achiral amino acid used in living systems.  It seems incomprehensible that after designing this experiment with such care other amino acids would not have been tested.  The fact that they are all known to undergo various non-peptide bond reactions has surely not escaped the researchers’ attention.
  3. The longest polymer (or rather, oligomer) formed was hexaglycine. Most enzymes, however, have far more than six amino acid residues — usually hundreds. And even the hexaglycine produced was found only in minuscule amounts.
  4. This experiment gave a simple homo-oligomer, i.e. all monomers are the same. But life requires many polymers in precise sequences of 20 different types of amino acids. Thus Matsuno’s experiments offer not the slightest explanation for the complex, high-information polymers of living organisms.

Conclusion

As the non-creationist information theorist Hubert Yockey observed over 20 years earlier (and he has not revised his opinion since):

‘Research on the origin of life seems to be unique in that the conclusion has already been authoritatively accepted … . What remains to be done is to find the scenarios which describe the detailed mechanisms and processes by which this happened.

One must conclude that, contrary to the established and current wisdom a scenario describing the genesis of life on earth by chance and natural causes which can be accepted on the basis of fact and not faith has not yet been written.’[11]


References

[1] Wells, W., Taking life to bits, New Scientist 155(2095):30–33, 1997.

[2] Sarfati, J.D., Origin of life: the polymerization problem, CEN Tech. J.12(3):281–284, 1998.

[3] Imai, E., Honda, H., Hatori, K., Brack, A. and Matsuno, K., Elongation of oligopeptides in a simulated submarine hydrothermal system, Science283(5403):831–833, 1999.

[4] Matsuno, K.; cited by Elaine Lies, Reuters Nagaoka, Japan, Feb. 5, 1999.

[5] The ‘strongest evidence’ for an anoxic ancient earth atmosphere is that we know chemical evolution took place, and this would have been impossible with oxygen present! The following ‘reason’ in this circular way: Walker, J.C.G., Evolution of the Atmosphere, Macmillan, NY, p. 224, 1977; Fox, S. and Dose, K, Molecular Evolution and the Origin of Life, W.H. Freeman & Co., San Francisco, pp. 45–45, 1972; cited in: Thaxton et al., Ref. 6.

[6] Thaxton, C.B., Bradley, W.L. and Olsen, R.L., The Mystery of Life’s Origin, Philosophical Library Inc., New York, ch. 4, 1984. 

[7] Miller, S.L. and Lazcano, A., The origin of life — did it occur at high temperatures? J. Mol. Evol. 41:689–692, 1995.

[8] Levy, M and Miller, S.L., The stability of the RNA bases: Implications for the origin of life, Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA 95(14):7933–38, 1998.

[9] Gish, D.T., Origin of life: The Fox thermal model of the origin of life, Impact33, Institute for Creation Research, March 1976.

[10] Sarfati, J.D., Origin of life: the chirality problem, CEN Tech. J.12(3):263–266, 1998.

[11] Yockey, H.P., A calculation of the probability of spontaneous biogenesis by information theory, J. Theor. Biol. 67:377–398, 1977; quotes from pp. 379, 396.

(original link)

A New Attempt to Understand the Origin of Life: The Theory of Surface-Metabolism

by
G. T. Javor
Department of Biochemistry
Loma Linda University

WHAT THIS ARTICLE IS ABOUT

The question of how living matter came into existence has not yet been answered by the theory of evolution. For the past thirty years or so, the stock evolutionary explanation consisted of schemes which first produced (on paper) ponds rich in organic matter (known as the primordial soup or organic broth), and second, which transformed the contents of the organic soup (again on paper) into proteins and nucleic acids.

Recently an alternative theory of the origin of life was published, which presents the concept of “surface metabolism” as the process which gave rise to living matter.

This theory suggests that the forerunners of living matter were formed underwater, on metallic surfaces. Negatively charged, simple organic molecules bound to positively charged (pyrite) surfaces, forming ever-growing, two-dimensional organic films. Eventually portions of the organic layer detached from the surface and formed three-dimensional cell-like structures. In time these units would evolve into primordial cells which would have been the precursors of living matter as we now know it.

This proposal represents a sharp refutation of the organic-broth theory. Nevertheless, it is a pencil-and-paper exercise which has not been buttressed by experimental proof. It offers no new insight into the problem of the origin of biological information in nucleic acids and proteins or into the origin of the non-equilibrium, steady state of chemical reactions presently operating in living matter.

Since the days of Haldane and Oparin in the 1920s, life scientists have earnestly grappled with the problem of the origins of life on Earth in an evolutionary context. The “pencil-and-paper” talk turned to serious experimental work in the 1950s, after Stanley Miller and Harold Urey showed that certain excited gaseous mixtures can give rise to amino acids. Fortified with some laboratory successes, the now familiar “chemical-broth” theory of chemical evolution emerged to dominate the thinking of evolutionary theorists for decades to come. Over the past thirty years countless textbook chapters, review articles and monographs have elaborated the events that were supposed to transform inorganic matter into living cells. An entire generation of students grew up learning that life originated from a warm aqueous environment “the primordial soup”. This broth-like medium served as a reservoir loaded with organic substances, out of which emerged building materials for biologically important macromolecules. These in turn assembled themselves into living cells.

After decades of living with this proposed evolutionary scenario, scientists began to voice serious objections to the organic-broth theory. Criticisms included thermodynamic difficulties, the implausibility of the existence of a strictly anoxic primordial atmosphere and problems of demonstrating the primordial synthesis of some key building-block substances such as ribose and nucleotides, not to mention biologically relevant forms of nucleic acids and proteins.

Alternative hypotheses began to appear. One proposal resurrected the almost century-old notion of panspermia (i.e., life from an extraterrestrial source). Another postulated that the first “organisms” may have been made of crystals of clay; this was suggested to bridge the phenomenal gap between the simple inorganic compounds found in inanimate matter and the sophisticated organic substances which compose living cells and organisms.

However, the notion of panspermia simply pushed the entire problem of life’s origin to some unknown extraterrestrial location, and the proposal of initial “clay organisms” did not solve the problem of where and how organic molecules originated. Nevertheless, these new postulates, although unsuccessful in replacing the organic-broth theory as the dominant evolutionary explanation for the origin of life, did create a crisis of confidence in the ability of evolutionary theorists to explain the origins of life. The main reason for retaining the organic-broth theory, in the words of Scherer [1] was: “… if this rejection is substantiated, there will remain no scientifically valid model of the self-organization of the first living cells on Earth”.

To remedy this situation, a brand-new theory of the origin of life was proposed recently. This chemical evolutionary idea the “Theory of Surface Metabolism” was published in the December 1988 issue of Microbiological Reviews [2], and it occupies 32 oversized pages. Its author is Günther Wächtershäuser of Munich, West Germany.

The article was written as a proposal for a “viable alternative to the broth theory”. It suggests that the first chemical evolutionary events occurred on underwater, metallic surfaces. The first “organisms”, according to this theory, were continuously spreading two-dimensional films of negatively charged organic molecules (one molecule thick) attached to positively charged pyrite.

The substrates for the growth of the organic film would have been small, one- or two-carbon containing molecules, such as carbon dioxide, formaldehyde, formic acid, and acetaldehyde, as well as ammonia, hydride ions and electrons. The ultimate origin of all carbon-containing components, however, would have been carbon dioxide.

The delivery of these substances to the growing “organism” would have been accomplished by positively charged “general purpose shuttles”, which form a “bucket-brigade” type chain, somewhat in the fashion of existing respiratory chain components. In fact, some of these shuttles are the postulated precursors of many coenzymes. The types of reactions and substances that would endure and be incorporated into more complex systems later are postulated to have been autocatalytic, i.e., promoting the formation of further copies of themselves.

According to this theory, as isoprenoid-like (a type of hydrocarbon) lipids became incorporated into the surface-films, hydrophobic domains formed, which eventually sequestered portions of the organic film and became detached from the pyritic surface. The detachment would occur when positively charged, loose metallic “grains” would come near the lipids and attract the anionic fatty acids.

Energy for the surface reactions is postulated to come from redox type reactions, such as the formation of pyrite from hydrogen sulfide and ferrous ions. Once cells form, it is proposed that the phosphate-containing molecules become good sources of energy in fermentative-type reactions, until the emergence of an electron transport-chain. Biosynthetic reactions would be maintained by the influx of non-ionic nutrients, such as hydrogen sulfide, nitrogen, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide which freely pass into the cells. Due to their auto-catalytic metabolism, these cellular structures would grow and divide in the absence of a genetic apparatus.

The surface-metabolic theory suggests that the genetic machinery, transcription and translation capabilities of cells came later. Nucleic acids are supposed to have formed from polyanion surface-bonded poly-hemiacetal structures which originated from glyceraldehyde phosphate and dihydroxyacetone phosphate. These polymers, dubbed as “phosphotribose”, are thought to be not only the precursors of nucleic acids, but breeding ground for the synthesis of purine bases and purine-related coenzymes. Amino-acid pathways and the genetic code were also supposed to be later developments.

Although the author frankly states that “surface organism has so far not been found in nature and it may be extinct”, the article closes with the suggestion that there may be places on earth where it may be discovered. Accordingly,

… it must be a place with liquid water having a nearly neutral pH and high salinity, a place with a high temperature and a high pressure; a place where hydrogen sulfide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen are pressured into reaction in the presence of ferrous and other catalytic metal ions; a place where hot volcanic exhalations clash with a circulating hydrothermal water flow, a place deep down where a pyrite-forming autocatalyst once gave, and is still giving, birth to life[3].

Serious effort was made by the author to integrate known chemical and biochemical facts into his scheme, and work backwards from the known to the unknown. In the process some interesting generalizations emerged, such as the notion that the anionic components of cells must have originated from the original surface-binding organic film. Many aspects of the theory are stated in terms of experimentally testable mechanisms, and the reader is left to wonder why some of the fundamental assumptions, such as the formation of an organic film under the stated conditions, were not tested.

Several problems are inherent in this proposed scenario for the origin of life. Of all the chemical interconversions possible between water, carbon dioxide, etc., the ability to bind to positively charged surfaces is posited to be the sole factor in selection. Once this is stated, the discussion proceeds with the implied assumption that there will be uninterrupted supplies of useful substances available for growth. Clearly, the mechanisms of metabolic intermediate formation is not the main burden of the theory.

It is pointed out that conversion of bound biomonomers to surface-bound polymers is thermodynamically more favorable than the equivalent process in aqueous solution. However, under those conditions the opportunity for biomonomers to interact would also be severely curtailed.

If it could be demonstrated in the laboratory that complex organic layers can form from simple inorganic matter under some reasonably realistic, “primordial” conditions, evolutionary theorists would be in a stronger position to propose chemical evolutionary schemes. Nevertheless, even if all of the proposed processes of “surface metabolism” could be demonstrated in the laboratory, the results would be light years away from producing living matter as we know it.

Living and non-living matter are separated by such a vast qualitative difference that a “spontaneous” or even a “directed” transition from the non-living to the living is essentially unthinkable. Wächtershäuser tries to help his cause by redefining a (hypothetical) growing film of random organic molecules as a “surface organism”. But these are merely semantics. A spreading film of crude oil on the surface of the ocean, leaking from a tanker, would hardly deserve this term, even if it is growing and dividing into smaller patches.

The ultimate aim of the surface-metabolism theory is the same as previous chemical evolutionary postulates: to account for the emergence of living cells from a sterile environment. The hypothesized end product in this case is a membrane-bound collection of organic molecules, which eventually transform themselves into recognizable precursors of modern-day cells. But quite apart from the formidable difficulties in the biochemistry for the formation of nucleic acids and proteins, no suggestion is offered as to the source of biological information which resides in present-day informational macromolecules. Neither is there a recognition by the theory that living matter is characterized by a dynamic steady state of chemical reactions, the sum of which is far from equilibrium. Consequently, no solution is offered as to how such a state can come into existence in a spontaneous system.

Thus, while the theory of surface-metabolism represents a prodigious effort to explain the origin of living matter, it falls far short of its goal. It will probably hasten the eventual demise of the organic-broth theory and usher in a period of time when the honest alternative to the creation account of the Scriptures will be bewilderment.

REFERENCES

[1]S. Scherer. 1985. Could life have arisen in the primitive atmosphere? Journal of Molecular Evolution 22:91-94.

[2]G. Wächtershäuser. 1988. Before enzymes and templates: theory of surface metabolism. Microbiological Reviews 52:452-484.

[3]Reference 2, page 480.

(original link)

Evolution Hopes You Don’t Know Chemistry: The Problem of Control

BY CHARLES MCCOMBS, PH.D. *  |

According to modern evolutionary theory, the recipe for life is a chance accumulation of carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, and oxygen; add a pinch of phosphorus and sulfur, simmer for millions of years, and repeat if necessary. As a Ph.D. organic chemist, I am trained to understand the principles of chemistry, but this is not how chemicals react. Chemicals reacting with chemicals is a chemical reaction, and chemical reactions do not produce life. Life must create life. In the chemical literature, there is not a single example of life resulting from a chemical reaction. If life from chemicals were possible, it would be called spontaneous generation, an idea that scientists once thought happened in nature. Centuries ago, scientists used to believe that bread crumbs turned into mice because if you left bread crumbs on a table and returned later, the crumbs were gone and only mice were present. When true science got involved, they learned the truth that bread crumbs only attracted the mice that ate the crumbs. These scientists were quick to propose a theory that sounded reasonable until, that is, they studied the process and learned otherwise.

Proteins and DNA are complicated chemical molecules that are present within our body. Cells which make up the living body contain DNA, the blueprint for all life, and proteins regulating biochemical processes, leading scientists to conclude these components are the cause of life. While it is true that all living bodies have proteins and DNA, so do dead bodies. These chemicals are necessary for life to exist, but they do not “create” life by their presence; they only “maintain” the life that is already present. However, this is not the only problem with the “life from chemicals” theory.

Why do evolutionists vehemently proclaim the “life from chemicals” theory? Because if proteins and DNA only maintain life without creating it, then something else must have accomplished its origins. Evidence such as this points to an Omnipotent Creator, but they are not willing to make that concession.

Scientists can only look at life as it exists today, and try to determine how life originated in the past. They look at the end result and try to determine the process by which it was formed. Imagine looking at a photograph and trying to determine the brand of camera that was used to take the picture. Could you do it? Evolutionists have the same problem when they claim that life comes from chemicals. They look at the end result and propose a theory without ever observing the process. Scientists cannot study the past. Scientists can only look at the present and make theories about what happened in the past that would make the present the way it is today. When evolutionary scientists study the origins of life, they propose that all life resulted from chemical reactions by natural processes, overlooking the fact that chemical processes do not “naturally” behave in this manner. If you accepted chemical reactions as they occur, you would not believe that life came solely from chemicals. Is it legitimate to propose that evolution started in some primordial soup, when the long chain polymers that are present in proteins and DNA are so complicated that the level of chemical control needed during the chain building process is beyond the realm of natural chemistry?

Let’s take a closer look at proteins and DNA, and the problems of their synthesis by evolutionary processes. Proteins are long polymers of amino acids linked in a chain. There are thousands of proteins within the human body, and they all differ by the sequence of the amino acids on the polymer chain. DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid,) is a polymer of nucleotides. Nucleotides themselves are complicated chemical molecules consisting of a deoxyribose molecule and a phosphate chemically bonded to one of the following heterocycles: guanine, cytosine, thymine, and adenine. Although there are only four different heterocycles, the DNA chain contains billions of nucleotides connected together in a long precisely ordered chain. The sequence of the human DNA chain is so complicated, that even with the sophisticated scientific equipment available today, we still do not know the complete sequence. Proteins and DNA contain a unique order of the individual components. The order of the individual components is not a repeating pattern such as ABABAB or AABBAABB, but it is not a random order either. The order in these natural polymers is very precise, and it is this highly ordered sequence that allows these polymers to perform their intended purpose in the human body. If the sequence is changed even slightly, the altered polymer is no longer capable of performing the same function as the natural protein or DNA. If these polymers were formed by evolution in some primordial soup, then we should be able to explain how natural chemical processes were responsible for forming the sequence of amino acids. Evolutionists would say that amino acids eventually combined to form proteins and the nucleotide molecules combined to form DNA, and from them, life. To someone not trained in chemistry, this might sound like a reasonable process, but this is not how chemical reactions work.

Chemists are trained to understand the mechanisms of how molecules react and how to activate molecules so they will react predictably and in a controlled fashion. If a chemist wanted to synthesize the polymer chain of proteins or DNA in the laboratory, the starting compounds must be first activated so that they will begin to react. The chemist must then control the reactivity and the selectivity of the reactants so that the desired product is formed.

The problem with life arising from chemicals is a three-fold problem: chemical stability, chemical reactivity, and chemical selectivity during the chain building process. But evolutionists propose that these complex polymer chains built themselves in a precise, unlikely pattern, without an intelligent chemist controlling the reactions.

Chemical Stability

Chemical stability is a question of whether the components can even react at all. By definition, all components in a hypothetical primordial soup would be stable, because if they were not, they would have already reacted. Amino acids are relatively stable in water and do not react to form proteins in water, and nucleotides do not react to form DNA. In order to make amino acids and nucleotides react to form a polymer, they must be chemically activated to react with other chemicals. But this chemical activation must be done in the absence of water because the activated compounds will react with water and break down. How could proteins and DNA be formed in a hypothetical primordial watery soup if the activated compounds required to form them cannot exist in water? This is the problem of Chemical Stability.

Chemical Reactivity

Chemical reactivity deals with how fast the components react in a given reaction. If life began in a primordial soup by natural chemical reactions, then the laws of chemistry should be able to predict the sequence of these chains. But when amino acids react chemically, they react according to their reactivity, and not in some specified order necessary for life. As the protein or DNA chain is increasing in size through chemical reaction, we should see the most reactive amino acid adding to the chain first, followed by the next most reactive amino acid, and so on.

Let’s assume that we begin with the sequence R-T-X, and will add two amino acids “B” and “A” to it. If amino acid “B” is the most reactive amino acid, the sequence would be R-T-X-B-A. However, if “A” is the most reactive amino acid, then the sequence would be R-T-X-A-B. In a random chemical reaction, the sequence of amino acids would be determined by the relative reactivity of the different amino acids. The polymer chain found in natural proteins and DNA has a very precise sequence that does not correlate with the individual components’ reaction rates. Since all of the amino acids have relatively similar structures, they all have similar reaction rates; they will all react at about the same rate making the precise sequence by random chemical reactions unthinkably unlikely. This is the problem of Chemical Reactivity.

Chemical Selectivity

Chemical selectivity is a problem of where the components react. Since the chain has two ends, the amino acids can add to either end of the chain. Even if by some magical process, a single amino acid “B” would react first as desired for the pre-determined life supporting sequence followed by a single amino acid “A,” the product would be a mixture of at least four isomers because there are two ends to the chain. If there is an equal chance of amino acid “B” reacting in two different locations, then half will react at one end, half at the other end. The result of adding “B” will form two different products. When the addition of amino acid “A” occurs, it will react at both ends of the chain of both the products already present. As in the previous example, the major products would be R-T-X-B-A and A-R-T-X-B as well as A-B-R-T-X and B-R-T-X-A and others. The result is a mixture of several isomers of which the desired sequence seldom results, and this is the problem with only two amino acids reacting. As the third amino acid is added, it can react at both ends of four products, and so on, insuring randomness, not a precise sequence.

Since proteins may contain hundreds or thousands of amino acids in a sequence, imagine the huge number of undesired isomers that would be present if these large proteins were formed in a random process. Evolutionists might argue that all proteins were formed in this manner, and nature simply selected the ones that worked. However, this is only an ad hoc assumption and it ignores the fact that we do not have billions of “extra” proteins in our body. Furthermore, nature is not intelligent. There is nothing in nature to do the selecting all-the-while splicing together non-functioning (therefore non-selectable) amino acids toward a working whole. Evolutionists say that nature is blind, has no goal, and no purpose, and yet precise selection at each step is necessary. This is the problem of Chemical Selectivity.

The chemical control needed for the formation of a specific sequence in a polymer chain is just not possible in a random process. The synthesis of proteins and DNA in the laboratory requires the chemist to control the reaction conditions, to thoroughly understand the reactivity and selectivity of each component, and to carefully control the order of addition of the components as the chain is building in size. The successful formation of proteins and DNA in some primordial soup would require the same control of the reactivity and selectivity, and that would require the existence of a chemical controller. But chemicals cannot think, plan, or organize themselves to do anything. How can chemicals know what it is they’re making? How can a chemical reaction make a protein or DNA, put it in an eye, heart, or brain, and do it without a controlling mechanism that knows what the end product is supposed to look like? This sounds much more like the work of an Omniscient Creator. Evolutionists have always been quick to claim that life came from chemicals, but their theory does not hold up to scientific scrutiny. Evolution claims that random chance natural processes formed life as we know it, but they fail to mention that their theory is anything but random or natural! This is the false logic of evolution. Evolutionists just hope you don’t know chemistry!

*Dr. Charles McCombs is a Ph.D. organic chemist trained in the methods of scientific investigation, and a scientist who has 20 chemical patents.

Cite this article: McCombs, C. 2004. Evolution Hopes You Don’t Know Chemistry: The Problem of Control. Acts & Facts. 33 (8).

(original link)

Problems with the Natural Chemical “Origin of Life”

by Casey Luskin

 

 

Introduction
The “origin of life” (OOL) is best described as the chemical and physical processes that brought into existence the first self-replicating molecule. It differs from the “evolution of life” because Darwinian evolution employs mutation and natural selection to change organisms, which requires reproduction. Since there was no reproduction before the first life, no “mutation – selection” mechanism was operating to build complexity. Hence, OOL theories cannot rely upon natural selection to increase complexity and must create the first life using only the laws of chemistry and physics.

There are so many problems with purely natural explanations for the chemical origin of life on earth that many scientists have already abandoned all hopes that life had a natural origin on earth. Skeptical scientists include Francis Crick (solved the 3-dimensional structure of DNA1) and Fred Hoyle (famous British cosmologist and mathematician), who, in an attempt to retain their atheistic worldviews, then propose outrageously untestable cosmological models or easily falsifiable extra-terrestrial-origin-of-life / panspermia scenarios2 which still do not account for the natural origin of life. So drastic is the evidence that Scientific American editor John Horgan wrote, “[i]f I were a creationist, I would cease attacking the theory of evolution … and focus instead on the origin of life. This is by far the weakest strut of the chassis of modern biology.”3

A Brief History of Origin of Life Theorization
The dominating scientific paradigm for the chemical origin of life was derived over 70 years ago at a time when the popular cosmology held that the universe, and essentially the earth itself, were infinitely old.4 Those trying to explain life in purely naturalistic terms liked having an infinite universe, for it made irrelevant any high improbabilities associated with the natural origin of life. As Hubert Yockey states, “even if life proves to be improbable, it will happen in such a[n infinite] universe.”4 In other words, given infinite time, infinite things are possible.

Darwin first conceived of the origin of life happening in some “warm little pond” with ammonia, and sulfates, and electrical charges.5 Surprisingly, the modern paradigm isn’t all that different. These ideas influenced Aleksandr Oparin and JBS Haldane who in the 1920’s postulated that life formed as a result of “chemical evolution,” where natural reactions between the chemicals present on the early earth eventually formed life. It was soon realized that the infinite universe was little more than wishful thinking. Einstein’s general theory of relativity predicted that the universe must expand or contract if it contains any matter.4 Thus, the universe must be finite both in size and age; not only did the universe have a beginning, but time is limited. Many cosmologists opposed these ideas because they wanted an infinite universe where life’s natural origin wasn’t improbable. Yockey notes that “[i]n spite of other successes of the general theory of relativity, the Big Bang, and in particular the idea that the universe had a beginning, was fought bitterly every step of the way.”4 Eventually the math and a slew of astrophysical data wouldn’t have it, and science accepted the finite, time-limited universe. Thus says the “Big Bang” theory: “time is limited”. And thus says mathematics, chemistry, and physics: “the natural chemical origin of life is highly improbable.”

Although mainstream scientists cannot date the OOL precisely,6 they believe that bacteria lived as early as 3.5 billion years ago,7 and life existed as early as 3.8 billion years ago.8 Given that mainstream scientists believe Earth is about 4.54 billion years old, and that the earth’s crust did not solidify until 4 billion years ago,6 there may be as few as 200 million years allowed for the OOL. That may seem like a long time, but it only represents about 1/22 of the earth’s total history. Recognition of this fact has led to a paradigm shift among OOL researchers, reflected in the following quotes:

“Given so much time,
the “impossible” becomes possible,
The possible probable,
And the probable virtually certain,
One only has to wait:
Time itself performs the miracles.”
(Wald, G., Scientific American, 1954)
“…we have now what we believe is strong evidence for life on Earth 3,800 thousand million years [ago]. This brings the theory for the Origin of Life on Earth down to a very narrow range … we are now thinking, in geochemical terms, of instant life…”
(Ponnamperuma, C. from “Evolution from Space,” 1981)

“[W]e are left with very little time between the development of suitable conditions for life on the earth’s surface and the origin of life. Life is not a complex accident that required immense time to convert the vastly improbable into the nearly certain. Instead, life, for all its intricacy, probably arose rapidly about as soon as it could.”
(Gould, S. J., “An Early Start,” Natural History, February, 1978)

In 1953 Stanley Miller and Harold Urey decided to test the “Oparin-Haldane” hypothesis by “zapping” methane and ammonia gas with electric charges.9 They obtain various amino acids, and the experiment was hailed as “proof” of the origin of life! This same year, Watson and Crick discover the double-helix structure of DNA.1 I want to note that it is a common, though given what many classes teach, forgivable misconception that the natural chemical origin of life has been proven because these experiments created life in the lab. This is mistaken, for not only has life nothing close to life ever been produced in lab experiments, but even if true life were one day created, it still wouldn’t prove anything about what actually took place when the first life-forms came into existence.6 As professor William Stansfield says,

“Creationists have looked forward to the day when science may actually create a “living” thing from simple chemicals. They claim, and rightly so, that even if such a man-made life form could be created, this would not prove that natural life forms were developed by a similar chemical evolutionary process. The [evolutionist] scientist understands this and plods on testing theories.”10

Events of the past, such as the origin of life, are ultimately untestable by science. Science can never absolutely prove anything regarding these matters and thus any belief, no matter how scientific one may think it to be, requires some measure of faith. Science can, however, disprove hypotheses which are internally contradictory or go against the laws of physics, chemistry, mathematics, or geological evidence. Accordingly, a belief that life arose naturally on earth can be effectively disproved, to the point that anybody who chooses to believe in it can be shown to be holding great amounts of faith. At this point, one must ask the more personal and philosophical question, why?

Starting with the right question:
One might expect the most important question regarding the OOL to be: Could it happen? Surprisingly, this is not the way most mainstream scientists approach the issue. Only one type of hypothesis is allowed for to explain this event, evidenced in the following statement by the National Academy of Sciences:

“[I]f a living cell were to be made in the laboratory, it would not prove that nature followed the same pathway billions of years ago. But it is the job of science to provide plausible natural explanations for natural phenomena.”6 (emphasis added)OOL scientists thus assume there was a purely natural cause, though often there is no external scientific evidence for that cause, only philosophical assumptions. This fact is well-illustrated by admissions made by famous OOL researcher Stanley Miller about why he used certain gasses in experiments producing the building blocks of life:

“It is assumed that amino acids more complex than glycene were required for the origin of life, then these results indicate a need for CH4 (methane) in the atmosphere”11

&

“We believe that there must have been a period when the earth’s atmosphere was reducing, because the synthesis of compounds of biological interest takes place only under reducing conditions.” 12

Modern geochemists know Miller was wrong to make these assumptions because the early earth probably had a non-reducing atmosphere that did not contain methane (discussed further on the next page). However, the point is that there exists a materialistic philosophy inherent in OOL research which assumes that only natural causes were involved in the OOL in the first place. In this “retroactive science,” the hypothesis that life could have arisen naturally is not tested, it is assumed, and research proceeds from there. This is why the eminent Harvard zoologist Richard Lewontin states:

“[W]e have a prior commitment, a commitment to materialism. It is not that the methods and institutions of science somehow compel us to accept a material explanation of the phenomenal world, but, on the contrary, that we are forced by our a priori adherence to material causes to create an apparatus of investigation and a set of concepts that produce material explanations…that materialism is absolute, for we cannot allow a Divine Foot in the door.”13The Science:
The basic idea behind the chemical origin of life is that simple molecules became more complex molecules which eventually allowed the first auto-catalytic self-reproducing molecule to exist. Many would define the chemical origin of life as the existence of a single molecule that was not only able to replicate on its own, but could produce any molecules necessary to facilitate that replication. According to Stanley Miller, famous origin of life researcher, the chain of events looked something like this:14

misc

The touted sequence of events leading from a “random” explosion of matter and energy to DNA-based life. Please note, emboldened terms will be discussed in the text.

Most origin of life researchers would generally agree with such a diagram, although some add “extraterrestrial input” in varying amounts somewhere along the line. For example, Stanley Miller believes extraterrestrial input (i.e. comets, asteroids, and random dust particles) contributed about 5% of the pre-biotic organic molecules on earth.14

Primordial Soup

 

Step 1: Pre-Biotic Synthesis and the “primordial soup”
In order to bake a cake, you first need all the ingredients. Pre-biotic synthesis is the means by which sufficient quantities of all the ingredients thought to be necessary for life’s natural origin were formed. Many have called this collection of chemicals the “primordial soup”. We will ask 2 questions regarding this “soup:”

    1. Could the soup have even been produced?

 

  1. Is there any geological evidence that the soup existed?

1. Could the soup have ever been produced?
As noted, in the 1950’s, Stanley Miller appeared to have found a way to make some of the ingredients of the primordial soup by “zapping” a mixture of H2, HCN, H2O, CH4, CHO, and NH3 gasses with an electric spark. The first time Miller got nothing but brown tar but after more experiments he has obtained (albeit often in very small amounts) at least 19 of the 20 amino acids upon which life is built. Furthermore, it has been found that comets and carbonaceous asteroids, which are thought to have been constantly bombarding the earth early in its history, can contain appreciable amounts of organic molecules. All this looks promising at first when trying to build up an ancient storehouse of pre-biotic organic chemicals.

However, the cake-baking analogy from above analogy now holds quite true! Just as a baker adds the proper ingredients to bake a cake, so the researchers designed their pre-biotic synthesis experiments in such a way as to get the s ought-after organic molecules. Methane (CH4) and ammonia (NH3), were chosen not because they were actually thought to be a part of the early atmosphere but rather because they are essential to the production of the proper amino acids and gave the desired results. As noted, Stanley Miller admits that he assumed that the atmosphere had methane and ammonia—he did not test that hypothesis. They just wanted to see if they could produce the right molecules using various contrived mixtures of gasses. Given the simple molecules they were trying to synthesize, these experiments are little more than simple exercises in organic chemistry and literally say nothing about the chemical origin of life. Though at the time, Miller’s experiment was promoted as supporting the hypothesis that life arose out of a primordial soup, subsequent research has enumerated problems with the hypothesis:

1. As previously noted, Miller’s experiment requires a reducing methane and ammonia atmosphere,11, 12 however geochemical evidence says the atmosphere was hydrogen, water, and carbon dioxide (non-reducing).15, 16 The only amino acid produced in a such an atmosphere is glycine (and only when the hydrogen content is unreasonably high), and could not form the necessary building blocks of life.11

2. These “pre-biotic chemicals” are formed only in very small amounts and degrade quickly into a tar-like substance.17, 18 Not only would UV radiation destroy any molecules that were made, but their own short lifespans would also greatly limit their numbers. For example, at 100ºC (boiling point of water), the half lives of the nucleic acids Adenine and Guanine are 1 year, uracil is 12 years, and cytozine is 19 days20 (nucleic acids and other important proteins such as chlorophyll and hemoglobin have never been synthesized in origin-of-life type experiments19). Such short-lived molecules could never be stockpiled, even if they could be produced naturally. even though even at that low temperature Ribose, a sugar which helps build DNA, has a short half-life of 44 years,14 and cytozine a relatively short half-life of 17,000 years.20 Either way the rate of degradation is too high to accumulate enough pre-biotic organics to form a soup. But models for earth’s formation indicate the earth was hot, meaning degradation would occur even faster! If it the earth had been cold, this would work against the OOL by slowing the chemical reactions that supposedly allowed life to form, increasing the time needed for the OOL.

3. Catch-22 situation: We all have know ozone in the upper atmosphere protects life from harmful UV radiation. However, ozone is composed of oxygen which is the very gas that Stanley Miller-type experiments avoided, for it prevents the synthesis of organic molecules like the ones obtained from the experiments! Pre-biotic synthesis is in a “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” scenario. The chemistry does not work if there is oxygen because the atmosphere would be non-reducing, but if there is no UV-light-blocking oxygen (i.e. ozone – O3) in the atmosphere, the amino acids would be quickly destroyed by extremely high amounts of UV light (which would have been 100 times stronger than today on the early earth).20, 21, 22 This radiation could destroy methane within a few tens of years,23 and atmospheric ammonia within 30,000 years.15

4. At best the processes would likely create a dilute “thin soup,”24 destroyed by meteorite impacts every 10 million years.20, 25 This severely limits the time available to create pre-biotic chemicals and allow for the OOL.

5. Chemically speaking, life uses only “left-handed” (“L”) amino acids and “right-handed” (“R)” genetic molecules. This is called “chirality,” and any account of the origin of life must somehow explain the origin of chirality. Nearly all chemical reactions produce “racemic” mixtures–mixtures with products that are 50% L and 50% R. However, some Darwinist websites report studies that found chemical reactions that slightly bias the products in favor of right-handed or left-handed molecules. However, as an anonymous Ph.D. chemist explains below, these studies have hardly solved the problem of chirality in naturalistic scenarios for the origin of life:”What is needed is not just some partial enantiomer bias but a full 100% resolution of the enantiomers — anything less just bites them in the butt in the long run — and the mechanism must be both fast and self-correcting otherwise racemization will undo them in the end. What this means is that for some amino acids, you have less than 10 kyrs to get the job done and invent a full up evolving organism; self-replicating molecules aren’t going to cut it as they rely on an external pool of amino acids that is rapidly racemizing. All the mechanisms so far offer only a partial resolution at best and are so slow that they are quickly undone by the racemization reactions. And sugars are even worse as the reducing ones are capable of mutarotation. For example, while it is well recognized that RNA uses only D-ribose, few folks talk about it also needing to be (alpha)-D-ribose. It is not sufficient to have the 3,5-hydroxy groups on either side of the furanose ring, the #1 carbon must also have an equatorial bond (that is the alpha designation) so that the nucleobase winds up in the plane, an axial bond won’t do. Until the nucleobase is joined to the sugar, the axial and equatorial position flips as the furanose ring opens and closes in a process called mutarotation. The half-life on this process tends to be on the order of tens of minutes. No natural process can out race that one! It takes a biological system to keep the sugars in the right conformation.

Some folks have also done enantiomer enrichment experiments using clays and other minerals that are optically active that showed some promise. The big catch here is that in nature, these minerals are racemic as well and it is only in the lab where someone selects one of the crystal orientations to add to the experiment that one encounters optically pure minerals. What these experiments show is that an independent agent acting with intention can achieve some measure of enantiomer enrichment, but without that independent agent (and we can argue later whether they are “intelligent” or not) the so-called natural system is limited to racemic mixtures — or quickly reduced to same.”It should be noted that some critics of intelligent design have begun to perpetuate the claim that amino acids have been produced in the presence of oxygen or non-reducing atmospheres, thus allowing Miller-Urey Experiments to be relevant to atmosphere on the early earth. All those making this claim32 have cited to Rode (1999)16 and Hanic et. al.33 The citation to Rode is duplicative because Rode also cites to work by Hanic (and Morvova). Thus, we need only examine the work of Hanic et. al.33 to see if the claim that amino acids could be made in the presence of oxygen is correct.

According to Hanic et. al., “the final product of the process is a powder” which can only be dissolved with “difficulty” in extremely strong Hydrochloric acid (HCl). This is very different from the soluble form obtained by Miller. Secondly, the amino acids were only able to be produced on the surface of a strongly negatively charged electrode, in a gas cell corona discharge tube:

“Activation is followed by … formation of catalytic spots on electrode surfaces … and surface reactions on electrodes.”33The electrodes were necessary for the reactions to take place as the paper stated, “A very important role is played by the reactions on the electrode surfaces.”33 Thus, although there may have been oxygen present, but this created an artificially high reducing environment—far beyond what would probably ever be found in nature! There are no strongly negatively charged electrodes in nature upon which you can force these sorts of reactions to take place in a gas cell corona discharge tube. Of course if you create an artificially high reducing environment you could produce amino acids—even in the presence of oxidizing oxygen gas. But that environment would not exist in nature had the atmosphere contained oxygen. Numerous authors have demonstrated the impossibility of forming amino acids in the presence of an oxygenic atmosphere.11, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 38 The fact that this experiment could only produce amino acids in the presence of oxygen if on the surface of a strongly negatively charged electrode concentrated inside a discharge tube only testifies to the impossibility of such a reaction taking place in nature.

And what about building a soup by comets and asteroids? This hypothesis has been refuted by many authors who have shown that organic carbon could not be delivered in large amounts to the early earth because it would be generally superheated and destroyed during impact.28

2. Is there any geochemical evidence that the soup ever existed?
There is no geological evidence left in the rocks that a primordial soup ever existed. If there was ever a soup, the earliest Precambrian rocks should contain high levels of non-biological carbon, for biologically produced carbon contains an excess of “isotopically light” carbon. Ancient sedimentary rocks, however, do not reveal this signature,29 and thus there is no positive evidence for this soup. If these processes produced a soup, they should have left a significant (1-10 meter thick) layer of tar encircling the earth, but there is no geochemical evidence of such a layer30 nor any published geochemical evidence of a primordial soup.31 Had there been a soup, then the rocks thought to be from that time period ought to contain an “unusually large proportion of carbon or organic chemicals” which they do not.15

So drastic is the evidence against pre-biotic synthesis, that in 1990 the Space Studies Board of the National Research Council recommended to scientists a “reexamination of biological monomer synthesis under primitive Earthlike environments, as revealed in current models of the early Earth.”23

Many speculate that given a primordial soup, the chemical origin of life does not seem quote so improbable. However, it would appear that the existence of the primordial soup itself may have been greatly improbable. For as second, let’s reason like the scientists do: The primordial soup seems necessary for life’s natural origin, life evolved naturally, therefore the primordial soup must have existed! Unfortunately, the converse is also true. If the primordial soup is necessary for life’s origin, but the soup didn’t exist, than life didn’t arise naturally. Assuming, for a second, that the primordial soup did come to exist, we are now ready to analyze the second major step in the chemical origin of life: could the molecules in the soup have come together to make larger, more complex molecules.

Step 2: Polymerization
Polymerization is the process by which “monomers” (simple organic molecules) form covalent bonds with one another to produce “polymers” (complex organic molecules). Monomers are thought be the constituents of the pre-biotic soup (amino acids, sugars, lipids, simple carbohydrates, nucleic acids), but polymers are chains–often very long chains–of monomers (peptides, phospholipids, RNA?, DNA?). This step is basically the method by which you get bigger molecules from the smallest molecules.

To help, here’s a little analogy which might give some understanding of the types of structures we’re dealing with here: monomers are like the letters, polymers are the words, biochemical pathways are the sentences, cells are the paragraphs, biological systems are the chapters, and the organism is the whole book! The only difference? Polymers are like words which are thousands of letters long.

During polymerization, a two monomers combine, forming a polymer and a water molecule:

Polymerization Reaction

If the origin of life took place in the pre-biotic soup, then it took place in an aqueous (i.e. water-based) solution of pre-biotic monomers. According to Le Chateliers Principle, one of the basic laws of chemistry, the presence of a product (in this case, water) will slow the reaction. If one tries to polymerize monomers into polymers in an aqueous solution (one where water is the solvent), it not possible to obtain any appreciable amount. The bottom line, the polymerization step in the chemical origin of life could never take place in water—this step is impossible in the primordial soup.

“Polymerization” thus requires “dehydration synthesis.” Many have proposed alternatives to get around this stumbling block. Since polymerization reactions also require an input of energy, heating and drying has been theorized to input energy, and remove the water. However, this heating and drying has to take place in such a way as to not wipeout the created polymers. Some theorized locations for this reaction have been intertidal pools or volcanic ridges where repeated cycles of heating and drying can take place. The problem is that all the water must be removed, but you don’t want to over-cook the polymers you are creating. Organic molecules tend to break down rapidly (i.e. cook) in the presence of heat. This would have to be a very fine balancing act that would also requires rapid input of organic material to overcome the rate at which the heat would destroy the molecules. A successful scenario is very difficult to imagine. Even under ideal laboratory conditions using pure monomers and carefully measured heating and drying cycles, only small amounts of polymers have been created.

Quick Summary of Problems with Various Locations for the Origin of Life
1. Deep sea thermal vents This would be under water and could not allow for polymerization through dehydration synthesis. Furthermore, organic compounds would quickly decompose if exposed to the high heat of deep sea thermal vents.
2. Tide pools (or somewhere in the intertidal zone) Organic material would still exposed to water, inhibiting polymerization (dehydration-synthesis). Experiments which have mimicked optimal heating and drying conditions near tide pools have only created small to modest amounts of polymers.
3. Anywhere in the ocean Water prevents polymerization because polymerization cannot take place in the presence of water. According to Le Chateliers principle, chemical reactions do not take place in the presence of large quantities of the product. Plus, the ocean would dilute the chemicals necessary for life.
4. Volcanic Ridges This scenario encounters the same problems as the tide-pools—it must dry out the ‘soup’ through volcanic heat to allow polymerization. But even if dry monomers could exist in high concentrations under perfect temperature conditions (as occurs only in experiments), experiments suggests the resulting polymers are still too small to allow for the next steps in the origin of life. One reason that the primordial soup was hypothesized is because in such an aqueous environment, there would be a high rate of random chemical interaction. In other words, molecules would always be bumping into new neighbors, increasing the odds that many chemical reactions could take place. Even if the necessary polymers could be produced, here they are outside of water and there will not be a high rate of random chemical interactions to further form complex molecules. However, since the polymerization step can’t take place in water, the number of random chemical interactions would be almost infinitely reduced. Instead of trying to make life in a liquid environment, you’re now trying to make it in a more solid goo, which is much less congenial to random chemical interactions. How could life originate if the proper molecules have such a small chance of even finding each other? Furthermore, volcanic ridges also face the same problems as deep sea thermal vents as they are very hot and would destroy organic molecules.
5. Clay surfaces

This theory was first proposed about 1400 B.C. by Moses in the book of Genesis. Moses proposed that God created man out of dust, or clay. The theory has also enjoyed a new twist in the 20th century as A. Graham Cairns-Smith, hypothesized that clay crystals could have acted as a template which could allow for the continued creation and replication of organic material. Hypothetically this scenario could create a wide variety of organic molecules, however it lacks any experimental evidence. As there are no experiments, there are no results to judge and no practical problems encountered.
6. Extra-terrestrial Origin See our Problems with Panspermia or Extraterrestrial Origin of Life Scenarios page page.

Step 3: Pre-RNA World: Getting A Sufficient Self-Replicating Molecule
Getting the first self-replicating molecule: Then A Miracle Happens

 

 

 

Though the OOL appears to be dead in the water, because of the lack of evidence for a “primordial soup” and the problems facing polymerization, let’s assume that those hurdles could be overcome. What would happen next? Many researchers have hypothesized that once polymers somehow formed, some of them came together to form the first self-replicating molecules. Somewhere within this step–the Pre-RNA world–the true origin-of-life occurred. However, nothing even close to a complete scenario by which polymers can naturally form a self-replicating molecule has ever been put forth. Chemists can artificially synthesize some self-replicating molecules in the lab, but they are not synthesized under conditions resembling the early Earth. Essentially, this is an appeal to a miracle.

Stanley Miller once said, “making compounds and making life are two different things.”14 This is quite true, for life, by definition, must have the ability to self-replicate–a process requiring many enzymes and genetic biochemical molecules. According to Joyce (2002), molecules like RNA or DNA are too complex to have arisen out the soup (assuming it existed) so there must have been some other more simple precursor to RNA or DNA.

A few self-replicating molecules have been created in the lab (i.e. in thoughtful and carefully-designed experiments). None have yet yielded candidates which could be stable replicators in an early earthlike environment that have the capacity to evolve into a more complex form. But is this anything more than rife speculation fueled by naturalistic thought? Consider these words by Arthur Shapiro:

“Another evolutionary principle is therefore needed to take us across the gap from mixtures of simple natural chemicals to the first effective replicator. This principle has not yet been described in detail or demonstrated, but it is anticipated, and given names such as chemical evolution and self-organization of matter. The existence of the principle is taken for granted in the philosophy of dialectical materialism, as applied to the origin of life by Alexander Oparin.”37One commentator noted that these self replicating molecules contain vastly less information compared to what is necessary for even the most primitive cell:

“This system carries very little information, in contrast to even the simplest cell. Mycoplasma gentalium has the smallest known genome of any living organism, which contains 482 genes comprising 580,000 bases. This organism is an obligate parasite. A free-living organism would need many more genes.”19Life (at least today through the molecule DNA) contains huge amounts of information. As previously noted, the Darwinian mechanism requires replication, or reproduction. Prior to the origin of replication, life could only rely upon the basic laws of chemistry. But how could the basic laws of chemistry and physics create the information present in life? The origin of this information that is key to understanding the origin of life. As B. O. Küppers wrote, “the problem of the origin of life is clearly basically equivalent to the problem of the origin of biological information.”50 Yet, there are no known chemical laws that determine the order of the nucleotide bases in DNA (or any other self-replicating molecule). Küppers notes, “the properties of nucleic acids indicate that all the combinatorially possible nucleotide patterns are, from a chemical point of view, equivalent.”48 Hubert Yockey writes that the sequence of the DNA is not affected by any physical or chemical law:

Informational macromolecules can code genetic messages and therefore can carry information because the sequence of bases or residues is affected very little, if at all, by [self-organizing] physico-chemical factors.49The first self-replicating molecule is not said to be DNA. But it is said to have been similar to DNA in that it carried the information needed for life. If there are no known chemical or physical laws which can create this complex and specified information needed for a self-replicating molecule, then this stage of the origin of life faces severe hurdles.

Step 4: RNA World
Some time after the first “self-replicating” molecule formed, according to the story, RNA came along. Today, RNA is a genetic molecule in all cells, similar to DNA, but more versatile within the cell. The “RNA World” is essentially a hypothetical stage of life between the first replicating molecule and the highly complicated DNA-protein-based life. The chief problem facing an RNA world is that RNA cannot perform all of the functions of DNA adequately to allow for replication and transcription of proteins. OOL theorist Leslie Orgel notes that an “RNA World” could only form the basis for life, “if prebiotic RNA had two properties not evident today: a capacity to replicate without the help of proteins and an ability to catalyze every step of protein synthesis.”41 The RNA world is thus a hypothetical system behind which there is little positive evidence, and much materialist philosophy:

“The precise events giving rise to the RNA world remain unclear … investigators have proposed many hypotheses, but evidence in favor of each of them is fragmentary at best. The full details of how the RNA world, and life, emerged may not be revealed in the near future.”41The best claimed evidence of an “RNA World” includes the fact that there are RNA enzymes and genomes, and that cells use RNA to convert the DNA code into proteins.42 However, RNA plays only a supporting role in the cell, and there is no known biochemical system completely composed of RNA.42

RNA experts have created a variety of RNA molecules which can perform biochemical functions through what is commonly termed “test tube evolution.” However, “test tube evolution” is just a description for what is in reality nothing more than chemical engineering in the laboratory employing Darwinian principles; that does not imply that there is some known pathway through which these molecules could arise naturally.

The most interesting RNA molecule synthesized is perhaps an RNA “polymerase” which can replicate 14 base pairs of RNA.42 Yet, the polymerase itself is 200 pairs long.42 As Gerald Joyce noted, OOL theorists are thus 14 / 200 towards achieving a possible model molecule for the RNA World. $2 However, Joyce also noted that the replication accuracy of this molecule is too poor to allow for it to persist as a functional form of life.42

These purely speculative scenarios aren’t bad on their own merits, but they are just another reminder of the philosophical presupposition driving this research in the first place: naturalism. Only when scientists assume there must be a natural explanation do they turn to completely unfalsifiable unverifiable and incomplete speculatory hypotheses.

The theory then says that some unknown precursor of RNA turned into RNA through an unknown process. This “RNA-world hypothesis” states that life then arose from a population of self-replicating RNA molecules. RNA is a sister molecule to DNA, used when DNA breaks up to create proteins or replicate. Like a copy from the library, RNA has a complementary code to DNA and goes out to do the dirty work. A few types of RNA have been known to have auto-catalytic self-replicating abilities, however this scenario inevitably encounters a chicken and egg problem18.

But these molecules must be encapsulated within a “cell wall structure” or a small protective enclosure from the outside world. But, the protective cell requires replicating genetic machinery to be created. Thus, we now have a “chicken and egg scenario”–which came first? the self-replicating machinery (which needs a cell to operate), or the cell itself, which protects (and is created by) the cellular machinery? The answer is neither came first for both are required for self-replication. How could self-replicating RNA arise naturally when it essentially is an irreducibly complex system that cannot functionally replicate without other distinct components.

Step 5: DNA/Protein World.
Scientists sometimes bluff that they have the OOL understood. For example, the National Academy of Sciences writes:

“[T]he question is no longer whether life could have originated by chemical processes… The question has become which of many pathways might have been followed to produce the first cell.”6A more accurate statement would be to admit that there is currently no known chemical pathway for many steps in the OOL including how an “RNA world” could transform into a “DNA/protein world.” Somewhere along the line, RNA is then said to have turned into DNA, which is main genetic molecule in all life today. How did this happen? The answer is that nobody has a clue. Problems with such a scenario are put well by biologists John Maynard Smith and Eors Szathmary:

The origin of the [DNA] code is perhaps the most perplexing problem in evolutionary biology. The existing translational machinery is at the same time so complex, so universal) and so essential that it is hard to see how it could have come into existences or how life could have existed without it. The discovery of ribozymes has made it easier to imagine an answer to the second of these questions, but the transformation of an ‘RNA world’ into one in which catalysis is performed by proteins, and nucleic acids specialize in the transmission of information [a DNA world], remains a formidable problem.44Which came first?

 

 

 

Furthermore, this transition presents an example of the infamous “chicken and egg problem”:43

Which came first? DNA needs enzymes to replicate, but the enzymes are encoded by DNA. DNA needs protection of the cell wall, but the cell wall is also encoded by the DNA. The answer is that neither came first for all are required in DNA-based life. These fundamental components form an irreducibly complex system in which all components must have been present from the start. Biologist Frank Salisbury described the problem as one which essentially requires the extreme difficulty of overcoming the hurdle of building an irreducibly complexity:

It’s nice to talk about replicating DNA molecules arising in a soupy sea, but in modern cells this replication requires the presence of suitable enzymes. Furthermore, DNA by itself accomplishes nothing. Its only reason for existence is the information that it carries and that is used in the production of a protein enzyme. At the moment, the link between DNA and the enzyme is a highly complex one, involving RNA and an enzyme for its synthesis on a DNA template; ribosomes; enyzmes to activate the amino acids; and transfer-RNA molecules. … How, in the absence of the final enzyme, could selection act upon DNA and all the mechanisms for replicating it? It’s as though everything must happen at once: the entire system must come into being as one unit, or it is worthless. There may well be ways out of this dilemma, but I don’t see them at the moment.51 

misc
The Irreducible Complexity of the Transcription-Translation Process:
The transcription – translation process is the means by which the information in the DNA code creates protein–the molecules which do things in the cell. In part a, DNA in the cell nucleus is “transcribed” into mRNA, which is then transported out of the nucleus to the ribosome. In part b, free-floating pieces of DNA, called tRNA, bind to the mRNA at the ribosome. All tRNA have amino acids attached to them. When the tRNA binds to the mRNA, the amino acids are linked into a protein. Part c is an expansion of the area in the red box of part b. Each tRNA has a “codon” and each type of codon always carries a particular amino acid. A “codon” is a small piece of DNA with 3 nucleotide bases. In DNA, there are 4 types of nucleotide bases. An “A” (Adenine) only bonds with a “T” (Thymine) and a “C” (Cytozine) matches only with a “G” (Guanine). Thus, the codon on the tRNA can only match specific codons on the mRNA. This forms the basis of the language in the DNA, allowing the amino acids to be strung together in the sequence specified by the DNA.

Another level of complexity in this process is how the tRNA get assigned to the right amino acids. For the DNA language to be translated properly, each tRNA codon must be attached to the correct amino acid. If this crucial step in DNA replication is not functional, then the language of DNA breaks down. Special enzymes called aminoacyl – tRNA synthetases (aaRSs) ensure that the proper amino acid is attached to a tRNA with the correct codon through a chemical reaction called “aminoacylation.”52 Accurate translation requires not only that each tRNA be assigned the correct amino acid, but also that it not be aminoacylated by any of the aaRS molecules for the other 19 amino acids. Amazingly, these aaRSs themselves are coded for by the DNA: this forms the essence of an irreducibly-complex chicken-egg problem. The enzymes themselves help perform the very task which constructs them! This is an irreducibly “all or nothing system” whose evolution seems impossible!

The origin of this system presents a challenge to the step-by-step evolution required by Darwin’s theory, or any other theory of the origin of life:

Step 6: Making Proto-cells
Leaving the “chicken-egg” problem aside for a moment, how would we get the first cell-walls for these early replicating sets of molecules? According to one major biology textbook:

One of the earliest episodes in the evolution of life may have been the formation of a membrane that could enclose a solution of different composition from the surrounding solution, while still permitting the selective uptake of nutrients and elimination of waste products. This ability of the cell to discriminate in its chemical exchanges with the environment is fundamental to life, and it is the plasma membrane that makes this selectivity possible.46A proto-cell would need the protective cell wall to keep out harmful substances in the environment. But such a cell wall must also be able to let in useful and beneficial substances. Some OOL researchers have created very small “soap-bubble” like structures which they call “protenoid microspheres.” These “protenoid microspheres” however would not make adequate cell walls for early self-replicating molecules: there is no known mechanism by which the molecules would find their way into the “protenoid microspheres” and once inside, there would be no mechanism for metabolic growth. More importantly, these “protenoid microspheres” would not be “alive” or biologically connected to the molecules—and they would lack the ability to “discriminate” between nutrients and waste products:

Cell Membrane showing Glycoproteins
Cells today have complex and specified “glycoproteins” which can recognize and “discriminate” between harmful and beneficial substances. This is part of what gives a modern cell wall the special ability to act as a living filter for the interior of the cell. But a protenoid microsphere would just be like a little “soap-bubble” like entity without any “fundamental” properties needed to discriminate between inviting beneficial molecules into the cell, and excluding harmful substances from the cell. Picture from Reference 53.

What about intelligent design?
In 1988, Klaus Dose said the following about the state of OOL research:

More than 30 years of experimentation on the origin of life in the fields of chemical and molecular evolution have led to a better perception of the immensity of the problem of the origin of life on Earth rather than to its solution. At present all discussions on principal theories and experiments in the field either end in stalemate or in a confession of ignorance. New lines of thinking and experimentation must be tried.47If naturalistic theories are not bearing fruit for science, perhaps we feel justified looking outside the reigning paradigm for an answer to the origin of life. Intelligent design theory begins with the observation that intelligent agents tend to produce large amounts of information when they create objects. If life is designed, one might expect that life will contain large amounts of information. This is exactly what is found in the cell. Consider this statement by famous Oxford evolutionary biologist, Richard Dawkins:

Physics books may be complicated, but…the objects and phenomena that a physics book describes are simpler than a single cell in the body of its author. And the author consists of trillions of those cells, many of them different from each other, organized with intricate architecture and precision-engineering into a working machine capable of writing a book.…Each nucleus…contains a digitally coded database larger, in information content, than all 30 volumes of the Encylopaedia Brittanica put together.45The simplest known single-celled life forms contain over 400 genes,31 and are much more complex than any hypothetical pre-RNA world. To merely exist, life requires an incredible amount of complexity, which is perhaps why Dawkins also wrote:

Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.45After seeing difficulties faced by the origin of life, perhaps this is why over 20 years ago, the noted scientist who discovered the structure of DNA, Francis Crick, said:

The origin of life appears to be almost a miracle, so many are the conditions which would have had to be satisfied to get it going.38References Cited:
1. See J. D. Watson, F. H. C. Crick, Molecular Structure of Nucleic Acids; A Structure for Deoxyribose Nucleic Acid, Nature, 2 April 1953, VOL 171, page737.
2. Life Itself, by Francis Crick (New York: Simon and Schuster, 1981) and Directed Panspermia by F. H. C Crick and L. E. Orgel, Icarus 19:341-346 (1973)
3. John Horgan, The End of Science: Facing the Limits of Knowledge in the Twilight of the Scientific Age, Little, Brown & Co: London, 1997, p138.
4. Information Theory and Molecular Biology. Hubert P. Yockey, 1992, Cambridge University Press. The reader is encouraged to check out chapters 8-10 for a good discussion of the problems with the natural chemical origin of life.
5. Darwin, Charles (1898). The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin, Vol II, p. 202. New York: D. Appleton.
6. Science and Creationism, A View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd Edition (National Academy Press, 1999).
7. “Microfossils of the Early Archean Apex chert: new evidence of the antiquity of life” by J. W. Schopf, Science, 260:640-646 (1993).
8. “Evidence for life on Earth before 3,800 million years ago” by S.M. Mojsis et. al., Nature, 384:55-59 (1996).
9. “A Production of Amino Acids Under Possible Primitive Earth Conditions” by S. L. Miller, Science 117:528-529 (1953). Also available on the web at “http://www.issol.org/miller/miller1953.pdf“(8-10-03).
10. Stansfield, William D., “The Science of Evolution,” [1977], Macmillan: New York NY, 1983, Eighth Printing, pp10-11.
11. “Prebiotic Synthesis in Atmospheres Containing CH4, CO, and CO2” by S. Miller, G. Schlesinger, Journal of Molecular Evolution 19:376-382 (1983).
12. The Origins of Life on the Earth, by S. L. Miller and L. E. Orgel, p. 33 (Englewood Cliffs, Prentice Hall, 1974).
13. Lewontin, Richard, “Billions and Billions of Demons”, New York Review of Books, January 9, 1997, p. 28)
14. Statements made by Stanley Miller at a talk given by him for a UCSD Origins of Life seminar class on January 19, 1999 (the talk was attended and notated by the author of this article).
15. “Chemical Events on the Primitive Earth,” P. Abelson, PNAS USA, 55:1365-1372 (1966).
16. “Peptides and the Origin of Life,” B. M. Rode, Peptides, 20:773-776 (1999).
17. Statements made by Dr. Edward Peltzer, at the IDEA Conference 2002. Dr. Peltzer obtained his doctorate degree under Stanley Miller in 1979.
18. Seven Clues to the Origin of Life: A Scientific Detective Story, A.G. Cairns-Smith, pg. 44-45 (Cambridge University Press, 1993).
19. Brooks J., “Origins of Life,” Lion: Tring, Hertfordshire UK, 1985, p.87
20. Levy, Matthew and Stanley Miller. The Stability of the RNA bases: Implications for the origin of life. Proceedings of National Academy of Science, USA (Vol. 95, pg. 7933-7938).
21. Canuto V. M., Levine, J. S., Augustsson, T. R., Imhoff, C. L., Giampapa, M. S. “The young Sun and the atmosphere and photochemistry of the early Earth”. Nature Vol 305, September 22, 1983, pg. 281-286.
22. Denton, Michael. Evolution: A Theory in Crisis (Bethesda, Md.: Adler and Adler, 1985), pg. 261).
23. The Search for Life’s Origins. National Research Council Space Studies Board, National Academy Press: Washington D.C., 1990, pg. 66, 67, 126)
24. “The prebiotic synthesis of organic compounds as a step toward the origin of life,” S. L. Miller, Major Events in the History of Life (London: Jones and Bartlett Publishers, 1992).
25. Lazcano, A., 1997. The tempo and modes of prebiotic evolution. In: Cosmovici, C.B., Bowyer, S., Wertheimer, D. Eds. , Astronomical and Biochemical Origins and the Search for Life in the Universe. Editrice Compositori, pp. 419­430.
26. “Getting All Turned Around Over the Origins of Life on Earth,” J. Cohen, Science, 267:1265-1266 (1995).
28. Anders, Edward. “Pre-biotic organic matter from comets and asteroids.” Nature, Vol 342, November 16, 1989 pg. 255-257.
29. Schopf, J. William in Exobiology (edited by Cyril Ponnamperuma), North-Holland Publishing Company: Amsterdam-London, 1972 in the Precambrian paleobiology chapter, Pg. 27.
30. Lasaga, Antonio, H. D. Holland, M. J. Dwyer. “Primordial Oil Slick”. Science vol 174, Oct 4, 1971 pg. 53-55.
31. Biogenesis: Theories of Life’s Origins, N. Lahav, p138-139 (Oxford University Press, 1999).
32. Three examples include: “Icons of Evolution? Why much of what Jonathan Wells writes about evolution is wrong” by Alan D. Gishlick (Miller-Urey Experiment section at http://www.ncseweb.org/icons/icon1millerurey.html), The Talented Mr. Wells, by Kevin Padian and Alan Gishlick (The Quarterly Review of Biology, Vol 77:33, March 2002), and a talk given by Eugenie Scott at the California Science Teachers Association annual convention in November, 2001.
33. Hanic, F., M. Morvová and I. Morva. 2000. Thermochemical aspects of the conversion of the gaseous system CO2–N2–H2O into a solid mixture of amino acids. Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry 60: 1111-1121 (2000). Another article of relevance is M. Morvová, Hanic, F., and I. Morva. Plasma Technologies for Reducing CO2 Emissions from Combustion Exhaust with Toxic Admixtures to Utilisable Products, Journal of Thermal Analysis and Calorimetry 61: 273-287 (2000).
34. Phillip Abelson, “Discussion of a Paper by Stanley Miller,” Annals of New York Academy of Sciences69 (1957) 274-275)
35. Sidney W. Fox & Klause Doxe, Molecular Evolution ahd the Origin of Life, Revised ed. (1977)
36. Henrich D. Holland, The Chemical Evolution of the Atmosphere and Oceans, (1984).
37. Shapiro, R., Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life on Earth (1986).
38. Horgan, J., “In the Beginning…,” Scientific American, (Feb 1991) 264:116-126).
39. Joyce, G., “The Antiquity of RNA-Based Evolution,” Nature 418:214-221, July 11, 2002
40. Sarfati, J., “Self-Replicating Enzymes?” Creation Ex Nihilo Technical Journal 11(1):4-6, 997.
41. “The Origin of Life on the Earth,” L. E. Orgel, Scientific American, 271:78 (1994).
42. Statements made by Gerald Joyce, Origins of Life Theorist, at a talk entitled, “The Antiquity of RNA-based Evolution” at UC San Diego on June 10, 2003, in honor of the 50th anniversary of Stanley Miller’s publication of his experimental results.
43. Chance and Necessity, J. Monod, pp 134-135 (Collins London, 1972).
44. The Major Transitions in Evolution, J. M. Smith and E. Szathmary, pg. 81 (W.H. Freeman: Oxford UK, 1995).
45. Dawkins, R., The Blind Watchmaker (New York: W. W. Norton, 1996).
46. Campbell’s Biology, 4th Ed., pg. 140.
47. Dose, Klaus, “The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers,” Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1988, p.348.
48. On the probability of the existence of life. In The probabilistic revolution ed. Kruger et. al. pg. 355-369 Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press
49. Yockey, H., “A calculation of the probability of spontaenous biogenesis by information theory. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 67:377-398 (1977).
50. Information and the Origin of Life, Cambridge Mass: MIT Press, 1990
51. Frank B. Salisbury, “Doubts about the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution,” American Biology Teacher, Sept. 1971, pg. 338.
52. Voet and Voet pg. 971-975.
53. See http://omega.dawsoncollege.qc.ca/ray/cellmemb/membrane.jpg

The work of Jonathan Wells and Stephen C. Meyer helped contribute to some of the research behind this paper.

Addendum:
The Complexity of Life

It is a common misconception that some forms of life are “primitive” and thus might be easily produced through natural chemical processes. These quotes will help show that while some forms of life are indeed “less complex” than many “higher forms” of life, such as vertebrate animals, even these “less complex forms” have a complexity which is staggering. Consider these quotes in response to the question, “Is the Cell a Simple Ball of Protoplasm?”

“High school textbooks used to make a big point about the materials that make up the human body being worth about 97 cents. Yale molecular biologist, Harold J. Morowitz got out a biochemical company’s catalog and added up the cost of the synthesized materials, such as hemoglobin and came up with a six million-dollar man ($6,000,015.44) to be exact). Professor Morowitz’s calculations drive home a more important point, however–that ‘information is more expensive than matter.’ What the biochemical companies offer is simply the highest ‘informational’ (most organized) state of materials commercially available. And even these are mostly taken from living animals; if synthesis of all the compounds offered had been done from basic elements, their cost might be as high as $6 billion. The logical extreme of the exercise, obviously, is that science is nowhere near getting close to synthesizing a human. Just to take the next step of organization–the organelle level–would cost perhaps $6 trillion.”
(Morowitz, Harold J., “The Six Million-Dollar Man,” Science News (July 31, 1976))

“the most elementary type of cell constitutes a ‘mechanism’ unimaginably more complex than any machine yet thought up, let alone constructed, by man.”
(W. H. Thorpe [evolutionist scientist] as quoted in W. R. Bird, The Origin of Species Revisited)

“Is it really credible that random processes could have constructed a reality, the smallest element of which – a functional protein or gene – is complex beyond … anything produced by the intelligence of man?”
(Molecular biologist Michael Denton, Evolution: A Theory in Crisis)

“Biology is the study of complicated things that give the appearance of having been designed for a purpose.”
(Dawkins, Richard [Zoologist, Oxford University], “The Blind Watchmaker,”)

“Biologists must constantly keep in mind that what they see was not designed, but rather evolved.”
(Crick F.H.C., [Co-discoverer of DNA helix, Nobel laureate 1962, Professor at Salk Institute, La Jolla])

“The simplest bacteria is so damn complicated from the point of view of a chemist that it is almost impossible to imagine how it [the natural chemical origins of life] happened”
(Harold P. Klein, Santa Clara University, affiliate of National Academy of Sciences)

“The post-reductionist era has been with us for some time, and cell biologists are now accomplished reconstructionists, building pictures of cellular structures from proteins identified through biochemistry and genetics. Understanding the beauty of cellular structures requires a knowledge of their inner architecture and engineering. The complexity of Millennium domes, Eiffel towers and ‘Ferris wheels’ are likely just pale reflections of life at the heart of the cell.”
(“The nano-scale architecture of the nucleus” Paul Ko Ferrigno, Trends in Cell Biology 2000, 10:366)

“It is possible to make a more fundamental distinction between living and nonliving things by examining their molecular structure and molecular behavior. In brief, living organisms are distinguished by their specified complexity. Crystals are usually taken as the prototypes of simple, well-specified structures, because they consist of a very large number of identical molecules packed together in a uniform way. Lumps of granite or random mixtures of polymers are examples of structures which are complex but not specified. The crystals fail to qualify as living because they lack complexity; the mixtures of polymers fail to qualify because they lack specificity.”
(Orgel, Leslie E. [Biochemist, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, UCSD])

“We have repeatedly emphasized the fundamental problems posed for the biologist by the fact of life’s complex organization. We have seen that organization requires work for its maintenance and that the universal quest for food is in part to provide the energy needed for this work. But the simple expenditure of energy is not sufficient to develop and maintain order. A bull in a china shop performs work, but he neither creates nor maintains organization. The work needed is particular work; it must follow specifications; it requires information on how to proceed.”
(Simpson, George Gaylord & Beck, William S. [Harvard University)

“But let us have no illusions. If today we look into situations where the analogy of the life sciences is the most striking–even if we discovered within biological systems some operations distant from the state of equilibria–our research would still leave us quite unable to grasp the extreme complexity of the simplest of organisms.”
(Ilya Prigogine, Professor Physics Department, Universite Libre de Bruxelles)

(original link)

Information in Living Organisms

by Dr. Werner Gitt on April 2, 2009

There is an extreme multiplicity of life-forms around us, and even a simple unicellular organism is much more complex and purposefully designed than anything that human inventiveness can produce. Matter and energy are basic prerequisites for life, but they cannot be used to distinguish between living and inanimate systems. The central characteristic of all living beings is the “information” they contain, and this information regulates all life processes and procreative functions. Transfer of information plays a fundamental role in all living organisms. When, for example, insects carry pollen from one flower to another, this is in the first place an information-carrying process (genetic information is transferred); the actual material employed is of no concern. Although information is essential for life, information alone does not at all comprise a complete description of life.

Newsletter Signup

Latest Answers

Stay up to date each week with top articles, blogs, news, videos, and more.

Sign Up Now

Man is undoubtedly the most complex information-processing system existing on earth. The total number of bits handled daily in all information-processing events occurring in the human body is 3 x 1024. This includes all deliberate as well as all involuntary activities, the former comprising the use of language and the information required for controlling voluntary movements, while the latter includes the control of the internal organs and the hormonal systems. The number of bits being processed daily in the human body is more than a million times the total amount of human knowledge stored in all the libraries of the world, which is about 1018 bits.

6.1 Necessary Conditions for Life

The basic building blocks of living beings are the proteins, which consist of only 20 different amino acids. These acids have to be arranged in a very definite sequence for every protein. There are inconceivably many possible chains consisting of 20 amino acids in arbitrary sequences, but only some very special sequences are meaningful in the sense that they provide the proteins which are required for life functions. These proteins are used by and built into the organism, serving as building materials, reserves, bearers of energy, and working and transport substances. They are the basic substances comprising the material parts of living organisms and they include such important compounds as enzymes, anti-bodies, blood pigments, and hormones. Every organ and every kind of life has its own specific proteins and there are about 50,000 different proteins in the human body, each of which performs important functions. Their structure as well as the relevant “chemical factories” in the cells have to be encoded in such a way that protein synthesis can proceed optimally, combining the correct quantities of the required substances.

The structural formulas of the 20 different amino acids that serve as chemical building blocks for the proteins found in all living beings appear in the book In sechs Tagen vom Chaos zum Men-schen [G10, p. 143]. If a certain specific protein must be manufactured in a cell, then the chemical formula must be communicated to the cell as well as the chemical procedures for its synthesis. The exact sequence of the individual building blocks is extremely important for living organisms, so that the instructions must be in written form. This requires a coding system as well as the necessary equipment which can decode the information and carry out the instructions for the synthesis. The minimal requirements are:

Figure 16: The 20 amino acids which are present in living systems, given in alphabetic order, together with their international three-letter abbreviations. The code combinations (triplets) which give rise to the relevant acid are indicated in the right-hand column.

—According to Theorem 6, a coding system is required for compiling information, and this system should be able to identify uniquely all the relevant amino acids by means of a standard set of symbols which must remain constant.

—As required by Theorems 14, 17, and 19, for any piece of information, this information should involve precisely defined semantics, pragmatics, and apobetics.

—There must be a physical carrier able to store all the required information in the smallest possible space, according to Theorem 24.

The names of the 20 amino acids occurring in living beings and their internationally accepted three-letter abbreviations are listed in Figure 16 (e.g., Ala for alanine). It is noteworthy that exactly this code with four different letters is employed; these four letters are arranged in “words” of three letters each to uniquely identify an amino acid. Our next endeavor is to determine whether this system is optimal or not.

The storage medium is the DNA molecule (deoxyribonucleic acid), which resembles a double helix as illustrated in Figure 17. A DNA fiber is only about two millionths of a millimeter thick, so that it is barely visible with an electron microscope. The chemical letters A, G, T, and C are located on this information tape, and the amount of information is so immense in the case of human DNA that it would stretch from the North Pole to the equator if it was typed on paper, using standard letter sizes. The DNA is structured in such a way that it can be replicated every time a cell divides in two. Each of the two daughter cells must have identically the same genetic information after the division and copying processes. This replication is so precise that it can be compared to 280 clerks copying the entire Bible sequentially, each one from the previous one, with, at most, one single letter being transposed erroneously in the entire copying process.

Figure 17: The way in which genetic information is stored. At the left, the “chemical paper” is shown in the form of a long sugar-phosphate chain with the four chemical letters, A, T, C, and G. The actual structure and dimensions of a DNA molecule can be seen at the top.

When a DNA string is replicated, the double strand is unwound, and at the same time a complementary strand is constructed on each separate one, so that, eventually, there are two new double strands identical to the original one. As can be seen in Figure 17, A is complementary to T, and C to G.

One cell division lasts from 20 to 80 minutes, and during this time the entire molecular library, equivalent to one thousand books, is copied correctly.

6.2 The Genetic Code

We now discuss the question of devising a suitable coding system. For instance, how many different letters are required and how long should the words be for optimal performance? If a certain coding system has been adopted, it should be strictly adhered to (theorem 8, par 4.2), since it must be in tune with extremely complex translation and implementation processes. The table in Figure 19 comprises only the most interesting 25 fields, but it can be extended indefinitely downward and to the right. Each field represents a specific method of encoding, for example, if n = 3 and L = 4, we have a ternary code with 3 different letters. In that case, a word for identifying an amino acid would have a length of L = 4, meaning that quartets of 4 letters represent one word. If we now want to select the best code, the following requirements should be met:

—The storage space in a cell must be a minimum so that the code should economize on the required material. The more letters required for each amino acid, the more material is required, as well as more storage space.

—The copying mechanism described above requires n to be an even number. The replication of each of the two strands of DNA into complementary strands thus needs an alphabet having an even number of letters. For the purpose of limiting copying errors during the very many replication events, some redundance must be provided for (see appendix A 1.4).

—The longer the employed alphabet, the more complex the implementing mechanisms have to be. It would also require more material for storage, and the incidence of copying errors would increase.

Figure 18: The chemical formula of insulin. The A chain consists of 21 amino acids and the B chain is comprised of 30 amino acids. Three of the 20 amino acids present in living organisms, are absent (Asp, Met, Try), two occur six times (Cys, Leu), one five times (Glu), three occur four times (Gly, Tyr, Val), etc. The two chains are linked by two disulphide bridges. Insulin is an essential hormone, its main function being to maintain the normal sugar content of the blood at 3.9 to 6.4 mmol/l (70–115 mg/dl).

In each field of Figure 19, the number of possible combinations for the different words appears in the top left corner. The 20 amino acids require at least 20 different possibilities and, according to Shannon’s theory, the required information content of each amino acid could be calculated as follows: For 20 amino acids, the average information content would be iAiW ≡ ld 20 = log 20/log 2 = 4.32 bits per amino acid (ld is the logarithm with base 2).

Figure 19: The theoretical possibility of constructing a code consisting of words of equal length. Every field (block) represents a definite coding system as indicated by the number of different letters n, and the word length L.

If four letters (quartets) are represented in binary code (n = 2), then (4 letters per word)x(1 bit per letter) = 4 bits per word, which is less than the required 4.32 bits per word. This limit is indicated by the hatched boundary in Figure 19. The six fields adjacent to this line, numbered 1 to 6, are the best candidates. All other fields lying further to the right could also be considered, but they would require too much material for storage. So we only have to consider the six numbered cases.

It is, in principle, possible to use quintets of binary codes, resulting in an average of 5 bits per word, but the replication process requires an even number of symbols. We can thus exclude ternary code (n = 3) and quinary code (n = 5). The next candidate is binary code (No. 2), but it needs too much storage material in relation to No. 4 (a quaternary code using triplets), five symbols versus three implies a surplus of 67%. At this stage, we have only two remaining candidates out of the large number of possibilities, namely No. 4 and No. 6. And our choice falls on No. 4, which is a combination of triplets from a quaternary code having four different letters. Although No. 4 has the disadvantage of requiring 50% more material than No. 6, it has advantages which more than compensate for this disadvantage, namely:

—With six different symbols, the recognition and translation requirements become disproportionately much more complex than with four letters, and thus requires much more material for these purposes.

—In the case of No. 4, the information content of a word is 6 bits per word, as against 5.17 bits per word for No. 6. The resulting redundancy is thus greater, and this ensures greater accuracy for the transfer of information.

Conclusion: The coding system used for living beings is optimal from an engineering standpoint. This fact strengthens the argument that it was a case of purposeful design rather than fortuitous chance.

6.3 The Origin of Biological Information

Figure 20: A simplified representation of the cyclic information controlled process occurring in living cells. The translation is based on pragmatics, but it is involved in the cyclic process of semantic information, since the DNA synthesis can only take place under enzymatic catalysis. This sketch clearly illustrates that such a cyclic process must have been complete right from the start, and could not have originated in a continuous process. The structure of this example of a complex information transfer system also corresponds to Figure 24.

We find a unique coding system and a definite syntax in every genome.1 The coding system is composed of four chemical symbols for the letters of the defined alphabet, and the syntax entails triplets representing certain amino acids. The genetic syntax system also uses structural units like expressors, repressors, and operators, and thus extends far beyond these two aspects (4 symbols and triplet words). It is not yet fully understood. It is known that the information in a cell goes through a cyclic process (Figure 20), but the semantics of this process is not (yet) understood in the case of human beings. The locations of many functions of chromosomes or genes are known, but we do not yet understand the genetic language. Because semantics is involved, it means that pragmatics also have to be fulfilled. The semantics are invariant, as can be seen in the similarity (not identity!) of uni-ovular twins. If one carefully considers living organisms in their entirety as well as in selected detail, the purposefulness is unmistakable. The apobetics aspect is thus obvious for anybody to see; this includes the observation that information never originates by chance, but is always conceived purposefully.

The substitutionary function of information is also satisfied (see Definition D5 in chapter 5), since the triplets in the DNA molecule represent those amino acids that will be synthesized at a later stage for incorporation into proteins (the amino acids themselves are not present). We can now establish an important theorem:

Theorem 25: Biological information is not an exceptional kind of information, but it differs from other systems in that it has a very high storage density and that it obviously employs extremely ingenious concepts.

In accordance with the theorems formulated in chapters 3 to 5, in particular the impossibility theorems at the end of chapter 4, it is clear that the information present in living organisms requires an intelligent source. Man could not have been this source; so, the only remaining possibility is that there must have been a Creator. We can now formulate the following theorems:

Theorem 26: The information present in living beings must have had a mental source.

A corollary of Theorem 26 is:

Theorem 27: Any model for the origin of life (and of information) based solely on physical and/or chemical processes, is inherently false.

In their school textbook, R. Junker and S. Scherer establish a basic type that must have been “ready-made” [J3]. This result, which requires the information content of living beings to be complete right from the beginning, is biologically sound. The derived theorems about the nature of information fit this model.

6.4 Materialistic Representations and Models of the Origin of Biological Information

The question “How did life originate?” which interests us all, is inseparably linked to the question “Where did the information come from?” Since the findings of James D. Watson (*1928) and Francis H.C. Crick (*1916), it was increasingly realized by contemporary researchers that the information residing in the cells is of crucial importance for the existence of life. Anybody who wants to make meaningful statements about the origin of life would be forced to explain how the information originated. All evolutionary views are fundamentally unable to answer this crucial question.

The philosophy that life and its origin are purely material phenomena currently dominates the biological sciences. Following are the words of some authors who support this view.

Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck (1744–1829), a French zoologist and philosopher, wrote, “Life is nothing but a physical phenomenon. All life features originate in mechanical, physical, and chemical processes which are based on the properties of organic matter itself ” (Philosophie Zoologique, Paris, 1809, Vol. 1).

The German microbiologist R.W. Kaplan holds a similar materialistic view [K1]: “Life is effected by the different parts of a system which work together in a certain way. . . . Life can be completely explained in terms of the properties of these parts and their inevitable interactions. . . . The origin of life can be explained in terms of hypotheses describing fully the sequence of events since the origin of protobionts, and the fact that all these events could be deduced from physical, chemical, and other laws which are valid for material systems.”

Manfred Eigen (*1927), a Nobel laureate of Göttingen, discusses questions about life from the molecular biology view, with as point of departure the unwarranted postulate that natural laws controlled the origin of life. In his work on the self-organization of matter [E1], he uses an impressive array of formulas, but does not rise above the level of statistical information. This voluminous work is thus useless and does not answer any questions about the origin of information and of life. He writes in [E2, p 55], “Information arises from non-information.” This statement is nothing but a confession of materialism, and it fails the tests required by reality.

Franz M. Wuketits defines the target readership of his book [W8] as follows: “. . . not only biologists and theoretical scientists, but in equal measure scientists and philosophers, and everybody who is interested in the adventures of contemporary science.” He then presents a so-called “evolutionary theoretical science,” claiming to initiate a new Copernican revolution. Up to the present time, great scientific results were obtained by means of observation, measuring, and weighing, as was done for example by Copernicus, Galilei, Newton, Einstein, Born, and Planck. In his system, Wuketits follows the backward route: His point of departure is to assume that evolution is true, so that all natural phenomena have to be interpreted through these spectacles. He writes in the introduction of his book [W8, p. 11–12]:

The fundamental truth of biological evolution is accepted beforehand, yes, we assume in advance that the principle of evolution is universally valid, that it is just as valid in the preorganic domain as in the organic, and that it can be extended to the spheres of psychology, sociology, and culture. If we accept that the evolutionary view also holds for the human mind and cognition, then evolutionary ideas can also be applied to the analysis of those phenomena which are usually regarded as belonging to theoretical science. As a result this view then becomes relatively more important in the evaluation of the progress of scientific research. We thus arrive at an evolutionary theory of science, a theory of human knowledge which relates to an evolutionary establishment of itself.

If such statements were based on a sufficient body of facts, then one might perhaps agree with the conclusions, but the reverse process was followed: All phenomena of nature are placed under the all-encompassing evolutionary umbrella. Scientists who submit themselves to such a mental corset and support it uncritically, degrade themselves to mere vassals of a materialistic philosophy. Science should, however, only be subservient to the truth, and not to pre-programmed folly. Evolutionary theory bans any mention of a planning Spirit as a purposeful First Cause in natural systems, and endeavors to imprison all sciences in the straightjacket called the “self-organization of matter.” Wuketits supports evolutionary theory with a near ideological fervor, and accuses everybody of fable mongering who claims to be scientific and speak of “planning spirits” or of a “designer” in nature. He wishes to ban thoughts of “finality” and of “final and purposeful causes” from science and from the domain of all serious schools of thought.

An appreciable fraction of all scientists who concern themselves with cosmological questions and with questions of origins, support the evolutionary view, to such an extent that the well-known American bio-informaticist Hubert P. Jockey [J1] bemoans the fact that the literature in this area is blandly and totally supportive. He writes in the Journal of Theoretical Biology [vol. 91, 1981, p. 13]:

Since science does not have the faintest idea how life on earth originated. . . . it would only be honest to confess this to other scientists, to grantors, and to the public at large. Prominent scientists speaking ex cathedra, should refrain from polarizing the minds of students and young productive scientists with statements that are based solely on beliefs.

The doctrine of evolution is definitely not a viable scientific leitmotiv (guiding principle); even the well-known theoreticist Karl Popper [H1], once characterized it as a “metaphysical research program.” This assertion is just as noteworthy as it is honest, because Popper himself supports evolution.

We now discuss some theoretical models which suggest that information can originate in matter.

Figure 21: Molecular-Darwinistic representations of the origin of information according to R. Dawkins and B.O. Küppers.

Cumulative selection (Latin cumulare = gather): Richard Dawkins, a British neo-Darwinist, revives the historical example of the typewriter-thrumming monkeys (see appendix A1.5) and replaces them with “computer monkeys.” As shown in Figure 21, he begins with a random sequence of 28 letters [D2 p. 66–67] and seeks to demonstrate how a predetermined phrase selected from Shakespeare, “Methinks it is like a weasel,” can be derived through mutation and selection. The random initial sequence with the required number of letters is copied repeatedly, allowing for random copying errors (representing mutations). The computer program checks all the “daughter” sentences and selects that one which most resembles the target sentence. The process is subsequently repeated for the resulting “winning sentences,” until eventually, after 43 “generations,” the goal is reached.

There is a spate of new Jesus books which constantly present strange new and false ideas contrary to the New Testament. Prof. Klaus Berger of the Heidelberg School of Theology remarked (1994): “Please buy and read such a book, then you will realize what degree of gullibility is ascribed to you.” With equal zeal, Dawkins publishes his easily detectable fallacies about the way information originates. It is therefore necessary to discuss his representation fully so that you, the reader, can see what feeble-mindedness is ascribed to you.

In the initial pages of his book, Dawkins [D2, p. 13] softens the reader to the purposelessness of living structures: “Biology is the study of complex matters that appear to have been designed purposefully.” Further along he selects a target sentence and his entire program is designed toward this goal. This game can be played with any random initial sequence and the goal will always be reached, because the programming is fixed. Even the number of letters is given in advance. It is obvious that no information is generated; on the contrary, it has been predetermined. B.O. Küppers plays a similar evolution game [K3]: The predetermined target word is evolutionstheorie appearing twice (see the right hand part of Figure 21). It should be clear from Theorem 27 that random processes cannot give rise to information.

Genetic algorithms: The so-called “genetic algorithms” are yet another way of trying to explain how information could originate in matter [F5, M4]. The combination of words is deliberately chosen from biology and numerical mathematics to suggest that evolutionary events are described mathematically. What is actually involved is a purely numerical method used for the optimization of dynamic processes. This method can be used to find, by repeated approximations, the maximum value of an analytic function numerically (e.g., f(x,y) = yx – x4), or the optimal route of a commercial traveler. The effects of mutation and selection can thus be simulated by computer. Using predetermined samples of bits (sequences of noughts and ones), each position is regarded as a gene. The sample is then modified (mutated) by allowing various genetic operators to influence the bit string (e.g., crossover). A “fitness function,” assumed for the process of evolution, is then applied to each result. It should be pointed out that this genetic algorithm is purely a numerical calculation method, and definitely not an algorithm which describes real processes in cells. Numerical methods cannot describe the origin of information.

Evolutionary models for the origin of the genetic code: We find proposals for the way the genetic code could have originated in very many publications [e.g., O2, E2, K1], but up to the present time, nobody has been able to propose anything better than purely imaginary models. It has not yet been shown empirically how information can arise in matter, and, according to Theorem 11, this will never happen.

6.5 Scientists Against Evolution

Fortunately, the number of scientists who repudiate evolutionary views and dilemmas is increasing. This number includes internationally renowned experts, of whom some quotations follow. In New Scientist, the British astrophysicist Sir Fred Hoyle, one of today’s best known cosmologists, expresses his concern about the customary representations under the title “The Big Bang in Astronomy” [H4, p. 523–524]:

But the interesting quark transformations are almost immediately over and done with, to be followed by a little rather simple nuclear physics, to be followed by what? By a dull-as-ditchwater expansion which degrades itself adiabatically until it is incapable of doing anything at all. The notion that galaxies form, to be followed by an active astronomical history, is an illusion. Nothing forms, the thing is as dead as a door-nail. . . . The punch line is that, even though outward speeds are maintained in a free explosion, internal motions are not. Internal motions die away adiabatically, and the expanding system becomes inert, which is exactly why the big-bang cosmologies lead to a universe that is dead-and-done-with almost from its beginning.

These views correspond with the findings of Hermann Schneider, a nuclear physicist of Heidelberg, who has critically evaluated the big bang theory from a physical viewpoint. He concludes [S5]: “In the evolution model the natural laws have to describe the origin of all things in the macro and the micro cosmos, as well as their operation. But this overtaxes the laws of nature.”

Fred Hoyle makes the following remarks about the much-quoted primeval soup in which life supposedly developed according to evolutionary expectations [H4, p 526]:

I don’t know how long it is going to be before astronomers generally recognize that the combinatorial arrangement of not even one among the many thousands of biopolymers on which life depends could have been arrived at by natural processes here on the earth. Astronomers will have a little difficulty at understanding this because they will be assured by biologists that it is not so, the biologists having been assured in their turn by others that it is not so. The “others” are a group of persons who believe, quite openly, in mathematical miracles. They advocate the belief that tucked away in nature, outside of normal physics, there is a law which performs miracles.

In his book Synthetische Artbildung (The Synthetic Formation of Kinds), Professor Dr. Heribert Nilsson, a botanist at Lund University in Sweden, describes evolutionary doctrine as an obstacle which prevents the development of an exact biology:

The final result of all my researches and discussions is that the theory of evolution should be discarded in its entirety, because it always leads to extreme contradictions and confusing consequences when tested against the empirical results of research on the formation of different kinds of living forms and related fields. This assertion would agitate many people. Moreover: my next conclusion is that, far from being a benign natural-philosophical school of thought, the theory of evolution is a severe obstacle for biological research. As many examples show, it actually prevents the drawing of logical conclusions from even one set of experimental material. Because everything must be bent to fit this speculative theory, an exact biology cannot develop.

Professor Dr. Bruno Vollmert of Karlsruhe, an expert in the field of macro-molecular chemistry, has shown that all experiments purporting to support evolution miss the crux of the matter [V1]:

All hitherto published experiments about the poly-condensation of nucleotides or amino acids are irrelevant to the problem of evolution at the molecular level, because they were based on simple monomers, and not on “primeval soups” derived from Miller experiments. But poly-condensation experiments with primeval soups or the dissolved mix of substances of them are just as superfluous as attempts to construct perpetual motion machines.

A French Nobel laureate, A. Lwoff [L2], pointed out that every organism can only function in terms of the complex net of available information:

An organism is a system of interdependent structures and functions. It consists of cells, and the cells are made of molecules which have to cooperate smoothly. Every molecule must know what the others are doing. It must be able to receive messages and act on them.

When considering the source of this information, we can now formulate the following theorem which is based on research of many thousands of man-years:

Theorem 28: 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.

This was also the conclusion of the seventh “International Conference on the Origins of Life” held together with the fourth congress of the “International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL)” in Mainz, Germany. At such occasions, scientists from all over the world exchange their latest results. In his review of the congress, Klaus Dose [D3] writes: “A further puzzle remains, namely the question of the origin of biological information, i.e., the information residing in our genes today.” Not even the physical building blocks required for the storage of the information can construct themselves: “The spontaneous formation of simple nucleotides or even of polynucleotides which were able to be replicated on the pre-biotic earth should now be regarded as improbable in the light of the very many unsuccessful experiments in this regard.”

As early as 1864, when Louis Pasteur addressed the Sorbonne University in Paris, he predicted that the theory of the spontaneous generation of living cells would never recover from the fatal blow delivered by his experiments. In this regard, Klaus Dose makes an equally important statement: “The Mainz report may have an equally important historical impact, because for the first time it has now been determined unequivocally by a large number of scientists that all evolutionary theses that living systems developed from poly-nucleotides which originated spontaneously, are devoid of any empirical base.”

(original link)

A Few Reasons an Evolutionary Origin of Life Is Impossible

BY DUANE GISH, PH.D. *  |

There were no human witnesses to the origin of life, and no physical geological evidence of its origin exists. Speaking of the origin of a hypothetical self-replicating molecule and its structure, Pross has recently admitted that “The simple answer is we do not know, and we may never know.”1 Later, concerning the question of the origin of such a molecule, Pross said, “. . . one might facetiously rephrase the question as follows: given an effectively unknown reaction mixture, under effectively unknown reaction conditions, reacting to give unknown products by unknown mechanisms, could a particular product with a specific characteristic . . . have been included amongst the reaction products?”2 That pretty well summarizes the extent of the progress evolutionists have made toward establishing a mechanistic, atheistic scenario for the origin of life after more than half a century of physical, chemical, and geological research. It is possible, however, to derive facts that establish beyond doubt that an evolutionary origin of life on this planet would have been impossible. The origin of life could only have resulted from the action of an intelligent agent external to and independent of the natural universe. There is sufficient space here to describe only a few of the insuperable barriers to an evolutionary origin of life.

1. The absence of the required atmosphere.

Our present atmosphere consists of 78% nitrogen (N2), 21% molecular oxygen (O2), and 1% of other gases, such as carbon dioxide CO2), argon (Ar), and water vapor H2O). An atmosphere containing free oxygen would be fatal to all origin of life schemes. While oxygen is necessary for life, free oxygen would oxidize and thus destroy all organic molecules required for the origin of life. Thus, in spite of much evidence that the earth has always had a significant quantity of free oxygen in the atmosphere,3 evolutionists persist in declaring that there was no oxygen in the earth’s early atmosphere. However, this would also be fatal to an evolutionary origin of life. If there were no oxygen there would be no protective layer of ozone surrounding the earth. Ozone is produced by radiation from the sun on the oxygen in the atmosphere, converting the diatomic oxygen(O2) we breathe to triatomic oxygen O3), which is ozone. Thus if there were no oxygen there would be no ozone. The deadly destructive ultraviolet light from the sun would pour down on the surface of the earth unimpeded, destroying those organic molecules required for life, reducing them to simple gases, such as nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water. Thus, evolutionists face an irresolvable dilemma: in the presence of oxygen, life could not evolve; without oxygen, thus no ozone, life could not evolve or exist.

2. All forms of raw energy are destructive.

The energy available on a hypothetical primitive Earth would consist primarily of radiation from the sun, with some energy from electrical discharges (lightning), and minor sources of energy from radioactive decay and heat. The problem for evolution is that the rates of destruction of biological molecules by all sources of raw energy vastly exceed their rates of formation by such energy. The only reason Stanley Miller succeeded in obtaining a small amount of products in his experiment was the fact that he employed a trap to isolate his products from the energy source.4 Here evolutionists face two problems. First, there could be no trap available on a primitive Earth. Second, a trap by itself would be fatal to any evolutionary scenario, for once the products are isolated in the trap, no further evolutionary progress is possible, because no energy is available. In his comments on Miller’s experiment, D. E. Hull stated that “These short lives for decomposition in the atmosphere or ocean clearly preclude the possibility of accumulating useful concentrations of organic compounds over eons of time. . . . The physical chemist guided by the proved principles of chemical thermodynamics and kinetics, cannot offer any encouragement to the biochemist, who needs an ocean full of organic compounds to form even lifeless coacervates.”5

3. An evolutionary scenario for the origin of life would result in an incredible clutter.

Let us suppose that, as evolutionists suggest, there actually was some way for organic, biologically important molecules to have formed in a significant quantity on a primitive Earth. An indescribable mess would have been the result. In addition to the 20 different amino acids found in proteins today, hundreds of other kinds of amino acids would have been produced. In addition to deoxyribose and ribose, the five-carbon sugars found in DNA and RNA today, a variety of other five-carbon sugars, four-carbon, six-carbon, and seven-carbon sugars would have been produced. In addition to the five purines and pyrimidines found in DNA and RNA today, a great variety of other purines and pyrimidines would exist. Further, of vital significance, the amino acids in proteins today are exclusively left-handed, but all amino acids on the primitive Earth would be 50% left-handed and 50% right-handed. The sugars in DNA and RNA today are exclusively right-handed, but, if they did exist, sugars on a primitive Earth would have been 50% right-handed and 50% left-handed. If just one right-handed amino acid is in a protein, or just one left-handed sugar is found in a DNA or RNA, all biological activity is destroyed. There would be no mechanism available on a primitive Earth to select the correct form. This fact alone destroys evolution. Evolutionists have been wrestling with this dilemma since it was first recognized, and there is no solution in sight. All these many varieties would compete with one another, and a great variety of other organic molecules, including aldehydes, ketones, acids, amines, lipids, carbohydrates, etc. would exist. If evolutionists really claim to simulate plausible primitive Earth conditions, why don’t they place their reactants in a big mess like this and irradiate it with ultraviolet light, shock it with electric discharges, or heat it, and see what results? They don’t do that because they know there wouldn’t be the remotest possibility that anything useful for their evolutionary scenario would result. Rather, they carefully select just the starting materials they want to produce amino acids or sugars or purines or whatever, and, furthermore, they employ implausible experimental conditions that would not exist on a primitive Earth. They then claim in textbooks and journal articles that such and such biological molecules would have been produced in abundant quantities on the early earth.

4. Micromolecules do not spontaneously combine to form macromolecules.

It is said that DNA is the secret of life. DNA is not the secret of life. Life is the secret of DNA. Evolutionists persistently claim that the initial stage in the origin of life was the origin of a self-replicating DNA or RNA molecule. There is no such thing as a self-replicating molecule, and no such molecule could ever exist.The formation of a molecule requires the input of a highly selected type of energy and the steady input of the building blocks required to form it. To produce a protein, the building blocks are amino acids. For DNA and RNA these building blocks are nucleotides, which are composed of purines, pyrimidines, sugars, and phosphoric acid. If amino acids are dissolved in water they do not spontaneously join together to make a protein. That would require an input of energy. If proteins are dissolved in water the chemical bonds between the amino acids slowly break apart, releasing energy (the protein is said to hydrolyze). The same is true of DNA and RNA. To form a protein in a laboratory the chemist, after dissolving the required amino acids in a solvent, adds a chemical that contains high energy bonds (referred to as a peptide reagent). The energy from this chemical is transferred to the amino acids. This provides the necessary energy to form the chemical bonds between the amino acids and releases H and OH to form H2O (water). This only happens in a chemistry laboratory or in the cells of living organisms. It could never have taken place in a primitive ocean or anywhere on a primitive Earth. Who or what would be there to provide a steady input of the appropriate energy? Destructive raw energy would not work. Who or what would be there to provide a steady supply of the appropriate building blocks rather than just junk? In speaking of a self-replicating DNA molecule, evolutionists are reaching for a pie in the sky.

5. DNA could not survive without repair mechanisms.

DNA, as is true of messenger-RNA, transfer-RNA, and ribosomal-RNA, is destroyed by a variety of agents, including ultraviolet light, reactive oxygen species, alkylting agents, and water. A recent article reported that there are 130 known human DNA repair genes and that more will be found. The authors stated that “Genome |DNA| instability caused by the great variety of DNA-damaging agents would be an overwhelming problem for cells and organisms if it were not for DNA repair emphasis mine).”6 Note that even water is one of the agents that damages DNA! If DNA somehow evolved on the earth it would be dissolved in water. Thus water and many chemical agents dissolved in it, along with ultraviolet light would destroy DNA much faster than it could be produced by the wildest imaginary process. If it were not for DNA repair genes, the article effectively states, DNA could not survive even in the protective environment of a cell! How then could DNA survive when subjected to brutal attack by all the chemical and other DNA-damaging agents that would exist on the hypothetical primitive Earth of the evolutionists?

What are the cellular agents that are necessary for DNA repair and survival? DNA genes! Thus, DNA is necessary for the survival of DNA! But it would have been impossible for DNA repair genes to evolve before ordinary DNA evolved and it would have been impossible for ordinary DNA to evolve before DNA repair genes had evolved. Here we see another impossible barrier for evolution. Furthermore, it is ridiculous to imagine that DNA repair genes could have evolved even if a cell existed. DNA genes encode the sequences of the hundreds of amino acids that constitute the proteins that are the actual agents that are involved in DNA repair. The code in the DNA is translated into a messenger RNA (mRNA). The mRNA must then move to and be incorporated into a ribosome (which is made up of three different ribosomal RNAs and 55 different protein molecules). Each amino acid must be coupled to a transfer RNA specific for that amino acid, and the coupling requires a protein enzyme specific for that amino acid and transfer-RNA. Responding to the code on the messenger RNA and utilizing the codes on transfer RNA’s, the appropriate amino acids, attached to the transfer RNAs, are attached to the growing protein chain in the order prescribed by the code of the messenger RNA. Many enzymes are required along with appropriate energy. This is only a brief introduction to the incredible complexity of life that is found even in a bacterium.

“Who knoweth not in all these that the hand of the Lord hath wrought this?” (Job 12:9).

Endnotes

  1. Pross, Addy. 2004. Causation and the origin of life. Metabolism or replication first? Origins of Life and Evolution of the Biospheres 34:308.
  2. Ibid., 316.
  3. Davidson, C. F. 1965. Geochemical aspects of atomospheric evolution. Proc. Nat. Acad. Sci. 53:1194; Brinkman, R. T., 1969. Dissociation of water vapor and evolution of oxygen in the terrestrial atmosphere. J. Geophys. Res., 74:5355; Clemmey, H., and N. Badham. 1982. Oxygen in the Precambrian atmosphere; an evaluation of the geological evidence. Geology 10:141; Dimroth, E., and M. M. Kimberley. 1976. Precambrian atmospheric oxygen: evidence in the sedimentary distributions of carbon, sulfur, uranium, and iron. Can. J. Earth Sci., 13:1161.
  4. Miller, Stanley. 1953. A production of amino acids under possible primitive earth conditions. Science 117:528.
  5. Hull, D. E. 1960. Thermodynamics and kinetics of spontaneous generation. Nature 186:693.
  6. Wood, R. D., et al. 2001. Human DNA repair genes. Science 291:1284.

*Dr. Duane Gish is Senior Vice President Emeritus of ICR.

Cite this article: Gish, D. 2007. A Few Reasons an Evolutionary Origin of Life Is Impossible. Acts & Facts. 36 (1).

(original link)

Religion,Evolution and Science

Inner Peace

True wealth is the wealth of the soul

Pure Glory

The heavens are telling the glory of God; and the firmament proclaims His handiwork. Psalms 19:1

Sarcastic Theist

creation,god,christian,sarcasm,jesus,funny,theist

True Crime XL

Collection of articles and videos on true crime and justice