Origin of Life Studies – Life is no Accident

Miracles and the Law of Biogenesis

The evolution story asserts that life began without intelligent intervention. Despite the ardent claims of evolutionists, there is absolutely no consensus among scientists on how, when, where, and why natural forces alone could have created something as incredibly intricate as a living organism.

“At this time, however, no one can say whether any theory is right or wrong. What can be said is that somehow, through some process, the chemicals that make up living things did group themselves together and formed the first cells.”

Cells: Building Blocks of Life 3rd ed. (Prentice-Hall: 1997), pp. 14,15

Of interest here is the reason many evolutionists reject the scriptural account, namely, that it evokes the miraculous. This rejection of creation is quite hypocritical, for even the evolutionist must evoke the miraculous to explain the origin of life.

Webster’s has defined a miracle as,

“1. An event of effect in the physical world deviating from the known laws of nature, or transcending out knowledge of these laws; an extraordinary, anomalous, or abnormal event brought about by superhuman agency, 2. A wonder or wonderful thing; a marvel.”

The advent of living things, no matter what the means, can only be described as miraculous. From “Biology”, 1985, p. 1026:

“…the cell theory holds that all cell arise from previously existing cells. Also known as the principle of biogenesis, this principle explains that all organisms arise from living parents. This concept is firmly established in biology today. Yet according to evolutionary theory, life did ultimately originate from non-living molecules, that is, by abiogenesis.”

Therefore, the evolutionist can no longer reject biblical creation for the sole reason that it evokes the miraculous. As for the “wonderous” nature of miracles, consider the words of David Harry Grinspoon, a man of science who rejects the biblical account of creation:

“Something magical and creative beyond belief happened here as a result of carbon and water. Once it started it never stopped, and it completely remade our world. Carbon in water crawls, and flies, respirates and synthesizes, colonizes, adapts seeks, hides, gives birth, invents, worries, wonders, and sings. If that’s not magic, then what is?” “Venus Revealed”, 1997, p. 304

The typical explanation for evolution’s proposed violation of the biogenetic principle:

“This apparent paradox is explained by the assertion that conditions on earth were far different billions of years ago when life first began to evolve. Then, when things came into being, they changed the conditions of their environment so that abiogenesis was no longer probable, at least on most parts of the earth’s surface.”

There are three points to be made here regarding this explanation.

First, evolutionists must violate their beloved uniformatarian principle. This is noteworthy because it was uniformatarianism, a notion made popular by Hutton and Lyle, that was said to have disproved the biblical account of creation. The Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia states concerning the work of geologist Charles Lyle:

“His major contribution was proving that all features of the Earth’s surface were produced by natural forces operating for long times. His strong arguments that the Earth’s crust was the product of thousands of millions of years of activity did away with the need for unscientific explanations based on the Biblical record.”

Excerpted from Compton’s Interactive Encyclopedia, 1996 SoftKey Multimedia Inc.

If we must abandon strict uniformatarianism in order to believe that life evolved without God, then we must also set aside the very thing that caused people to doubt the biblical record in the first place!

Second, it must be acknowledged that this explanation is not based on direct scientific observation, but on purely philosophical grounds. This contradicts the evolutionist’s claimed strict adherence to the scientific process in determining the truth of our origins.

Thirdly, the evolutionist can no longer scoff at the biblical claim that humans once lived to vast ages (930 years old for Adam), or that giants lived on the earth at one time (Genesis 6:4). The explanation for both, typically, has been that atmospheric conditions in the distant past created a far more hospitable environment for life to thrive and flourish. It is theorized by the creationist that the flood brought about major environmental changes, which today suppress organisms’ potential for growth and longevity. This belief is evidenced by the enormous fossil life discovered, and the Bible’s account of decreased longevity in people following the flood.

The point to be raised here is that evolutionists who embrace the notion that life evolved without intelligent intervention as a result of a severely altered environment, the evidence of which is sadly lacking, have forfeited their right to scoff at the biblical account of giants and of great longevity. Both are faith-based systems.

History and discoveries

Louis Pasteur demonstrated in a public experiment at the Sorbonne in Paris in 1864 that inanimate matter could not produce living systems. Pasture proclaimed, (as quoted in “The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p. 181):

“Never will the doctrine of spontaneous generation ever recover from the mortal blow of this simple experiment. …No, today there is no circumstance known which one could affirm that microscopical beings have come into the world without germs, without parents resembling themselves.”

In 1924, a detailed hypothesis for the origin of life was put forward by Russian Biochemist, A.I. Oparin. Recognizing the impossibility of spontaneous generation today, Oparin concluded that earth’s atmosphere was radically different in the distant past – a notion still preached in textbooks today.

Oparin’s hypothesis could not be expected to disprove, experimentally, Pasteur’s earlier work, because according to Oparin, the genesis of life occurred gradually over millions of years. Again, this assertion raises two undeniable points.

1) It means the abandonment of strict uniformatarianism.

2) It means that one is forced to believe this is how life evolved as an article of faith. We are free to do this if we want, but it means forfeiting the right to reject creation solely on the grounds that it’s “unscientific” or “unproved.”

As a chemist, Oparin’s speculation on the composition of earth’s atmosphere in the distant past was based on what chemicals would react in the way he had hoped, rather than on any direct geological evidence.

“Although Oparin had no geological basis for proposing his atmosphere, he had every good reason based on physical chemistry…” (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.184)

In 1952, Stanley Miller, in response to Harold Urey’s challenge to test Oparin’s hypothesis, filled some glassware with the proposed ancient atmosphere: ammonia, methane, hydrogen and water vapor. Miller sparked the mixture to simulate lightening for several days. The result was a detectable quantity of amino acids (2%).

To date, many of the chemical building blocks for life have been produced in spark discharge experiments. Of the 20 amino acids found in living things, for example, only lysine remains to be produced in spark discharge experiments. All five nucleic acid bases found in DNA and RNA and various fatty acids found in cell membranes have also been produced as well.

Still lacking are plausible explanations for the pre-biotic synthesis of components ribose and deoxyribose – critical building blocks of RNA and DNA.

“In a stunning presentation at the International Society for the Study of the Origin of Life (ISSOL) meeting in Berkeley in 1986, Robert Shapiro, a Harvard-educated DNA chemist from New York University, showed that the widespread but second and third-hand claims regarding synthesis of ribose and deoxyribose sugar in Miller-type experiments were traceable to one ambiguous paper. He subsequently demonstrated that making ribose sugar under prebiotic conditions was essentially impossible.” – (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.183)

Note that availability means very little when trying to answer the question of life’s origin. Even if scientists could come up with a way to synthesize all the necessary chemical building blocks for life under somewhat plausible conditions (which they are nowhere close to doing), it does not follow that these will actually join together to form anything resembling a living system.

The Components of the Original Miller Experiments

Methane Miller stated:

“If it is assumed that amino acids more complex than glycine were required for the origin of life, then these results indicate a need for methane in the atmosphere.” (As quoted by Robert Shapiro, “Origins”, p. 112)

The only energy source Miller was a spark. Other energy sources on our hypothetical ancient earth must also have been present such as ultraviolet radiation from the sun. Ultraviolet radiation interacting with the methane in Miller’s suggested atmosphere would have been converted to higher-molecular-weight hydrocarbons. These hydrocarbons would have created an oil slick up to ten meters deep (see. Thaxton, Bradley and Olsen, “Mystery of Life’s Origin”, p. 43)

Ammonia The second ingredient in Miller’s experiment is notoriously unstable under ultraviolet irradiation. Under such irradiation, ammonia is quickly destroyed and caused to disassociate into hydrogen and nitrogen gas, with the hydrogen gas, because of its light atomic weight, escaping into space.

Reducing (Oxygen-Free) Conditions

According to Miller and Urey,

“It would not have been possible to synthesize organic compounds non biologically as long as oxidizing conditions were present on the earth.”

Stanley Miller and Harold Urey, “Current Problems in Research: Organic Compound Synthesis on Primitive Earth”, Science, July 1959: vol 130, p.245

Note that the belief in an oxygen-free atmosphere was arrived at by pure speculation based on which environment would produced the desired chemical reactions. It was not based on the work of geologists:

“In general, we find no evidence in the sedimentary distribution of carbon, sulfur, uranium, or iron that an oxygen-free atmosphere has existed at any time during the span of geological history recorded in the well-preserved sedimentary rock.”

  1. Dimroth and M. M. Kimberly, Canadian Journal Earth Science Vol 13 (1976);1161

Hydrogen It’s unlikely that Hydrogen could have accumulated in any significant quantity on an ancient pre-biotic earth in any significant quantity due to its weak gravitational attraction to the earth.

Water Vapor “The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.183:

“The ease with which water vapor is disassociated into hydrogen and oxygen so that the hydrogen escapes into space also raises questions about the assumed oxygen-free condition of the early earth atmosphere. The strongest argument offered for an early-earth atmosphere void of oxygen comes not from geological arguments regarding the oxidization state of minerals but from the disastrous consequences oxygen has on prebiotic simulation experiments.”

Miller Atmosphere Rejected Today

Most scientists have recognized the problems with Miller’s proposed atmosphere and today a whole new composition has been envisioned. Unfortunately for those committed to believing life began without God, the new proposed atmosphere produces very little of the chemical building blocks of life.

“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.183:

“In fact, a consensus has developed since the late 1970’s that the early earth’s atmosphere never contained significant amounts of ammonia, methane or hydrogen. Rather, it most likely consisted of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour. Unfortunately, an attempt to make the building blocks of life from such an atmosphere is like the ancient Egyptians insistence that their Hebrew slaves make brick without straw. The reason is simple. A simple mass and energy balance as is done in freshman chemistry will indicate that making amino acids out of ammonia, methane and hydrogen is an exothermic reaction (energy released) with an enthalpy release of approximately 200kcal/mole. By contrast, making amino acids out of nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water vapour is an endothermic reaction (energy must be added) with an enthalpy increase of +50kcal/mole. Small wonder that chemists prefer Oparin’s hypothetical, but incorrect, atmosphere of ammonia, methane and water vapor.”

From National Geographic, “The Rise of Life of Earth”, March 1998, p. 68:

“Many scientists now suspect that the early atmosphere was different from what Miller had first supposed. They think it consisted of carbon dioxide and nitrogen rather than hydrogen, methane and ammonia. That’s bad news for chemists. When they try sparking carbon dioxide and nitrogen, they get a paltry amount of organic molecules – the equivalent of dissolving a drop of food coloring in a swimming pool of water. Scientists find it hard to imagine life emerging from such a diluted soup.”

Problems and Shortcomings with Spark Discharge Experiments

Selective Use of Energy from a Sole Source Certain wavelengths of ultraviolet light may serve to convert elements such as ammonia, methane and water vapor into amino acids. However, other wavelengths would surely have been present as well on the early earth, and would have quickly destroyed the newly formed amino acids. Only the selective use of energy and the quick removal from the energy flux (by way of a trap) allow scientists to preserve a detectable quantity of amino acid reaction products.

Controlling Options and Critical Thinking

In the article, “The Rise of Life of Earth”, (March 1998, pp.62-64), National Geographic magazine posed the question, “Did Life Begin in a ball of ice?…A pond?…or a cauldron?”

The article proceeds to explain the advantages each environment would give newly evolving life of planet earth. In seeking to answer the question as to which environment gave rise to the first life forms, the unsuspecting may be duped into believing he is approaching the question of our origins critically. However, in order to solve the riddle of where and how life originated, we must be open to the idea that none of the three options outlined in the National Geographic article are reflective of the truth.

Since each proposed environment is quite different from the other two suggested, and since scientists, for sound reasons, have selected one over the others, I think it reasonable to conclude that the case against all three must be strong. The article never acknowledged the difficulties each environment would have posed to the process of abiogenesis. We will do that now.

The Chemical Buildings Blocks for Life

Chemical “Building Block” Pertinent Stability Facts Chemical Reactions Comments
Cytosine Half life 340 years @ 25oC

In water 100oC – Half life of 19 days

On single strand DNA half life of individual residue 200 years @ 37oC

On double helix structure 30,000 years @ 37oC

Readily decomposes under UV radiation, which would have been present on an early earth.

Cytosine’s decomposition into uracil would be disastrous. Normally Cytocine is matched with Guanine; its degradation would cause a mismatch between U and G on the DNA strand. A genetic repair system must have been necessary from the beginning. The short half-life at high temperatures is a major hurdle for hydrothermal theories of the origin of life.

A cold origin of life scenario may alleviate, but not overcome the decomposition problem.

Note that low temperatures also retards synthetic reactions as well as destructive ones.

The greater instability of cytosine on a single stranded nucleic acid is a problem RNA world proponents must account for.

Cyanate Rapidly hydrolysed to carbon dioxide and ammonia. Cynate made to react with cyanoacetylene to form cytosine. Rejected as an effective pre biotic synthesis of cytosine because of cyanate’s tendency to hydrolyse.
Urea (produced in spark discharge experiments with nitrogen, carbon dioxide, and water vapor) Urea too unstable to reach the concentrations required.

Exists in equilibrium with its isomer, ammonium cyanate.

Cyanate hydrolzes readily, meaning that more urea must be converted to maintain equilibrium.

In an open system, half the urea was destroyed after 5 hr @ 90oC and pH 7, Half life estimated 25 years @ 25oC

By heating 10-3 M cyanoacetaldehyde with various concentrations of urea in a sealed container @ 100oC for five hours yielded 30 – 50% cytosine This has been rejected as an effective pre biotic synthesis of cytosine because of the unavailability of cyanoacetaldehyde.

The instability of cytosine posed a problem that was overcome by stopping the reaction after 5 hours. In the real world, it is likely that the reaction would continue with the hydrolysis of cytosine.

The sealed tube used in experiments prevented the release of ammonia, retarding the cyanate and urea composition.

Sugars and Amino Acids React destructively to form imines (a common cause of browning in floods)
Ribose (Essential for RNA, hence, essential for any RNA hypothesis for the origin of life) Half life 44 years @ pH 7.0 (Neutral) and 0oC

Half life 73 minutes @ pH 7.0 and 100oC

Destroyed very quickly in water 100oC The short half-life at high temperatures is a major hurdle for hydrothermal theories of the origin of life.
Adenine and Guanine In water 100oC – Half lives of about a year Same as above
Uracil In water 100oC – Half life about a year Same as above
Cyanoacetylene and Cyanoacetaldehyde Cyanoacetylene readily hydrolyzes to form Cyanoacetaldehyde (half life 11 days @ pH 9 and 30oC)

Cyanoacetaldehyde half-life also quickly hydrolyzed, (half life 31 years @ pH 9 and 30oC)

In strong quantities can be made to react with other compounds said to have existed on early earth to produce Cytosine.

Cyanoacetylene and Cyanoacetaldehyde both react destructively with the amino group, which would have destroyed any pre-biotic amino acids

Both Cyanoacetylene and Cyanoacetaldehyde are produced with a methane / nitrogen mixture.

The original Miller experiment used ammonia (NH3), but NH3, H2O and hydrogen sulfide (H2S) greatly hindered Cyanoacetylene and Cyanoacetaldehyde production.

Most evolutionists believe the early earth atmosphere was dominated by carbon dioxide and nitrogen.

The hydrolyzing of Cyanoacetylene cannot be regarded as a reliable source of Cyanoacetaldehyde since the latter would most likely be destroyed by other reactions.

Glycine Can react with urea to form N-carbomoyl glycine. The formation of N-carbomoyl glycine from urea and glycine would remove both urea and amino acids from the “primordial soup.”

Problems With The “Primordial Soup” Theory

The idea that life began in a “primordial soup” of chemicals is not supported by experimental evidence. Some of the problems specific to this idea are as follows:

The “primordial soup” would be far too dilute. Some have proposed that seawater concentrated by evaporation in lagoons might provide the necessary concentration of chemicals. This would require isolation of the lagoon from freshwater (which would dilute the lagoon). Note that all such concentrating mechanisms would also concentrate destructive chemicals as well.

The conditions for cytosine production are incompatible with the conditions needed for purine production. The above scenario must also include a rupture of the lagoon at just the right time to allow for the release of its contents into the sea, so both pyrimidines and purines can be incorporated into a replicator.

Michael Behe (“Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, pp. 169 – 170) comments:

“…joining amino acids together to form a protein with a useful biological activity is a much more difficult chemical problem than forming amino acids in the first place. The major problem is hooking amino acids together is that, chemically, it involves the removal of a molecule of water for each amino acid joined to the growing protein chain. Conversely, the presence of water strongly inhibits amino acids from forming proteins. Because water is so abundant on the earth, and because amino acids dissolve readily in water, origin-of- life researchers have been forced to get around the water problem.”

Sidney Fox proposed that on the early earth, amino acids were washed up near the rim of an active volcano or other heat source above the boiling point of water. With the water gone, it was suggested that the amino acids could link. Earlier experiments showed that heating dry amino acids only produced a dark brown tar but no detectable proteins (Behe, p. 170). However, Fox was able to demonstrate that if an extra large amount of one of the three amino acids was added to a mix of purified amino acids and heated they will link chemically. The structure they form, however, is chemically different than a protein. Regarding the synthesis of these “proteinoids”, Robert Shapiro has stated (“Origins: A Skeptic’s Guide to the Creation of Life of Earth”, 1986, p. 192):

“[The proteinoid theory] has attracted a number of vehement critics, ranging from chemist Stanley Miller…to creationist Duane Gish. On perhaps no other point in origin-of-life theory could we find such harmony between evolutionists and creationists as in opposing the relevance of the experiments of Sidney Fox.”

Behe states (“Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, p. 170):

“The special circumstances needed to make them [the proteinoids] – hot, dry conditions (putatively representing rare spots such as volcano rims) with exact amounts of already-purified amino acids weighed out in advance – casts dark shadows over the relevance of the experiments. Worse, because proteinoids are not really proteins, the considerable problem of producing authentic proteins remains.”

Rejecting the “Organic Soup” Theory

Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton state (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, 1994, Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton, editor J.P. Moreland, p.193):

“The conceptual bankcruptcy of Oparin’s “soup theory” was highlighted in a debate held at the international ISSOL symposium in Berkeley, California, in 1986. The “protein first” side of the debate argued that making RNA under prebiotic conditions was well-nigh impossible, a criticsm that was ignored rather than rebutted by the “RNA-first” side. The latter responded by insisting that proteins are too inept to be the vehicle for the first living system, since they are insufficiently versitle. With the protein-first side providing no rebuttal to this criticism, the debate ended with both positions fatally flawed and no more promising alternatives suggested. …The tardiness of the soup theory’s demise despite the theory’s many problems tells something about the reasonableness of the alternative hypotheses that have been proposed in the past ten years as potential successors.”

The Alternatives to the Soup Theory

Theory Summary Notes
Clay-Based Life Proposed by chemist A.G. Cairns-Smith (University of Glascow), this theory states that life evolved on solid substances (ie. crystalline clay). His argument was that some clays might attract or synthesize organic compounds such as proteins or nucleic acids. It is believed that these organic compounds became sophisticated enough to replicate and evolve on their own. This belief lacks any direct empirical evidence.

Cairns-Smith admitted, “No one has ever been able to coax clay into something resembling evolution in a laboratory; nor has anyone found anything resembling a clay-based organism in nature.” (J. Horgan, “In the Beginning”, Scientific American, February, 1991)

Hydrothermal Vents on the Sea Floor Proposed by John Corliss of NASA’s Goddard Space Flight center.

Hydrothermal vents on the seafloor have been found to support thriving communities of life, such as bacteria, tubeworms, and clams. The primary energy source for these forms of life is not sunlight but sulphur compounds emitted by the vents. It is theorized that vents provided the energy to create and sustain life.

The super heated water inside vents (572oF) would destroy rather than create complex organic compounds.

Estimates that all the ocean’s waters pass through thermal vents once every ten million years, the upper limit for amino acid concentration in the oceans has been estimated by Miller @ 3 X 10-4 M. (See S.L. Miller, “Which Organic Compound Could Have Occurred on Prebiotic Earth?” Cold Spring Harbour Symposia on Quantitative Biology 52 (1987) :17

Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton state (“The Creation Hypothesis”, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p.194): “Since James Corliss and others agree that current life at the vents probably migrated there, the thermal vent origin of life remains a vague idea, lacking both conceptual details and experimental support.”

Metabolism First Hypothesis Some suggest that life began as a cyclic chemical process driven by an energy source, which took place on the surface of some solid. Pryrite, for example, offers a positively charged surface on which organic molecules might be attached. The continued formation of pyrite, is believed, may have provided the energy needed to cause the organic molecules to react with each other. Highly speculative. This idea does not address the problem of how the high-information content in organic chemicals arose.

Gunter Wachterschauser, the founder of this theory has admitted that it is for the most part “pure speculation.” (J. Horgan, “In the Beginning”, Scientific American, February, 1991)

Self-Organization in Nature (A.K.A. Complexity Theory) This theory centres around the self-organizing tendencies seen in nature, such as convective heat flow and the formation of vortices (ie., as water flows down a drain). As been demonstrated in far-from-equilibrium systems. Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton state (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p.195): “The difficulty in applying his [I. Prigogine, who has written extensively on self organizing tendencies] work to the origin-of-life problem is that the spontaneous ordering that is typical of Prigogine’s far-from-equilibrium systems bears little resemblance to the information-rich, aperiodic structures of biopolymers. There is little similarity between the ordering associated with crystals, vortices and the like and the specified complexity required in the sequencing of amino acids to give a functional protein.”

The Right Arrangement / Joining Amino Acids

Left and Right “Handedness”

Amino acids exist in two distinct shapes, which are mirror images of each other. These are known as L- and D-amino acids (sometimes referred to as left and right “handed” in shape). These are produced in equal quantity in prebiotic simulation experiments (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p.186). Only the “left handed” variety is found in biological proteins

“There is no explanation why cells use [left handed] amino acids to synthesize their proteins but D [right handed] ribose or D-deoxyribose to synthesize their nucleotides or nucleic acids. In particular, the incorporation of even a single L-ribose or L-deoxyribose into a nucleic acid, if it should ever occur in the course of cellular synthesis, could seriously interfere with vital structure-function relationships. The well-known double helical DNA structure does not allow the presence of L-deoxyribose; the replication and transcription mechanisms generally require that any wrong sugar such as L-deoxyribose has to be eliminated, that is, the optical purity of the D-sugars has to be 100%.” Klause Dose, “The Origin of Life: More Questions Than Answers”, Interdisciplinary Science Reviews, Vol. 13, No. 4, 1988 p. 352

“Many researchers have attempted to finds plausible natural conditions under which [left handed] L-amino acids would preferentially accumulate over their [right handed] D-counterparts, but all such attempts have failed. Until this crucial problem is solved, no one can say we have found a naturalistic explanation for the origin of life. Instead, these isomer preferences point to biochemical creation.” Dean Kenyon, (Professor of Biology, San Francisco University) affidavit presented to the U.S. Supreme Court, No. 85-1513, Brief of Appellants, prepared under the direction of William J. Guste, Jr., Attorney General of the State of Louisiana, October 1985, p. A-23

Peptide Bonds

“During the synthesis of proteins, two amino acids are chemically joined together by reacting the amino group of one amino acid with the carboxylic group of another to form a peptide bond.” Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry, “Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, p. 262

Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton state (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p. 186):

“…the peptide bond to chemically attach two amino acids represents only one of several ways that amino acids may be joined together. Analysis of he bonds formed when amino acids are joined in prebiotic simulation experiments indicate that no more than half of the bonds are peptide bonds. Yet functional protein requires percent peptide bonds to be able to fold into the particular three-dimensional structures that give biological function.”

AA Sequences

Amino Acids must link together (in peptide bonds only) into a chain in order to form a protein molecule. The sequencing of amino acids determines which three-dimensional shape the chain will assume, which in turn determines it’s usefulness as a protein within a living system. While not every site along the chain requires a specific amino acid, at least half do (active sites) in order to facilitate biological function. Such precise ordering has never been accomplished under any “pre-biotic” simulation experiments.

AA’s and Cross Reactions with other Chemicals

From Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p. 187):

“The fact that one has to do work (30 cal/gm) to chemically react amino acids with each other indicates that amino acids do not readily react chemically. However, amino acids would chemically react readily with many other substances that would be abundant in a prebiotic soup, with a resultant decrease in the Gibbs free energy. So it is difficult to imagine how amino acids could be either concentrated in solution or selectively absorbed on surfaces such as clays before they were consumed in chemical reactions with other substances in the prebiotic soup.”

Investigator Interference

Origin-of-Life experiments often smack of excessive investigator interference, that is, careful coaxing of chemical reactions in order to produce the desired result. Such results can hardly be deemed significant to solving the origin of life question since they were achieved under conditions highly implausible according to the “pre-boitic” earth scenario.

Interference in RNA World Hypothesis Studies

According to David P Bartel and Jack W Szostak, (“Isolation of New Ribosomes from a Large Pool of Random Sequences”, Science 261 (1993): 1411-1418; p.1412 ), During their RNA world experiments, pools of randomized RNA formed large, tangled, useless networks of molecules (called precipitation), which inhibited the desired chemical reactions (more than ½ precipitated at 37 degrees C for 90 minutes, which more rapid precipitation higher temperatures). The solution was to immobilize the RNA pool of molecules on argose beads before adding the mg2+7:

“Once tethered…the (RNA) molecules could not diffuse to form intermolecular reactions – could therefore be safely incubated.”

With regard to this experiment, Gordon Mills and Dean Kenyon comment (“What do Ribozyme Engineering Experiments Really Tell Us About the Origin of Life?”, Access Research Network, Origins & Designs Archieves Review Article, 17:1):

“…But this is not a trick the primordial soup would be likely to discover on its own. And on occasion, the prebiotic unreality of ribosome engineering breaks through even to its supporters.”

Mills and Kenyon further conclude:

“But in experiments designed to simulate the prebiotic formation of biopolymers the investigator may use unrealistic reaction conditions (i.g., high concentrations of a few pure reagents) and / or change the conditions during the experiment to enhance the yields of desired products. This intelligent manipulation of the experimental conditions (to guide the reactions to the desired results) is most apparent in simulations of prebiotic polynucleotide synthesis. The reason why increasingly large does of investigator influence are required is that if the chemical processes are “left to themselves” they would not produce the desired result, in fact, would go away from the living state, not toward it.”

In the same article, Mills and Kenyon suggest that those interested in this topic ought to consult the Methods and Materials section of any ribozyme engineering paper:

“There one will encounter biologically-derived reagents such as DNA and RNA polymerases, automated DNA synthesizing machines -e.g., the Biosearch 8750 programmable DNA synthesizer-purifies ribonucleoside triphosphates, and various experimental tricks needed to help reactions along.”

RNA researched Steven Benner of ETH Zurich concludes,

“Its difficult to believe that larger pools of random RNA emerged spontaneously without the gentle coaxing of a graduate student desiring a completed dissertation.” (From Steven A Benner, “Catalysis: Design Versus Selection,” Science 261, (1993): 1402 – 1403, p. 1403)

Chemical Pathways

Even the “simplest” cell must produce and regulate thousands of chemicals essential for its continued survival. The production of these chemicals is brought about through complex, multi-stepped pathways, with each step along the pathway being in precise sequence. For example, consider the A®B®C®D analogy. Chemical D is absolutely essential for life, and is produced through chemical steps A, B and C. Though chemical D exists in nature, its abiotic production looks nothing like the chemical pathway which exists within living systems.

The problem for origin of life researchers is to explain how the final essential chemical product (D), and the chemical pathway that produces it could have arisen simultaneously.

Producing AMP

AMP is an essential chemical in living systems, yet in pre-biotic synthesis experiments, none of the intermediates (except for intermediate X) have been produced in the biosynthesis of AMP (Behe, p.152).

Behe comments, (“Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, p. 151):

“The problem for Darwinian evolution is this: if only the end product of a complicated biosynthetic pathway is used in the cell, how did this pathway evolve in steps? If A, B and C have no use other than as precursors to D, what advantage is there to an organism t just make A? Or, if it makes A, to make B? If a cell needs AMP, what good will it do to just make Intermediate III, or IV or V? On their face, metabolic pathways where intermediates are not useful present severe challenges to a Darwinian scheme of evolution. This goes in spades for something like AMP, because the cell has no choice: AMP is required for life. Either it immediately has a way to produce or obtain AMP, or the cell is dead.”

Irreducible and specified complexity

It’s true that natural processes alone may account for some of the complex structures seen in our world today. However, natural process cannot account for the specified complexity seen in living systems. The following is a good explanation of what is meant by specified complexity.

Imagine flipping a coin and having it come up “heads.” On a sheet of paper you write “H”. Flip the coin again. This time it comes up “tails”, so on your sheet you write “T”. If you kept this up until the paper was full, you’d have a complex sequence of “H’s” and “T’s”. Complexity of this sort could easily be attributed to random action. However, if I produced from my pocket a sheet of paper with the identical sequence of “H’s” and “T’s”, you’d suspect something fishy was going on. That’s because our papers have become more than just complex; they’re also specific to each other.

As is hopefully being demonstrated in this section, the kind of specified complexity seen in living systems can only be attributed to purely naturalistic forces as an article of faith.

Information and The Genetic Code

Walter L. Bradley and Charles B. Thaxton state (“The Creation Hypothesis, Information and the Origin of Life, editor J.P. Moreland, p. 205):

“Information theory is the science of message transmission developed by Claude Shannon and other engineers at Bell Telephone Laboratories in the late 1940’s. It provides a mathematical means of measuring information. Information theory applies to any symbol system, regardless of the elements of that system. The so-called Shannon information laws apply equally well to human language, Morse-coded messages and the genetic text.”

“It is important to understand that we are not reasoning by analogy. The sequence hypothesis applies directly to the protein and the genetic text as well as to written language and therefore the treatment is mathematically identical.”

Hubert P. Yockey, Information Scientist, “Self Organization, Origin of Life Scenarios and Information Theory”, Journal of Theoretical Biology, Vol. 91, (1981), p.16

Scientists have spend millions of dollars over the years on the SETI program (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) hoping to detected some sort of coded message from space. It is rightly assumed that the detection of any information rich signal would denote the existence of extra terrestrial intelligence. Only the strongest atheistic bias therefore would keep a person from concluding that the vast amount of information stored in the cell’s genetic material is not the result of intelligent design.

George C. Williams, one of the world’s most repected and influential evolutionary biologists. He is best known for pioneering the “gene selection” version of Darwinism. As quoted by Philip Johnson (“Defeating Darwinism by Opening Minds”, p. 70), Williams appears to have had second thoughts regarding reductionism:

“Evolutionary biologists have failed to realize that they work with more or less incommensurable domains: that of information and that of matter…These two domains can never be brought together in any kind of the sense usually implied by the term “reductionism.”…The gene is a package of information, not an object. The pattern of base pairs in a DNA molecule specifies the gene. But the DNA molecule is the medium, it’s not the message. Maintaining this distinction between the medium and the message is absolutely indispensable to clarity of thought about evolution.

Just the fact that fifteen years ago I started using a computer may have had something to do with my ideas here. The constant process of transferring information from one physical medium to another and then being able to recover the same information in the original medium brings home the seperability of information and matter. In biology, when your talking about things like genes and genotypes and gene pools, you’re talking about information, not physical objective reality.”

Johnson notes (p. 71):

“That way of describing reality brings to mind the biblical description of how the world began. The Gospel of John begins with the memorable statement that ” in the beginning was the Word.” That is exactly how we would describe the creation of a literary work, or a computer program, or a building. In the beginning was the concept and the working out of that concept in the mind of the author or designer. Thereafter the concept was recorded, or realized, in matter. Matter is important, but secondary. The Word (information) is not reducible to matter, and even precedes matter.”

The Vacuum in Evolutionary Literature

Evolution’s inadequacy as a valid scientific theory is evidenced by a total inability to meet the many biochemical challenges.

“Molecular evolution is not based on scientific authority. There is no publication in the scientific literature – in prestigious journals, specialty journals, or books – that describes how molecular evolution of any real, complex, biochemical system either did occur or even might have occurred.”

Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry, “Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, p. 185-86

The Impossibility of Spontaneous Generation

“The origin of life by chance in a primeval soup is impossible in probability in the same way that a perpetual motion machine impossible in probability. … A practical person must conclude that life didn’t happen by chance.” Hubert P. Yockey, “Information Theory and Molecular Biology”, Cambridge University Press, 1992, p. 257

“Scientists working on the origin of life problem deserve a lot of credit; they have attacked the problem by experiment and calculation, as science should. And although the experiments have not turned out as many hoped, through their efforts we now have a clear idea of the staggering difficulties that would face an origin of life by natural chemical processes.” Michael J. Behe, Professor of Biochemistry, “Darwin’s Black Box, The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution”, 1996, p.172

The conclusion based on our knowledge of chemistry and thermodynamics:

In short, scientists have never been able to concoct in the lab, under plausible pre-biotic conditions, all the necessary “building blocks for life.” Even if they could, this does not follow that these “building blocks” would or could arrange themselves into a living organism. Think about it. If we put a frog in a blender and hit “frappe”, all the chemicals needed for life would be there in the same place at the same time. No one would expect, and rightly so, that these chemicals would actually link together and become a new living organism.



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