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From the Editor
The Fallacy of the Evolutionist
By: David Deschesne
Editor/Publisher, Fort Fairfield Journal
October 5, 2011
Atheists and evolutionists seem to agree on at least one thing: when it comes to the origin of life, they both rule God out of the equation. They say since there’s no scientific proof God—or any intelligent designer—exists, then he/it must not exist. They relegate an intelligent designer to the realm of mysticism, not to be believed or taken seriously.
I disagree with that position. I submit there is proof of an intelligent designer and we are surrounded by it. Those who chose to see and acknowledge the evidence are astounded by it. I find it overwhelming. While there is a multitude of evidence for an intelligent designer, I’ll focus on just one, cellular mechanics. Now, I’m going to be rocking some heavy bio-chemical engineering on you so to keep it simple I’ll frequently analogize it to a popular brand of breakfast cereal in order to help you all make sense of my logic, rhetoric and philosophy as I show there is no plausible way life could have originated on Earth without some sort of creative intelligence guiding it. You parents of public-schooled children may want your kids to read this editorial since it is a positive rebuttal of the religion of evolution that is being taught as fact in all public schools today. Note: I will not be using any texts from the Bible here to make my points.
Let’s suppose you walk into a kitchen with nobody in it and find a box of Alpha-Bits cereal spilled on the counter. Upon closer examination you find the entire alphabet spelled out from A to Z, in proper order, amidst the mess. You have two choices in determining how the alphabet was spelled out. First, is someone/something who knew the alphabet took the time to find the letters and spell them out. The other option is the alphabet formed itself by random chance as the box was dumped out. Since the atheist and evolutionist choose not to believe in an intelligent designer creating order in the universe, their argument in this analogy to the intricacies of life is that the letters spelled the alphabet by random chance. Let’s examine the numbers to see how plausible that is.
In order to figure out how many possible different combinations of 26 letters in the alphabet there are, you would multiply 26 x 25 x 24 x 23 x 22 x 21 x 20 x 19...all the way down to 1 (for all you math whizzes out there, this is called a permutation without repetition and is expressed as the fractorial equation: “26!”). I’ve done the math and that number is an astronomically large: 403,291,461,126,605,635,584,000,000 - or 403.291 septillion unique combinations of 26 letters in the alphabet—one of which is the correct A to Z order. To get your brain around that number, suppose the cereal box was dumped out once per second. At 31,536,000 seconds in a year, it would take 12.78 quintillion years to dump the cereal 403 septillion times. Since the universe is only estimated to be around 15 billion years old, the number of years it would take to dump the cereal box 403 septillion times would be 852.5 billion times the age of the universe.
These numbers are based upon only one of each of the 26 letters of the alphabet being in the box of cereal and nothing more. Since there are many times more letters and of differing ratios (more A’s than M’s, for example) the mathematical probability that the exact 26 letters of the alphabet would form by chance from all the multiple letter combinations within the box as it’s dumped out is a number so large that it is nearly incalculable.
The most plausible solution here is of course, somebody or something with intelligence arranged the letters.
The blueprint of all living cells is contained in a compound called deoxyribonucleic acid—also known by its abbreviation, DNA. DNA is a helical structure that looks like a twisted ladder. It consists of highly specified chemical combinations of adenine, thymine, cytosine and guanine which are represented by the letters A, T, C, and G. This alphabet is similar to our English alphabet in its ability to communicate a message, only it has four letters instead of 26.
The incredible complexity of life becomes obvious when one considers the message encoded in a DNA strand of the nucleus of the smallest, single cell creature – the amoeba. The message spelled out in just the amoeba’s nucleus would fill more than all thirty volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica. and the entire amoeba has as much information in its DNA as 1,000 thirty volume sets. In other words, if you were to spell out all of the A,T,C, and G combinations in the amoeba, the letters would fill 1,000 complete sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica. It must be emphasized here that these are not random letter combinations, but highly specified and complex orders the chemicals must appear in, in order for the cell to exist, function, burn energy and replicate itself.1
Dr. Hugh Ross, Ph.D. explains, “For life to be possible, more than forty different elements must be able to bond together to form molecules...Life molecules are composed of proteins and nucleic acids. The proteins, for example, are built from twenty distinct amino acids, nineteen of which must be oriented in a left-handed configuration. Moreover, most of these amino acids must be sequenced in a specific manner and to a specific length. In the natural world over eighty distinct amino acids exist, 50% right-handed and 50% left-handed. The problem for life assembly is to select from the randomly oriented amino acids only those that are correctly oriented, then to select out only the life-specific amino acids, then to bond the amino acids together into short chains, then to bond the short chains together to make chains of the necessary lengths, typically, several hundred amino acids long, and finally to select out those chains in the right order that have the amino acids in the proper sequences. Meanwhile, the whole process must be protected so that the rate of formation remains sufficiently above the rate of destruction.2
Evolutionists and atheists say no designer created these complex chemical compounds, they just formed by themselves in a “primordial soup” by random chance without any outside assistance, then proceeded to organize themselves into a DNA strand. Even under the highly favorable conditions of a laboratory, these primordial soups fail to produce anything remotely resembling life.
Going back to our Alpha-Bits cereal analogy, that would be like saying all of the ingredients in the cereal—Whole grain oat flour, yellow corn flour, wheat flour, salt, oat bran, Calcium carbonate, reduced iron, ascorbic acid, niacinamide, zinc oxide, vitamin B6, vitamin A palmitate, riboflavin, thiamin mononitrate, folic acid, vitamin B12, and vitamin D—are all floating around in water and randomly by chance form the letters of the alphabet on their own. Once that magical act is completed all by itself, those letters then float all by themselves into forming the entire readable text of the Encyclopedia Britannica.
What is the mathematical probability that a batch of chemicals was floating around in a primordial soup and organized itself into the A,T,C, and G compounds in DNA then proceeded to write a highly specific code of millions of characters in length? Given the mechanics of how DNA is produced and the fact that it requires cell metabolizing systems already in place before it can replicate, it’s beginning to look like no amount of numbers can be assigned to the probability of random chance, which brings us to the chicken or the egg paradox.
The Chicken or the Egg Paradox
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? That age-old question has yet to be answered and its paradox is also found in cell replication and metabolism. You see, DNA cannot replicate all by itself. It needs to have cell metabolism and machinery in place to assist it, much the same way Alpha-Bits cereal must have a hopper, mixing vat, extruding machine and oven to combine, form and bake the ingredients into usable cereal letters. DNA cannot exist without metabolism and metabolism cannot exist without the specific DNA to design it. Ruling out an intelligent creator, so-called “scientists” have developed two theories to the origins of life—replicator-first and metabolism-first. Let’s examine both.
The structure of DNA is such that it is possible for it to actually create two daughter molecules from the original parent molecule that are identical copies. DNA harbors the information that the cell needs to carry out all of its activities and propagates it to subsequent generations of cells.
However, DNA cannot self-replicate. It requires a lot of 'machinery' that is present in a cell that works together with it to replicate.
It turns out that RNA happens to be a type of a molecule that can facilitate DNA replication. In 1987 an experiment demonstrated that one kind of RNA can act as an enzyme or catalyst. It can function like a protein, at least to a limited degree. Since it was assumed already that RNA could be more easily constructed under prebiotic conditions than DNA or proteins, the suggestion arose that a primitive RNA molecule—capable of functioning as a protein and as DNA—evolved by natural means out of a primordial soup.
“However, even if a single primordial molecule could perform all the functions of modern DNA, RNA and proteins, such a molecule would have to be no less complex in its information content than the sum of modern DNA, RNA and proteins. In other words, the task of assembling such an incredibly versatile molecule is no easier than assembling the three different kinds of molecules. The information content of the three is simply concentrated into one enormously complex molecule.”3
In The Ascent of Humanity, Charles Eisenstein notes, “Lost amid all the speculation about possible RNA or peptide candidates for the ‘first replicating molecule’ is the fact that no such molecule exists today. There is no gene, no sequence of DNA or RNA, that can replicate itself—not without an awful lot of help from other genes. In fact, what genetic reproduction entails is many, many genes cooperating in their mutual replication.”
In a replicator-first scenario, our Alpha-Bits cereal letters would first have to form themselves in the primordial ooze with no manufacturing equipment available. The manufacturing equipment is analogized to the metabolism processes that occur within the structure of a cell. Therefore, scientists are exploring the possibility that the machinery to build and replicate DNA formed itself first - from nothing - in what they term the "Metabolism-first" scenario.
Metabolism in a general sense is the sum total of all the chemical reactions that happen inside of a cell. Metabolism includes the chemical reactions that take the building block materials and make proteins, DNA and the cell membrane.
Metabolic reactions inside the cell occur in a series of stages. Each stage represents a very small change in the chemical structure of that molecule, which may go through ten or eleven intermediates before attaining the final product of a metabolic pathway. Those intermediates can be involved in several different pathways, ending up with a reticulated network of cycles and linear and branched pathways that are all interacting with each other. Metabolism is an irreducibly complex matrix of interactions.
Catholic bio-chemist, Michael Behe describes one example of the irreducible complexity of metabolism being the system that transports proteins within the cell from where they're made to where they're used. “As it turns out, the cells that make up most organisms have several compartments. For the most part, proteins and other molecules don't just float around loose in the cell, but must be moved from place to place to place. Enzymes are a class of protein that helps the cell digest other kinds of proteins. They are created in a compartment called the endoplasmic reticulum. But they do all their work in another compartment, called the lysosome. In order to get from the one compartment to the other, they have to be stuffed into a kind of bus (actually, a vesicle). The ‘bus’ then travels to the destination compartment and eventually merges with it, spilling its contents into the compartment. Achieving this task requires several very specific proteins. You need certain proteins (along with certain fats) just to form the little capsule that contains the enzyme. You need others to help the capsule grab onto just the right protein, since the endoplasmic reticulum creates all sorts of proteins at the same time. Finally you need proteins that help the "bus" attach itself to the destination compartment and merge with it.”
“Now if you think about irreducible complexity,” says Behe, “virtually all of these proteins have to be there from the beginning, or you simply don't get any function.”
The metabolism-first theory suggests metabolism emerged first by way of auto-catalytic cycles that happened on the early earth by using certain minerals and mineral surfaces. These would have then had enzymes evolve that could specify those reactions or some kind of organic catalyst and then later the information-rich molecules like RNA, then later DNA and protein emerged.
The primary container for these processes would be a primitive cell membrane made of fatty acids, similar to soap bubbles, which are fairly simple. It is theorized there was some spontaneous creation of these containers which floated around and somehow enabled chemical processes to take place both inside and outside of them.
Just because reasonable models can be proposed, on paper, for metabolism-first, you've got to assess two criteria for chemical plausibility; 1.) Efficiency: The auto-catalytic cycles have to operate with sufficient efficiency just to survive and maintain stability over periods of time; and 2.) Specificity: The minerals that are catalyzing the reactions have to have enough specificity to support the chemical processes within the cycle.
Using the reverse TCA cycle - a cycle that is found in some bacteria where carbon dioxide and water can generate organic materials—scientists have shown it is at least plausible for an ancient cell to establish a form of metabolism without any design criteria encoded within it.
What happens in the reverse TCA cycle is CO2 reacts with a compound called oxyl-acetate and goes through a series of eleven different chemical intermediates. As a result oxyl-acetate will be regenerated. As the cycle turns, another oxyl-acetate molecule is also produced. So, for every time the cycle turns, you get two oxyl-acetate molecules which is why it's auto-catalytic. It's spawning more and more copies of the cycle. Scientists believe over time the cycle could actually evolve to greater complexity by appending different chemical pathways to different intermediates that are part of the cycle.
As long as a cycle can operate with an overall efficiency of 50 percent it's going to remain stable. There is no reason why this couldn’t happen on the early earth. The processes would be slow but would thermodynamically be plausible.
However, where the implausibility enters in is with the specificity. There are eleven different chemical products that are represented by this cycle and six different chemical transformations. You cannot find a suitable collection of minerals that will catalyze those reactions with the type of specificity that you need. Now, if you start thinking about evolving complexity by appending pathways onto each of the steps now you'll need to have a greater suite of mineral catalytic capability so the problem becomes even more pronounced.
Discrimination is also a problem. In cells, enzymes are catalyzing the reverse TCA cycle. These enzymes have the ability to discriminate between two chemical compounds that are very, very similar to each other. There's a high level of specificity that allows for discrimination; mineral surfaces can't do that, meaning you're going to end up tapping off key metabolic components down unwanted pathways that are going to disrupt the cycle and plummet it below 50 percent efficiency. So, lack of specificity and lack of discriminatory power dooms not only the reverse TCA cycle but any type of metabolism first scenario. The conclusion is that Metabolism-first is not chemically plausible.
Even if you had a chemical rich pre-biotic soup on the primitive earth, which there is no evidence of, the chemistry that you would need to go from that mesh of chemicals to actually self-organize the chemicals as a living system is impossible on the primitive earth.
The complexity of a single cell is enormous, a highly complex and intricately designed engine, if you will. “While no mechanical engine is an organism, all organisms are engines. An engine is any system capable of processing energy to perform work. Thus, since no one would rationally argue that a working engine designed by another human could be chance-assembled by purely natural processes, it is far more ludicrous to suggest that strictly natural processes could assemble living organisms...Natural processes cannot explain the exceptionally high level of design and information content in living organisms or in the structure of the universe that makes life possible.4
The lesson here is that as Alpha-Bits cereal cannot create itself then form itself into a billion-piece intelligent code without someone to design and build it, life in even the simplest of self-replicating cells could not have arisen without an intelligent designer, either.
see I Don’t Have
Enough Faith to be an Atheist; ©2004 Norman Geisler and Frank
The Creator and the Cosmos; Dr. Hugh Ross, Ph. D., ©1993 Reasons
to Believe pp. 112, 150.
op. cit. pp. 152-153
op. cit. pp. 107, 128
information for this editorial was also derived from researchers at www.reasons.org